Golden Temple

June 4, 1984: At 4 am early morning the Indian Army started shelling the Golden Temple complex, without warning…..

On June 4th And 5th Messages asking pilgrims to vacate the shrine were broadcast over loudspeakers. The Amritsar District and Sessions Judge Gurbir Singh gave a ruling which said that there has been no proof that the Indian army gave warnings for pilgrims to go away from the temple complex before their assault begin.

Judge Gurbir Singh

Judge Gurbir Singh passed the ruling in 2017, “There isn’t any proof or record that army made any bulletins for innocent civilians to get out from the Golden Temple before the launching operation in 1984…There isn’t any written document of any public declaration made by the civil authorities requesting the people to come out of the golden temple complex.

There is no record of the vehicle that was utilized to make such notifications… The event highlights the military’s abuses of human rights during the operation. A compensating award handed to Sikhs who had been wrongfully held by the Indian military was based on the absence of proof of any warning to quit the temple complex.

The men began bombarding the famed Ramgarhia Bunga, the water tank, and other defensive locations with Ordnance QF 25-pounder artillery. The army drove tanks and APCs onto the road separating the Guru Nanak Niwas building after eliminating Shabeg Singh’s outer defenses.

Army helicopters observed the massive movements, and General K. Sunderji deployed tanks and APCs to face them.

For a short time, artillery and small arms fire ceased, and Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the former head of the SGPC, was dispatched to negotiate Bhindranwale’s surrender. However, he was ineffective, and the firing began again.

This negotiation was mentioned by Kuldeep Singh Brar, in the book “Operation Blue Star”. Bhindranwale was offered six things.

You can get one billion dollars and reside permanently in any country in Europe.

Our army will arrest you like drama.

We will deliver 1 billion to 10 pilgrims living in Canada in the next 2 hours.

If you do not agree with the above, we can send you to Pakistan as a safe passage.

We will accept your religious views but give up the rest of the demands related to agriculture.

In the end, the central government will censor you and make you the Chief Minister of Punjab. Your party will be named Dashmesh Party. In the future, in writing Punjab Congress MLA will support you.

The military began its assault in the early morning at 4 am. June 4th, 1984 according to the reports of survivors inside the temple complex.

Devinder Singh Duggal – The In-charge of the Sikh Reference Library located inside the Harmandir Sahib complex. Duggal is an acknowledged authority in Sikh history. Duggal’s recollections are vivid, almost photographic:

“At about 4 a.m. in the early hours of the morning of June 4, the regular Army attack on the Darbar Sahib started with a 25-pounder which fell in the ramparts of the Darshan Deori to the left of Sri Akal Takht Sahib with such thunder that for a few moments Duggal thought that the whole complex has collapsed… Thereafter, every second the ferocity of firing increased…”

Apart from heavy firing from Light and Medium Machine Guns (high caliber guns), the army troops also threw mortar shells and poisonous gas canisters (chemical weapons that were banned under the Hague Convention) inside the Akal Takht and other buildings in the Complex.

Meanwhile, according to Mr. Duggal, “the helicopter remain in one place in the air and continued to fire from the air to golden temple complex. Few of these helicopters were also guiding the firing squads of the Army by making up a circle of light around the targets. Immediately after these circles, the cannonball would land causing havoc. We saw a large number of innocent pilgrims blown into pieces.”

Dead children and women in the Parikrama

Duggal further claims that he observed a lot of dead children and women in the Parikrama during the assault. Due to the army’s onslaught, Duggal had been unable to leave the chamber where he had taken refuge, which he feared would have resulted in his death.

Another eyewitness, SGPC Secretary Bhan Singh, claims that the army gave no warning of the raid, preventing pilgrims and those who had come as part of the Dharam Yudh Morcha from leaving. It wasn’t until the soldiers began using explosives on the temple that they realized the assault had begun, according to a female survivor.

She also reported that there were some granthis (priests), ragis (singers), sevadars (workers), and yatris (pilgrims) within the Harmandir Sahib, but no armed terrorists. The military shelled the Akal’s rest house, which was flooded with pilgrims, said Prithpal Singh, the sevadar on duty. The Akal Rest house still had gunshot traces from the Indian Army when Prithpal’s report was recorded in May 1985.

Kishan Singh Gargaj one of the fugitives told that Indian armed forces stormed Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, and more than 120 other shrines in 1984 as part of Operation Bluestar. Thousands of Sikhs were slaughtered.

June 5, 1984: At 10.00 pm 13 Army tanks and a dozen armored personnel carriers smash their way into the Darbar Sahib Complex. Amrik Singh, the blind, 65- year-old head ragi(singer) shot dead within Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) itself.

On the 5th of June, 1984, In contrast to the Government White Paper of July 10, 1984, which states that “the military displayed extreme restraint and refrained from directing any fire at Harmandir Sahib” (paragraph 10). Harcharan Singh Ragi, his guardian, and mentor, the old, fully blind Head Ragi of Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), Amrik Singh, was hit by an army bullet and died inside the Harmandir Sahib at about 6.30 p.m., according to Citizens for Democracy.

Army’s entry into the Complex

“They maintained the firing till the evening of June 5th, and then it was around 8.30 p.m.,” one young college girl, who was one among the thousands of pilgrims imprisoned, says of the Army’s entry into the Complex. When they entered [Army into the Temple Complex], it was very dark, and there was a lot of gunfire.

The bombardment was so intense that I felt I’d landed on another planet. In the room, there were 40-50 people crammed together, including women and children. The Army had fired at the upper area of the Akal Takht… The Guru Granth Sahib was floating through the air in pieces… The location appeared to have been turned into a haunted mansion… Some of us were desperate for water and came out into the open to get it. I noticed the dead bodies in the Parikarma the next morning. This was the most heinous type of betrayal.”

“At 10 p.m., the tanks started approaching the compound, and the barrage of firing became more fierce as heavy artillery began to be employed,” says Giani Puran Singh, a priest at the Harmandir Sahib and an eyewitness. An armored carrier entered at this point and took a position beside the Sarovar. When the lights on this ship were turned on, the entire complex was flooded with dazzling light.

We were seeing all of this from the great dome of Harmandar Sahib and assumed that the fire department had arrived to get water to put out the fires that were raging throughout the city. However, we were proven wrong when this truck arrived at Parikarma and began firing. Tanks closed in on both sides, firing on and setting fire to all rooms from the clock tower to the Brahm Buta, as desperate citizens fetched water from the Sarovar to put out the fires. Women’s and children’s cries and wails filled the air.”

“The night between the 5th and 6th was dreadful,” says Devinder Singh Duggal. The armored transporters and tanks have made their way into the Golden Temple Complex. The intensity of the shooting could hardly be conveyed. The heartbreaking sobs of the dying people could be heard all night.”

During “Operation Bluestar, an Eyewitness Account,” there were rough “a dozen tanks and a dozen APCs in total,” according to eyewitness Subhash Kirpekar (published in The Punjab Story). “A ferocious conflict ensued between the Army and the 40-50 youngsters who had been holding the military hostage,” Giani Puran Singh recounts. “These clash between the two parties lasted through the night until they were either killed or their ammunition got over”

Shelling of a building within the Harmandir Sahib compound began early in the morning. The Akal Takht was attacked from the front by the 9th division, but it was unable to secure the edifice. Throughout the Golden Temple complex, honeycombed tube constructions were discovered.

10:00 p.m.

On the southwest outskirts of the compound, the BSF and CRPF attacked Hotel Temple View and Brahm Boota Akhara, respectively. Both structures were under their control by 22:00 hours.  Several more gurdwaras were attacked at the same time by the army. According to sources, there are either 42 or 74 places.

22:00-7:30 hours

The generals decided late in the evening to make a simultaneous attack from three directions. From the main entrance of the complex, ten Guards, one Para Commando, and the Special Frontier Force (SFF) would attack, while 26 Madras and 9 Kumaon battalions would strike from the hostel complex and the side entry from the south.

The 10 Guards’ mission was to protect the Temple complex’s northern wing and divert attention away from the SFF, who were tasked with securing the complex’s western side, and the 1 Para Commandos, who were tasked with gaining a foothold in Akal Takht and Harmandir Sahab with the support of divers. The 26 Madras regiment was in charge of the southern and eastern complexes, while the 9 Kumaon regiment was in charge of the SGPC building and Guru Ramdas Serai. Twelve Bihar was tasked with encircling the other regiments and providing fire support by neutralizing enemy positions while under their command.

commando’s first attempt

The commando’s first attempt to get a foothold at Darshani Deori failed when they came under heavy fire, but they made numerous further attempts with varying degrees of success. Other teams eventually made it to Darshani Deori, a building north of the Nishan Sahib, and began firing at the Akal Takht and a red building to its left, allowing the SFF forces to approach the Darshani Deori and shoot gas canisters at the Akal Takht. Instead of hitting the building, the canisters hit the troops.

Meanwhile, the Langar rooftop, Guru Ramdas Serai, and nearby structures had opened fire on 26 Madras and 9 Garhwal Rifles (reserve forces). Furthermore, pushing through the heavy Southern Gate, which had to be shot open with tank fire, took a long time. The Indian troops battling within the complex suffered a large number of losses as a result of the delay. The compound had been invaded by three tanks and an APC.

Because Shabeg Singh had mounted light machine guns nine or ten inches above the ground, crawling was impossible. The Indian troops suffered a large number of losses as a result of the endeavor. A group of 200 commandos made a third attempt to gain access to the Pool. Because they were engaged by fortifications on the southern side, the Madras and Garhwal battalions were unable to make it to the pavement around the pool.

General Sunderji ordered the commandos

Despite the rising casualties, General Sunderji ordered the commandos to launch the fourth attack. Under the command of General Kuldip Singh Brar, the Madras battalion was strengthened with two more companies of the 7th Garhwal Rifles. The Madras and Garhwal troops, led by Brigadier A. K. Dewan, we’re unable to make any progress towards the parikrama (the pavement around the pool).

Heavy casualties were reported by Brigadier Dewan, who requested further reinforcements. Two companies of the 15 Kumaon Regiment were dispatched by General Brar. As a result of the increased fatalities, Brigadier Dewan was forced to request tank support.

As one APC approached the Akal Takht, it was damaged by an anti-tank RPG, which rendered it immobile. Brar also asked for tank assistance. Only after 7:30 a.m., the tanks were permitted to fire their main guns (105 mm high-explosive squash headshells).

June 6, 1984: The Indian Army tank’s cannon fire demolishes the Akal Takht  Sahib and kills those who are inside…

On the 6th of June, 1984, The conflict grew more ferocious as it progressed through the night of June 5th to the early hours of June 6th. According to General K.S. Brar, thirty soldiers broke into the Akal Takht, the ‘Immortal Throne,’ which marks the highest seat of Sikh spiritual and political supremacy, at 4:30 a.m. on June 6. The combat was fierce in the early hours of the 6th, and eyewitnesses, including soldiers and General K.S. Brar testified that despite being outmanned, the Sikh Fighters fought fiercely and “to the last man.”

The army ordered tanks to fire on the Akal Takht, and the Akal Takht was crushed to ruins as a result of the numerous explosions, and the Sikh fighters inside died defending it.

“Vijayantas 105 mm main weapons blasted high-explosive squash-head shells into the Akal Takht, according to photographs of the destroyed shrine.”

These shells were designed to take out hard targets like armor and fortifications. The heads of the shells spread or squash onto the hard surface when they hit their targets. Their fuses are set up such that there is a small delay between impact and the shells exploding, causing a shock wave to flow through the target. Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora, who examined the Akal Takht’s front before it was restored, estimated that up to eighty of these fatal rounds were fired into the shrine.

This bombardment had a severe effect on the Akal Takht. The hallowed shrine’s whole facade was demolished, with only a few pillars remaining. Many of the rooms caught fire, blackening the marble walls and destroying the beautiful decorations from Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s period. Marble inlay, plaster and mirror work, and filigree dividers were among them. The Akal Takht’s gold-plated dome was also seriously damaged by artillery fire,” yet the edifice remained intact.

“At around 9 p.m. on June 6th, the entire city of 700,000 was plunged into darkness by a power failure,” Brahma Chellaney reported. Amritsar was rocked by intense shelling, mortar explosions, and machine-gun fire half an hour later. The major fight has started. The conflict was being seen from the rooftops by half of the city. The sky was lit up by tracer gunfire and flares. The Golden Temple blasts shook doors and windows kilometers away. The city was ‘quiet’ while the battle was going on, according to state-run radio. We heard residents trying to march to the Golden Temple from three directions between 10.30 p.m. and midnight on the fringes of the city. On each occasion, the slogans “Long live the Sikh religion” and “Bhindranwale is our leader” were heard.

The Sikh fighters fought valiantly; one of the officers remarked, “Boy, what a fight they put up against us. “I’d kick the hell out of Zia (President of Pakistan) any day if I had three Divisions like that.” “I’ve seen a lot of action, but I can assure you I’ve never seen anything like this,” said another. They were very dedicated. They should have known they couldn’t win against an army. We carried a backup weapon in case one failed. We brought another when it failed.” A third expressed himself more succinctly. “They wouldn’t let us in because they were bloodthirsty.”

“Bhai Amrik Singh (leading Sikh fighter) sent her a message urging her to leave the Temple Complex as soon as possible with her group to avoid being dishonored [raped] or being shot dead as ‘terrorists’ by Army personnel, and also to survive to tell the true story of what happened inside the Golden Temple to the world outside,” says one of the pilgrims.

“What did I see but mountains of dead bodies, all layered one over the other,” she recounts seeing when she stepped out of the chamber where she and others were fighting to survive the firing and bombing. I had a gut feeling I wouldn’t be able to go out at first. All I could see was a never-ending heap of bodies. “It appeared like none of the people who were staying in the Parikrama had survived.”

“Grenades and deadly gas shells were thrown at the men, women, and children who had barricaded themselves in the rooms, bathrooms, and toilets of Guru Nanak Niwas, Guru Ram Das serai, and Teja Singh Samundri Hall, after the defenders’ resistance had been beaten.” Those who attempted to flee were shot and pierced with bayonets. Some soldiers grabbed young toddlers and children by their feet, hoisted them into the air, and then crushed their heads against the walls.”

“The citizens who died, around 1500 of them, were loaded into carts and transported away.” A large number of them were tossed into rivers. The conflict was sad. I was unable to consume any food. Food made me nauseous. I used to just go to sleep after drinking a lot of rum.”

The narrative of a Kumaon Regiment Naik (Corporal) who took part in Blue Star, was published in Probe India in August 1984.

“The soldiers attacked Teja Singh Samundri hall and the Parikarma rooms and behaved like savages, robbing women, looting, killing children, burning people alive, setting the rooms on fire, and tying devotees’ hands behind their backs and shooting them.”

Bibi Pritam Kaur’s eyewitness testimony of her husband and 18-month-old kid being shot dead. A video interview (accessible online), as well as the transcript of the interview, was reprinted in the Punjab Times.

“It was a complete bloodbath woman, children, and pilgrims were killed by the soldiers in large numbers.” On the 13th of June, 1984, The Guardian published an article on

Also Read – Operation Blue Star: A Story of Human Rights Violations in Punjab

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