CHANDIGARH: An ominous malaise looms over the 32nd anniversary of Operation Bluestar on June 6. With Sikh radicals sticking to their guns and the SAD-BJP government in Punjab not ready to budge, everyone is keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that the day when the Army stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984 to flush out armed Sikh militants led by Jarnail Singh Bhrindanwale, passes off peacefully.
On Friday, a five-member committee of leaders comprising SAD (Amritsar) general secretary Jaskaran Singh Kahansinghwala and Prof Mohinderpal Singh, and United Akali Dal leaders Mohkam Singh, Gurdeep Singh Bathinda and Wassan Singh Jaffarwal met Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. They demanded that a task force of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and policemen in mufti should not be deployed in the Golden Temple complex on June 6.
They also asked Badal to allow the three parallel jathedars, announced by the Sarbat Khalsa last year, to address the gathering from the Akal Takht (highest temporal seat of Sikhs). In 2014 and 2015, clashes had broken out between supporters of Sikh radicals and police when they were stopped from addressing the public. Their last demand was that Sikh political prisoners should be released. The government has not given any assurance to thwart any untoward incident on June 6.
Fifteen companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in Amritsar, Tarantaran, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Gurdaspur, besides large contingents of Punjab Police that are staging flag marches. Punjab Police is on a spate of arrests, and has put Jathedar Dhian Singh Mand under house arrest in Ferozepur. Radical leader Gurdip Singh was arrested in Bathinda early on Saturday. Sikh Youth Federation Bhindrawale president Gurjinder Singh has also been arrested. Several Sikh scholars have asked the government to constitute a fact-finding commission to investigate the real reasons for the attack on the Golden Temple. Radical organisation Dal Khalsa took out a march to mark Operation Bluestar on Friday. Its supporters carried pictures of the damaged Akal Takht and of Sikh martyrs and raised pro-Khalistan slogans. Posters and leaflets were distributed in Amritsar. Local newspapers have been carrying advertisements of the operation’s anniversary and messages supporting the radicals are doing the rounds on Facebook and WhatsApp.
Meanwhile, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Sunday banned media coverage on the premises of Golden Temple on June 6, the 32nd anniversary of Operation Bluestar. The order in this connection was passed by SGPC Chief Secretary Harcharan Singh.
When Death Knocked
Operation Bluestar was a military operation ordered by then PM Indira Gandhi, which was carried out between June 3-8, 1984, to establish control over the Golden Temple and to flush out Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers
493 civilians and 136 soldiers were killed, 220 were wounded in the operation
On October 31,1984 Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her two Sikh bodyguards in an act of vendetta
Subsequently, over 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the ensuing anti-Sikh riots