Posted by: Srimal Fernando | October 5, 2010

“Amritsar Golden Temple” and “The 1984 Attack on the Golden Temple”- Amristar -India

Amritsar Golden Temple & the 1984 Attack on the Golden TempleAmristar ,India

Amritsar The Golden Temple

Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple is one of the most ancient and fascinating cities of India. It is an important seat of Sikh history and culture. Being the gateway for travellers coming to India on the overland route from central Asia it soon became the centre of various commercial activities. There are various historical and religious sites – see Amritsar City Map.

The most famous of them all in the Golden Temple which was founded by the fourth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Ramdas and completed by his successor Guru Arjan Dev. Sri Harmandir Sahib, also know as the Golden Temple in Amritsar is the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. Also known as the Shri Darbar Shaib, it is in the center of the old part of Amritsar.

The Golden Temple sits on a rectangular platform, surrounded by a pool of water called the Amrit Sarovar from which the City is named.

The entrance to the Golden Temple complex is through an ornate archway with intricate inlay work. Verses from the Granth Sahib are inscribed on the doorway. The main north entrance is under a Victorian clock tower. Known as the Darshani Deori, the entrance is up a flight of steps and down again to the temple and holy tank. The temple is a two storey marble structure reached by a causeway known as Guru´s Bridge. The lower storey is in white marble with the walls decorated with inlaid flower and animal motifs in the pietradura style of the Taj Mahal. The architecture of the golden temple is a blend of the Hindu and Muslim styles. The entrance to the Golden Temple complex is through an ornate archway with intricate inlay work. Verses from the Granth Sahib are inscribed on the doorway.

The main north entrance is under a Victorian clock tower. Known as the Darshani Deori, the entrance is up a flight of steps and down again to the temple and holy tank. The temple is a two storey marble structure reached by a causeway known as Guru´s Bridge. The lower storey is in white marble with the walls decorated with inlaid flower and animal motifs in the pietradura style of the Taj Mahal. The architecture of the golden temple is a blend of the Hindu and Muslim styles.The upper storey is gold plated,  crowned with a dome (the Golden Dome) shaped like an inverted lotus. With the first light of dawn, the reflection of the temple in the tank gives an ethereal atmosphere to the complex. As the sun shifts, the temple presents myriad views, each magnificent and captivating. The Golden Dome (said to be glided with 100 kg of pure gold) is supposed to represent an inverted lotus flower, pointing back to earth to symbolize the Sikh´s concern with the problems of this world.

The temple building has four entrances instead of the usual single entry. This is symbolic of the openness of Sikhism and indicates that followers of all faiths are allowed inside. The walls within are decorated with carved wooden panels and elaborate inlay work in silver and gold.

Amritsar Golden Temple :: Golden Temple in Amritsar is a place frequented by Sikhs all round the year. Countless pilgrims visit Golden Temple to pay homage to the holy shrine. Golden Temple is also known as Hari Mandir meaning Temple of God. Sri Harmandir Sahib, also known as Sri Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple,The Harmandir Sahib reffered to as The Golden Temple, is the holiest shrine in Sikhism. It is located in the city of Amritsar, which was established by Guru Ram Das, the fourth guru of the Sikhs and is known as “guru di nagri” meaning city of the Sikh Guru. Its name literally means temple of God. The fourth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das, excavated a tank in 1577 AD which subsequently became known as Amritsar(meaning: The abode of God) rose in the middle of this tank and became the supreme centre of Sikhism. Its sanctum came to house the Adi GranthBaba Farid, Kabir, etc. The compilation of the Adi Granth was started by the fifth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev. Originally built during 1574 AD, the site of the temple was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest. The third of the six grand Mughals, emperor Akbar, who visited the third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das, at the neighbouring town of Goindval was so impressed by the way of life in the town that he gave a jagir (the land and the revenues of several villages in the vicinity) to the Guru’s daughter Bhani as a gift on her marriage to Bhai Jetha, who later became the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das. Guru Ram Das enlarged the lake and built a small township around it.

The town was named after Guru Ram Das as “Guru Ka Chak”, “Chak Ram Das” or “Ram Das Pura”. (meaning: Pool of the Nectar of Immortality) giving its name to the city that grew around it. In due course, a splendid Sikh edifice, Harmandir Sahib comprising compositions of Sikh Gurus and other saints considered to have Sikh values and philosophies

During the leadership of the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev (1581-1606), the full-fledged Temple was built. In December 1588 the great Muslim Sufi saint of Lahore, Hazrat Mian Mir, who was a close friend of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, initiated the construction of the temple by laying the first foundation stone (December 1588 AD). A mason then straightened the stone but Guru Arjan Dev told him that, as he had undone the work just completed by the holy man, a disaster might come to the Harmandir Sahib. It was later attacked by the Mughals.

The temple was completed in 1604. Guru Arjan Dev, installed the Guru Granth Sahib in it and appointed Baba Buddha Ji as the first Granthi (Reader) of it on August 1604 AD. In the mid 18th century it was attacked by the Afghans, by one of Ahmed Shah Abdali‘s Generals, Jahan Khan, and had to be substantially rebuilt in the 1760s

Operation Blue Star, the 1984 Attack on the Golden Temple

Operation Blue Star 3– 6 June 1984 was an Indian military operation ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of Indiato remove Sikh separatists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar. June 6, will be remembered as a landmark in modern Indian history. On that date, the indian armed forces took control of the Golden Temple complex after destroying the Akal Takht and killing Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The separatists, led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, were amassing weapons in that gurudwara The operation was carried out by Indian army troops with tanks and armoured vehicles. The military assault led to an uproar amongst Sikhs worldwide and the increased tension following the action led to assaults on members of the Sikh community within India. Some Sikh soldiers in the Indian army mutinied, many Sikhs resigned from armed and civil administrative office and a few returned awards

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale ( (February 12, 1947 – June 6, 1984) was the controversial leader of the Damdami Taksal, a Sikh religious group based in India who supported implementation of the Anandpur Sahib ResolutionSikhism. Bhindranwale is more notable for his involvement in Operation Blue Star in which he and his supporters, most of them radicalized Sikhs who believed in Bhindranwale’s objectives, occupied the Akal Takht complex, including the Golden Temple, in Amritsar. He was killed by the Indian Army, who had orders from Indian Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi to remove all armed militants inside the temple. Since his death, Bhindranwale has remained a controversial figure in Indian history. While Sikhs highest authority Akal Takht describe him a “great martyr” of the Sikh community, who made “supreme sacrifice” for the sake of “faith”, Bhindranwale was born in the village of Rode, in the Faridkot DistrictMalwa (Punjab). His father, Joginder Singh, was a farmer and a local Sikh leader. Jarnail Singh was the seventh of eight brothers. He was brought up as a strict vegetarian. In Punjab, Bhindranwale went from village to village as a missionary and asked people to live according to the rules and tenets of Sikhism. He preached to disaffected young Sikhs, encouraging them to return to the path of Khalsa by giving up vices like sex, drugs, alcohol and tobacco He married Pritam Kaur, daughter of Sucha Singh His wife bore him two sons, Ishar and Inderjit Singh,.

Bhindranwale participated in some behind-the-scenes political work. In 1979, when Bhindranwale put up forty candidates in the SGPC elections for a total of 140 seats, he won  four .Bhindranwale himself always wore a pistol belt and encouraged his followers to be armed. In late July 1983, finding an increasing number of his followers arrested day by day, Sant Bhindranwale left his base in Chowk Mehta to start a peaceful campaign for their release from the Golden Temple complex. On December 15, 1983, finding himself in danger of being arrested for threats he had made against chauvinist Hindu organizations, Jarnail Singh and his entourage moved to the holy Akal Takhat over the objections of Giani Kirpal Singh, the head priest of the place. Bhindranwale used his political connection with Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the Gurdwara committee and the man responsible for keeping the peace in the Golden Temple complexHe fortified the temple with light machine-guns and sophisticated self-loading rifles were brought in.

General Vaidya, assisted by Lt. Gen. K Sundarji as Vice-Chief, planned and coordinated Operation Blue Star.Dayal, Sundarji and Brar drew up at twofold plan.

The essence of this plan was to separate the hostel complex from the Temple complex so that the hostels could be evacuated without becoming involved in the main battle. To achieve the prime objective to get Bhindrenwale out of the temple complex they had planned a commando operations. Commandos were to be supported by infantry, Tanks were only to be used as platforms for machine guns to neutralize fire on troops approaching the Golden Temple complex, and to cover the Temple exits in case anyone tried to escape. Armored personnel carriers were to be positioned on the road separating the hostels from the Temple complex to keep the two potential battle fields apart. The Indian Army stormed the Golden Temple on the night of 5 June under the command of Kuldip Singh Brar. The forces had full control of the Golden Temple by the morning of 7 June. There were casualties among the army, civilians, and militants. Miltant leaders Bhindranwale and Shabeg Singh were killed in the operation .Operation Blue Star was launched to eliminate the Sikh militants who had sought cover in the Amritsar Golden Temple Complex.

The Sikh militants within the Harminder Sahib were led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and former Maj. Gen.Shabeg Singh. Maj. Gen. Kuldip Singh Brar had command of the action, operating under Gen. Sunderji. The first element was the destruction of Shabeg Singh‘s outer defences. Much of this had been completed in the preliminary shelling. Major-General Brar had hoped to force Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale into surrendering, which did not occur. The destroyed defenses included seventeen houses which the police believed Bhindranwale’s followers occupied in the alleys surrounding the Golden Temple. Nearby was the Brahmbuta Akhara, a large building housing the headquarters of a Sikh Between 10:00 and 10:30 on 5 June commandos from 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, were ordered to run down the steps under the clock tower on to the parikarma, (“pavement”), and move quickly around the edge of the sacred pool to the Akal Takht.

As the paratroopers entered the main gateway to the Temple they were gunned down by light machine-gun fire from both sides of the steps. The few commandos who did get down the steps were driven back by a barrage of fire from the building on the south side of the sacred pool. In the control room, a house on the opposite side of the clock-tower, Major-General Brar was waiting with two supporting officers to hear confirmation that the commandos had established positions inside the complex Brar again requested tanks after an APC was destroyed by a rocket fired by a Sikh militant. His request was granted and seven tanks rolled into the Golden Temple complex.

They cleared the ramparts and later assaulted the main temple in order to neutralize the militants remaining in the structure. The shelling achieved its objective and the primary target of removing militants from the Akal Takht was achieved by 01:00. However, the secondary objective of removing militants from other neighbouring structures went on for a further 24 hours This sad event hurt both the Indian Army which went in with a heavy heart and the patriotic community of Sikhs who have given so much to India. The army suffered 83 dead and 248 wounded.

A total of 492 terrorists and others were killed and 86 wounded. About 1500 people were captured,which included a number of Pakistanis who had taken shelter there. Thus ended the Indian Army’s toughest operation. However a number of terrorists had fled to the countryside and the army had to launch “Operation Metal” to move around Punjab. According to Lieutenant General Kuldip Singh Brar, who commanded the operation, the body of Bhindranwale was identified by a number of agencies, including the police, the Intelligence Bureau and militants in the Army’s custody. Bhindranwale’s brother is also reported to have identified Bhindranwale’s body.

It was later pointed out that the blockade approach taken by Rajiv Gandhi five years later, in Operation Black Thunder when Sikh militants had again taken over the temple complex, was highly successful as they managed to resolve the stand-off peacefully and in hindsight Operation Blue Star could have been averted by using similar blockade tactics.




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