First week of June, 1984 was a significant moment in India’s political history. Under the orders of the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, the Indian military stormed into the premises of the Golden Temple in Amritsar to drive out the Sikh extremist religious leader, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers. Bhindranwale in the past two years, had made his political claims very clear. He wanted the Indian government to pass the Anandpur Resolution, and thereby agree to the formation of a separate state of Khalistan for Sikhs. Since 1982, the radical leader of Sikhism had managed to gain enough support for his cause and by mid-1983 had set up a base inside the Golden Temple complex, with ammunition and his followers. The Operation Blue Star was launched between June 1 and June 6, 1984 with the aim of getting rid of Bhindranwale and his demands.
Once Bhindranwale had fortified the Golden Temple and its surrounding areas, Indira Gandhi decided to consult the Indian army regarding the plan to drive him out. Given the religious sentiments attached to the Gurudwara and the casualty that could be expected, the then Army Vice-Chief, Lt. Gen. S.K.Sinha had advised against an assault. Soon after however, he was replaced by General Arun Shridhar Vaidya as Chief of the Indian Army, who went on to plan and lead Operation Blue Star.
The Indian Army launched the offensive on the night of June 2, and on June 3 a curfew was imposed on the state of Punjab, and all lines of communication and travel were stopped. The operation resulted in the death of Bhindranwale and a high casualty figure among the army, the civilians and the militants. The assault on Golden Temple was heavily criticised by Sikhs worldwide and had led to several Sikhs resigning from administrative positions. Few months post-Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards, followed by severe anti-Sikh riots in Delhi.
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