Opinions on Operation Blue Star

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Operation Blue Star was an Indian military operation which occurred between 3 June and 8 June 1984, ordered by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in order to establish control over the Harmandir Sahib Complex in Amritsar, Punjab, and remove Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers from the complex buildings. Bhindranwale had earlier taken residence in Harmandir Sahib and made it his headquarters in April 1980.

The operation had two components—Operation Metal, confined to the Harmandir Sahib complex, and Operation Shop, which raided the Punjabi countryside to capture any suspects. Following it, Operation Woodrose was launched in the Punjab countryside where Sikhs, specifically those carrying a kirpan and protesting , were now targeted. The operation was carried out by Indian Army troops with tanks, artillery, helicopters, and armored vehicles, and tear gas. Casualty figures of Operation Blue Star given by Kuldip Singh Brar put the number of deaths among the Indian army at 83 and injuries at 220. According to the official estimate presented by the Indian government, 492 civilians were killed, though some independent claims vary.

In addition, the CBI is considered responsible for seizing historical artifacts and manuscripts in the Sikh Reference Library, before burning it down. The military action 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. Many Sikh soldiers in the Indian army mutinied, many Sikhs resigned from armed and civil administrative office and several returned awards and honours they had received from the Indian government.

Four months after the operation, on 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by Satwant Singh and Beant Singh who were her two Sikh bodyguards, in what is viewed as an act of vengeance. Subsequently, more than 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the ensuing anti-Sikh riots. Within the Sikh community itself, Operation Blue Star has taken on considerable historical significance and is often compared to what Sikhs call "the great massacre" by the Afghan invader Ahmad Shah Durrani, the Sikh holocaust of 1762.


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