Golden Temple

Operation Blue Star

The first task was the destruction of Major-General Shahbeg Singh's outer defenses. Much of this had been completed in the preliminary firing when Major-General Brar had hoped to frighten Bhindrenwale into surrendering. These defences included the seventeen houses which the police had allowed Bhindanwale's followers to occupy in the alleys sorrounding the Golden Temple. Some of them were as far as 800 yards away from the complex. These outposts were all in wireless contact with Shahbeg Singh's command post in the Akal Takht. The Temple view hotel outside the Temple complex had also been occupied. Next to it was Brahmbuta Akhara, a large bulding housing the headquarters of a Sikh sect. Then there were three main towers which had been fortified to make positions from which Bhindranwale's men could fire into the Golden Temple complex. Because they stood well above the rest of the building, the towers were also excellent observation posts for watc hing the movement of troops in the narrow alleys sorrounding the Temple. The tops of these towers were blasted off the by artillery fire. The use of artillery in the dense city of Amritsar prooved very costly, many innocent people living in close proximity of Golden Temple lost their lives. Then the commando operation was planned.

Defenders of Akal Takht

It was between 10 and 10:30 PM when commandos from 1st Battalion, the parachute regiment, wearing black denims were ordered to run down the steps under the clock tower on to the parikarma, or pavement, turn right and move as quickly as they could round the edge of the sacred tank to the Akal Takht. But as the paratroopers entered the main gateway to the Temple they were mown down. Most of the casualties were caused by Sikhs with light machine-guns who were hiding on either side of the steps leading down to the parikarma. 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, in a house on the opposite side of the clock-tower, Major-general Brar was waiting anxiously with his two supporting officers to hear that the commandos had established positions inside the complex. When no report came through he was heard over the command network sayin g, "You bastards, why don't you go in."

The few commandos who survived regrouped in hte square outside the Temple, and reported back to Major-General Brar. He reinforced them and ordered them to make another attempt to go in. The commandos were to be followed by the 10th Battalion of the Guards commanded by a Muslim, Lieutenant-colonel Israr Khan. This battalion had Sikh soldiers in its rank. The second commando attack managed to neutralise the machine-gun posts on either side of the steps and get down on to the parikarma. They were followed by the Guards who came under withering fire and were not able to make any progress radioed for permission to fire back at the buildings on the other side of the tank. That would have meant that the Golden Temple itself, which is in the middle of the tank, would have been in the line of fire. Brar refused permission. But then he started to get messges from the commander of Guards reporting heavy casualties. Golden Temple ComplexThey had suffered almost 20 percent casualties without managing to turn the corner of parikarma to the western sides. Sikhs would also suddenly appear from man-holes in the parikarma the Guards were fighting from, lef off a burst of machine-gun fire or throw lethal grenades, and disappear into the passages which run under the Temple. These machine-gunners had been taught to fire at knee-level because Major-General Shahbeg Singh expected the army to crawl towards its objective, But the Guards and commandos were not crawling, and so many of them received severe leg injuries.

Brar, then decided on a change of plan. He ordered to occupy the roof tops of the clock towers as well as all the rooms along the parikarma. Army commandos rushed in from main clock tower entrance, their objective being to neutralize fire from Akal Takht in North. They ran into trouble as soon as they went down the steps, automatic gunfire hit them from both sides of stairs and more then 40 commandos lost their lives in less then five minutes, amazingly only two Bhindrenwale supporters were firing at them. Next batch of commandos were able to run down the stairs and turn right but here again, automatic gun fire from Akal Takht as well as old towers and water tank hit them. By this time Soldiers from Bihar regiment had cordoned off the whole Golden Temple complex, but not very effectively. Madras regiment was trying to enter through the Eastern gate and had reached many difficulties. While Kumaonis from North close to Langar were trying desperately without much success. So General Brar requested tanks to be brought in to Golden Temple, but he was give armored personnel carrier. Which was blown up by rocket launcher as soon as it had crossed Baba Deep Singh's Samadh.

Brar again requested tanks and was allowed this time. According to Giani ji of Golden Temple, who was present at Golden Temple itself during all this time, as many as 13 tanks were brought into parikarma and lined up on the eastern side, expensive marble was crushed and whole eastern parikarma broke. Brar ordered to blew up the Akal Takht and thus the highest seat of Sikh authority was brought down by Indian army. Bhai Shabeg Singh ji Bhai ji at basement of Akal Takht tells us that Bhindrenwale came to Guru Granth Sahib and after Ardas said "Those who want to be martyrs come with me" then he dashed outside in front of Akal Takht and was greeted with bullets, like about 40-50 of his group. Many were able to reach Sarovar . Next morning, Indian army was responsible for gutting down historical Sikh relic, some soldiers set fire to Sikh library and many historical manuscripts were lost as well as treasury Toshakhana was gutted. There were more then 140 bullets marks on Golden Temple itself, even though Indian army insisted that not a single bullet was fired towards Golden Temple.

Sikh pilgrims who were held up by Army in buildings in and around Guru Ram Das Sarai, Teja Singh Samundri Hall, etc. These innocent bystanders were not given any food or water for 4 days. Army soldiers asked them to drink water mixed with urine from small puddles on ground. One army soldier went berserk and fired on these innocent pilgrims killing 70. About 40 or so bodies of Sikh men with their hand tied up behind in execution style, were found in several rooms. A Journalist saw a whole truck filled with bodies of women and children. There is more then enough evidence that Army Soldiers were served alcohol as well as cigarettes inside Golden Temple complex.


Read previous pages Operation Blue Star-Background
Read next pagesOperation Blue Star - Aftermath

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Copyright © Mark Tully and Satish Jacob "Amritsar, Mrs. Gandhi's last battle"