15 June, 2021

Into The Temple, With Boots On

Operation Bluestar was a bloody, avoidable desecration

Into The Temple, With Boots On

Not a blaring horn was heard, not an overladen, toiling truck, nor an ambling bullock cart were seen along the Grand Trunk Road on the morning of June 5, 1984, hours before the army entered the Golden Temple complex. The only bus between Amritsar and Punjab’s border with Haryana was the one I was travelling in. It was carrying all the Indian and foreign journalists rounded up by the police in Amritsar and expelled from Punjab to prevent us reporting on Operation Bluestar. The whole state had been put under curfew. In the villages we passed through, even the domestic animals seemed to be observing this curfew. The only trains moving were carrying troops.

We already knew a major military operation was under way because the day before, we had managed to listen in to a joint police-and-army radio network. We never imagined the operation would involve an armoured assault on one of the most sacred shrines in the temple complex and cost the army at least 332 casualties, the figure given in the government’s white paper on...

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