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TRUTH   JUSTICE   FREEDOM

Prior to 1984, the Indian state had indulged in the killing of innocent Sikhs and when the Sikhs had turned to the justice system for recourse they found the law sided with the perpetrators, regardless of the evidence. There are so many examples of when justice was denied to the Sikhs, years BEFORE the horrific events of June 1984 began to take shape;

 

PART 1: INDIAN GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA CLAIMS HARMANDIR SAHIB WAS ATTACKED TO ‘FLUSH OUT TERRORISTS’

WE ASK WHO WAS REALLY SPREADING TERROR ACROSS PUNJAB ? 

1. The April 1978 killing of 13 innocent and unarmed Sikhs, when a peaceful protest led by Bhai Fauja Singh against a cult leader who openly attacked the Sikh faith, resulted in cult members and the police opening fire and attacking the Sikhs.


2. In September 1981 Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale offered himself for arrest to the police in the presence of a large public gathering at Mehta Chowk. Before his arrest, Jarnail Singh addressed the Sangat and appealed for peace. Chowk Mehta was heavily surrounded by the police and Border Security Force. Following Sant Ji’s arrest, police harassment, cane-charges and shooting left 12 innocent Sikhs dead.

3. The 1982 arrest of Kulwant Singh Nagoke, who was ‘wanted’ simply for being an associate of Shaheed Bhai Fauja Singh. He was so brutally tortured that when it was time to be presented in court, his battered and bruised body could not stand or get out of the police jeep, unaided. To avoid detection of the mistreatment, the Judge declared the prisoner was too ‘dangerous’ to be produced in court and granted the Police a further 5 days of remand. When Kulwant Singh was returned to jail, his unconscious body was thrown into the cell and the torture continued. When after 5 days, Kulwant Singh was again not produced in court, the police announced that he had escaped from custody. The news spread like wildfire and the state of Punjab was put on red alert, adverts appeared in the national newspapers looking for the ‘fugitive’ Kulwant Singh. But, all along Kulwant Singh’s body had been disposed of by the Police who had finally ended his life by putting a bullet through his head. Locals recall hearing gunfire the night before his body was discovered. However, the official statement released by police talks of “an intense encounter which ended in the death of terrorist Kulwant Singh who had escaped custody with 2 other detainees, who remain at large”.

4. 1982 also saw the killing by fake encounters of; Amarjeet Singh Daheru, Baljeet Singh Sultanpur, Kashmir Singh Ladhwal, Bhola Singh whose every limb was also broken, Gurmit Singh Dhulkhot whose every finger and toenail had been removed before being killed.

Despite the almost daily killings of Sikhs with no recourse to justice, Sant Bhindranwale vehemently condemned any acts of communal violence. Sikhs were well aware that many of these acts were prompted by state agencies who had a vested interest in raising tensions in Punjab to deflect attention from the real issue – how the State of Punjab and India were governed.

In the run up to the 1984 attack, rumours abounded that the Indian government was planning to eliminate Sant Bhindranwale. Prime Minister Gandhi had asked Lt Gen SK Sinha to provide men to abduct Bhindranwale from his base at Chowk Meta. Sinha wisely pointed out the folly in this venture. Recent cabinet papers released by the British Government show that India sought Britain’s advice as early as October 1983 about how best to conduct the raid to remove Bhindranwale from the Harmandir Sahib complex. Further comments made by retired Indian General’s have substantiated claims that the Indian commandos were indeed training on a replica of the Golden Temple.

The Indian Governments preparations were not unknown to Bhindranwale, who by now had a couple of ex-senior service men in his camp and they still had contacts within the Indian Army. The government’s moves prompted Bhindranrwale’s group to first move into the Golden Temple complex and then later, to fortify their positions for the expected assault.

The Indian media like to paint Bhindranwale’s residence at the Golden Temple akin to a takeover, but it could not have been further from the truth. The steps taken by Sant Bhindranwale were defensive manoeuvres against the terror unleashed by State forces. In the meanwhile, life within the complex continued as normal, in fact, journalists who visited the Golden Temple in the months leading to the attack, state they were free to roam around the Gurdwara as were other members of the public.

In the lead up to the assault on the Harmandir Sahib, Indian media went into overdrive, acting as a mouth piece for the Congress government, printing whatever lurid stories they were being fed. The whole purpose of this sham reporting was to justify the impending attack on the Golden Temple and many other Gurdwara’s.

PART 2: Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindrawale – 'One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.' 

The Indian establishment still shudders upon hearing the name of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was just a straight forward preacher from rural Punjab. Thirty years on, he is still vilified by the Indian press, who paint a picture of a religious zealot wanting to destroy the very fabric of India.

Recently, we have seen a wave against corruption and Indians are now beginning to understand that it exists at the heart of all India’s agencies. The coloured picture of Bhindranwale painted by the establishment and the State controlled media, was far removed from the truth. What Sant Bhindranwale spoke fearlessly about three decades ago, is as relevant today as it was back in the 1980’s. Bhindranwale’s mission was a simple one:


1. ANTI CORRUPTION – to fight against the corruption which was rampant in the three arms of the State - police, judiciary and politicians. These State agencies were seen to act in unison, meaning that incidents like the killing of 13 innocent Sikhs in Amritsar in April 1978 and 18 young Sikhs in Chowk Mehta killed by police firing in 1981, went unpunished. Bhindranwale realised that justice in India came at a price and it could be bought and sold by powerful individuals. In reality this meant there was no justice for the ordinary, poor man or the minority communities.

TODAY 30 YEARS ON, SIKHS STILL FACE EXECUTION AND CONTINUE TO LANGUISH IN JAIL, INNOCENT YOUTH ARE STILL SHOT DEAD ON THE STREETS BY POLICE AND THE PERPETRATORS OF THESE CRIMES CONTINUE TO WALK FREE.

2. ANTI-ALCOHOL AND DRUG CONSUMPTION – addiction was destroying many families in Punjab. Bhindranwale understood that in many rural families where the practice of Sikhism had diminished, the void was being filled with other influences that led to the breakdown of families and the functioning of society. So, by educating the youth and bringing them back to their Sikh roots, Bhindranwale empowered the people of Punjab which in turn meant they could not be easily corrupted by manipulators such as, politicians, cult leaders and bribery by the distribution of intoxicants.

TODAY 30 YEARS ON, OVER 70% OF PUNJAB’S YOUNG MEN ARE ADDICTED TO HARD DRUGS AND ALCOHOL.

3. DEVELOPMENT OF PUNJAB – Bhindranwale showed his tacit support for the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, which demanded more autonomy for the State of Punjab. Greater control of Punjab’s natural resources including water and electricity would increase productivity and development in the ‘breadbasket of India’.

TODAY 30 YEARS ON, PUNJAB’S WATER TABLE IS DEPLETING AT AN ALARMING RATE AND POWER CUTS ARE THE RESULT OF A SERIOUS SUPPLY SHORTAGE. AS MORE AND MORE FARMERS ARE CRIPPLED BY LOANS AND DEBT, SUICIDE RATES ARE INCREASING.

4. WARNED OF A SOCIETY WITHOUT MORALS - excessive materialism such as lavish weddings beyond the means of the family and the system of dowry, punished the family of the bride. Bhindranwale intervened when poorer families, be they Sikh or Hindu, approached him for help and he used his influence to mediate and resolve.

TODAY 30 YEARS ON, EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS ARE SPENT ON WEDDINGS PUSHING FAMILIES FURTHER INTO DEBT. HORRIFIC ‘DOWRY KILLINGS’ TAKE PLACE DAILY AND THE RATE OF FEMALE INFANTICIDE MEANS THAT A QUARTER OF PUNJAB’S GIRLS ARE KILLED BEFORE THEY ARE EVEN BORN.

Bhindranwale’s message was in support of the ordinary man, the man who did not have influence or money to manipulate the system. The very systems that were put in place to protect the common man had been corrupted to benefit the rich and powerful. It was these ordinary people of Punjab, who flocked to Bhindranwale because in him they saw a leader who frankly spoke the truth and did not waiver from his path. With his rise in popularity, based on principles that empowered the ordinary man, Bhindranwale’s following threatened to overrun the corrupt power structures within the State. So, he had to be stopped, the Akali’s wanted him removed and Congress also wanted him gone.

With the passing of time, the truth of Bhindranwale’s message is clear to see. The events of June 1984 and the carnage that followed, proved to the world the extent of the Indian Government’s corruption and the depths those traitors in power go to, in order to maintain their positions. If the true message of Bhindranwale was more widely known, he would be celebrated as a hero not just in Punjab, but across all of India. Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was the first Indian since independence, to make a stand against corruption and injustice – which is why the ruling elite fear even the mention of his name and continue to do everything in their power, to discredit his image and lessen his appeal.
 

PART 3: THE DAY INDIA WENT TO WAR WITH ITS OWN CITIZENS...

 

June 1st – June 3rd ....
At 14.40, the Central Reserve Police Force suddenly start firing without warning aiming directly at the Harmandir Sahib Complex. The firing continues on and off from the 1st of June through to the 3rd. Innocent pilgrims gathered to commemorate the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev Ji (one of the busiest days at the complex), are trapped inside with no way of escape. A few that do try to leave are gunned down by the State forces and the message soon reverberates around the complex, reaching the trapped pilgrims that there is no way out of the buildings.

No shots are returned from the Harmandir Sahib Complex, as the young Sikh defenders are under strict instructions not to return fire. Bullets fired by the army snipers kill a dozen Sikhs.

June 4th 04:40 ....
Amritsar awakes to the deafening roar of explosions as the Indian Army wheels in it’s tanks and field guns to target the Water Tank and the ‘Ramgaria Bunga’ watch towers. Heavy artillery firing continues all day, most of it targeted at the Akal Takht, Guru Nanak Niwas, Guru Ram Das Langar Hall and Baba Atal buildings.

June 4th 12:30 ....
Electricity supplies to the Harmandir Sahib Complex are cut off and no drinking water is available due to the damaged Water Tank. Air temperature rises well above 40 degrees.

June 5th 17:15 ....
Sikh political leaders Longowal and Tohra, receive a message from the Deputy Superintendent of Police in Amritsar that anybody who wants to leave the temple complex, should do so by 17:30 (in 15 minutes). The leaders replied that it would be impossible to evacuate the large number of pilgrims - men, women and children, scattered in small pockets all over the complex. While the message was still being delivered to the DSP, the firing restarts with a greater intensity than before.

Earlier in the day, the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar requested that the army provide one telephone connection to the temple, so he could co-ordinate the evacuation of the pilgrims from the complex. The army refuses this request.

June 5th 22:30 ....
A team of Commandos enters the Harmandir Sahib complex via the clock tower entrance and charges towards the Akal Takht. Coming under heavy fire, they are forced back to the clock tower, due to taking many casualties. The commando’s are supported by the 10 Guards in their second attempt to reach the Akal Takht but both units are hit hard and have to retreat. 

Battles rage in other parts of the Harmandir Sahib complex, another unit of the Indian Army (15th Kumaon) approaches the Akal Takht from the Sarai’s (rest houses for pilgrims and visitors). The 15th Kumaon are pinned back by the young Sikh defenders who have taken to arms in defence of this unprovoked attack on the place they hold most sacred in their hearts.

June 6th between 00:00 – 03:00 ....
Due to the lack of progress made towards the Akal Takht, further reinforcements are called in. The 9th Garhwal rifles supported by more companies enter the complex through the southern gate (Reference Library) and head for the Akal Takht. After fierce resistance they manage to establish a foothold on the roof of the reference library. 

The army ‘neutralizes’ the perceived threat of any resistance in the Parikarma (buildings and rooms that encircle the Golden Temple itself) but in these rooms, there are only thousands of pilgrims taking cover from the pitch battle outside. Systematically, the army goes from room to room lobbing grenades and firing indiscriminately, which results in the slaughter of innocent men, women and children. 

June 6th Early Morning ....
By 03:00 on June 6th the last unit of the Indian Army, the Madrasis, arrives five hours late. The Indian General’s now have all their units deployed and surround the Akal Takht. The SSF commando’s are ordered to make another attempt to storm the Akal Takht, using stun grenades and gas canisters but are forced back by the return of heavy fire. Kuldip Brar orders his armoured personnel carriers into the complex, only to find the first one is taken out by a rocket propelled grenade. The army General’s become increasingly desperate men - they have suffered huge casualties and in an hour or so as day breaks, their positions will be exposed, so they call for the tanks to fire HESH shells (High Explosive Squash Heads) at the Akal Takht. Over 80 shells are fired, decimating the Akal Takht and up to 400 houses and shops were razed to the ground in the surrounding area. 

June 6th ....
The gallant Sikh defenders who survived the shelling, continue to put up a stiff resistance. The army exchanges fire with them until 12:30 and on the night of June 6th the troops finally manage to enter the basement of the Akal Takht as the guns of the Sikhs fall silent. 

The Aftermath ....
The army had suffered humiliation at the hands of a small band of Sikhs, the claims they had made of a quick and clinical strike had turned into a long, gruelling battle and the resistance they had met shook them. When the assault was over, the soldiers went on a rampage. Young Sikh men who had simply visited Harmandir Sahib to pay their respects to Guru Arjan Dev, were beaten, their turbans were removed and used to tie their hands behind their backs. The younger ones were picked out, lined up and shot. Other pilgrims who had not had any water to drink for days were locked in small rooms with no ventilation and they suffocated to death while the soldiers looted money and valuable artefacts, then setting fire to the Central Sikh Reference Library. 

Harcharan Singh Rode - older brother of Sant Bhindranwale and a Captain in the Indian army at the time, was one of the first people to enter the Golden Temple complex on 7th June 1984, when he went to identify the dead body of his brother. Before he could enter, he was asked to surrender his weapon. These are his words, “as I went inside, I saw blood everywhere, there were bodies of children and women all over the parikarma. I could see huge columns of smoke billowing out of the Akal Takht. I saw decomposing bodies all around. It was a very hot summer’s day. The langar area was full of blood. I passed piles of decomposing bodies and saw army men and municipal workers removing them by loading them up on garbage trucks”. 

The Indian Administration went into over drive to cover up the massacre and removed the dead bodies which were cremated en masse, without identification. No records were kept of who or how many were killed and families had no way of finding out what happened to their loved ones. Official government figures put those who died in the attack, at 493. In sharp contrast, Human Rights organisations estimate the number of pilgrims unaccounted for, in the thousands. The government underplayed the number of army casualties, putting the number of dead at 75 and 249 injured. Army sources privately admit the figure was much higher. In a statement made by Rajiv Gandhi at Kanpur, the number of soldiers killed was 700, a statement which he later withdrew.

Those innocent pilgrims who managed to survive the attack were arrested and taken away to ‘prisoner of war’ camps and later many were sent to far away jails where they were to languish for years. 

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