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Operation Bluestar: Chronology of events


Amritsar (Punjab) : Chronology of events before, during and after Operation Bluestar, the codename for the Indian Army’s assault on the Golden Temple complex in June 1984:

April 13, 1978: A bloody clash between Sikhs and Nirankari Sikh sect activists leaves 13 Sikhs dead in Amritsar.

Sep 9, 1981: Lala Jagat Narain, Hind Samachar newspaper group founder and a bitter critic of Bhindranwale, gunned down by terrorists near Ludhiana city.

June 3, 1984: Total curfew in Punjab. Shoot-at-sight orders as army completely takes over the state and surrounds the Golden Temple complex, the holiest of Sikh shrines, in Amritsar. The army’s assault, codenamed Operation Bluestar, begins at the shrine. The army faces stiff resistance from heavily armed militants led by Bhindranwale holed up inside.

June 6, 1984: The army is able to decimate the resistance inside the Golden Temple complex, especially from the Akal Takht – the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion. The bodies of Bhindranwale, his top commanders and others are recovered from there. The marble building suffers extensive damage as the army used tanks and mortar guns to neutralise fortified machine gun and rocket launcher positions.

Several units of the army, many led by Sikh officers, participate in the attack. Tanks and armoured vehicles roll down the steps of the shrine and enter the ‘parikarma’ for the assault.

Oct 31, 1984: Prime minister Indira Gandhi, who ordered Operation Bluestar, is gunned down at her official residence in New Delhi by her two Sikh bodyguards.

Her assassination leads to the worst ever anti-Sikh riots, leaving hundreds of Sikhs dead in Delhi and other places across India.

Aug 20, 1985: Moderate and popular Sikh leader Harchand Singh Longowal, who signed the Rajiv (Gandhi)-Longowal Accord for Punjab in 1985, assassinated by terrorists.

April 30, 1986: Armed Sikh militants holed up inside the Golden Temple complex are confronted by National Security Guard (NSG) commandos to flush them out of the shrine. The operation is codenamed Black Thunder.

May 12, 1988: Operation Black Thunder II is launched by the NSG and the Punjab police. Militants holed up inside are finally made to surrender May 18. ‘Supercop’ K.P.S. Gill leads the operation.

Aug 31, 1995: Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, the man largely credited with wiping out terrorism from Punjab along with K.P.S. Gill, assassinated by a human bomb inside the high-security Punjab civil secretariat complex in Chandigarh.