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Operation Blue Star: The beginning
Terrorism thus arrived to burn the lush green fields of Punjab. People could not move freely on the roads. Very often, some unidentified Sikh youths, riding motor cycles came with lethal weapons and left death in their wake.
PUNJAB - THE land of five rivers, is one of the most prosperous states of India. Most of the inhabitants of this state follow Sikhism, a religion propounded by Guru Nanak Dev in the 15th century. The followers of this religion are known as Sikhs. In the eighties, the entire state of Punjab was engulfed in the fire of terrorism. A group of Sikhs wanted to form a separate state of ’Khalistan’.

Religion is a very sensitive issue in India. Under the guise of religion, many evil powers have brought ruin to this country and continue to do so till date. The Khalistan revolution in Punjab was no different.

The seeds of the Khalistan revolution lie in late seventies. A preacher named Baba Gurbachan Singh alias Nirankari Baba started proclaiming that he was the incarnation of Guru Govind Singh. Such a proclamation by the Baba hurt the Sikh sentiments. Later on, Nirankari Baba even went to the extent of proclaiming that he could produce seven holy stars if Guru Govind Singh had created five. It is believed that these Arya Samajis and Nirankaris wanted Sikhs to give up their individuality and assimilate into Hinduism with rituals like ’Havan’. For the Sikhs then the situation had become unacceptable.

On 13th April, 1977, a group of Sikhs, belonging to the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, attacked Gurbachan Singh and his followers, who were conducting a procession then. While the Sikhs were armed with sticks and swords, the followers of Nirankari Baba were armed with semi-automatic weapons. In that encounter, the head of the Jatha, Fauja Singh was gunned down. Two supporters of Bhindranwale, eleven Sikhs of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and three Nirankaris were also killed in that armed confrontation. But the Nirankaris, were acquitted of any wrong-doing by the court on grounds of self-defence.

Punjab erupted. Consequently, the movement of the Khalistan revolution spread rapidly. It was proclaimed that the Sikhism was on the edge of extinction and some people wanted to fulfill their evil designs by transforming Sikhs into Hindus. The demand of a separate state ’Khalistan’, comprising of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and some Punjabi speaking areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan became the chief agenda of the movement.

Terrorism thus arrived to burn the lush green fields of Punjab. People could not move freely on the roads. Very often, some unidentified Sikh youths, riding motor cycles came with lethal weapons and left death in their wake. The entire state of Punjab was gripped by fear. Around 1000 people were killed in different parts of Punjab by 1983.

In the second half of 1982, the condition of Punjab worsened. Lala Jagat Narain, a prominent Arya Samaj leader and newspaper publisher of Hind Samachar group was mercilessly gunned down by Sikh militants. The government of India ordered the immediate arrest of Bhindranwale. Though the Punjab police followed the instruction, but Bhindranwale was freed just after two days. After being freed, he moved to the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar with 200 of his heavily armed followers and established his headquarters in Guru Ram Das Sarai.

In the following days, the law and administration of Punjab gradually deteriorated. AS Atwal, the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Punjab police was shot dead by Sikh militants on April 23, 1983. Just one day after the assassination, Harchand Singh Longowal, the then president of Shiromani Akali Dal accused Darbara Singh, the then chief minister of the Punjab of being involved in the murder.

To be continued

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