37th anniversary of Operation Bluestar: What is Operation Bluestar, why was it carried out?
New Delhi, June 01: Operation Bluestar, a military operation was carried out in June 1984 to eliminate armed militants who were holed up in the Golden Temple. The operation had to be carried out in order to get back the control of the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) from the militants.
The Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, is considered as the holiest site for Sikhs.
What is Operation Bluestar? Why was it carried out?
In June, 1984, the Indian military carried out an operation within the premises of the Golden Temple. The operation, that was carried out under the orders of then prime minister Indira Gandhi, was done so to save the sanctity of the holy site by eliminating the Sikh extremist religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed militant group.
Bhindranwale, who was reportedly backed by ISI Pakistan, had made his demands clear - he wanted the Indian government to pass a resolution which would allow India to be divided, thereby creating a new country for Sikhs called 'Khalistan'.
Radical separatist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had started laying the groundwork for his demand in 1982, and by mid-1983 managed to gain support for his plan to divide India.
In mid-1983, Bhindranwale and his armed militant group entered the Golden Temple and took control over it and began to set up a base inside. It was not easy to take back the control of the Golden Temple from armed militants and preserving its sanctity.
Being the holiest site for Sikhs made the decision even tougher to take. But after nearly a year of consultations and trying to negotiate, then prime minister Indira Gandhi decided that the only option left was to carry out a military operation. This led to the Operation Bluestar.
Late at night on June 2, 1984, the Indian Army carried out Operation Bluestar. Curfew was imposed across Punjab. No one was allowed to travel to or from the state. All channels of communication were blocked as well. The operation was considered a success, at the end of which Bhindranwale and his group of militants were killed. However, there were casualties among civilians and armed forces personnel as well.
Operation Bluestar was a two-fold operation - the first one was called Operation Metal, which was restricted to eliminating the armed militants holed up in the Golden Temple complex. This was followed by Operation Shop, which was carried out across Punjab to ensure that all suspects were captured or killed.