Since 1947 there has been an ongoing struggle between the Indian State and the Sikh community over Punjabi autonomy and minority safeguards, promised at independence but never delivered.
This struggle erupted into violent conflict in the early 1980s. In June 1984 the Indian government, in an attempt to crush the growing Sikh uprising movement, ordered a ferocious army attack on the Golden Temple in which 8 - 10,000 people were killed, (including innocent pilgrims).
Five months later, the assassination of Prime Minister Mrs Gandhi, by Sikh bodyguards, led to mass violence against the Sikh population in Delhi and all over India, in which over a further 5,000 Sikhs died.
These events greatly increased the conflict between the Sikh community and the Indian state and marked the beginning of a decade of extreme repression, during which Indian state forces violated the rights of thousands of ordinary citizens in an attempt to destroy an uprising movement.