On 3rd June 1984 a 15,000 strong contingent of the Indian armed forces attacked the Golden Temple complex with heavy artillery and tanks. The attack was not only illegal and unconstitutional, but was timed to coincide with the celebration of an important event in the Sikh calendar, when it was common knowledge that thousands of pilgrims would be inside the precinct of the Golden Temple.
“No prayers stir the silence under golden dome of the Golden Temple. There are no priests left to intone them. They are all dead or missing. The musical instruments which at all times drummed out the tones and rhythms of worship are quiet for the first time in centuries. There are no visitors, only soldiers. The Sikhs Holy Bible is closed, covered by a blue cloth. There is no one to read its scriptures. It is like the Vatican without a Pope. At the other end of the causeway that links the Temple to the Akhal Takhat, the second most sacred shrine in Sikhdom, the quiet is more permanent.”1 Daily Express
“In the Akal Takhat built by Guru Hargobind and the supreme seat of the Sikhs, the Stench of death still lingered. It seemed inconceivable that this was the holiest shrine of a major religion – the equivalent to the Sikhs of the Vatican and Canterbury Cathedral.”2 The Telegraph
“Eye-witness accounts to the Amritsar massacre talk of women and children being shot in cold blood, and the Sikh prisoners being tied with their own turbans and then shot in the head.”3 The Guardian
“Hospital medical staff said today Indian soldiers have threatened to shoot them if they gave food or water to Sikh pilgrims injured last week in the Golden Temple.” 4 New Strait Times (Malaysia)
The Army invasion of the Golden Temple left 8-10,000 pilgrims dead, 500 buildings destroyed and 30,000 people homeless.5
The attack was simultaneously carried out on 74 other Sikh shrines, leaving thousands of innocent Sikhs dead.
Massacres of Sikhs – 1984
In November 1984 following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, mobs lead by Congress leaders committed murder, loot, arson and rape, across India for over a week, however the worst effected area was the capital of India Delhi.
Due to the large span of area the actual number of those dead is unknown, official figures of those who died are over 5000 and 60,000 were rendered homeless in Delhi alone, these figures to not incorporate those “missing”.
“India is ablaze with hate and anger. In city after city from one corner of the country to the other enraged mobs have gone and are going about systematically burning and looting Sikh properties and assaulting Sikhs without discrimination.”6 The Times of India
“Sikhs were sought out and burned to death. Children were killed, shops looted, cars burnt, markets destroyed, houses gutted. Trains were stopped and Sikhs were picked out and murdered.” Akbar M.J.
“Around 300 Sikh officers and men in uniform were done to death in the presence of non-Sikh soldiers, who stood as silent spectators.” 7 Economic and Political Weekly
Police officers “stood by and watched arson, rape, looting and murder, without making any attempt to intervene to protect citizens brlonging to the Sikh minority, without attempting to dissuade the attackers to call for reinforcements or other support, or even to inform the fire brigade.” 8 Independent Report
“Many people complained that, in some cases, the police were not merely hanging back, but giving active support.” 9 The Times
“We started from the foot paths after the 1947 Partition, now we get back to it in our old age” wept an old couple, they had been deprived of all their belongings and also a young son.
1 Ross Benson of the Daily Express on June 19 1984 2 David Graves – The Telegraph June 20 1984 3Guardian 18/6/84 4New strait times (Malaysia) 18/6/84 5The Guardian 26/6/1984 6The Times of India November 2 1984 7Economic and Political Weekly – Thapar, Ramesh. 8Who are the Guilty? - Report PUCL and PUDR 9The Times, 5 Nov 1984