The year 1984 is forever etched into the Sikh psyche after it was added to the long list of atrocities against the Sikh people by rulers of their land.
During the first week of June of that year, the Indian Government launched “Operation Blue Star“, an attack on the center of the Sikh faith in Amritsar, India, and invasions of numerous other Gurdwaras (Sikh houses of worship) across Punjab and India, under the pretext of neutralizing militants that had taken residence in these spaces.
Having prepared for this operation for almost a year, the Indian Army began its invasion during an auspicious time for the Sikh people as they commemorated the anniversary of the martyrdom of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan, in the 17th century at the hand of the Mughal ruler of the time. Guru Arjun was the architect of Darbar Sahib, and compiled the first version of the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. Thus, it is no insignificant coincidence that the center of the Sikh faith was attacked on this day on the order of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Thousands of Sikh worshipers who were trapped by the Indian army in the Darbar Sahib complex were killed during the horror of June, 1984.
The attack ignited an insurgency in Punjab, the repercussions of which are still being experienced to this day.
On the Huffington Post today, Gunisha Kaur and Simran Jeet Singh provide an important historical accounting about the attack on Amritsar:
As in years past, on June 1, 1984, Sikhs were filling the complex to pay their respects when Indian military forces arrived and placed them under siege. A deliberate and calculated massacre ensued, perpetrated by a government against its own citizens. Anthropologist Joyce Pettigrew explains the purpose of the invasion: “The Army went into Darbar Sahib not to eliminate a political figure or a political movement but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.”
Separated from this event by nearly three decades, there are many who endeavor to erase this history, but Sikhs around the world continue to commemorate the atrocities that took place at the heart of the community. The state of the Punjabi people today demands that this history never be forgotten.