June 1984, Light of Truth – 24.

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6th June 

At dawn pounding of the Akal Takht by Vijayanta tanks ceased and with it ceased partial firing from inside the Akal Takht because emplacement set up by the mili­tants had been shattered by heavy bombardment.

Para 28 of “While (Lie) Paper on Punjab agitation published by the Government of India mentions that the Army had taken control of the Akal Takht by 12.30 P.M. on 6th June and that only the ground floor and the base­ment were yet to be captured. Then para 30 reads. “The continued resistance from the ground floor and the base­ment of the Akal Takht was tackled during the night of June, 6-7. This statement completely stands at variance with the actual account given by the eye witnesses^ And that dead bodies ofSant Bhindranwale and Bhai Amrik Singh were found on the ground floor on 7th June. 

Hari Singh, Sevadar in Golden Temple, along with 30 other persons had been hiding in the Kotha Sahib where Guru Granth Sahib is solemnly laid to rest in the Akal Takht every evening. It was a miracle that this Kotha Sahib, despite heavy bombardment, suffered com­paratively little damage although it is situated in the front of the Akal Takht. Hari Singh says that at about 7.30 A.M. on 6th June Bhai Amrik Singh entered Kotha Sahib and told them to leave the room as now they (the defenders) could not match h-pavy bombardment by the tanks brought in by the Indian Army. About a few min­utes later Sant Bhindranwale alongwith nearly forty fol­lowers entered that room. He prayed before the Akal Ta­kht and then addressed his followers, “Those who want to attain martyrdom may stay with me and others should leave the Akal Takht.” 

When Sant Bhindranwale left the room his forty supporters followed him. Bhai Amrik Singh was one of them. They raised war slogan of the Khalsa “Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Siri Akal” and then rushed out of the Akal Takht in order to pounce upon the Army. The troops who had been keeping a strict eye on the Akal Takht fired bursts of machine guns at them. Some of them were hit and killed Among those martyrs was Bhai Amrik Singh. There was another burst of machine guns which took life of a dozen more. The rest of (he militants escaped and went lo I he residence of Bhai Ram Singh, one of the priests of the Golden Temple. His house is situated be­hind the Akal Takht. Those dozen followers ofSant Bhin­dranwale changed their traditional clothes there and dis­appeared wearing bushirts and trousers. They told Bhai Ram Singh and Pritam Singh. another priest who had hid himself there, that Bhai Amrik Singh had attained martyrdom. They however asserted that Sant Bhindran-wale was not among those who were hit by bullets. Some of the enthusiastic followers of Bhindranwale proudly said that if they had seen the Sant hit or martyred, they would have never left that place and would have preferred to die there and then. Where Sant Bhindranwale disap­peared they did not know. There was a dense smoke emit­ted by heavy bombardment and fire that broke out all around the Akal Takht. They explained that due to dense layers of smoke visibility was poor. Therefore, they could not see anything including the Sant.

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“Grenades and poisonous gas shells were thrown at the men, women and children, who had locked themselves in the rooms, bathrooms and toilets of Guru Nanak Niwas, Guru Ram Das serai and Teja Singh Samundri Hall. Those who tried to come out were pierced with bayonets and shot dead. Some soldiers caught hold of small babies and children by their feet, lifted them up in the air and then smashed them against the walls and thus breaking their skulls.” ~ Harvinder Kaur; Blue Star Over Amritsar (Delhi, 1990) ”It was a virtual massacre. A large number of women, children and pilgrims were gunned down.” ~ As reported by The Guardian on 13th June 1984. 


The Bridge of Sighs

Any way, it is a fact that the Army was in full con­trol of both the Complexes on 6th June. Major General Brar, who was present inside the Temple Complex, or­dered the infuriated and blood thirsty soldiers to search all the rooms situated around the Parkarma and the ad­joining buildings. The soldiers went berserk and threw hand grenades inside the rooms and blasted every inmate. The rooms which were bolted from inside were broken open by machine gun fire and the Sikh pilgrims found there were shot dead. Those Sikhs who surrendered or were seized from other buildings, including the Hostel Complex, were lined up and gunned down. These inno­cent victims of army, wrath were the pilgrims who had come to observe the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun who had fondly built the holy shrine surrounded by the Saro-var. The Army mercilessly killed even children and women. Some survivors told me later that young women and girls were raped by the army and some of them were killed. Some of them, however, escaped and told their woeful stories. One young woman of about 20 years who alongwith other women was confined in the Central Jail Ludhiana narrated me a horrible tale of terror. Her hus­band had bought a new truck. A male child was born to her a couple of months before. Her husband, therefore, took, his whole family, including their grand mother, to the Golden Temple for paying obeisance. They were four­teen in number. All of them except this young woman and the grand mother of about 80 years, were shot dead by the savage soldiers. Her two months old child was hit by a bullet and killed while he was in her arms. She was raped and then taken to the army camp. Another mar­ried young girl, who was also lodged in Ludhiana jail, was gang raped by the army.

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Another tale of error was narrated by a young Sikh woman teacher of the Khalsa School, Paunta Sahib. She alongwith her two colleagues, one male and another fe­male teacher, had brought in a bus 65 students, ranging between six and fourteen years, to the Golden Temple Complex on 2nd June 1984 to observe the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev. They were trapped there when the Army had imposed strict-curfew. As they had no way to escape they all huddled themselves in a hall in the Sarai Complex. The blood thirsty army mercilessly mowed down 33 children alongwith the male teacher on the night in­tervening 4th and 5th June. The rest of them miracu­lously survived the bullets. The young female teacher, who had narrated the horrible story in the Central Jail Ludhiana. was raped by the Army personnel and her other colleague was taken away to unknown place. 1 met the 32 surviving students of tender age in the jail who were terror-stricken and still looked frightened. I was stunned on listening the terrific tale of terror. 1 could never im­agine if the Indian Army could be so cruel, so brute. and so monstrous. 

I reported this matter to the Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana district and pleaded with him that these in­nocent children, who had experienced the horrible trauma, should be immediately released from the jail but he had expressed his inability saying that the Army was not inclined to set them free. Then I sought his permis­sion to release them myself by exercising my power in the capacity of Special Magistrate for State of Punjab, which powers the state government had vested in me during the emergency to enable me then to deal with the detainees belonging to different districts of Punjab. The D.C. was reluctant to give me a formal concurrence. Thereafter some noble lawyers filed a petition in the Su­preme Court for gross violation of human rights by the government. The Supreme Court accepted the petition and ordered the release of these innocent children with immediate effect. Only then they were released 

Were these children offender age extremists or ter­rorists? 

When the curfew was lifted in the evening on 6th June for two hours several hundred pilgrims who had been hiding themselves in the Sarais and other adjoining buildings came out to set out for their destinations but all of them were captured by the army. Their hands were tied with their turbans and they were .taken to the side of library building. There they were shot dead indiscriminately. The killing spree by the savage army continued till 7th June.

The Indian Army threw powerful incendiary bombs in the rooms and Halls of the Hostel Complex and killed all the occupants. The intensity of the bombardment was borne out by the facts that the steel almirhas and other steel furniture were charred and twisted by the impact of the blast. Even the ceiling fans were charred and their wings were twisted by the fire caused by the bombs The bombardment directed at the multi-storeied buildings behind the Akai Takht was so sever that all the buildings were razed to the ground. The fact of heavy and fierce bombardment was borne out by the fallen heavy .steel girders which were found twisted. I saw the whole horrible scene of frightful destruction all around. two weeks after the Operation Blue Star was over.

The army Generals lied by saying that they did not fire a single short at the Golden Temple, I myself counted at least 250 holes caused by gunfire inside the Golden Temple. Virtually there was no room or building in the Golden Temple which did not have bullet holes.

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Destruction of the Akai Takht was an attempt to destroy the will and spirit of Khalsa Panth. And each bullet fired at the Akai Takht and the Golden Temple wounded heart of each member of the Khalsa Panth. In short Sikh nation lay wounded, with of course the excep­tion of traitors such as Longowal. Balwant Singh and the like.

The army gained effective control of the Golden Temple Complex. An eyewitness details how the army had treated the pilgrims who had survived the bombardment:

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“[The army] took off their [the Sikhs’] turbans with which they tied their hands behind their backs. Then the Army men beat these Sikh boys with the butts of their rifles until they fell on the ground and were shot dead right in front of me.” 

After the resistance is broken, the army has free reign. After the rapes and murders of innocent pilgrims, “the most distressing and inexcusable act was the torching of the Sikh Reference Library.”

“Any army which wants to destroy a nation destroys its culture. That is why the Indian army burnt the library.” ~ Mrs. Gandhi’s Last Battle, Tully, Mark and Jacob, (New Delhi, 1985). 

 List of items missing from Toshakhana

List produced by SGPC on missing items of treasury looted by Indian army.

The Sikh reference library is burnt. Its priceless collection of 20,000 incrediby rare and valuable historic documents are reduced to ashes. Amongst these, irreplaceable documents regularly referred to for research are destroyed, and above all, 2500 handwritten saroops of Dhan Guru Granth Sahib Jee Maharaaj are desecrated. 

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Soldiers celebrate the thousands of cold-blooded murders and the desecration of the Sikhs’ holiest shrine by drinking and smoking within the complex.

“Although the Sri Harmandir Sahib was riddled with bullets, the Akaal Takhat destroyed with cannon fire, and thousands of pilgrims massacred, the army were celebrating, people were seen carrying buckets of beer to the main gates of the temple where they jubilantly served the soldiers. The soldiers freely drank and smoked inside the complex. They certainly had plenty to drink, a notification of the Government of Punjab’s Department of Excise and Taxation allowed for the provision of 700,000 quart bottles of rum, 30,000 quart bottles of whiskey, 60,000 quart bottles of brandy and 160,000 bottles of beer all for ‘consumption by the Armed Forces Personnel deployed in Operation Blue Star’.” ~ “Mrs. Gandhi’s Last Battle”, p203 (Ninth Ed. 1991).

The well known journalist and writer Harbir Singh Bhanwar mentions an eye witness account narrated by his one friend in his book “Diary de panne jo itihas ban gaye’ as……..a close relative of Prof Dhawan is employed in Military camp of Amritsar. He paid a visit in the camp of (POWs) prisoners of war. He has informed that a large number of Sikhs are locked in a small room.  A govt. officer has also approved it by saying that the Sikh prisoners are kept in a small room of newly built school building which has no electricity and water.. Nearly 60-70 prisoners are locked in small room., there clothes are torn off, no treatment to wounds is given, and there is no arrangement to treat them. (page 57) Sun is tremendous, no fan is there, two people suffered from Diaria, they wanted to release them but there is no facility so they came out through a small window to release them. They were immediately shot down by army. They were alleged of escaping from there. Many others too were killed by their hands tied at their back in a similar manner.

Now just compare yourself, Sikh religion is the only religion which serves humanity without any discrimination of religion, caste, creed, color or race. It serves food in a community kitchen without any discrimination but the Indian army only could kill the thirsty, hungry or wounded persons. A Khalsa could never do it.

Just watch out how a major difference is there in both communities of Sikhs and Hindus?

It’s also necessary to mention here that the house of journalist Harbir singh which was situated in the complex of Golden temple was also looted by Indian invading army., The cash and gold ornaments of his wife were looted and stolen by soldiers.

The real invasion (operation) on Golden temple was started on night of 5th June 1984.Sant Longowal and Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of SGPC were also present in their offices respectively in complex which is situated at Samundri Hall near Guru Ram Daas Saraai. The army started massacre of Sikhs on night of 5th June inside the Golden temple complex.

 

Gurmeet Singh Cheema, publicity in-charge SGPC, who was present there on that night, informs …..that every Sikh was a terrorist for army. It was to be noted that every soldier was under influence of liquor and out of senses. (Had he  been is sense, he would have dared from god and not killed the innocents, therefore a heavy doze of liquor was given to these soldiers).  They were provoked to attack on sacred Golden temple after they had been given a heavy doze of liquor. A fierce fight was going on in the complex. During this time, Sant Longowal and Tohra ji were present in the room of President and we were in in our office inside samundri hall with some friends. Whole of the Samundri hall and office of SGPC were over crowded by the employees of  SGPC and the devotees.

The fierce fight was going on in the complex of golden temple.  The Samundri hall was covered by army at about 3.45 am by army and fired indiscriminately to terrorize all present inside.  As soon as the army personals came to know that Sant Longowal and Tohra ji were inside, they shouted in a loud voice to inform their senior officers about their presence and said that, “ Longowal ji is here”.

To hear these sounds, Sant Longowal and Tohra came out of the room. One army officer caught hold of them by their arms and took them under his custody.  After this a new chapter of atrocities by army started. We all were searched, our holy mandatory signs were removed, our turbans were also removed and pockets were emptied. All belongings were confiscated.

 

Then we were taken in the open lounge of Guru Ram Daas Saarai. Nearly one thousand un-armed persons were kept there. It would be about 4.30 in the morning. We might have hardly made 5-6 lines but by that time two grenades were thrown upon us from the top storey of guru Ram Das Sarai. These grenades blasted among the crowed. The stampede was there to be saved from these grenade attack and everyone was running to save his/her life. In between army open indiscriminate firing upon crowd.  Hundreds of people were killed or wounded.

 

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            Have a look on this lounge in an old picture.

Then the remaining people were seated in the corridor sarai (Free accommodation for pilgrims) by army. We were seated there among dead, wounded and crying people. The army soldiers were killing people mercilessly. We witnessed many were asked to run by raising their hands and then shot from behind. There was not any room without dead bodies.  The army to which every citizen feels proud and sense of safety was today seen in a new face.  First a bomb to set fire in room was thrown and then soldiers opened fire on people coming out of rooms. More then eight hundred people were gunned down in saraai.  The people present in gurudwara had not been served a drop of water since 4th of June. There were 35 people in room no five, 31 died of thirst out of these 35.

Can you have any such hope from your own army? This Indian army itself shot those unarmed by bullets instead of saving them. Were they not feel ashamed on killing innocent , unarmed old men, children, youths, girls and women of all ages? These merciless wolves killed them in every room. Was Indira not responsible for killing of these innocents who didn’t provide any opportunity or made no attempt for their safe escape from complex?

 AS Randhawa

 Ajmer Singh Randhawa

One Response to “June 1984, Light of Truth – 24.”

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