The Golden Temple , Amritsar, is situated in the centre of a pond. All around the pond, there is a walk way. Adjacent to the walkway ( rectangular), there are buildings having hundreds of rooms used for different purposes..One such massive building – called the Akal Takht- was the HQ of the terrorist organisation.
3. The main terror leadership with Rocket Launchers, Light Machine Guns, and other automatic weapons had taken up well fortified almost impregnable defensive positions on different floors of the building having three stories. Hundreds of terrorists had taken up defences in other buildings. These defences had been sited by Maj Gen Shabeg Singh who had been Court Martialed & dismissed from the Army, a few years ago.
4. During 1970’s & 80’s , minority community ( Hindus) were selectively targeted across the villages & cities of Punjab. Thousands were killed in cold blood, both in rural & urban areas, during two decades of insurgency. Homes, trains, buses, public places, everywhere the minority were targeted. The State govt remained a mute spectator. Part of the police force connived with the terrorists who grew bolder day by day. No elder or religious preacher ever appealed for killings to stop.. Not even a single person of the majority community was killed as revenge during decades of insurgency. The terrorists would carry out killings and then return to the safe refuge of the Golden Temple, which police never dared to enter. Head of the terror org used to hold ” Court” where he would pass death sentence/ fine on other residents of the State.
5. In early 1980’s, there were some cases where Armymen coming to the city from their units offered carbines, hand grenades , explosives, ammunition etc in the fortification.
6. In 1983, India Today carried several photos showing bunkers and other structures built inside and at entrances to the fortification. Intelligence reports had indicated presence of hundreds of very well armed terrorists with huge quantity of arms, ammunition and rations having take up defensive positions inside the shrine to ward off any attempt to storm the same.
7. Stairs on all 4 entrances had walls on either side. Terrorists who had taken up position on the interior side of the wall had drilled holes in the wall from where only the barrel of their weapon was visible to anyone climbing the stairs. In the complex, LMGs were effectively sited at ground level to neutralise the would be attackers.
8. Since the State govt had totally failed to control the spiralling killings , in mid 1984, the Central govt had to ask the Army to enter the shrine . (Doubt if any other PM apart from Mrs IG would have had the guts to ask for a military operation to tackle the almost out of control secessionist movement. ).
9. In view of and the near certainty of suffering unacceptable casualties, Gen Brar, GOC of the Div from Meerut which had been moved to Amritsar a few months prior to Jun 1984, for storming the structure , should have planned an unconventional assault.
10. Small armoured buggies which could climb the stairs and protect the troops should have been used..Instead the infantry sections were sent in one by one. They were mowed down in the stairs itself or near the pond by LMG fire, without being able to even reach for their weapons.
11. Operation Blue Star failed on the first night. About 80-90 soldiers were martyred and about 200 wounded.
Next day, the local Division was requested to send an APC( Armoured Personnel Carrier) to go in from another side. The APC was hit by 84 mm Carl Gustav Rocket Launcher fire and incapacitated.
12 . Finally Deputy GOC Amritsar Division , an Armoured Corps officer, suggested use of a Vijayant tank. It was requisitioned from a local armd unit. It entered , damaged the main fortification ( Akal Takht) , which was the terror HQ. Terrorist leadership & Gen Shabeg Singh was killed by tank fire..At least 30 -40 shells of the main 105 mm gun had to be fired on the Akal Takht…However, absolutely no damage whatsoever was done to the Golden Temple.
13. As news of the Army action spread, a fresh wave of killings of minority community people started across villages of Punjab. Thousands picked up weapons and marched towards Amritsar. These were stopped at outskirts by Army. Hundreds of Sikh troops deserted their units and headed towards the city , many with their weapons. Most of them were caught in UP. The Commandant of Ramgarh Training centre in Bihar – a Brig- was shot dead by soldiers before starting for Amritsar.
14. The Army lost about 100 soldiers. Another 250 were wounded/maimed for life.
About 500 terrorists killed. About 100 pilgrims lost their lives in crossfire.
About 2000 persons were found inside after the operation.
(a) Terrorists: About 1000.
(b) Bangladeshi women: 434 (434) being smuggled to Pak from Bangla Desh.
( c) Top leadership of the political party…( HS Longowal, GS Tohra, Bibi Amarjit Kaur, etc)
(d) Pilgrims: About 400-500.
84 mm Carl Gustav Rocket Launchers – 2.
LMG about 5, self loading rifles, AK 47 automatic rifles, Carbines, Pistols, Revolvers – Hundreds.
Hand grenades, assorted live ammunition, explosives-Huge quantity.
Spears, swords, knives etc.
15. Political leadership was kept in MES inspection bungalow for about a fortnight, then released.
Terrorists were kept in a three storied KV ( school) building & Army unit in the Cantt.
About 50 terrorists who appeared to be more dangerous, were kept in Quarter Guard of an Artillery Regiment. (193 Fd Regt.)
After a day or so, some of them attacked and tried to snatch weapon of the guard. The GUARDS unit men fired and killed about 10-15 of them.
Prisoners were interrogated by Military intelligence, CBI, RAWn& Police intelligence .Many with political connections were let off..
The hardcore ones- 269 in all- were sent to Jodhpur Jail. Their case later came to be known as” innocent” Jodhpur detainees case.
The BD women being smuggled to Pak were taken over by civil police.
Credit – Abhay Rishi
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