IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


7th June, 2023 History

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  • Operation Bluestar, an Indian Army operation of June 1984, completes 39 years
  • It was carried out by storming Golden Temple in Amritsar, shrine of Sikh community, to flush out separatist element led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
  • It was a successful operation tactically however it was seen by Sikh community as an as an attack on their faith.

Background over issue of separate land Khalistan

  • Demand for separate country for Sikhs is not new and finds its root in the Partition of India.
  • Indian Sikhs was unsatisfied that they did not get any culturally and religiously important autonomous region for themselves.
  • Also there were concerns regarding the administrative issues like river water sharing with other states.
  • To cater to these demands Punjab was divided into Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana in 1966.
  • However separatist Khalistan movement started in 1970s with the help of Pakistan
  • It supported militant elements like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale by providing them funds and weapons 

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale

  • He was a leader of the Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal and a become a face of growing separatist Khalistan movement at the time.
  • He considered himself as “the authentic voice of the Sikhs” and through his hatred speeches promoted violence activities among youth which led to political uncertainty.
  • Initially Congress gave him support to counter the influence of rival party, the Shiromani Akali Dal’s, in Punjab.
  • But in 1982, he joined hands with Akalis and became a part of Dharam Yudh Morcha, a type of civil disobedience movement
  • He moved his base inside the secure premises of Golden Temple complex to evade arrest from the authorities
  • Bhindranwale and his men stocked a pile of arms and ammunition inside the complex, made security and defence arrangements.
  • These men were supposedly trained under guidance of Major General Shahbeg Singh, a dismissed official of Indian Army over corruption charges.

Worsening situation

  • In 1983 Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), A S Atwal, was shot dead after praying at the Golden Temple his body was not allowed to be picked up and left to rot.
  • Agitation was heightened and golden temple was made a kind of fortress.
  • Murder; mutilated bodies hacked to pieces and were thrown in gunny bags, in the gutters

Operational Bluestar

  • By 1984, the government left with no choice but to send in armed forces to neutralize Bhindranwale and other militants.
  • On June 1, CRPF fired the first shot to temple to assess the training and strength of the militants inside.
  • On June 3, a 36-hour-curfew was imposed on the state of Punjab.
  • All communication lines jammed and public transportation was suspended
  • To make it difficult for militants, electricity lines cut and media was censored completely.
  • The army entered temple on the night of June 5 and met with furious fire from inside from trained from men who were strategically situated at the foot of each staircase. At Bhindranwale’s location, resistance was the strongest.
  • In response Army called for tank support and shelled Golden Temple’s Akal Takht
  • It destroyed main defences, comprising machine guns and Chinese-made RPGs, were neutralised with help of tanks
  • Bhindranwale was found dead, with other 40 corpses.
  • Rest militants either surrendered or were killed.


  • There were anger of casualties of civilians and officers.
  • Also structural damage to the complex angered the Sikh community further.
  • In the aftermath PM Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards, leading to riot, some of the worst communal violence India has ever seen, in Delhi and nearby areas.
  • The operation blue star did not end violence in Punjab, and the unrest continued.
  • There were reports of mutinies by Sikh soldiers
  • It caused social division between Sikh and Hindu community.
  • Impacted investment and destabilized economy of Punjab.


Gill doctrine

  • The late KPS Gill, the DGP of Punjab Police who is credited with bringing the Punjab militancy under control.
  • He was a man of vision, exceptional leadership, contemporaries.
  • His strategy involved light-footprint offensive operations, based on intelligence-led developed by local police stations.

Rajiv–Longowal Accord

  • This Accord, was signed by then Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi and Akali leader of Punjab Harchand Singh Longowal on 24 July 1985. In order to contain agitations, government agreed to the demands of Shiromani Akali Dal.


Operation Bluestar has significant implications for the unity and integrity of the nation even today. Justify in context of recent emergence of separatist activities in Punjab. (150 words)