The entry of armed forces into Amritsar’s Golden Temple, on 5 June 1984, is perhaps the most unfortunate event of recent Indian history. The bloodshed that followed Operation Blue Star was tragic and unprecedented. A number of questions about these momentous events remain unanswered, and we owe it to posterity to lay bare the truth. Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Zail Singh, who had close knowledge of these developments, are no more. But there are many who are around but have not come out with the truth.
To me, it appears that nobody has adequately researched the causes of Operation Blue Star. It is made out that, soon after Zail Singh stepped down as chief minister of Punjab, in 1977, he propped up Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale to counter the new Akali government in the state. There are instances of Bhindranwale opposing Akali candidates in elections to parliament and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. He supported RL Bhatia, the Congress candidate from Amritsar, in the 1980 general election. That year, the Congress returned to power in Punjab, with Darbara Singh as chief minister, and in the centre, with Zail Singh as the union home minister. Neither of them is alive to shed light on this particular Congress policy.
Bhindranwale used to tour Punjab and deliver religious discourses to huge Sikh congregations. Members of his jatha, the Damdami Taksal, carried arms, as they had since the order was established in the eighteenth century. Like Kartar Singh, his predecessor as jathedar—chief—Bhindranwale kept armed men around him. (Another Sikh sect, the Nihangs, carries arms to this day.) Everything was normal until the assassination of Jagat Narain, the founder of the Hind Samachar group of newspapers and a prominent critic of Sikh extremism, on 9 September 1981.