Daily Post India looks back at the horror of those few days in the June of 1984 that drove a painful wedge through the Sikh psyche, which still rankles on occasions. The events are recalled in the hope that we have learned from those days, and our leaders will never fail us again in the manner that they did back then.
June 4: Army starts bombarding the outer buildings of the Golden Temple complex including the water tank, Ramgarhia Bunga, and outer positions fortified earlier by the radicals on the directions of Gen (Retd) Shahbeg Singh. Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s talks with Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale break down. By now Bhindrawale appears to have made up his mind.
June 5: Main day of the operation. Shelling starts on inner Harmandir Sahib complex buildings. Frontal attack launched on Akal Takht by the Indian Army 9th Div. In the evening, Hotel Temple View and Brahm Boota Akhara are secured by the BSF and CRPF. Punjab already under curfew. Army starts rounding up suspects from villages and Gurdwaras.
Army launches simultaneous attack from three sides. Army divisions taken aback by the intensity of resistance from within the temple. Suffer heavy casualties. Trained fighters offer heavy resistance to Indian Army commandos inflicting casualties. Well aware of the tactics, Gen Shahbeg Singh’s counter-strategy proves effective.
Despite mounting casualties General Sunderji orders a fourth commando assault. Madras Battalion lead by Brig A K Dewan reinforced with two more 7th Garhwal Rifles under General Kuldeep Brar pressed into action. The Madras and Garhwal troops under Brigadier A K Dewan once again fail to move towards the Parikrama.
As General Kuldeep Brar mentions in his book, the Army finally called for tank support to tackle the situation.
June 6: The Akal Takht reportedly shelled with 105 mm high-explosive squash head shells (the Army refutes this). The shells are designed to shake up the entire structure, causing shock and fear among people inside the target structure, before it bursts.
June 7: Army gains effective control of the Harmandir Sahib complex.
June 8 – 10: Four radicals hiding in basement shot after they shoot down a colonel of commandos with a LMG burst. The operation is over by June 10.
(Sources: Various, Wikipedia, Mrs Gandhi’s Last Battle by Satish Jacob and Mark Tully)
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