Revisiting the events that led to Operation Bluestar on its 33rd anniversary. (Image: The Quint/Susnata Paul)
Revisiting the events that led to Operation Bluestar on its 33rd anniversary. (Image: The Quint/Susnata Paul)
  • 1. What Was the Khalistan Movement?
  • 2. What was the Anandpur Sahib Resolution?
  • 3. Who Was Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale?
  • 4. How did Bhindranwale Gain Popularity?
  • 5. Why Was the Indian Army Called in?
  • 6. What Did Operation Bluestar Entail?
  • 7. What Happened After the Operation Concluded?
Explainer: Khalistan Movement, Bhindranwale & Operation Bluestar

On 2 June 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi spoke on All India Radio and appealed to “all sections of Punjab not to shed blood, but [shed] hatred”.

The call was disingenuous, since the army was already preparing for its assault on the Golden Temple, notes Ramchandra Guha in India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy.

For nearly five days, the Indian Army used heavy artillery, tanks and helicopters to remove Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was demanding the establishment of Khalistan – a Sikh homeland – from inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

This was Operation Bluestar.

  • 1. What Was the Khalistan Movement?

    The fight for a separate Sikh state owes its origins to the Punjabi Suba Movement. The Akali Dal – a Sikh-dominated political party – sought to create a separate Sikh Suba or Province. When the States Reorganization Commission, constituted to assess the demand for separate states by linguistic groups, made its recommendations, it rejected the Akali Dal’s demand.

    But after a series of violent protests, the Indira Gandhi government relented in 1966.

    The state was trifurcated into Punjabi-majority Punjab, Hindi-majority Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. Some hilly regions of the state were merged into Himachal Pradesh.

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