25 years later: Sikhs have neither forgotten nor forgiven Indira Gandhi

October 25, 2009

In June 1984, when then prime minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to storm the Golden Temple complex, home to the holiest Sikh shrine Harmandar Sahib, she could not have realised that the action would engrave her name in the inglorious part of Punjab’s history.  Even 25 years after her death on Oct 31, 1984 – she was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards at the prime minister’s residence in New Delhi – not many Sikhs in Punjab are ready to forgive her, though the chapter is no longer part of everyday discussion in India’s only Sikh-majority state.

The Congress party has had popular governments in Punjab for over 10 years since the 1984 Operation Bluestar to flush out heavily armed Sikh separatists led by radical ideologue Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Congress leaders have over the years expressed near regret for the events. But the wounds are unlikely to be healed for a long time.

“The attack on Darbar Sahib (as Harmandar Sahib is also known) in 1984 was totally illegitimate and beyond any justification. Its immediate repercussion was the assassination of Indira Gandhi,” Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) secretary Dalmegh Singh told IANS in an interview. SGPC is effectively the religious parliament of Sikhs. He added: “Following this there were widespread anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, Kanpur and other places that crossed all limits of human rights and value. Nobody can forget those horrifying days. Those violent attacks had targeted the Sikh community and alienated it from other sections of society.

“Now when our new generation and we look back at what happened in 1984, then all our memories and wounds get fresh. No compensation or development can erase that history and it will always remain there.” The families of Indira Gandhi’s assassins Beant Singh and Satwant Singh were honoured by religious leaders after her killing and both were declared martyrs. Now they do not find much of a mention in any circle.

The Sikh community, one of the most progressive in the world, has moved on. When the political scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi surprised everyone by quietly arriving early morning in September last year to pay obeisance at Harmandar Sahib as a commoner, the Sikh religious leadership did not term it a stunt. In fact, Rahul sat inside the sanctum sanctorum for a long time in an enclosure meant for hymn singers. Younger Sikhs too say that the community has moved on but the scars remain. “Those responsible for the killing of Sikhs after her (Indira Gandhi’s) death have not been brought to justice by the agencies concerned. There is always a looming fear that such things could happen again.

The community otherwise has moved on,” said author and agriculturist Khushwant Singh, who authored a book “Sikhs Unlimited”. Radical Sikh elements have now called for a Punjab bandh (strike) Nov 3 to observe the 25th anniversary of the killing of Sikhs in Delhi and other places.

“The 1984 holocaust left a deep scar on the psyche and social life of all Sikhs. We have not forgotten or forgiven the perpetrators behind those attacks. It is really sad that instead of punishing the culprits, the Congress had glorified them by giving them plum posts,” Kanwarpal Singh, spokesman of radical Sikh group Dal Khalsa, which has given the strike call, told IANS. He added: “The verbal assurances given by the governments hold no water and they were all politically motivated. They did not even spare our holiest shrine Golden Temple and no true Sikh can forgive them for that inhuman act.”

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)



  1. The Sikhs are one of the most prosperous communities in India, successful in all spheres of life.

    Khalistan, which has its roots in covert support from UK, Canada and the US, was successful in radicalizing Sikhs with the help of ISI, but were crushed with iron fist.

    Now they are trying to re-group and rear their ugly head again, with the help from India’s neighbours. They will be crushed again…..

    • aab crush pooraa india ho gaa.salay bahout mazaq hogyaa tum loggu nay jo naqli taliban banye ahin is ka hisab to chukana paray ga tum loggu.aik dafa choudry aka usa ko afganistan say niklanay do phir dehkoo kis tarah tortay hain india ko.bus bahout hogyaa jab tak india nahi totay gaa south asia mein sakoon nahi anay wala.

      • Gidad ki jab maut aati hai, to shahar ke taraf bhagta hai…

        Tum jeise Pakistani logo ka bhi yehi haal hone wala hain……

      • @neel
        Tumhari tau maut bhi nahi ayi ..bas thori si bitayee ayee..aur tum loag Australia se bhaag rahey ho… =D

  2. In 1980’s and early 90’s, lala was running out of our dash, Khalistan, while holding his langoti in his hands. Yes, occupation Hindu forces were finally able to crush the movement by first criminalizing it and alo with assisstance from BB of PPP. Sikh blood will not simply dry out in the air. All Sikh families still remeber their dear ones butchered by Hindus. Sikh nation will rise again and not only clear the previous score with neech Hindu for butchering Sikh youth but we will also succeed in getting the our independent land.

  3. Since i live in delhi and there r many sikhs in delhi,i think by now sikhs r integrated into the society and they dont talk abt khalistan or any state of theirs.Pakistan has no chance in it but pakistan first kick out western assets in pakistani government.Then help talibans in kicking out americans and nato forces after that only they can use their energies elsewhere.But first and foremost is to kick zardari and all other western chamchas and bring islamic government in pakistan cuz remember pakistan was made in the name of Islam so the government in pakistan should be based on sharia i.e. Deen of islam.

    • Indian Muslim

      Go to youtube and you’ll find dozens of videos of Sikh leaders shouting anti-India slogans and asking for a separate state ‘Khalistan’. Those videos are not that old, 2007-08!

      It even came in a newspaper article that few sikhs are saying now they will peacefully ask for a separate state and not resort to violence but they still want separation!

      • Quote – “few sikhs are saying now they will peacefully ask for a separate state”-unquote

        Few Sikhs, siting in the UK and Canada do not speak for the entire community in India, just as few Kashmiris that have their hearts in Pakistan, do not speak for the majority of Kashmiris that have participated in large numbers in the recently held polls.

        @ Qasim,
        Babri is just the first one, there are atleast four more masjids in India that were built on the properties of the existing Temples, that would either be shifted or demolished in the same manner.

        No one will wait for your forgiveness…..

      • Those working peacefully for a separate state are sikhs residing in India neel!!

      • @ Neel

        Why did you Hindus destroy Buddhist temples??

        Read this – Why did Buddhism disappear from South Asia? Brahmin atrocities that destroyed Buddhism in the Subcontinent


  4. Similarly the muslims can never forgive Busharaff a.k.a – Pervez musharaff for the attack on Lal Masjid. Similarly the Muslims can never forgive the Hindus for the attack on the Babri Masjid.

    • @qasim
      First do ur research on why operation was conducted on Lal masjid.. find out what all was going on inside the mosque and thn talk about ‘forgiving’ Musharraf!

      • IM,
        you are correct the Lal masjid assault was different .. but if you look carefully the Lal masjid assault on july 27 changed whole paradim in pakistan.. If this event only Terrorisum in Pakistan are on rise like any thing.. this is becuase Till this event Radical Islamist thought that Government is on there side and Govt needs to implement islamist system but this trust ( till now it was existed as no leader/govt in pakistan directly confrnted Islamist parties/force) was broken due to lal masjid..
        On you tube search for Pakistan’s war on terror and you will find excellent documentry by Al-jazira .. it precisely starts by Red mosque assult..

      • @rauf

        I have seen that documentary on Al Jazeera by Rageh Omar.

        What other option was there for lal masjid??
        Even journalist like PJ Mir has stated that the first shot was fired by militant inside the mosque at a soldier..the bullet was hit on his head and died instantly, it wasn’t started by the army! They had highly sophisticated weapons inside the mosque. They shot at parents who came to take there kids, they were using them as shields. If they were willing to die for ‘Sharia law’ in Pakistan why were they running out of the mosque wearing a ‘burqa’??

        When Sharia law was imposed in Swat, what happened? They still kept beheading soldiers/people and kidnapped girls saying there mujahideen want to marry them. Forcefully kidnapped young boys for suicide bombing! Wine was found from there hideouts in swat.

        They are using the name of Islam to get sympathy, they are just bunch of thugs hired to create chaos!

  5. are bhai log ,
    India’s premier technical institute launched its 10th new campus in Roopnagar Punjab.. This is the part of IIT expansion program which adds 7 new IITs to the existing six … Please note .. The name of the IIT is INDIAN Institute of Technology Punjab , Ropar ( Roopnagar) .. Not Khalistan institute.. The part of land on which this institute building is taking shape is from sikh landlord ..
    I am living in Chandigarh for last 7 yrs and working side by side many sikhs.. Many times I have visited Akal Takht ( Golden Temple) with my Sikh friends .. Punjab insurgency died out long back in 1989.. Today it is the most prosperous state .. & most peaceful too..this can be seen in Rural Punjab where we host meetings with Framers for credits on behalf of Bank where i work..

  6. lol…
    what r they going to do? attack the current prime minister? who is also a sikh?

    • HAHAHA true… may be this time some Gandhi will assasinate Mr.Singh !!!

  7. gandhi will start we finish


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