Understanding 1984

By Asia Samachar Team | OPINION |

DO you have a clear grasp of #1984? This is a major landmark in Sikh history that Sikhs themselves need to properly understand.

A recent webinar organised by the US-based Sikh Research Institute (SikhRi) challenges everyone to refresh their knowledge on the incident 36 years ago that still lingers at the edge of our minds.

What actually happened? What led to the events that shook Sikhs the world over? And what is the position today 36 years later?

These are some of the questions addressed in this webinar entitled ‘1984: The Devoted & the Worldly’ by Sikh educator and thinker Harinder Singh.


Ten minutes into the discussion, Harinder tackles the question as to why the Indian government undertook the ghastly attacks on the Sikh community under the codename ‘Operation Bluestar’.

“Sikhs, by their DNA, stand for certain liberties, we stand for certain rights. We stand for people’s rights, not just our own rights. And we have been doing this for 550 years,” he said.

He noted that Sikhs had been among the strongest allies of the government of the day when they do the right thing. However, they had also been the most stringent ‘champions of the adversaries’.

“Sikhs have served India well. Sikhs don’t hate India. If anything, they were creating a federal structure for India,” he noted.

On the ‘why’ part of the incident, he said that there comes a point when you see that the government is not doing the right thing.


14:00 Terminologies. Operation Bluestar v Ghallughara.

17:00 Role of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Its easy to forget today that Bhindranwale had managed to convince many to forgo drugs, alcohol and pornography. “When they say fundamentalist, what they are really saying is that he’s taking people back to the ways of the Guru,” he said.

Also discussed is Lt General S K Sinha, the the general tasked to do the planning of the attack, but refused to carry it out as it clashed with his ethos of not attacking his own people. He retired in 1983 when denied army chief post. Sinha was said to be the only lieutenant general to be denied the post of army chief despite his seniority.

25:00 The Ardas and did Bhindranwale occupy the Golden Temple?

44:00 Sikh narrative. Even five years ago, Harinder noted that Sikhs were uncomfortable with their own narrative on the 1984 incident as Sikhs themselves didn’t know the Sikh narrative. “And they will look at you funny, and they will talk to you funny,” he said.

47:00 Khalistan & the militancy movements in Punjab.

58:00 Anandpur Sahib Resolutions & Sikh demands. Understanding Sikh morchas.

1.12:00 – Water rights & water issues

1.15:00 – What can Sikh youth today do?


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