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Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale

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Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale ( dʒəɾnɛl sɪ́ŋɡ pɪ̀ɳɖɾɑ̃ʋɑɭe, born Jarnail Singh Brar ) (12 February 1947 − 6 June 1984) was the leader of the Damdami Taksal
Damdami Taksal
The Damdami Taksal is a 300 years old educational organization said to have been founded by the tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh. According to the Damdami Taksal, it was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching the reading , analysis and recitation of the Sikh scriptures by Guru Gobind...

, a Sikh religious group based in India, who supported implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. In 1981, Bhindranwale was arrested for his suspected involvement in the murder of Jagat Narain, the proprietor of the Hind Samachar Group. He surrendered to police and was later released due to lack of evidence. Bhindranwale was also, however, kept on close watch by Indian police officials. Bhindranwale is more notable for his involvement in Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star ) 3– 6 June 1984 was an Indian military operation, ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, to remove Sikh separatists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar...

 in which he and his supporters who believed in Bhindranwale's objectives, occupied the Akal Takht
Akal Takht
The Akal Takht of the Timeless One or Seat of God. It is one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs equivalent to any parliament of world sovereign country. Akal means The Timeless One - another term for God. Takht means 'seat' or 'throne' in Persian...

 complex, including the Golden Temple
Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab . Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev...

, in Amritsar
Amritsar
Amritsar is a city in the northern part of India and is the administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of Punjab, India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be over 1,500,000, with that of the entire district numbering 3,695,077...

. He was killed by the Indian Army
Indian Army
The Indian Army is the land based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. With about 1,100,000 soldiers in active service and about 1,150,000 reserve troops, the Indian Army is the world's largest standing volunteer army...

, who had orders from Indian Prime Minister
Prime Minister of India
The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...

 Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

 to remove all armed militants inside the temple. Since his death, Bhindranwale has remained a controversial figure in Indian history. While the Sikhs highest authority Akal Takht
Akal Takht
The Akal Takht of the Timeless One or Seat of God. It is one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs equivalent to any parliament of world sovereign country. Akal means The Timeless One - another term for God. Takht means 'seat' or 'throne' in Persian...

 describe him a great martyr of the Sikh community, who made supreme sacrifice for the sake of faith, the Indian government views him as a misguided militant
Militant
The word militant, which is both an adjective and a noun, usually is used to mean vigorously active, combative and aggressive, especially in support of a cause, as in 'militant reformers'. It comes from the 15th century Latin "militare" meaning "to serve as a soldier"...

.

Early life


Bhindranwale was born in the village of Rode, in the Faridkot District
Faridkot District
Faridkot district is one of the twenty districts in the state of Punjab in North-West Republic of India. According to Punjab's Geo-Area, Faridkot is a Malwa District. It is one of the biggest cotton markets in South-East Asia. The name 'Faridkot' is derived from Baba Farid, a god-lover who wanted...

 located in the region of Malwa (Punjab)
Malwa (Punjab)
Malwa is a region of Punjab and parts of Haryana between the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers. This Malwa should not be confused with the Malwa Plateau region of Madhya Pradesh, Central India...

. The Grandson of Sardar Harnam Singh, His father, Joginder Singh, was a farmer and a local Sikh leader and his mother was Nihal kaur. Jarnail Singh was the seventh of seven brothers and one sister. He was brought up as a strict vegetarian. In 1965, he was enrolled by his father at the Damdami Taksal
Damdami Taksal
The Damdami Taksal is a 300 years old educational organization said to have been founded by the tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh. According to the Damdami Taksal, it was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching the reading , analysis and recitation of the Sikh scriptures by Guru Gobind...

, a religious school, near Moga, Punjab
Moga, Punjab
Moga is a city and a municipality in Moga district in the Indian state of Punjab.It became part and headquarter of 17th District in the state, Moga district of Punjab State on 24th day of November 1995, by then Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar. Before this, Moga was a part of Faridkot District...

, then headed by Gurbachan Singh Khalsa. After a one year course in Sikh studies he returned to farming again. He continued his studies under Kartar Singh, who was the new head of the Taksal. He quickly became the favourite student of Kartar Singh. Kartar Singh was fatally injured in a car accident and nominated Bhindranwale as his successor, in preference to his son Amrik Singh. Amrik Singh later became close associate of Bhindranwale.

He married Pritam Kaur, daughter of Sucha Singh of Bilaspur
Bilaspur, Yamuna Nagar
Bilaspur is a census town in Yamuna Nagar District in the state of Haryana, India. It is a Sub Divisional Headquarters.-Demographics: India census, Bilaspur had a population of 9620. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Bilaspur has an average literacy rate of 65%, higher than...

. His wife bore him two sons, Ishar and Inderjit Singh, in 1971 and 1975, respectively. Pritam Kaur died of heart ailment at age 60, on 15 September 2007 in Jalandhar.

Rise to popularity


In Punjab, Bhindranwale went from village to village as a missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 and asked people to live according to the rules and tenets of Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

. He preached to disaffected young Sikhs, encouraging them to return to the path of Khalsa
Khalsa
+YouWebImagesVideosMapsNewsMailMoreTranslateFrom: ArabicTo: EnglishEnglishHindiEnglishAllow phonetic typingHindiEnglishArabicAssumptionGoogle Translate for Business:Translator ToolkitWebsite TranslatorGlobal Market Finder...

 by giving up vices like drugs, alcohol and tobacco. His focus on fighting for the Sikh cause made appealed to many young Sikhs. Due to his religious background as a preacher and head of the most prestigious Sikh school of learning (Damdami Taksal
Damdami Taksal
The Damdami Taksal is a 300 years old educational organization said to have been founded by the tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh. According to the Damdami Taksal, it was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching the reading , analysis and recitation of the Sikh scriptures by Guru Gobind...

), his followers formally called him Bhindranwale Mahapurkh, which meant "The Great Spritual Man from Bhindran". Bhindranwale became the new leader of the Damdami Taksal
Damdami Taksal
The Damdami Taksal is a 300 years old educational organization said to have been founded by the tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh. According to the Damdami Taksal, it was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching the reading , analysis and recitation of the Sikh scriptures by Guru Gobind...

 when Kartar Singh Khalsa, the successor to Gurbachan Singh Khalsa, who died in a road accident on 16 August 1977, nominated Bhindranwale. Bhindranwale was formally elected at a bhog
Bhog
Bhog is a term used in Hinduism and Sikhism.-In Hinduism:Bhog in the Hindu religion is a ritual of sacrifice to the Gods.-In Sikhism:...

 ceremony at Mehta Chowk on 25 August 1977.

Bhindranwale participated in some behind-the-scenes political work. In 1979, when Bhindranwale put up forty candidates in the SGPC elections for a total of 140 seats, he won only four of the seats. A year later, Bhindranwale campaigned actively for Congress in three constituencies' during the general elections. Due to his lack of success in election politics, he later claimed he did not personally seek any political office. According to a 1984 Time Magazine
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

article, Bhindranwale's popularity reached such a peak that he overthrew the authority of the Shiromani Akali Dal
Shiromani Akali Dal
The Shiromani Akali Dal , translation: Supreme Akali Party) is a Sikh nationalist political parties based in Punjab. The current party to be recognized by the Election Commission of India is the one led by Parkash Singh Badal...

, a Punjab
Punjab (India)
Punjab ) is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the...

-based Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

. In any event, Bhindranwale did wield a great deal of power, and the political factions within Punjab could not commit any major action without considering Bhindranwale's reaction.

Bhindranwale was widely perceived to be a supporter of the creation of a Sikh majority state of Khalistan
Khalistan
Khalistan refers to a global political secessionist movement to create a separate Sikh state, called Khālistān , carved out of parts mostly consisting of the Punjab region of India, depending on definition....

. In a BBC interview, he stated that if the government agreed to the creation of such a state, he would not refuse. Other quotes attributed to Bhindranwale on Khalistan include "we are not in favour of Khalistan nor are we against it". Responding to the formation of Khalistan he is quoted as saying, "I don't oppose it nor do I support it. We are silent. However, one thing is definite that if this time the Queen of India does give it to us, we shall certainly take it. We won't reject it. We shall not repeat the mistake of 1947. As yet, we do not ask for it. It is Indira Gandhi's business and not mine, nor Longowal's, nor of any other of our leaders. It is Indira's business. Indira should tell us whether she wants to keep us in Hindostan or not. We like to live together, we like to live in India." To which he added, "if the Indian Government invaded the Darbar Sahib complex, the foundation for an independent Sikh state will have been laid." The BBC reported that he was daring law enforcement to react to his actions of fortifying the Golden Temple in order to bolster support.

Role in the militancy


On 13 April 1978, a group of Amritdhari Sikhs of Akhand Kirtani Jatha
Akhand Kirtani Jatha
The Akhand Kirtani Jatha is a jatha of Sikhs....

 went to protest against Nirankari
Nirankari
The Sant Nirankari Mission , abbreviated as, SNM, and also known as Universal Brotherhood Mission, is a spiritual organization.The Sant Nirankari Mission is neither a new religion nor a sect of an existing religion, but an all-embracing spiritual movement dedicated to human welfare...

s. The confrontation led to the murder of thirteen of demonstrators. The killing of the protesters disturbed many Sikhs. The Nirankari leader, Gurbachan Singh was even escorted to the safety of his home in Delhi by the Punjab police. When a criminal case was filed against him, the Baba had his case transferred to neighboring Haryana state, where he was acquitted the following year. The Punjab government Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal decided not to appeal the decision. Among Sikhs there was a great frustration at this perceived sacrilege and the legal immunity of the perpetrators. This gave rise to new organizational expressions of Sikh aspirations outside the Akali party. It also created an unfortunate sentiment amongst some that if the government and judiciary would not prosecute perceived enemies of Sikhism, taking extrajudical measures could be justified. The chief proponents of this attitude were the Babbar Khalsa
Babbar Khalsa
Babbar Khalsa , also known as Babbar Khalsa International , is a Sikh armed organisation based in India. Many consider the Babbar Khalsa a Resistance movement, and it played a prominent role in the Punjab insurgency. Babbar Khalsa International was created in 1978, after a number of Sikhs were...

 founded by the widow, Bibi Amarjit Kaur of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha
Akhand Kirtani Jatha
The Akhand Kirtani Jatha is a jatha of Sikhs....

, whose husband Fauja Singh had been at the head of the march in Amritsar; the Damdami Taksal led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who had also been in Amritsar on the day of the outrage; the Dal Khalsa, formed with the object of demanding a sovereign Sikh state; and the All India Sikh Students Federation
All India Sikh Students Federation
The Sikh Students Federation, formerly the All India Sikh Students Federation, is a Sikh students' union and political organisation in India...

, which was banned by the government.

When the Nirankari Baba who was allegedly responsible for the thirteen deaths in Amritsar was himself shot to death on 24 April 1980, Bhindranwale openly celebrated the development, which put him under suspicion. The FIR
First Information Report
A First Information Report or FIR is a written document prepared by the police in India, Pakistan and Japan when they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offence. It is a report of information that reaches the police first in point of time and that is why it is called the First...

 named nearly twenty people involved in the murder, most of whom had ties to Bhindranwale. A member of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Ranjit Singh, surrendered and admitted to the assassination three years later, and was sentenced to serve thirteen years at the Tihar Jail
Tihar Jail
Tihar Prisons , also called Tihar Jail and Tihar Ashram , is the largest complex of prisons in South Asia. It is located at Tihar village, approximately 7 km from Chanakya Puri, to the west of New Delhi, India. The surrounding area is called Hari Nagar.The prison is maintained as a...

 in Delhi.

Lala Jagat Narain, the editor of a widely circulated paper in which he had campaigned against Punjabi being adopted as a medium of instruction in Hindu schools, urged Hindus of Punjab to reply to government census that Hindi and not Punjabi was their mother tongue and decried the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. He had also been present at the clash between the Nirankaris and the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. Jarnail Singh had often spoken against him, so when the well-known editor was found killed on 9 September 1981, once again, his involvement was suspected.
Two days after the assassination, police issued warrants for the arrest of Bhindranwale. A police search in Chando Kalan, a Haryana
Haryana
Haryana is a state in India. Historically, it has been a part of the Kuru region in North India. The name Haryana is found mentioned in the 12th century AD by the apabhramsha writer Vibudh Shridhar . It is bordered by Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and by Rajasthan to the west and south...

 village, failed to produce an arrest. Upon seeing this, Bhidranwale publicly announced that he would surrender on 20 September. On 20 September 1981, Bhindranwale surrendered to the police at a function held in a Gurudwara Gurdarshan Parkash. Over the next twenty-five days while Bhindranwale was held in custody, sporadic fights erupted in areas where Bhindranwale's accomplices had gathered. Bhindranwale was released on bail on 15 October as India's Home Minister, Giani Zail Singh
Zail Singh
Giani Zail Singh was an Indian politician and member of the Congress Party. He served as the seventh President of India.His term was marked by Operation Blue Star, the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He died of injuries in 1994 after a car accident.-Early Life:He...

 announced in the Parliament
Parliament of India
The Parliament of India is the supreme legislative body in India. Founded in 1919, the Parliament alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all political bodies in India. The Parliament of India comprises the President and the two Houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha...

 that there was no evidence against Bhindrawale. He left the Ferozepur jail a hero.

Sanctuary in the Golden Temple


The law and order situation started to deteriorate. While the Akalis pressed on with their two-pronged strategy of negotiations and massive campaigns of civil disobedience directed at the Central Government, others were not so enamoured of nonviolence. Communists known as “Naxalites”, armed Sikh groups – the “Babbar Khalsa
Babbar Khalsa
Babbar Khalsa , also known as Babbar Khalsa International , is a Sikh armed organisation based in India. Many consider the Babbar Khalsa a Resistance movement, and it played a prominent role in the Punjab insurgency. Babbar Khalsa International was created in 1978, after a number of Sikhs were...

” and “Dal Khalsa (International)”, criminal gangs and the police clashed, and sometimes worked hand in hand. A covert government group known as the Third Agency was also engaged in dividing and destabilizing the Sikh movement through the use of undercover officers, paid informants and agents provocateurs. Bhindranwale himself always wore a pistol belt and encouraged his followers to be armed.

In July 1982, Sant Longowal invited Sant Jarnail Singh Bindranwale to take up residence at the Golden Temple compound. He called the tough-minded Sant “our stave to beat the government.” Bhindranwale subsequently took shelter with a large group of his armed followers, in the Guru Nanak Niwas (Guest house), in the precincts of the Golden Temple
Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab . Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev...

.

In late July 1983, finding an increasing number of his followers arrested day by day, Bhindranwale left his base in Chowk Mehta to start a peaceful campaign for their release from the Golden Temple complex. From there, he joined his campaign to the Akali campaign for their political, economic, cultural, and religious demands. In the chaos of Punjab, Bhindranwale developed a reputation as a man of principle who could settle people's problems about land, property or any other matter without needless formality or delay. The judgement would be accepted by both parties and carried out. This added to his popularity.

On 15 December 1983, finding himself in danger of being arrested for threats he had made against some nationalist organizations, Sant Jarnail Singh and his entourage moved to the holy Akal Takhat over the objections of Giani Kirpal Singh, the head priest of the place. Bhindranwale used his political connection with Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the Gurdwara committee and the man responsible for keeping the peace in the Golden Temple complex, to overrule the head priest. He fortified the temple with light machine-guns and sophisticated self-loading rifles were brought in. Mark Tully
Mark Tully
Sir William "Mark" Tully, OBE is the former Chief of Bureau, BBC, New Delhi. He worked for BBC for a period of 30 years before resigning in July 1994. He held the position of Chief of Bureau, BBC, Delhi for 20 years. Since 1994 he has been working as a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in...

 and Satish Jacob wrote, "All terrorists were known by name to the shopkeepers and the householders who live in the narrow alleys surrounding the Golden Temple. ...The Punjab police must have known who they were also, but they made no attempt to arrest them. By this time Bhindranwale and his men were above the law."

Death


On 3 June 1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

 initiated Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star ) 3– 6 June 1984 was an Indian military operation, ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, to remove Sikh separatists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar...

 and ordered the Indian Army
Indian Army
The Indian Army is the land based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. With about 1,100,000 soldiers in active service and about 1,150,000 reserve troops, the Indian Army is the world's largest standing volunteer army...

 to surround the Golden Temple complex to remove armed militants from the complex. Bhindranwale did not survive the operation.

According to Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 Kuldip Singh Brar
Kuldip Singh Brar
Kuldip Singh Brar is a retired Indian Army officer, who was involved in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and commanded the highly controversial Operation Blue Star to flush out pro-Khalistan Sikh militants from the Golden Temple complex.-Early days:...

, who commanded the operation, the body of Bhindranwale was identified by a number of agencies, including the police, the Intelligence Bureau and militants in the Army's custody. Bhindranwale's brother is also reported to have identified Bhindranwale's body. Pictures of what appear to be Bhindranwale's body have been published in at least two widely circulated books, Tragedy of Punjab: Operation Bluestar and After and Amritsar: Mrs Gandhi's Last Battle. BBC correspondent Mark Tully
Mark Tully
Sir William "Mark" Tully, OBE is the former Chief of Bureau, BBC, New Delhi. He worked for BBC for a period of 30 years before resigning in July 1994. He held the position of Chief of Bureau, BBC, Delhi for 20 years. Since 1994 he has been working as a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in...

 also reported seeing Bhindranwale's body during his funeral.

People who maintain that he survived the operation include Dilbir Singh, the Public Relations Advisor at Guru Nanak Dev University
Guru Nanak Dev University
Guru Nanak Dev University was established at Amritsar, India on November 24, 1969 to commemorate Guru Nanak Dev's birth quincentenary celebrations. Guru Nanak Dev University campus is spread over 500 acres near village of Kot Khalsa, nearly 8 km west of the Amritsar City on Amritsar - Lahore...

. He stated that Bhindranwale was injured on the right side of his temple. He stated, "a government doctor verified he was captured alive. He was tortured to death." R.K. Bajaj, a correspondent for Surya magazine, claimed to have seen a photograph of Bhindranwale in custody. This claim is strongly contested, especially by Bhindranwale's son who has now become a prominent figure within Sikh politics. Some within the Damdami Taksal claimed he is still alive and well. Thus he is suppose to come back and reactivate the fight for freedom from indian opression and finish the Dharam Yudh Morcha.

Legacy


Cynthia Keppley Mahmood wrote in Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues With Sikh Militants that Bhindranwale never learned English but mastered Punjabi
Punjabi language
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region . For Sikhs, the Punjabi language stands as the official language in which all ceremonies take place. In Pakistan, Punjabi is the most widely spoken language...

. He was adept at television, radio and press interviews. Keppley further stated that "those who knew him personally uniformly report his general likability and ready humour as well his dedication to Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

". The author further states that "Largely responsible for launching Sikh militancy, he is valorized by militants and demonised by enemies and the accounts from the two divergent sources seem to refer to two completely different persons."

Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was praised by many Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s as a martyr of our times, but by others he was considered a militant
Militant
The word militant, which is both an adjective and a noun, usually is used to mean vigorously active, combative and aggressive, especially in support of a cause, as in 'militant reformers'. It comes from the 15th century Latin "militare" meaning "to serve as a soldier"...

. Though journalist Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh is a prominent Indian novelist and journalist. Singh's weekly column, "With Malice towards One and All", carried by several Indian newspapers, is among the most widely-read columns in the country....

 believed himself to be on Bhindranwale's hit list (although there is not any evidence Sant Bhindranwale kept a hitlist, let alone really knew who Khushwant Singh was), he allowed that the Sikh preacher-become-activist genuinely made no distinction between higher and lower castes, and that he had a restored thousands of drunken or doped Sikh men, innured to porno films, to their families, and that Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star ) 3– 6 June 1984 was an Indian military operation, ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, to remove Sikh separatists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar...

had given the movement for Khalistan
Khalistan
Khalistan refers to a global political secessionist movement to create a separate Sikh state, called Khālistān , carved out of parts mostly consisting of the Punjab region of India, depending on definition....

 its first martyr in Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. In 2003, at a function arranged by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee
Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee is an organization in India responsible for the upkeep of gurdwaras, Sikh places of worship in three states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. SGPC also administers Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. Gurdwaras in Delhi are the administered by Delhi Sikh...

, Joginder Singh Vedanti, former jathedar of the Akal Takht
Akal Takht
The Akal Takht of the Timeless One or Seat of God. It is one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs equivalent to any parliament of world sovereign country. Akal means The Timeless One - another term for God. Takht means 'seat' or 'throne' in Persian...

 made a formal declaration that Bhindranwale was a "martyr" and awarded his son, Ishar Singh, a robe of honor. Harbans Singh's The Encyclopedia of Sikhism describes Bhindranwale as "a phenomenal figure of modern Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

."

Vir Sanghvi
Vir Sanghvi
Vir Sanghvi is an Indian print and television journalist, columnist, and talk show host. Currently, he is an Advisor, at HT Media....

, one of India's leading political commentators said, "[Bhindranwale] remains a martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

 in the eyes of many Sikhs. Even today, rare is the Sikh politician who will dare to call him what he was: a fanatic and a murderer." Bhindranwale is also criticised as being directly responsible for the instigation of Operation Blue Star after he intentionally turned the Akal Takht
Akal Takht
The Akal Takht of the Timeless One or Seat of God. It is one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs equivalent to any parliament of world sovereign country. Akal means The Timeless One - another term for God. Takht means 'seat' or 'throne' in Persian...

 into a fortress, but the question unanswered by the government of India is why 38 other gurdwaras in Amritsar were also desecrated on the same day.

According to Joyce Pettigrew, in her 1995 book, The Sikhs of the Punjab: Unheard Voices of State and Guerrilla Violence:

“The army went into the Darbar Sahib not to eliminate a political figure or a political movement but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.”

External links