State terrorism targeted against any community must be condemned
June 6 marked the 29th anniversary of Operation Blue Star - an armed assault on the most sacred shrine of the Sikhs, the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Thirty eight other gurdwaras across Punjab were also attacked and thousands of innocent Sikh men women and children lost their lives. It was one of the most barbaric acts of systematic state terror unleashed against people of the Sikh faith. It was followed by the genocide of Sikhs in Delhi and other towns in November 1984, and the systematic harassment, torture and cold blooded killing of thousands of Sikh youth in the years that followed.
In the name of “flushing out terrorists”, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the army to attack the Golden Temple with heavy tank and artillery fire, killing more than 4,712 people, according to the figures released in the White Paper on Operation Bluestar that was placed by the government before parliament. The sacred shrine, the Akal Takht, was razed to the ground. Operation Blue Star was executed on a day sacred for women and men of the Sikh faith, the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev, when thousands of ordinary people had gathered at the Golden Temple.
The 1980’s had witnessed very intensive revolts of the peasants in all the states where the much acclaimed “Green Revolution” had impacted their livelihood. The “Green Revolution” gave great impetus to the development of capitalism in agriculture. Its rapid growth in the 1966-76 period was responsible for the uneven development in different parts of the state, as well as for widening the gap between the rich and the poor at an unprecedented rate. Workers too were up in arms in several major industrial centres and towns across the country. In Punjab, the struggle became intense. The discrimination faced by the Punjabi nation at the hands of the Central State fueled immense discontent amongst the people of Punjab. Demands to end this discrimination were being raised forcefully, and became a focal point for mobilization of the people, particularly the peasantry.
To crush this revolt of the workers and peasants, to divide and disorient them, the Indian state with the help of its agencies deliberately fomented divisions on the basis of Hindu and Sikh. Directly through its police forces in civil uniform, as well as by organizing terrorist gangs, it carried out cold blooded murder of people of the Hindu faith and then blamed it on the people of the Sikh faith. By unleashing state and individual terror, it smashed the movement for political and economic demands. The people of the Sikh faith were portrayed as anti national — enemies of “national unity and territorial integrity”.
Following Operation Blue Star, the army organized Operation Woodrose, unleashing a reign of terror on people in the rural areas of Punjab and attacking rural gurudwaras. Thousands of innocents were killed in this operation. For a decade after that, tens of thousands of Sikhs were massacred by the state security forces in Punjab, Delhi and other places in fake encounters. Thousands were tortured and incarcerated in the jails on charges of being terrorists. Countless youth were killed in custody or simply reported ‘missing’. Hundreds of bodies were later recovered from the rivers and canals, where they had been dumped by the notorious Punjab Police. Human rights activists were simply murdered.
The Indian State followed in the footsteps of their colonial masters in communalizing the situation in Punjab, right from 1947. The British had engineered the division of the Punjab on religious basis with the Congress Party and the Muslim League collaborating in the communal partition of Punjab, Bengal and Assam. Later on, the Nehru government fomented divisions on the basis of language and carried out a further division of Punjab. The policy of divide and rule was instituted in the full sense of the term. Punjabis were not considered as Punjabis but as Hindus and Sikhs. The struggle for the rights of the people of Punjab was portrayed as a movement of Sikhs against Hindus.
The ruling class used Blue Star and the communalisation of politics to divide the working class and people of our country to divert them from fighting for their immediate and long term concerns. The Congress government portrayed itself as “defender of national unity and territorial integrity”, whipped up anti Sikh hysteria all over the country, and pushed through its anti people program under the slogan of “modernization”.
The case of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who is on death row after his mercy petition to the President of India was turned down in May 2011, is a stark and live example of state terrorism in Punjab. Bhullar was a professor of engineering in the early 1990s who felt strongly about students who went missing during the late ‘80s and ‘90s in Punjab; and he spoke openly about it. And that is why he was picked up by the Punjab police on the allegation that he was the organizer of two bomb blasts, the first in Chandigarh and the second, in Delhi. The first time the police came for him and he was not found, they picked up his father, uncle and a cousin. None of them was seen again. His father-in-law was also picked up and tortured. Today, Bhullar is undergoing treatment for depression and psychosis, and is a very sick man with the death penalty hanging over him for alleged crimes that have not been proven.
To this day there has been no accountability for the brutal killings of civilians and pilgrims by the Indian army or for the wanton looting and destruction of the Sikh Reference Library which contained many priceless documents and manuscripts. No one has been punished for the massacre of tens of thousands of innocent Sikhs during that entire period. On the contrary, in these 29 years, the weapon of state terrorism and individual terrorism has been further perfected to target this or that section of the people and achieve the political aims of the ruling class.
29 years have passed since Operation Blue Star. The people have not forgotten. Hundreds of them marched in protest on June 06 this year, in remembrance of this day on 1984, across the world – in India, the US, UK and other places.
Worried about the growing demand of our people, both in India and internationally, that those guilty of state terrorism and the genocide of Sikhs in Delhi be punished, the UPA government is deliberately brandishing the specter of “Sikh terrorism”. On June 05, 2013, the eve of the anniversary of Operation Blue Star, Home Minister Shinde, while addressing the Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security, said: “There have also been some significant developments on the Sikh militancy front. Its commanders based in Pakistan are under pressure from ISI to further ISI’s terror plans not only in Punjab but also in other parts of the country. Sikh youth are being trained in ISI facilities in Pakistan. Interdictions and interrogations have revealed use of jailed cadres, unemployed youth, criminals and smugglers by Pak based Sikh terror groups for facilitating terror attacks. Sikh youth based and settled in Europe and US are also being motivated in this regard.” This is a naked threat to the people demanding justice, that the government will not hesitate to communalise and criminalise this struggle, and crush it by deploying its favourite weapon of state and individual terrorism.
The target of state terrorism is in every case the workers and peasants and people of oppressed nationalities. It is aimed at preventing a political solution to political problems. State and individual terrorism, together with the present system of parliamentary democracy are the preferred weapons of the ruling class to maintain their rule. This is what the experience of our people since Operation Bluestar confirms again and again. Therefore, while consistently exposing and opposing state and individual terrorism, our Party strives to unite the workers and peasants and all the oppressed around the aim of ushering in a superior democracy and building a new society through social revolution. What is needed is proletarian democracy, a system wherein the workers and peasants will rule and reorient the economy to ensure that the well being of the present and future generations is assured.