We present a very informative article by Khushwant Singh - taken with courtesy from 'Punjab Story'

Sikhism was born out of Hinduism. All the ten Sikh gurus were Hindus till they became Sikhs. The Granth Sahib which Sikhs regard as the 'Living Light' of their gurus can be described as the essence of Vedanta. Nevertheless like other reformist movements Sikhism broke away from its parent Hindu body and evolved its own distinct rites of worship and ritual, its own code of ethics, its separate traditions which cumulatively gave it a distinct religious personality
The founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak (ad 1469-1539) was a Kshatriya of the Bedi (those who know the vedas) sub-caste. When he was 30 years old he had a mystic experience after which he announced his mission with the simple statement: ‘there is no Hindu, there is no Mussalman.' The statement could be interpreted in different ways. It could mean that there were no basic differences between Hinduism and Islam. Or that followers of neither religion were true to their faiths. Or that all human beings were the same and dividing them into differentreligions was pointless. However, during the same mystic experience, Guru Nanak is said to have received orders from God to preach a new faith: 'Nanak, I am with thee. Through thee will My Name be magnified. Go into the world and teach mankind how to pray. Be not sullied by the ways of the world, let your life be one of praise of the word (naam), charity (daan), ablution (ishnaan), service (seva) and prayer (simran).' Guru Nanak spent the remaining years of his life travelling to different parts of India and West Asia. His last years were spent in village Kartarpur where he set up a dharamsala (place of religion). Large numbers of peasants became his shishyas (disciples) from which the word Sikh is derived. For his rustic followers  he  summed  up  his  message  in  three  simple commandments: kirt karo (work), naam japo (worship) and wand chako (share what you earn).
The way of life Guru Nanak recommended was somewhat different from that of the Hindus and Muslims. He emphasized the role of truthful companionship (satsangi) which was interpreted as the company of those who accepted Nanak's teaching. The breakaway from Hinduism began by having different places and modes of worship. Sikhs did not chant Sanskrit shlokas to stone idols but sang hymns composed by Nanak in his own mother tongue, Punjabi. Sikhs broke bread in the guru's kitchen (guru ka langar) where men and women of different castes including Harijans sat alongside and ate together. They did not use Hindu greetings like namaskar or jai Ram ji ki but their guru's Sat Kartar (True Creator). All this resulted in building a community of people who had more in common with each other than to other communities to which they had belonged.
It is still disputed whether Guru Nanak intended to reform Hinduism, form a third community or bring Hindus and Muslims together. It would appear that in his earlier career he tried to bring the two communities closer to each other. Being himself a Hindu he was at the same time equally concerned with reforming Hinduism. But as the years went by and his message caught on among the masses, he decided to give his teachings permanency through a sect of his own.
The process of separation was carried a step further by Guru Nanak's chief disciple, Angad, who succeeded him as the second guru. He evolved a new script, Gurmukhi, in which he compiled his mentor's and his own compositions. The third Guru, Amar Das, introduced many innovations which tended to break the close affiliations of the Sikhs with the Hindus. He fixed the first of Baisakh as a day of general assembly for the Sikhs, introduced new forms of ceremonies for births, deaths and marriages and selected hymns to be chanted on these occasions. He abolished the practice of purdah, advocated monogamy, encouraged inter-caste alliances, remarriage of widows and forbade sati. Guru Amar Das's son-in-law, Ram Das, who succeeded him as the fourth guru, acquired the site of the present city of Amritsar and had a tank dug around which bazaars went up. His son and successor, Guru Arjun, raised the Harmandir in the midst of this tank. It was Arjun who made the first clear statement that Sikhs were an independent community:
I do not keep the Hindu fast, nor the Muslim Ramadan;
I serve Him alone who is my refuge.
I serve the one Master who is also Allah.
I have broken with the Hindu and the Muslim.
I will not worship with the Hindu, nor like the Muslim go to
I shall serve Him and no other. I will not pray to idols nor say the Muslim prayer. I shall put my heart at the feet of the One Supreme Being; For we are neither Hindus nor Mussalmans.
Guru Arjun gave the Sikhs a place of pilgrimage of their own. I hey no longer had to go to Varanasi or Hardwar to wash away their sins in the Ganga, they would go to Amritsar and bathe in the pool surrounding the Harmandir. He gave them a scripture of their own, the Adi-granth which they could read and understand because it was in their mother tongue and did not need services of Brahmins to read out Sanskrit texts from the vedas or the upanishads which neither of them understood. With his execution in ad 1606 he also gave them their first martyr.
"With the death of Guru Arjun a new dimension was added to the Sikhs' separate identity. Arjun's son, the sixth Guru Hargovind (1595-1644), decided to arm his followers and proclaimed himself both spiritual and temporal head of the community Mere peers da maalik. Facing the Harmandir he built the Akal Takht (Throne of the Timeless God) where, instead of . chanting hymns of peace, the congregation heard ballads extolling deeds of heroism, and instead of listening to sermons, they discussed plans of military campaigns. He asked his followers to make offerings of horses and arms and enrol as soldiers.
Thus far though the Sikhs had established a communal identity of their own, they continued to be regarded as the militant arm of Hinduism. This was reaffirmed in the martyrdom of ninth guru, Tegh Bahadur, known popularly as Hind di chaadar- Protector of India in ad 1678. The guru had appeared before the Mughal court as a representative of the Hindus of northern India to resist forcible conversion to Islam. His son, Guru Gobind Singh, described his father's martyrdom in the following words: 'To protect their right to wear their caste marks and sacred threads, did he in the dark age, perform the supreme sacrifice... He suffered martyrdom for the sake of his faith, he lost his head but revealed not his secret.'
Guru Gobind Singh (ad 1666-1708) brought about the final transformation of a pacificist Sikh community to a fraternity of the Khalsa Panth (Community of the Pure). From his writings it appears that he drew inspiration from martial deities like Goddesses Chandi, Sri and Bhagwati. At the same time he ordered his followers to wear their hair and beards unshorn, / have one name 'Singh' and carry other symbols of the Khalsa including a kirpan. Thereafter a real Sikh was a Kesadhari Khalsa: he who did not subscribe to the Khalsa was either a Sahajdhari (slow adopters) or a Hindu believing in Sikhism.
For many generations the transition from Hindu to Kesadhari Khalsa remained an easy one as was evident in the almost overnight conversion of Lakshman Das, a Rajput of Poonch, and his assumption of the leadership of the Khalsa with the title Banda Bairagi or Banda Singh Bahadur (ad 1670-1710). It was under Banda's leadership that Khalsa armies won their earliest victories over the Mughals, Banda struck coins in the name of the Panth. The inscriptions on the coins were significant:
Coins struck for the two worlds with the sword of Nanak And victory granted by the grace of Gobind Singh.
Banda and several hundred of his Khalsa soldiers were captured and executed in Mehrauli, near Delhi, in March 1710. Their blood created fertile soil for the sprouting of Sikh political power.
The relationship between the Hindus and the Khalsa remained extremely close as long as they were confronting the Mughals, Persian and Afghan invaders. Hindu youths coming to join the Khalsa simply let their hair and beards grow, accepted pahul (baptism) without breaking their family ties, it was during this period that the custom of bringing up one son as a Sikh grew amongst many Punjabi Hindu families. When Sikhs assumed power in Punjab under Maharaja Ranjit Singh (ad 1780-1839), Punjabi Hindus had even more reason to turn to the Khalsa. The Maharaja, though a devout Sikh, would also revere Brahmins, worship in Hindu temples and bathe in the Ganga. He made killing of cows a criminal offence punishable death. Although he rebuilt the Harmandir in Amritsar in marble and gold leaf, when it came to disposing the Koh-i-Noor diamond his first preference was to gift it to the temple at Jaganathpuri.
The Sikh kingdom collapsed within ten years of Ranjit Singh's death. The British annexed Punjab in 1849. With an alien neutral party set up as arbiter of their destinies the relationships between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs underwent a complete change. This had dramatic consequences on the close affinity between the Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs. They had been like one people, some bearded, others clean shaven but together forming   a   united   front   against   Muslim   onslaught   or domination and equal partners during the years of triumphs under Ranjit Singh. With both the Muslim threat and the Sikh kingdom gone, external pressures that had kept them together disappeared. They had to redefine their mutual relationship. At the same time the British realized the advantages to them in keeping the Sikh identity separate from the Hindu. Assured of Sikh loyalty during the Mutiny of 1857 they rewarded Sikh princes and zamindars with grants of land and recruited Sikh soldiers in large numbers into their army provided they had taken the pahul and were orthodox Khalsa. An economic incentive was thus added to Sikh separatism.
The first blow to the Hindu-Sikh unity was struck by Arya Samaj. In 1877 Swami Dayanand Saraswati visited Punjab (oddly enough at the invitation of Sikh organizations) and opened a branch of the Samaj at Lahore. He launched his shudhi (purification) movement to bring breakaway Hindus including Sikhs back into the Hindu fold. Swamiji was intemperate in his speech; he described Guru Nanak as a dambhi (hypocrite) and the Granth Sahib as a book of secondary importance. The Arya Samachar published from Lahore lampooned Sikhism in the following verse:
Nanak Shah Fakeer ne naya chalaaya panth Idhar udhar sejor karlikh mara ikgranth;
Pehley cheley kar liye, pichhey badla bhes Sir par saafa bandh kar, rakh leeney sab kes.
Sikh organizations retaliated with anger. Singh sabhas were set up in Amritsar and Lahore to counteract Arya Samaj propaganda. They had the blessings of the British government. A spate of books on Sikhism were published in Gurmukhi and English including the definitive six volumes by M.A. Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion. Amongst these was Kahan Singh's booklet, Ham Hindu Nahi Hain, 'We are not Hindus.'
The process of separatism was carried a step further by the Akali movement launched in the 1920s to wrest control of Sikh gurdwaras from hereditary mahants (priests) who had for generations been with non-kesadhari Sikhs or Hindus. The most significant outcome of the four years of intense Akali agitation in which the Hindus had supported the mahants was equivocally stated by Mahtab Singh in a speech in Punjab Legislative Council in April 1921. He said: 'I, for one, say that if the Sikhs do not wish to remain in the fold of Hinduism, why should the Hindus seek to force them to do so? What benefit can they obtain by keeping on unwilling people as partners in their community? Why not let them go?'
Some Hindu leaders tried to retrieve the situation. 'I look upon Sikhism as higher Hinduism,' said Raja Narindra Nath. Sir Gokul Chand Narang described them as 'the flesh of our flesh and the bone of our bones.' It was too late. The Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 which passed the control of Sikh temples to an elected body called the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) defined a Sikh as one who believed in the ten gurus and the Granth Sahib and did not believe in any other religion.
Separate electorates with reservations of seats gave the Sikhs their own constituencies from which they elected their own ^ikh representatives. Reservations of proportions in civil and military services further ensured them that their privileges could only be enjoyed by the Khalsa. The British gave the Sikhs a vested interest in retaining the Khalsa identity distinct from the Hindu.
Relations between the two communities remained cordial, even intimate, as much as matrimonial alliances between members of the same caste living in urban areas continued as before. As Muslim pressure for a separate state mounted and Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in many parts of northern India, Hindus and Sikhs once again formed a united front the same way their forefathers had done to face Muslim invaders and tyrants. When Partition of the country became a reality both Hindus and Sikhs living in the part of western Punjab which went to Pakistan left their lands, hearths and homes and emigrated to India.
Partition of Punjab and Independence once again brought about a change in Hindu-Sikh relationship. Numbers had always been the chief problem of the Sikh community. At the time of Partition they formed no more than thirteen per cent of the population of the undivided Punjab and a bare one per cent of the population of India. Of the five million Sikhs, the prosperous half had their lands and homes in the part that went to Pakistan. They were the worst losers in the division of the country. This had serious impact on their fortunes as well as on their psyche. The two-and-a-half million that were expelled from Pakistan had been the richest peasantry of India owning large estates in the canal colonies. They changed places with the largely landless Muslim peasantry of east Punjab and had to take whatever little land that was made available to them as Muslims evacuee property.
Besides losing their land and properties Sikhs had to come to terms with secular India. Privileges they had enjoyed under the British rule by way of reservation of seats in legislatures and preferential treatment in the recruitment to the armed forces and civil services were abolished and they had to compete with other communities on the basis of merit.
Sikhs who had observed the Khalsa symbols of unshaven hair and beards only for the economic advantages that accrued began to give them up. Their numbers began to dwindle.
The abolition of separate electorate and the introduction of a joint one made the Sikhs, who were in a minority in all but a few districts of Indian Punjab, subservient to the Hindu majority. The Sikh community's point of view came to be expressed in purely communal organizations like the SGPC and local gurdwara committees.
However, since the Sikh migration was halted at certain points, for the first time in their history Sikhs came to form a majority of the population in some districts of Malwa. The deprivation combined with the fact that they had some regions where they predominated gave birth to the idea of an autonomous Sikh state. The sentiment was expressed in a single query: Hindus got Hindustan. Muslims got Pakistan. What did the Sikhs get out of Partition and Independence?
The notion of an autonomous Sikh state started taking shape with the announcement that boundaries of state would be drawn along linguistic lines. This was done for all the 14 major languages spoken in India except Punjabi. The Sikh rightly construed this as discrimination against the community and began to agitate for a Punjabi-speaking suba. Their task was made easier for them by the Punjabi Hindus who, sensing what the Sikhs were really after was a Sikh majority state, allowed themselves   to   be   persuaded   to   declare   to   the   census commissioners that their mother tongue was Hindi. The battle over language in effect became a confrontation between Punjabi Hindus and Punjabi Sikhs. The antagonism continued fitfully with passive resistance movements launched by the Akalis and lasts and threats of immolation by their leaders. Ultimately on the conclusion of the Indo-Pak War of 1965 in which the Sikh peasantry played a notable role helping Indian troops on the front line, a commission was appointed to demarcate Punjabi speaking areas from the Hindi-speaking. Thus, in 1966 Punjab was split into three states: Haryana, Himachal and Punjabi-speaking Punjab in which Sikhs formed about 60 per cent of the population.
The story of the new Indian Punjab since its inception has been one of political instability against the background of spectacular advances made in agriculture. On the political front, governments came and went - sometimes of the Congress, at others of Akalis allied with the BJP interspersed with president's rule. At the same time Sikh peasants took to modernizing their farming methods by using tractors, introducing new varieties of hybrid seeds developed in the Ludhiana Agricultural University, using fertilizers, insecticides and harvesters. The yield per acre was doubled and then trebled. The Green Revolution in wheat was followed by similar increase in the production of rice and sugarcane. There were not enough flour, rice or sugar mills in the state to process the produce.
Prosperity brought its own problems. At harvest time labourers from UP and Bihar began to come in thousands to Punjab to work as farm-hands on daily wages. Many decided to settle there and were enrolled on the voters lists. At the same time large number of Sikhs began to migrate to Western countries. Thus, the proportion of Sikhs began to decline. The Akali party also discovered to its dismay that although it had been the chief instrument in getting the suba, when it came to wielding power it was more often than not that the Congress party won at the polls and grasped the sceptre. A sense of disillusionment crept in.
By the middle of the 1970s the Green Revolution had reached a plateau state with bumper harvests levelling out. At the same time the already small land-holdings became even smaller as families multiplied. Employment opportunities abroad were seriously curtailed by stringent visa regulations imposed by foreign governments. This, combined with the absence of industries in the state, resulted in a rapid and alarming increase in the number of educated unemployed. Thus, volatile human material was created for politicians to exploit.
In April 1973 the Akalis took another step which they thought would ensure Sikh hegemony in Punjab's affairs. This was the passing of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. In this controversial resolution (at least three different versions are in circulation) the Sikhs were described as a separate nation. It also demanded greater autonomy for the state, readjustment of the states' boundaries including Punjabi-speaking areas which had been given to Himachal, Haryana and Rajasthan.
Not much notice was taken of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution at the time it was passed and later ratified by the Akali Dal. Even during the time the Akalis formed governments in Punjab, they took scant notice of it. However, it was to the credit of the Akali party that when Mrs Gandhi declared the state of Emergency on 26 June 1975, the Akalis not only opposed it but continued to agitate against it by sending batches of volunteers to offer themselves for arrest. Most Akali leaders spent the Emergency years in jail. It paid them handsome dividends. In the elections that followed the lifting of the Emergency, the Akalis carried the electorate with them and in alliance with the Janata formed a government on 27 March 1977 under the chief ministership of Prakash Singh Badal.
The Akali-Janata government lasted barely two years. As the Janata government at the centre fell and Mrs Gandhi returned as prime minister, she dissolved the states' legislatures including that of Punjab and called for new elections. The Congress party routed the Akali-Janata combine and Darbara Singh was elected chief minister.
The Congress party government under Darbara Singh proved disastrous for the state. For one, Darbara Singh and his Predecessor Giani Zail Singh who had been inducted into the central cabinet as home minister, were forever throwing spanners in each other's works. For another, Akalis, now out of Power and with little prospect of regaining it through the
electoral process, decided to destabilize the Congress government through agitation. They hauled the Anandpur Sahib Resolution out of the archives and proclaimed it as a charter of Sikh demands. To this they tagged another 45 ranging from the substantial ones like readjustment of the state's boundaries and a fairer allocation of waters of Rivers Sutlej and Beas to which it was the only riparian state, to the utterly trivial ones like renaming a train as the Golden Temple Express and banning sale of cigarettes, liquor and meat in the vicinity of the Golden Temple. They followed it up with a series of agitations: nahar roko (blocking the canal meant to link Punjab's river waters with the Yamuna), rasta roko (block road traffic), kam roko (stop work). And finally declared a dharamyudh (righteous war) from Amritsar against the government by sending over a thousand volunteers a day to court arrest.
Alongside this passive resistance movement a parallel Sikh fundamentalist movement began to build up under the leadership of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale (1947-84). It had begun with the confrontation between orthodox Khalsa and Nirankaris in Amritsar on 13 April 1978 in which 13 lives were lost, mainly of Bhindranwale's followers. The Nirankaris put on trial were acquitted by a judge who found that they had acted in self-defence. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale swore vengeance. The Akalis lent their support to him. From the Akal Takht the Nirankaris were proclaimed as enemies of the Khalsa Panth. On 24 April 1980, Baba Gurbachan Singh, the Nirankari guru, was assassinated in Delhi by Bhindranwale followers. This was followed by the killings of many Nirankaris in different parts of Punjab. Nevertheless, Bhindranwale was allowed to go about freely, toured Bombay and Delhi and when arrested was let off. He became a formidable force and gathered round him groups of terrorists mainly from unemployed youths belonging to the All India Sikh Students Federation. From slaying Nirankaris, terrorists expanded their 'hit lists' to include Nirankari sympathizers, dissident Akalis and Congress party members.
Their chief target was the Hindu-owned Jullundur based chain f papers. On 9 September 1981, Lala Jagat Narain, chief editor of Punjab Kesari, was shot dead. A year later Jagat Narain's son, Ramesh Chander, fell to their bullets. Amongst those killed were H.S. Manchanda, president of the Delhi Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, DIG of Police A.S. Atwal, Dr V.N. Tiwari, nominated member of parliament and Gyani Pratap Singh, a retired priest. Many Hindu temples were desecrated and innocent Hindu and Sikhs killed in cold blood. It was obvious that the terrorists' ranks had been infiltrated by Pakistani agents, smugglers, Naxalites and common dacoits. The police were rarely able to identify or arrest the culprits. Its only method of dealing with the menace was to organize fake encounters and kill anyone they supported. And while the morcha continued, no Akali leader condemned these senseless killings in the language they deserved to be condemned nor had the courage to denounce Bhindranwale. The administration was totally paralysed. Meanwhile many meetings took place between Akali leaders and government representatives - issues were narrowed down and on at least two occasions agreement was within easy grasp when the talks had to be called off. It is difficult to say who was at fault, the Akalis or the government. Undoubtedly both.
When Bhindranwale sensed that the government had at long last decided to arrest him he first took shelter in the Golden Temple, then occupied and fortified portions of the Akal Takht. In full view of hundreds of armed constables, sophisticated arms including light machine guns and hand grenades were smuggled in. Killings which had so far been carried out beyond the precincts of the temple spread to the sacred precincts as rival gangs slew members of the other.
By the spring of 1984 it was clear that the day of reckoning between the authorities and Bhindranwale could not be put off for long. Akali leaders out of fear were unwilling or unable to order Bhindranwale out of the temple complex. The administration could not make up its mind about how and when to act. Mrs Gandhi's advisers were unable to arrive at any settlement with Akalis and on a number of occasions when virtually all points of dispute had been resolved, they withdrew from their commitments, fearing that an agreement with the Akalis might be construed as yielding to pressure and might have adverse reaction on the numerically much larger Hindu vote in northern India. There were times when a force of commandos in plain clothes would have easily overpowered Bhindranwale and his men, who did not exceed a couple of hundred men spread out over the temple complex, and taken them alive or dead. Nor was it considered feasible to occupy the Guru ka Langar by force, or deprive Bhindranwale and his men of food and fuel and force them out of their entrenchment to come out and fight. On the contrary, the situation was allowed to develop to an explosive point and the worst possible time was chosen for action. On 3 June 1984 was the anniversary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev. Thousands of pilgrims who had come from neighbouring villages were staying in the temple Sarai and the Parikrama. On 1 June, the army took over the state, cut off all communications with the outside world and imposed curfew in the city of Amritsar. Sporadic exchange of fire began on 1 June and continued for the next three days. On the evening of 5 June, the army entered the temple complex with tanks and armoured personnel carrier and blasted the Akal Takht. No one will ever know the final figure of casualties except that it was well over a thousand (three times more than Jallianwala Bagh in 1919) and hundreds of innocent men, women and children were killed. The Akal Takht including some priceless relics was in shambles. The temple archives which contained hundreds of handwritten copies of Granth Sahib and scores of Hukumnamas bearing signatures of the gurus went up in flames. Contrary to the government's contention that the Harmandir had been untouched, scores of bullet marks were later found piercing its marble and wooden 'ndows. The premises were subjected to extensive looting. Gurdwara golaks (money-pitchers) were emptied. Cash and
ffice equipment in the SGPC and Akali Dal offices were taken. To destroy all evidences, entire buildings with all their records were set on fire.
The most damning judgment of Operation Bluestar is that the government did not foresee what the reaction of the Sikh community numbering 14 million would be to the storming of their holiest of holy shrines. The vast majority of Sikhs had no sympathy for Bhindranwale and were indeed nauseated by his venomous utterances and the senseless killings by his gun-men. Some who had submitted to Akali politics were disillusioned by their leaders lack of foresight. Most had no interest in politics of any sort. And it was they who felt that the government had used Bhindranwale as an excuse to give the entire Sikh community a bloody punch in their nose.
With the strict censorship imposed in Punjab, all we know of Operation Bluestar is the army-cum-government version of the action. It may be quite some time before we get to know the other side of the story. It is therefore only fair that readers should have some idea of what people who were present and witnessed the entire episode have to say. Of the hundreds of accounts received by me - with forgivable exaggerations by people who went through the ordeal - I have chosen one by Brian Singh, secretary of the Akali Dal because it is a factual narration of incidents that took place. This is what he has to say: 'On the morning of 1 June 1984, CRPF began to fire on the Golden Temple from different directions. The firing continued all day. As a result of this firing one Kulwant Singh was killed in Baba Atal Gurdwara and five men were killed in the Akal Takht. ne firing was reckless and 32 bullet marks were seen on the "alls of the Harmandir.
On 3 June, curfew was imposed on the entire state; all manner of traffic was stopped and communication including telephones were cut off. Sunday, 3 June was the anniversary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjun. Because of the relaxation in the curfew pilgrims had been able to enter the Parikrama. A large number of them slept the night in the Parikrama. So did many sevadars, paathis (scripture readers) and the devout who voluntarily clean temple premises at night. Volunteers numbering between 1800 to 1900 who had come to participate in the dharamyudh morcha to offer themselves for arrest were in Teja Singh Samundari Hall and Guru Ram Das Niwas. Amongst them were 1300 Akali workers under the leadership of Jathedar Nacchattar Singh including 200 women and 18 children.
'On the morning of 4 June at 4.40 a.m. army cannons and machine-guns began to fire. There was no kind of notice or warning given. The firing went on all day into the night. I spent the night in my office in Teja Singh Samundari Hall. Most of the shells fell on the Akal Takht, Baba Atal, the Water Tower, Guru Nanak Niwas, Guru Ram Das Langar, and buildings behind the Akal Takht. Firing continued till five o'clock of the evening of 5 June. At 5.15 p.m. two Sikhs came from the Baghwali Gali which runs behind Guru Ram Das Niwas with the message that Sardar Abhashi Singh was wanted outside by Sardar Apar Singh Bajwa, DSP with the news that the army would stop firing from 4 to 5.30 p.m., so that anyone who wanted to come out could do so. I and Abhashi Singh conveyed the information to Sant Longowal and Sardar Gurucharan Singh Tohra. They asked me, S. Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and Abhashi Singh to go out and persuade the DSP to extend the time by an hour so that women, children and other helpless people could get out. However, while we were still at the gali, the firing was resumed with even greater intensity. During the interval about 40 to 50 armed Sikhs came from the Parikrama to Guru Ram Das Niwas, took positions on the rooftop and began to return the army's fire. With this the army bombardment came to be directed towards Guru Ram Das Niwas, Teja Singh Samundari Hall and rooms of the Dharam Prachar Committee. We sat down in the middleof Teja Singh Samundari Hall while Sant Longowal and T hra along with ten Sikhs went into the president's room. We spent the entire night awake because of the firing.
'On the morning of 6 June, the army came inside Guru Ram Das Niwas and entered Teja Singh Samundari Hall. Sant Longowal, Tohra, Bibi Amarjit Kaur and other Sikhs with them were taken into custody by the jawans led by two officers and escorted away. We followed them from Teja Singh Samundari Hall towards Ram Das Niwas. In this time about 200 to 250 Sikhs collected, of which many sat down in the courtyard of the niwas. From the upper storey of the niwas a grenade fell on them. Jatheder Bagga Singh, a soldier and some Sikhs were killed. Nacchattar Singh's leg was blown off. He did not receive medical attention and succumbed to his injuries after four hours. When the grenade fell it was still somewhat dark. Soldiers lost their temper and began to fire wildly killing between 30 to 35 people including women, children and aged people. Amongst the many who were injured were committee employees, Raj Singh, Dayal Singh and Gurubachan Singh. The injured men came to me and asked for medical help. I spoke to a subedarwho sent a soldier to escort me to his major. When I got to the major I saw about 35 or 36 young Sikhs lined up with their hands raised above their heads and the major was about to order them to be shot. When I asked him for medical help he got into a rage, tore my turban off my head and ordered his men to shoot me. I turned back and fled jumping over bodies of the dead and injured and saved my life by crawling along the walls. I got to the room where Tohra and Sant Longowal were sitting and told them of what I had seen. S. Karnail Singh Nag who had followed me also narrated what he had seen as well as the killing of 35 to 36 young Sikhs by cannon fire. All these young rnen were villagers of which about 20 to 21 wore long darhi and others were mona. All of them had been hauled of the Guru Ram Das Sarai. This incident took place about 8.30 p.m.
'We had nothing to eat or drink the day earlier. This day also we went hungry and thirsty. At about 4 o'clock, Tohra, Sant Longowal and their companions were taken out. People were crying for water. Some slaked their thirst with dirty water which had run down the damaged water tank and was mixed with blood and dirt of the courtyard. Of them nearly 120 were injured. There was no Red Cross or medical aid of any kind available for them. At 7 o'clock they began to remove the corpses and by 9 we were taken to military camps. I reached there at 9.30.1 and my companions were released on 23 June 1984.'
BHAN SINGH 23 June 1984