‘The Invasion of the Golden Temple’ by Sukhbir Singh Kapoor deals with the preparations and reasons for the invasion of the Harmandir Sahib, and its aftermath. Kapoor’s goal was to ensure that efforts were made to bring out the truth and actual facts that resulted in the events of June 1984. This particular book stands out as it was written in the immediate aftermath of 1984, approximately two months, and published in the same year. Therefore, it carries Kapoor’s own personal experiences as well as evidence from close friends and relatives.
The book itself comprises of seven chapters covering the invasion, the battlefield, the parties, the causes, the reactions, the costs, and the future. These are followed by a series of appendices covering the speeches of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale, the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, a short history of the Khalistan movement, and the occupation of the Golden Temple. The book also includes a number of cartoons reflecting the character of then Indian Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi.
“This military action, nicknamed Operation Bluestar, was planned to counter Sikh resistance at any cost. However, the Government had forgotten one vital historical fact, that is, that if Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah had been unable to destroy the Sikhs - when they were young and few in number - when they had matured and were 14 million in strength? No Sikh will ever forgive the present (1984) Government for this dreadful and sacrilegious act”
The opening introduction provides a concise insight into the history of Punjab, from the times of the Guru’s, establishment of the Khalsa and following historical events throughout the 18th century and 20th century. Kapoor looks specifically at the political landscape of India, following independence in 1947 and the Governments lack of understanding of the distinct Sikh way of life.
The first chapter, “The Invasion”, sets out the timeline of events with the blockade on Punjab and ban on reporting, transmission or publication of anything related to the crisis in Punjab on 29th May. The author then goes onto discuss how the situation evolved, with the Indian army entering Harmandir Sahib on 5th/6th June with artillery and heavy tanks. Furthermore, Kapoor relates this to the Amritsar massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919 and also detailing how preparation for the invasion had begun in early May and the use of an artificially built Golden Temple at a remote Indian hill station. In the following chapter, Kapoor explores the setting of the Harmandir Sahib complex and highlights the importance of several locations including the Akal Takht, which was destroyed by the Indian army.
“The Parties” explores the role of the Indian Government, the Indian Army and the Sikhs. Kapoor looks specifically at Sant Harchand Singh Longowal and Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, as well as the Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Force (CRF). Here, the author highlights the character of Sant Jarnail Singh, explaining how he was a devout Sikh from an early age and stood for the core principles of the Sikh way of life.
After discussing the causes of the invasion of Darbar Sahib, Kapoor goes into detail about the types of reactions that followed. He makes note of parties and personalities such as the BJP, Khushwant Singh, Bishen Singh Bedi (Indian cricketer) and other notable names. He also highlights several names for returning awards such as the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan previously received by the Indian Government, including Swaran Singh, Ganda Singh, Khushwant Singh and Sadhu Singh Hamdard. While Kapoor notes that, at this time, Captain Amrinder Singh had resigned from both the Congress and the Lok Sabha, he then provides details of Sikh mutinies which erupted following the invasion. This chapter is then followed by an analysis of the costs of the invasion as well as a look to the future of the Sikhs in Punjab and across the world.
Sukhbir Singh Kapoor’s work captures a vision that was held in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Harmandir Sahib. Given the lack of media presence and censorship that was held at the time, this work is certainly unique and when reading, one can feel the deep emotion and passion the author possesses. It should also be noted that this work was written prior to the eventual assassination of Indira Ghandi, a topic that would have no doubt altered some of the angles presented within this book.