Mrs. Gandhi’s last and most courageous battle was literally fought on a battlefield, unlike her earlier political battles at the ballot box. Under orders from the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Indian Army stormed the Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar on the night of 5th June 1984. The army began pounding the historic Ramgarhia Bunga at dawn and virtually reduced the Akal Takht to a pile of rubble by the morning of 7th June, when the forces had full control of the Golden Temple. The Indian Army, along with the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force, had been called in by Indira Gandhi to eliminate Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Bhindranwale had been accused of stockpiling weapons in the Golden Temple and starting a major armed uprising.
The Indian Army was initially taken aback by the well coordinated resistance offered by the armed extremists holed up in the Golden Temple. After destroying the outer defences using Ordnance QF 25 pounder, the army brought in tanks and APCs to flush out Bhindranwale and his comrades. Though the army was eventually successful, the casualties were huge. The storming of the Golden Temple was seen as a sacrilege by the Sikh community and the ramifications of Operation Blue Star were far greater than the temporal objectives.
About The Authors
Sir Mark Tully KBE is the former Bureau Chief of BBC, New Delhi. He joined BBC in 1964 as the India Correspondent, and continued working until 1994, when he resigned as the Bureau Chief. Tully’s other books on India include Raj to Rajiv: 40 Years of Indian Independence, India in Slow Motion, No Full Stops in India, India's Unending Journey and India: The Road Ahead. Tully was born in Calcutta, British India, in 1935. He went back to England at the age of nine and went to Twyford School, Marlborough College. Tully later studied theology at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Tully is the recipient of several awards including the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1985 and was knighted in the New Year Honours 2002.
Satish Jacob is a veteran journalist who retired from BBC in 2002, after having served as a correspondent and Deputy Bureau Chief over his 26 year career with BBC. His other published work is Satish Jacob from Hotel Palestine Baghdad. Jacob began his career as a trainee journalist with The Statesman before joining BBC News, after a brief stint at The Patriot. Along with Mark Tully, Satish Jacob reported some of the most dramatic events in modern Indian history including Operation Bluestar and the assassination of Indira Gandhi.