June 1, 2023 (New York, NY) — Today, the Sikh Coalition joins Sikhs around the world in marking the 39-year-anniversary of Operation Blue Star. On June 1, 1984, the Indian Army launched a coordinated assault on Darbar Sahib (also known as the Golden Temple) and dozens of other gurdwaras throughout Punjab.
In addition to claiming thousands of Sikh lives, this horrific event was the beginning of a years-long campaign of genocidal violence (including both targeted killings and mass, coordinated mob violence), disappearances, and general repression of Sikhs by the Indian state. We continue to believe that this coordinated operation, intended to devastate our community, was an inflection point in modern Sikh history. Despite this fact, those who perpetrated this violence and discrimination—and those who perpetuate it, in varying forms, to the present—have largely yet to experience any accountability for their actions.
We believe that efforts to commemorate the effects of Operation Blue Star and 1984 more broadly require that we keep our history alive through honest retellings of our community’s trauma. The Sikh Coalition applauds the work of the 1984 Living History Project, which has documented interviews of eyewitnesses and family members, and Ensaaf, which has done significant research on extrajudicial killings and disappearances in the many years following 1984. As you pause to commemorate this solemn anniversary, you can review their work and other resources:
Videos and Personal Accounts
- A Witness Among the Bodies (by Ensaaf)
- Survivor Interviews, Days After Nov. 1984 (by Ensaaf)
- The Last Killing (by Ensaaf)
- Mapping Crimes Against Humanity (by Ensaaf)
- Mapping June 1984 (by the 1984 Living History Project)
- Sawinder Singh Recounts His Experiences with 1984
Hate—whether in the form of rhetoric, institutional discrimination, or violence—remains an urgent problem for our communities today. That threat is exacerbated, moreover, by increasingly aggressive nationalism in the United States, India, and countries around the world. Due to our lived experiences of 1984, the Sikh community knows better than most the risk to marginalized communities when political tensions intersect with the normalization of bigotry and belligerence towards the ‘other.’ We continue to believe that we are engaged in a shared fight for civil rights, and that we must work alongside a wide range of other communities as we push for both justice for the past and equity for the future.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly, and to remember and honor those who died doing so.