Operation Blue Star was the biggest national security mission ever undertaken by the Indian Army. It was Indira Gandhi’s solution to the out of control law and order situation in Punjab. Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India at that moment, ordered the removal of Sikh militants who were accumulating weapons in the Golden Temple. The operation was held between June 1 and June 8, 1984, in Amritsar.
Bhindranwale, the main reason behind Operation Blue Star, was the leader of Damdami Taksal and influenced the Sikh youth. He convinced many people to follow Sikh rules and tenets. During the operation, Bhindranwale and Khalistan followers took over the Akal Takht complex in the Golden Temple. The Khalistan movement was a political Sikh nationalist movement which aimed at forming an independent state for Sikhs in the current North-Western part of India. Bhindranwale was seen as a supporter of Khalistan. Operation Blue Star specifically was aimed to eliminate Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from the Golden Temple complex and regain control over the temple.
During the Operation Blue Star, the Punjab media was under a blackout. Journalists were put in a military bus and dropped at the Haryana border. There was a curfew in Punjab, and no transportation took place across the state. The incidents led to a great deal of criticism of the government. The military assault led to tensions across members of the Sikh community worldwide. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984, for permitting the Operation Blue Star.
A repeat of Operation Blue Star was seen a few years later. Operation Black Thunder took place in the late 1980s to remove remaining Sikh activists from the Golden Temple. The ‘Black Cat’ commandos of the National Security Guards were in this operation. Similar to Operation Blue Star, the operation was directed towards Khalistani militants who were using the Golden Temple as a base. The first Operation Black Thunder occurred on April 30, 1986, and the second one on May 9, 1988. The operation was commanded by Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, the DGP of Punjab Police at that time. Little damage was inflicted on the Golden Temple as compared to Operation Blue Star. It is known for its free access to the media, unlike during Operation Blue Star. Operation Black Thunder was far more successful as compared to Operation Blue Star.