Tag Archives: terrorism

Operation Blue Star

At the beginning of every frisbee session, we warm up, throw a little bit, and then split into teams. I had forget to teach these kids the most essential aspect of the sport: team names. Josh and I are the captains, my guys choose to be called the “Buckets”, because I have a bucket on my shirt.

Josh tries to advocate for his team to be called “Gulab Jamun”, an Indian dessert that he’s obsessed with. The kids weren’t having it. They all synonymously choose to be called team Blue Star, and we both didn’t really think too much of it.

In the late 1970’s, a man by the name of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was gaining power in the state of Punjab (where my family is from). He had long been a missionary for Sikhism, advocating for people to rid themselves of alcohol, drugs, and other vices. As his popularity grew within Punjab, his thirst for power grew as well. He attempted to gain power legitimately through formal elections, but when he failed, he became increasingly militant.

He began assassinating  those who opposed him while terrorizing the citizens of Punjab. He was so powerful within the state that there was little recourse. He continued to amass weapons, and took shelter at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest temple in the Sikh religion.

Operation Blue Star took place on June 3, 1984, as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian military to storm the Golden Temple and remove the separatists. The operation was succesful, Bhindranwale was killed, but because the operation was held on a Sikh religious holiday, many of the civilians who were trapped inside were also killed.

While it was successful, Sikhs around India considered the entry of military personnel into the Golden Temple to be sacrilegious and a desecration of the holy site. Sikhs within government resigned their positions and gave up their government awards.

A few months later, on Halloween of that same year, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh body guards. Rioting in the streets resulted, as Hindus massacred Sikhs, especially within Delhi. Shops were ransacked, houses burned to the ground, and many were killed. The first places targeted were the gurdwaras, Sikh religious sites, to prevent them from collecting there and mounting a defense. Some have alleged that the ruling party supplied voting lists to identify Sikh citizens and businesses, and hence were complacent with the killings.

So maybe the kids think military operations are cool, or maybe they are Hindus and don’t really care for the Sikhs, I’m not really sure. All I know is that Buckets won and Blue Star lost, and that sort of religious tension and animosity is irrelevant on the field.

Terrorism in India

Security is a much bigger concern here than it is in America. It’s a practical matter rather than a theoretical one. What I mean is that the presence of terrorism and such is much more real here, where as in America, the threat is much more a perception than anything. In terms of living one’s life on a daily basis, there isn’t really any intrusion caused by terrorism besides a long line at airports.

In India, there are constant reminders. I hope Marcy (Josh’s mom) doesn’t read this, because it will probably scare the bejesus out of her. In every mall, at least the sort of upscale, air conditioned ones that we have been to, you are required to go through a metal detector and be patted down. If you are parking your car in the mall garage, you car is briefly searched before you can enter. Terrorist often target locations associated with the West, whether it be these upscale malls with lots of western stores, or someplace like GK1, which has a lot of restaurants, pubs, and clubs, which they bombed last year.

We are lucky that Geetanjali Enclave (where we live) has some of the best security in Delhi. There are always security guards on high alert. Any by high alert, I mean sleeping. There are gates with guards there, but usually their only purpose is to open the gate for cars. Anyone can enter.

There is also this asshole with a whistle. From about midnight to whenever, his sole job is to roam the streets, blowing a whistle. Apparently he does this so that “we know he is there” just in case we need help, or if we are under attack, there is a nearby whistle. He reportedly makes millions doing this, and Michael Cera just signed a deal to star in a movie telling a story about the rise to supremacy of the whistle blower.