ikhs have their own distinct and divinely revealed religion and scripture. They aim for a Saintly soldier ideal, and history has shown them to be brave and freedom-loving. The Genocide that happened in 1984 had an extremely large impact on the Sikh community. This article will explain factors which led to the Genocide, events which took place at that time, and the aftermath of the genocide. This will also clear common misconceptions about what happened. 

PRE 1984

  • Pre-1947 British Indian Rule
  • 1849 British Raj annexes the huge Sikh Kingdom 
  • 1900s Sikhs fight bravely for Indian independence
  • Sikhs (2% Indian population) give 80% of sacrifices in the freedom struggle 
  • M. Gandhi and Nehru promise Sikh state within Federal India
  • Punjab got split into two halves, half is in India and the other half is in Pakistan. 
  • 60% of Sikhs became refugees, 14 million people were displaced and 1 million Sikhs died. 

  • 1947-50 Independent India’s New Constitution
  • Sikhs are classified as Hindus
  • Punjabi is not Punjab’s first language 
  • 75% of the water and 70% of the revenue of Punjab is sent to other states
  • Sikhs are seen as a Hindu sect that needs suppression and re-assimilation 
  • PM Nehru says, Sikhs ‘missed the boat’ 
  • Sikhs feel betrayed and refuse to sign the constitution 

  • 1950-66 Punjabi Suba Movement
  • Masses of Sikhs agitate peacefully for socio-political rights 
  • 26,000 Sikhs are arrested in 1960 
  • Government responds with violence
  • 1966 Government creates Punjabi-language State, but ⅓ of Punjab’s original size
  • The government denies Punjab its own capital or control over economic policies.

  • 1966-84 Anandpur Resolution - Dharam Yudh Morcha
  • In 1971, over 250,000 Sikhs demonstrate for reasonable socio-economic demands of the Anandpur Resolution
  • Government and Police turn more violent and hostile
  • Propaganda defames Sikhs as extremists and separatists
  • In 1975, Sikhs hailed as ‘saving democracy’ through massive demonstrations against Indira Gandhi’s dissolving of parliament
  • Indira Gandhi develops a grudge against Sikhs
  • In 1978, an Anti-Sikh group kills 13 Sikhs whilst Police stand by
  • Police brutality escalates
  • In 1982, Sikhs launch Dharam Yudh Morcha to implement the Anandpur Resolution 
  • This mass movement with several leaders is portrayed by Government as solely led by Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale, who is also demonized as an extremist separatist

June 1984

The Indian Government launches the largest military operation against its own citizens, killing over 5000+ innocent Sikhs.

THEY SAY: A Sikh country was about to be declared. 

TRUTH: To protest for the Anandpur resolution, a stoppage on grain shipments out of Punjab was planned for June 3rd.

THEY SAY: It was last minute and unplanned. 


  • The attack was pre-planned in 1982 when the Indian army made a model of the Golden Temple, Amritsar.
  • In Feb 1984, UK armed forces were involved in advising on the attack. 
  • Emergency was declared.
  • The foreign press was kicked out.
  • A media blackout was imposed.

THEY SAY: Terrorist occupation meant Army was needed. 


  • The attack was pre-planned in 1982. 
  • In 1983, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale (a preacher) was invited into the temple complex.
  • A police arrest warrant was not issued for him despite open access to him.
  • The army besieged the complex. No one was allowed to get out. The army did attack without a warning or negotiation (illegal by Indian law).

THEY SAY: There were minimal casualties. 


  • 5000+ people were killed. 
  • On a Sikh holy day, they attacked the complex that was full of thousands of people visiting the Golden Temple. 
  • Trainloads of pilgrims were allowed to come in but not allowed to go out, which caused maximum deaths. 

THEY SAY: Army soldiers treated prisoners with care. 


  • Soldiers were told Sikhs inside were separatists. 
  • They went berserk and gruesomely executed thousands of men, women and children.
  • Hundreds more died, locked up in scorching heat without any water. 
  • All bodies were cremated without account. 

THEY SAY: It was about setting Harimandar Sahib free. 


  • 125 Gurdwaras across Punjab were attacked simultaneously. 
  • Hundreds of people were killed. 
  • Villagers and Sikh soldiers coming to help were shot dead without warning from helicopter gunships. 

THEY SAY: Sikhi was not the target. 

TRUTH: Three days after the attack, the army burnt down the Central Sikh Reference Library and priceless historical artifacts.

Nov 1984

After Indira Gandhi’s assassination, her son and the ruling Congress party organized three days of killings of Sikhs

THEY SAY: It was a Hindu vs Sikh riot - not a genocide. 


  • It was not a religious riot, but a one-sided killing of Sikhs. 
  • In Punjab, Hindus were not killed in retaliation. Most Hindus didn’t participate. 
  • The government organized buses of criminals to kill and rape. In fact, many Hindus saved Sikh neighbours. 
  • The government and media spread rumours to encourage hatred of Sikhs. Thus, allowing mobs to kill and rape. 

THEY SAY: It was spontaneous. 


  • The government organized the killings, armed the gangs with machetes, tires and addresses of Sikhs.
  • Politicians, civil service, media, police, and army were all complicit. 
  • Media continually played hateful slogans and encouraged revenge. 

THEY SAY: The police were unable to stop it. 


  • Police disarmed and dispersed Sikhs so they couldn’t unite and defend themselves. 
  • Police ignored or even participated in killings. Where some policemen bothered, it did stop killings.  

THEY SAY: The Army couldn’t be used. 

TRUTH: Army units based near Delhi could have restored order in 12 hours, but killings continued for 3 days. They were kept in the base until 8000 Sikhs had been killed. 

THEY SAY: We tried to help survivors. 


  • Refugee camps were abysmal. 
  • Insurance claims were not upheld. Compensation was minimal. 
  • Survivors were abandoned.

THEY SAY: Sikhs should forget and move on. 


  • After 10 commissions, the killers still roam free; some are influential politicians.
  • Widows and orphans are still alive and suffering. 
  • Every year, India remembers Indira Gandhi.


Visible War On Sikhs

  • The government told police to arrest, torture and/or kill Sikh males, especially ones observant and involved in Human Rights. 
  • A Special Law (TADA) was made for Sikhs which stated guilty till proven innocent
  • More than 100,000 Sikhs disappeared and were presumed dead. 
  • Many more were brutally tortured, causing disability/impotence.
  • Police often raped Sikh women, usually in front of their family members, many of them committed suicide. 

Invisible War On Sikhs

  • Crippling policies include low investment, high taxes, low education, limited Sikhs in the armed forces, and setting low prices for crops. 
  • Farmers were pushed into unaffordable loans, and thousands committed suicide.
  • Pollution is uncontrolled so cancer rates are sky-high.
  • Punjab was flooded with drugs and alcohol shops. 
  • 75% of youth in Punjab are now addicted to either drugs or alcohol.
  • Abortion clinics are unrestricted, so female feticide is the highest in the world.
  • All this kills without bullets.

Propaganda War On Sikhs 

  • 1985-95 Sikh freedom movement discredited by government infiltrators committing crimes, creating rifts between Hindus and Sikhs. 
  • Peaceful human rights protests were dealt with violently, and Sikhs were called terrorists. 
  • Any aspect of martial Sikhi was discouraged. 
  • The Punjabi language was made out to be uncultured. Hindi was encouraged for progression. 
  • Sikhi was maligned in textbooks. 
  • Anti-Sikh groups were sponsored. 
  • Sikh politics are controlled by the government and preaching is severely limited. 
  • Culturally, Bollywood portrays Sikhs as clowns. 
  • Sikh youth are alienated from Sikhi. 

Why Are They Killing Sikhs?

  • In India’s history, the common person was socially and spiritually oppressed.
  • A Sikh aims to be a Khalsa, a Saintly Soldier who serves and defends others from injustice and oppression. 
  • The ruling classes of India want to suppress this revolution. The target was never Sikhs, but Sikhi itself. 

Why Is 1984 Not Just About Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale? 

  • He was one of many leaders and focused on preaching. 
  • He was made a focal point and demonized in order to split Sikhs and remove Indian support for the popular Punjab human rights movement. 
  • He was not the real target.
You can help spread the message of Sikhi to people around you by using the leaflet created by the Basics of Sikhi team.
You can also check out our other leaflets on the Downloads page.

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