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The Indian Armed Forces' Sikh and Non-Sikh Officers' Opinions of Operation Blue Star

Apurba Kundu
Pacific Affairs
Vol. 67, No. 1 (Spring, 1994), pp. 46-69
DOI: 10.2307/2760119
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2760119
Page Count: 24
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The Indian Armed Forces' Sikh and Non-Sikh Officers' Opinions of Operation Blue Star
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Abstract

On 5 June 1984, the Indian Army stormed Sikhism's holiest Golden Temple in Amritsar, killing the militant Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and 500 of his followers. Reports of the damage inflicted by Operation Blue Star caused the unprecedented mutiny of 2000 Sikh military personnel. Despite accounting for less than three percent of the national population, Sikhs make up 10-15 percent of all ranks in the Indian Army and a fifth of its officers. A sample of almost one hundred senior retired Indian military officers reveals Sikh and Non-Sikh officers to have strongly opposing views as to the responsibility and necessity of Operation Blue Star, and of the subsequent mutinies' effect on ethnic relations within the armed forces. Would the post-Operation Blue Star mutinies end the army's disproportionate recruitment of Sikh personnel? No; the loyalty of the vast majority of Sikh soldiers and all Sikh officers before, during, and after Operation Blue Star has allowed the Indian Army to continue enlisting Sikh personnel, albeit while making efforts to better intra-military ethnic relations.

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