|From 1977 03 02 India|
It is Amritsar that I mark as the start of my route through the lands of troubles to come, troubles that affect the region and the world to this day. Fortunately for me, my travels were in 1977, before there was a hint (at least to this naive Western traveler) that storms were just over the horizon. During my visit to Amritsar, the Golden Temple of the Sikhs, built in 1604, was resplendent, open to all, and peaceful. The peace was not to last.
In 1983, [Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale] and his militant followers headquartered themselves in the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, and started accumulating weapons. After several futile negotiations, Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian army to enter the Golden temple in order to subdue Bhindranwale and his followers. In the resulting Operation Blue Star, the shrine was damaged and many civilians were killed. The State of Punjab was closed to international media, its phone and communication lines shut. To this day the events remain controversial with a disputed number of victims; Sikhs seeing the attack as unjustified and Bhindrawale being declared the greatest Sikh martyr of the 20th century.
One of a continuing series.
Start: Around the World in 800 Days
Next: Srinigar, Kashmir Valley