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Monday, June 05, 2006

The Sikhs' version of 666

The following is a break from the norm regarding the intent and purposes of this blog. However, this deviation is utmost justifiable.

Some may look at the day of June 6th, 2006 as a Biblical reference as the mark of the Beast, or the Devil (666). However, to the Sikh community, June 6th will always be a sad day when reflecting at their recent modern history. June 6th, 2006 brings the 22nd anniversary of the attack of the Golden Temple (technically known as the Harimandar Sahib), the Sikh’s holiest shrine.

Between June 4th and 7th in the year of 1984, India’s Armed Forces laid siege on the complex of the Golden Temple to remove a group of Sikhs that were labeled as a threat to India’s national security. Under the watch of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Indian Army physically attacked the Golden Temple complex on June 6th, 1984. In the process of the attack, much of the grounds were left in complete ruins due to the lengthy firefight between both factions. A tragically sad consequence of these events is the murder of innocent pilgrims who perished due to the Indian Army’s attack while visiting the Golden Temple during this time period as it coincided with a major Sikh religious holiday. Worst was that the Akal Takhat, a building which has significant spiritual and historical value to Sikhism, was destroyed due to mortar rounds fired by tanks of the Indian Army.

To put it into perspective, imagine if the Wailing Wall, the Vatican, Mecca, or any other of the World’s religious institutions were destroyed to mere rubble and debris.

The destroyed Akal Takhat. Image courtesy of SikhiWiki.org

Unfortunately, this imaginary thought is an actual reality for the Sikhs. June 6th, 1984 will always be a day in which hell did indeed flourish on Earth at a sanctuary reserved for prayer and worship.

Many historians have documented in great detail as to how the Temple was desecrated, how the spirits and hearts of Sikhs were wounded in their Indian homeland, and how could failed diplomatic measures “justify” the need for extreme actions that will be etched into many minds forever.

After the attack, Pope John Paul II quickly renounced the extreme measures taken by the Indian Government stating that no military actions should ever be taken on the grounds of any religious institutions.

And it is extreme measures that can demoralize any society and challenge its social structures of comradery, nationality, and compassion.

Since the post 1984 era, there have been many viewpoints that have been embraced by different parts of the Indian society, both in its Nation and abroad. Some have called to the notion of separatism, some have embraced draconian viewpoints that invokes a sense of alienation within society, while others choose to remain quiet in hopes that this time period would pass like the dark times of India’s and Pakistan’s Partition.

However, one missing viewpoint must also be inserted into the discussion when reflecting on the events of 1984, which is remembrance.

Although it may be impossible to heal wounds that are permanent, there is a distinct need for all to remember the atrocities committed in that difficult time period of India. Without a sense of remembrance, some may continue to feel alienated or isolated from society. Rather, society should accept the events that have happened and learn from the mistakes committed at that time.

After all without the concept of remembrance, it can foolishly lead individuals to think that acts of evil can go without accountability, as with the case of the 2002 violence in Gujarat.

Several links have been compiled on RestoringThePride to focus on remembrance of the attack that occurred on the Golden Temple in 1984. Do take time to read and understand what exactly occurred in June 1984.

One can only hope that 22 years later, society as a whole can come together to remember this unfortunate time so that these events are never repeated again.

"Storming The Temple," as aired on The History Channel.
85.4 MB video file download (.wmv)
Courtesy of SaintSoldiers.net


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