I have scoured the internet, bookstores, scholastic journals and databases for exhaustive information to try and understand the reality of the events of 1984, as well as the unique nature of this kind of oppression at the hands of the state. The following is a glimpse of what I deem to be useful, as far as my research is concerned. I am sure I have skipped many books and articles, so please leave a comment or contact me if you feel there are any sources or areas that are amiss:
Bits and pieces of everything: Wikipedia
While I sternly warn my students never to use this source for any of their papers, it has some surprisingly good cursory information. For an overview of the timeline of bluestar, the delhi pogroms, bios of many of the people involved, and it even has information on fake encounter killings. Again, use this to gain a very BASIC idea. It is not a reputable source because anyone can write an article on wikipedia and there is no system of accountability.
Bhindranwale and the rise of militancy in Punjab
Identity and Survival: Sikh Militancy in India 1978-1993 by Kirpal Dhillon
Before you ask, no I am not related to Kirpal. Nor do I get a cut in the profits. Now living in Bhopal, Kirpal was the Director General of Punjab Police within weeks of Operation Blue Star. It is very eloquently written and discusses the roles of K.P.S. Gill and Lt. Gen. K.S. Brar. Both men, incidentally, have produced memoirs of their own, which I have read, but cannot in good conscience provide as a resource for people to go out and buy. I would recommend reading it for the active researcher though.
Dreams After Darkness : A Search for Life Ordinary under the Shadow of 1984 by Manraj Grewal
A fantastic book that covers the unique angle, not of Bhindranwale, or of any of the key players, but of Bhindranwale’s son, a real estate agent. His relationship with his father shows a very different side of Bhindranwale, who is not really known as warm and caring, or particularly funny.
This is a very bold and provocative website that, while I don’t fully agree with many of its views, is a resource that has information you simply can’t find anywhere. Not through scouring the internet, not in any videos, and definitely not in books – Punjabi or English. It covers things like Operation Bluestar, the rise of Bhindranwale as well as many of the key players. It also gives the facts of historical events such as the Anandpur Resolution and 1947. And even goes into virtually unknown covert “operations” such as “Shudi Karan” which used rape as a weapon of ethnic cleansing.
Fighting for Faith and Nation by Cynthia Mahmood
Cynthia Mahmood is an anthropologist who has written many articles and books on ethnic and religious violence as well as documented how people act in times of perpetual war. In Faith and Nation, Mahmood, herself an outsider, tells the story of the Khalistan movement by interviewing militants who talk not only of their ideals, but also shows us their human side: their fears, regrets, and beliefs.
The Punjab Story by K.P.S. Gill, Khushwant Singh, and others
The only reason I even mention this book is because it is fascinating to hear the official government reasoning for storming the Golden Temple, and the fact that the entire campaign, alongwith the entire policy in Punjab, was a humane one. It is, apparently, a “bestseller.” There are other writers, all of them, government darlings, such as Khushwant Singh. A good starting point or ending point. As long as you read some non-bestsellers too.
Amritsar: Mrs. Gandhi’s Last Battle by Mark Tully and Satish Jacob
This is a good starting point and I do believe that both Mark Tully and Satish Jacob are sincere in their approach, but they don’t make much of an attempt to understand the events from an insider’s perspective. The book is very well organized and well written: it starts off with a brief history of Sikhs, a rather reductive explanation of the roots of the movement, operation bluestar, and its aftermath. The main argument is basically that Indira Gandhi had a lapse in judgment when she made the call on attacking the Golden Temple and she really loved the Sikh people. There are a lot of flaws in their argument, but they do have some valid points. In any case, it is a good book to read as a starting off base.
BBC News: On this day (Oct. 31, 1984)
The article is well written and relatively unbiased, but what I thought was the most beneficial to me, were the eye witness accounts, and the reader comments. Some of them were Hindu, some Sikh, and some weren’t even in India or born at the time. It is a great spectrum.
The Guardian: Operation Bluestar: 25 years on
An excellent analysis by Sunny Hundal on the impact of Bluestar, as well as a run down of the major events that took place.
Anti-Sikh Pogroms a.k.a Sikh Massacre a.k.a Anti-Sikh “riots” (November 1-3, 1984)
While it is infuriating seeing reputable magazines like TIME use the word “riot” to describe the systematic government sanctioned massacre of Sikhs, I have to remind myself that it is the articles themselves that are important.
Who are the Guilty
This is the first stop. Hands down. It was compiled by a group of incredibly brave college students, all Hindu incidentally, who went into some of the most grief stricken, not to mention dangerous places to interview surivors of the pogroms as well as those involved. They weren’t afraid to name names and were not afraid to pose some very dangerous questions, and perhaps even more dangerously, answer them. Notice the names of Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar, and H.K.L Bhagat are mentioned here, just a few days after the pogroms.
An absolutely hideous website design, but an invaluable resource in the basics of understanding the politics of the anti-Sikh pogroms. The website content is all courtesy H.S. Phoolka (below)
When a Tree Shook Delhi by H.S. Phoolka and Manoj Mitta
This really is the only book you need to understand the level of deception, corruption, and complexity of the Delhi pogroms. It is available at many bookstores in India, although surprisingly – or perhaps not so surprisingly – not very many in Punjab. Outside of India, Amazon or ebay have very reasonably priced copies.
This is one of the most noble organizations out there that is seeking justice for human rights. It is not just concerned with the victims of the pogroms. It also covers the “disappearances” courtesy K.P.S. Gill in Punjab, the widow colony, and ongoing human rights violations, not only in Punjab, but other parts of India as well. Ensaaf means justice in many South Asian languages, including Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu.