Operation Woodrose

Operation Woodrose was a follow up to Operation Bluestar, taking place from June to September 1984. It was an operation in which the Indian Army unsuccessfully attempted to wipe out Sikh militancy. The Indian Army went to every village and town to detain suspected militants. In the process, the army detained thousands of young Sikhs in the countryside, many of whom were tortured and murdered This event is largely unknown because of the strict media censorship imposed by the then ruling government of Indira Gandhi, which was fearful of the instability of the nation and the censorship of the congress party. In the Punjab the operation caused the Indian Army to became very unpopular.

During the operation, General Jamal was assigned the responsibility to seal the border and General R.S. Dayal was instructed to oversee the apprehension of militants in state of Punjab. Woodrose involved forced entry into thousands of Sikh homes, most of whose inhabitants had committed no crimw.

Many Sikhs believe that the aim of 'Woodrose' was not to wipe out 'militancy', but was really aimed at wiping out Sikhism by riding Punjab of its Amritdhari (baptized Sikhs), especially young men. The way in which the operation was conducted is as follows:

The Indian army would go to villages and pull out the Sikhs, then publicly humiliate Sikhs and then kill most males or detain them. Women also were dishonored in many ways. The army particularly targeted young Sikhs and on some occasions were embarrassed when just a handful of Sikhs would repel army units, however on the whole the superior numbers of troops and their superior arms kept such successes down. The result was the death of thousands of Sikhs.

Before Operation Woodrose started, Indian PM Indira Gandhi had the following published in magazines:

"Any knowledge of dangerous Amritdhari who are pledged to commit murders, arson and acts of terrorism, should immediately be brought to the notice of the authorities. These people might appear harmless from outside but they are basically committed to terrorism. In the interest of all of us their identity and whereabouts must always be disclosed."

The Operation

Operation Woodrose was similar to Operation Bluestar in its execution and intention. Sikh youth were picked up and murdered throughout Punjab. Operation Woodrose was similar to Operation Bluestar except that the Gurdwaras were now under the control of the Army and hunting down any Amritdhari (baptized) Sikhs in the countryside throughout Punjab became the sole objective. The Army stated in its publication, known as ‘baat cheet’ or talking points, that any baptized Sikh (bearded) was effectively a terrorist. It blamed Guru Gobind Singh for militancy among Sikhs and to all intents & purposes waged war on him personally. This was the third time in history that a decree of this kind (Re. mass annihilation of Sikhs) was declared; the first two being by Emperor Bahadur Shah (1707-12) and Emperor Farukh Siyar (1713-19).

During both Woodrose & Bluestar any Sikh wearing a turban was dishonored and summarily shot at point blank range with their hands tied behind their backs, with their unwound turbans. Any youth aged between 15 and 35 were particularly targeted for eradication.

The Army worked very closely with members of the Congress Party, BJP and CPM activists to ensure that every village and town was combed for baptized Sikhs. Those that were not shot were indicted for being members of opposition Sikh political parties. The mopping up operations truly involved the infliction of terror upon a community that had until now been unquestionably patriotic.

Even by conservative estimates the numbers of Sikh youth taken into custody during the first 4 to 6 weeks of Operation Woodrose amounted to 100,000. Even the most the patriotic nationalist Sikhs accepted there was no choice left to somehow find a way of defending itself against the ever growing use of the Army, Para-military forces and state-sponsored terrorism.

Terrorists and terrorism is wrong and there is no place for terrorism in the world in this day and age, but anti terror laws should be about stopping terrorists; not for the ethnic cleansing of minorities like India is doing. Sikhs are being ethnically cleaned under the name of anti terror laws of Hindu India. These laws are specially designed to attack the Sikh identity and force Hinduism into the Sikh Nation. It's was very easy to see that the policy of the RSS Hindutuva were behind these operations.

A second article concerning the same events - Reprinted from the World Muslim/Sikh Federation

During 1984's military attack on the Golden Temple Com­plex, code named, "Operation Blue Star" at least five thou­sand innocent Sikhs who had gathered there for observa­tion of the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun, were massa­cred by the Indian Army. Feeling not content with this ghastly bloodshed the Indian government, side by side with Operation Blue Star, launched on the Sikhs another attack known as Operation Woodrose. The main purpose of this Operation was to mop up all 20000 Amritdhari Sikhs, especially the young boys, from all villages of Punjab. During this mopping up operation the Army indiscrimi­nately picked up all Sikh boys and other Sikhs who had supported flowing beards and adorned Gatra, a small dag­ger, one of the five symbols prescribed by Guru Gobind Singh; It is preposterous that the Army branded in their official publication "Bat Cheet" all Amritdhari (Baptized) Sikhs as extremists and the Indian government led by Indira Gandhi had endorsed this grave disinformation spread by the blinded Army. Instead of asking the Army to keep their hands off the innocent Amritdhari Sikhs, the Indian gov­ernment framed draconian laws to facilitate the Army to carry out indiscriminate arrests of the Sikhs, young and old, alike. The state of Punjab and Chandigarh were de­clared as disturbed areas and to accord it legal sanctity the Punjab Chandigarh Disturbed Areas Act was passed by the government. Not only that, to enable the Army to round up any Sikh they wished to without impunity the government passed another Act called the Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Act. To provide sharp teeth to the courts, the Terrorists Affected Areas (Special Courts) Act was also passed to deal sternly with the arrested Sikhs. And to arm the police and the paramilitary forces with unbridled powers the Criminal Procedure Code was amended. The civil administration was virtually subor­dinated to the military authorities. Thus Punjab was vir­tually converted into a Military Occupied Area as is done in the case of captured area of an enemy country.

The Army revengefully let loose a reign of terror in every nook and corner of all villages of Punjab. Like hunt­ing hounds they rounded up thousands of Sikhs especially the youths, detained them in military camps, tortured them brutally, and in many cases shot them dead. Many were crippled and maimed permanently. The reckless oppression forced hundreds of those Sikh youths, at whom the Army could not lay hands, to flee their villages. The mothers, sisters and wives of those Sikhs who went underground for fear of arbitrary arrests, were arrested, detained in the military camps. Tortured and in many cases molested in order to force their fleeing relatives to surrender. There was none to hear their wails and woes: there was none to give them healing touch.

Only wild wolves were let loose to howl and growl at them. The fanatic Hindus slyly smiled and gleefully rejoiced at the pitiable plight of the Sikhs in Punjab.