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OPERATION SEARCH

After Operations Bluestar, Woodrose and the November ‘84 Anti-Sikh pogroms the wider peace-loving Sikh community felt that the hundreds of thousands of murdered Sikhs needed justice. However the courts did nothing and the state, police, state-sponsored terrorists and army were themselves carrying out the atrocities. Thus out of the ashes of Punjab grew militants to resist the occupation of Gurdwaras and religious places by Army personnel and to give justice to the corrupt Police that were committing greater human rights abuses than witnessed for hundreds of years in Punjab.
After the declaration of Khalistan was made as a result on April 29 1986, Surjit Barnala under pressure from Rajiv Gandhi to resign or take tougher action on the militants chose the latter. This proved to be the worst decision of his life as it somehow gave Rajiv a form of justification for Operation Bluestar and split the Akali Dal party.
Surjit Barnala, Minister of State for Defence- Arun Singh, Congress (I) Vice President- Arjun Singh, a Major-General of National Security Guards (NSG) and top officials of Home Ministry were flown to Amritsar. Julio Ribeiro was already there. It was decided that three companies of NSG would assault the Golden Temple complex again to “flush out terrorists”. This was codenamed Operation Search.
The complex was surrounded on April 30, 4.30am by the police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The commandos then entered the temple complex firing ‘in the air’. There was no resistance. Still they killed two innocent Sikhs. Of the 378 persons rounded up, 233 mainly belonging to Taksal and the AISSF were detained. Ribeiro conceded ‘no one of note was caught’.
On the same day Barnala condemned the declaration of Khalistan at the Cabinet meeting. He did not tell his colleagues of the ongoing police action in Sri Darbar Sahib. On hearing of it Sukhjinder Singh, Amarinder Singh and Sucha Singh Chhotepur resigned from the Cabinet. Badal and Tohra resigned from Akali Dal Working Committee. Akali Dal split. A group of 27 Akali MLAs and 4 of the 7 MPs got recognition as separate groups. Tohra’s men however continued in Barnala ministry.