The year 1984 remains the ultimate annus horribilis for the Sikh community, littered with monumental events that left deep scars on Indias supposedly secular ethos. It was during this fateful year that the Indian forces launched 'Operation Blue Star to evict Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from the holiest of the Sikh shrines in Amritsar and ignited a chain of events that were to transform the Hindu-Sikh equation for times to come. The devastation of the Golden Temple in June 1984 was followed by mutinies by the Sikh soldiers and assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, which set off the prolonged period of Sikh massacres by the frenzied Hindu mobs Indira, the woman who ruled India the longest, from 1966-77 and 1980-84, was a leader obsessed with dictatorial penchant. After the death of her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, she emerged as the undisputed leader of the Congress Party and came to enjoy absolute control over the state of affairs in India. When she came to power for the second time, the political scene in Punjab was disconcerting enough to raise her ire. The Sikhs (constituting 2 percent of the Indian demographic chart) were beginning to show signs of unrest. It was a time when stirred by a strong sense of communal alienation the movement of separatism had begun to take root in Punjab. Akali Dal, the Sikh political party in Punjab, had become vocal in strongly articulating the Sikh grievances and provided a platform for mobilising heightened political aspirations. Punjab was getting restive. Grievances included settlement of territorial and water sharing disputes with the neighbouring States, including the total control of Chandigarh, Punjabs capital city shared with Haryana State. The Sikhs claimed that the governments economic and industrial policies were destroying the economic potential of the agriculturally rich Punjab. The communal angle, too, had been suffocating the Sikhs and the demand for Khalistan - a separate homeland - was gaining strength. Indira, true to her conspiratorial nature, tried to drive a wedge and diffuse the scorching Sikh activism through dividing the political strength of Akali Dal. The scheme included promoting some extremists among Sikhs; one of whom included the messianic figure of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, to challenge the political authority of the Dal. Bhindranwale, instead of conforming to Indiras manipulative designs, turned out to be a man of his own and to her consternation emerged as an uncontrollable force. As the pressure to control him increased, he set himself in the Golden Temple in Amritsar, turning it into the nerve centre of Khalistan Movement. Instead of finding a political solution to settle the matter, Indira ordered the launching of 'Operation Blue Star on June 4, 1984. According to the Indian governments White Paper, 493 Sikh militants were killed inside the shrine and more than 1,500 arrested. Foreign journalists, who witnessed the attack, believed that the casualties during the assault were not in hundreds, but in thousands. By committing the ultimate sacrilege of the holiest of the Sikh shrines, Indira had in effect signed her death warrant. Indiras tryst with fate arrived on October 31, 1984, when her trusted Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh assassinated her. The shocking manner of her death let out the long suppressed communal demons of anti-Sikh sentiments harboured by the Hindus. The days that followed saw a bloody pogrom of Sikhs. Encouraged by tacit approval of Rajiv Gandhi and the Hindu establishment, goons belonging to the Congress Party led berserk mobs that roamed the Sikh neighbourhoods, putting houses to torch and killing them, including young children and boys. The worst kind of atrocities were committed in Delhi neighbourhoods where police remained a silent witness to murder and arson permitting mobs a freehand in venting their diabolic rage. It was only when the army was ultimately called in to quell the riots that a semblance of normalcy returned. When bloodlust subsided, 10,000 Sikhs had been killed and innumerable gurdawaras demolished to dust. The assassination of Indira Gandhi added to the strength of the Sikh insurgency in Punjab and the India n establishment responded by resorting to no-holds-barred State sponsored repression to tackle it. In such environment not only were the Sikh activists demanding a separate homeland were killed in fake encounters, but thousands of innocents also lost their lives to State brutality. How many Sikhs were killed by the Indian police only remains a wild guess. In this context, it is instructive to note that in 1996 the Supreme Court of India upheld a finding by the CBI that at least 2,097 bodies were cremated in three crematoriums on police orders without proper notification or documentation. Many more crematoriums are suspected of illegally disposing of thousands of Sikhs bodies on police orders. The genocide of Sikhs during the 80s and 90s constitute a bleeding wound that has traumatised the Sikh community ever since. This particular aspect has been suitably researched and summarised in an exhaustive report, Reduced to Ashes: The Insurgency and Human Rights in Punjab, published by the South Asia Forum for Human Rights in Katmandu. October 31 this year, marks the 27th anniversary of those hate filled days, yet the Sikh wounds have not healed. After many inconclusive commissions of inquiry and findings of various human rights groups, no Congress politician accused of leading the murderous mobs, following Indira Gandhis death has been taken to task. No police officer has been charged with killing of thousands of Sikhs in fake encounters. The legacy of hatred left by the assault on Golden Temple and cemented by Indiras assassination still lingers and the embers continue to assert their presence in the Hindu-Sikh communal equation. Indias refusal to acknowledge the excesses committed against the Sikh nation has blocked the initiation of any process of reconciliation between the Hindus and the Sikhs; the latter nursing a deep sense of injustice, aggravated by the realisation that the murderers of innocent Sikhs roam freely under successive Congress governments patronage. The writer is a retired brigadier and former defence attach in Australia and New Zealand. Email: im_k@hotmail.com