Connecting the scourge of ethnic nationalism to the 1984 Sikh massacre

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(RNS) — In early June, Sikhs around the world gather to commemorate one of the more painful moments of their recent history. On June 1, 1984, the Indian army launched a military assault on Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, in northern India, the most historically significant gurdwara, as Sikhs call their places of worship, and the epicenter of the Sikh psyche.

The timing of the attack coincided with the days when Sikhs around the globe commemorate the execution and martyrdom of their fifth guru, Guru Arjan Sahib, the architect of the historic Darbar Sahib. For centuries Sikhs have flocked to this site in Amritsar every June to honor his memory and contributions.

In 1984, Sikhs inside the complex were paying their respects when Indian military forces arrived and placed them under siege. A deliberate and calculated massacre ensued over the next eight days, perpetrated by a government against its own citizens. By its end, thousands of innocent Sikhs would be dead — devotees who had come to honor their guru who would now never return home.