One young college girl, who was one of the thousands of pilgrims who were trapped, gives her account of the Army entering the Complex in the following words: “They continued the firing till the evening of June 5th and then it was about 8.30 p.m. It was completely dark when they entered [Army into the Temple Complex] accompanied by very heavy firing. The blasting was so severe that I thought that I had reached some other world. We were 40-50 persons huddled together in the room, including women and children. The upper portion of the Akal Takhat had been fired at by the Army… Pieces of the Guru Granth Sahib were flying in the air… The place seemed to have been transformed into a haunted house…There were some among us who were frantic for some water, they came out in the open. In the morning I saw the dead bodies lying in the Parikarma. This was the worst kind of treachery.”
Giani Puran Singh, a priest at the Harmandir Sahib and also an eye-witness remembers: “At 10.00 p.m. the tanks started entering the complex and the barrage of shooting became more intense as heavy artillery began to be used. At this stage an armoured carrier entered and stood beside the Sarovar. The lights on this carrier, when switched on, bathed the whole complex in bright light. We were viewing all this perched in the main dome of Harmandar Sahib and thought that probably the fire brigade had come to get water for extinguishing fires raging throughout the city. But we were proved wrong when this vehicle came down to the Parikarma and started firing. From both sides the tanks started closing in; from the clock tower to the Brahm Buta the tanks fired upon and set fire to all rooms, while desperate people collected water from the Sarovar to extinguish the fires. Loud cries and wails of both women and children rented the air.”
In Devinder Singh Duggal’s words, “The night between the 5th and 6th was terrible. The tanks and armoured carriers had entered the Golden Temple Complex. The firing was such, that its ferocity cannot be described. All through the night we heard the heart rending cries of the dying persons.”
Source; Citizens for Democracy; Report to the Nation: Oppression in Punjab (Bombay, 1985) (This report was made by an investigation team lead by Justice V. M. Tarkunde who was a prominent Indian lawyer, civil rights activist, and a distinguished judge. A day after publication of the report it was banned and confiscated, the authors were arrested and charged with “sedition” (incitement of rebellion against a government); http://www.pucl.org/admin/know_pucl.pdf.
Eyewitness Subhash Kirpekar writes that in total there were approximately “a dozen tanks and a dozen APCs in all” (Armoured Personal Carriers); “Operation Bluestar, an Eyewitness Account” (published in The Punjab Story). Giani Puran Singh recounts how “a vigorous battle ensued between the Army and the 40-50 youth who had been holding the forces fought bravely through the night, until they either they were killed or their ammunition was exhausted”.