June 5, 1984, the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, ordered Indian troops to assault the Harmandir Sahib – the Golden Temple – in Amritsar, Punjab Province. The Temple is the holiest site of the Sikh religion and was serving as a headquarters for the controversial Sikh leader, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers. Bhindranwale had presented the Indian government with a list of demands based on the Anandpur Resolution calling for Sikh rights in India. The document was seen by many in New Delhi as the first steps towards a move towards Sikh independence and was not allowed to stand.
On June 5, 1984, Indian troops breached the Golden Temple and encountered heavy resistance from Bhindranwale’s men. The assault resulted in severe damage to the Temple and the disputed death of Bhindranwale (some Sikh leaders claim he is still alive). Unsurprisingly, it also led to very heightened tensions between Sikhs and the Hindu government. Approximately four months after the assualt, Indira Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards assassinated the Prime Minister in retribution for the assault.