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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 June, 2004, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
Flashbacks: Golden Temple attack
Apar Singh BajwarKartar KaurGiani Joginder Singh VedantiTarlochan SinghKanwarpal SinghGurmej SinghBhupinder SinghGurjit Kaur

Kartar Kaur

76-year old Kartar Kaur's only surviving son, the sole breadwinner of her small household fell to the bullets of Indian army soldiers advancing into the Golden Temple.

"He just never came back," she says delving into memories that despite her old age, are as clear as that of events that occurred only the other day.

There were rumours that the temple complex was littered with hundreds of dead bodies. My poor son was among them

Her son Harjit Singh was an electrician employed by the Golden Temple management. It was his job to look after the generators in the temple complex.

He was a good son and god-fearing Sikh, who enjoyed his job at the temple because in a way he was serving his Gurus.

"Harjit left home for his shift on 1 June, but did not return like he normally did.

"This did not worry me because at the time there were curfews being imposed intermittently, and then I thought, what possibly could go wrong in the house of the Guru," the old widow recalled.

A week later there was still no sign of her son amid reports that there had been a massacre at the Golden Temple.

But there was little Kartar Kaur could do with the curfew still in place.

"I went to look for Harjit but they (the soldiers) would simply not let me through. No one was being allowed in. There were rumours that the temple complex was littered with hundreds of dead bodies. My poor son was among them. There was curfew.

"By the time the soldiers lifted their curfew, the place had been carefully cleared of most of the dead bodies. There was no sign of Harjit. Some other people who worked at the temple told me they had seen his body lying in a pool of blood.

"I looked everywhere but I found nothing ... not even the clothes he had worn the day he left home.

"I saw blood at many places. There were signs of devastating fires all around. And the Holy Akal Takht, the Guru's own abode, was in ruins.

"For me this was proof enough of my son's death. There were people weeping at the sight of the destruction of the shrine.

"My guts seethed with anger over what had happened. But then I accepted it all as the will of the Guru.

"After all the Guru had sent Harjit to my home ... the Guru chose to call him back ... I am grateful he breathed his last breathe in the House of God.

"What could I possibly have done in the face of God's own will?"

Strength

A full month after the events of 6 June 1984, Kartar Kaur finally summoned the strength to perform the last rites of her son, Harjit Singh.

She still holds a memorial service in his memory each year.

A march for peace before Operation Bluestar (Photo courtesy of The Tribune)
A march for peace before Operation Bluestar (Photo courtesy of The Tribune)

Left without anyone to support her, Kartar Kaur has survived alone for the past 20 years.

She has no other relatives.

The old widow today lives on handouts from other villagers or the local Sikh temple. In turn she spends all her time in cleaning the place and serving devotees who come there.

"There are times when I cannot help it and miss Harjit a lot. But what can I possibly do about the situation," she said.

Over the past 20 years, no government representative or social organisation has come forward to help her, but Kartar Kaur has no complaints.

"All I want are the Guru's blessings and a place at his feet after I die," she said.


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