This chapter captures how the shock of the events around the protagonists led to their politicization and activism rather than resignation.
The chapter provides glimpses into the events immediately before and after 1984. Sikh demands cohered in 1985; the central government was at the negotiating table facing the nontrivial threat of Punjab’s secession; many Dalits, Sikhs, and communists in Punjab were working together; there was a promise of change in the aftermath of the carnage. There was worldwide sympathy and outrage following the events of 1984, before a devastating event eviscerated much of this compassion. Then, in April 1986, at a large spirited gathering of Sikhs in Amritsar, a collective community declaration for a separate homeland, Khalistan, was announced.
The year 1982 was marked by protests launched by the farmers who felt they were getting an only worsening deal even while providing food security to the nation. Their desperation was comingled with fear and alienation, especially after the targeting of Sikhs preceding the 1983 Asian Games. Punjab came under the impervious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), giving the armed forces widespread powers and immunity from prosecution. Punjab would soon be declared a “disturbed area” and brought under President’s Rule. The popular leader Bhindranwale became a larger legend, living now in the golden Darbar Sahib complex.