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Khalistan movement

Khalistan movement

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Khalistan refers to a global political secessionist movement to create a separate Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 state, called Khālistān ' onMouseout='HidePop("73886")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Khalsa">Pure
Khalsa
+YouWebImagesVideosMapsNewsMailMoreTranslateFrom: ArabicTo: EnglishEnglishHindiEnglishAllow phonetic typingHindiEnglishArabicAssumptionGoogle Translate for Business:Translator ToolkitWebsite TranslatorGlobal Market Finder...

"), carved out of parts mostly consisting of the Punjab region
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, depending on definition.

Harking back to the 18th century Sikh Empire, the envisioned Sikh
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

 state would include all Punjabi-speaking areas in Greater Punjab.

The movement reached its zenith in 1970s and 1980s, flourishing in the Indian state of Punjab which has a Sikh-majority population and has been the traditional birthplace and homeland of the Sikh religion. Nowadays, it is widely seen as a smaller scale movement. There are claims of funding from other nations to attract young people into militant groups, who are looking to get an independent Sikh homeland through donations from foreign Sikh supporters.

In 1971, Khalistan proponent Jagjit Singh Chauhan
Jagjit Singh Chauhan
Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan was the original founder of the Khalistan movement that sought to create an independent Sikh state.Chohan, a Sikh Rajput from the Chauhan clan, grew up in Tanda in Punjab's Hoshiarpur district, about 180 km from Chandigarh. A medical practitioner, Dr...

, traveled to the United States. He placed an advertisement in The New York Times proclaiming the formation of Khalistan and was able to collect millions of dollars.

On April 12, 1980, he held a meeting with Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

 before declaring the formation of "National Council of Khalistan", at Anandpur Sahib
Anandpur Sahib
Anandpur Sahib is a city in Rupnagar district in the state of Punjab, India. Known as "the holy City of Bliss," it is a holy city of the Sikhs and is one of their most important sacred places, closely linked with their religious traditions and history...

.
He declared himself to be the President and Balbir Singh Sandhu as its Secretary General. In May 1980, Jagjit Singh Chauhan travelled to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and announced the formation of Khalistan. A similar announcement was made by Balbir Singh Sandhu, in Amritsar
Amritsar
Amritsar is a city in the northern part of India and is the administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of Punjab, India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be over 1,500,000, with that of the entire district numbering 3,695,077...

, who released stamps and currency of Khalistan. The inaction of the authorities in Amritsar and elsewhere was decried by Akali Dal headed by Longowal as a political stunt by the Congress(I)
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

 party.

In the 1980s, some Khalistan proponents turned to militancy, resulting in Indian Army's counter-militancy operations. In one such operation, Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star ) 3– 6 June 1984 was an Indian military operation, ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, to remove Sikh separatists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar...

, the Indian Army forcibly entered the Harmandir Sahib
Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab . Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev...

 (often called the Golden Temple). The handling of the operation, damage to the Akal Takht
Akal Takht
The Akal Takht of the Timeless One or Seat of God. It is one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs equivalent to any parliament of world sovereign country. Akal means The Timeless One - another term for God. Takht means 'seat' or 'throne' in Persian...

 (which is one of the five seats of temporal physical religious authority of the Sikhs) and loss of life on both sides, led to widespread criticism of the Indian Government. Many Sikhs strongly maintain that the attack resulted in the desecration of the holiest Sikh shrine. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards, and many thousands of Sikhs were massacred in the following genocide
1984 anti-Sikh riots
The 1984 Anti-Sikh pogroms / riots or the 1984 Sikh Massacre was a sikh genocide there was four days of violence in northern India, particularly Delhi, during which armed mobs killed Sikhs, looted and set fire to Sikh homes, businesses and schools, and attacked gurdwaras, in response to the...

. In January 1986, the Golden Temple
Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab . Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev...

 was occupied by militants belonging to All India Sikh Students Federation
All India Sikh Students Federation
The Sikh Students Federation, formerly the All India Sikh Students Federation, is a Sikh students' union and political organisation in India...

 and Damdami Taksal
Damdami Taksal
The Damdami Taksal is a 300 years old educational organization said to have been founded by the tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh. According to the Damdami Taksal, it was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching the reading , analysis and recitation of the Sikh scriptures by Guru Gobind...

. On January 26, 1986, the gathering passed a resolution (gurmattā) favouring the creation of Khalistan. Khalistan was envisaged by its proponents as a Sikh-majority state, which opponents argued would become a theocracy
Theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

.

Under the Constitution of India
Constitution of India
The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishes the structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions, and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens...

, secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

ism is forbidden, and various rebel groups in favour of Khalistan fought an insurgency
Punjab insurgency
The insurgency in the Indian state of Punjab originated in the late 1970s. The roots of the insurgency were very complex.-Punjabi Suba Movement:In the 1950s and 1960s, linguistic issues in India caused civil disorder when the central government declared Hindi as the national language of India...

 against the government of India. Indian security forces suppressed the major secessionist insurgency in Punjab
Punjab insurgency
The insurgency in the Indian state of Punjab originated in the late 1970s. The roots of the insurgency were very complex.-Punjabi Suba Movement:In the 1950s and 1960s, linguistic issues in India caused civil disorder when the central government declared Hindi as the national language of India...

 in the early 1990s, but several Indian Sikh political parties are still fighting for independent Khalistan through peaceful means inside India and international pro-Khalistan organizations such as Dal Khalsa (International) are still active outside India.

Partition of India


India was partitioned on a religious basis in 1947 on its independence. Punjab was split between Pakistan and India. Before independence the Sikhs were not in majority in any of the pre-partition Punjab districts. Among the three religions (Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism), the Sikhs formed the largest group (41.6%) only in the Ludhiana district. For the purpose of partition, the Hindus and the Sikhs were grouped together. The Sikhs were staunchly opposed to the concept of a separate Pakistan. The Sikh population that, in 1941, was as high as 19.8% in some districts that went to Pakistan, dropped to 0.1% in all of them, and it rose sharply in the districts assigned to India.

With the possibility of an end to British colonialism in sight, the Sikh leadership appointed Gurjeet Johal from village Pandwa as their new leader. She became concerned about the future of the Sikhs. The Sikhs and the Muslims had unsuccessfully claimed separate representation for their communities in the Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909. With the Muslims proposing the creation of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, some Sikhs put forth the idea of likewise carving out a Sikh state, Khalistan. In the 1940s, a prolonged negotiation transpired between the British and the three Indian groups seeking political power, namely, the Hindus, the Muslims and the Sikhs. During this period Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi stated that the resolution was adopted by the Congress to satisfy the Sikh community.
Jawaharlal Nehru reiterated Gandhi's assurance to the Sikhs at the All India Congress Committee meeting in Calcutta in 1946. Nehru assured the Sikhs that they would be allowed to function as a semi-autonomous unit so that they may have a sense of freedom.” This was formalized through a resolution passed by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 9 December 1946.

Controversies


During a press conference on 10 July 1946 in Bombay
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

, Nehru made a controversial statement to the effect that the Congress may “change or modify” the federal arrangement agreed upon for independent India for the betterment towards a united India; this claim outraged many. Some Sikhs felt that they had been "tricked" into joining the Indian union. On 21 November 1949, during the review of the draft of the Indian Constitution
Constitution of India
The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishes the structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions, and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens...

, Hukam Singh, a Sikh representative, declared to the Constituent Assembly:

Naturally, under these circumstances, as I have stated, the Sikhs feel utterly disappointed and frustrated. They feel that they have been discriminated against. Let it not be misunderstood that the Sikh community has agreed to this [Indian] Constitution. I wish to record an emphatic protest here. My community cannot subscribe its assent to this historic document.

Allegations of discrimination against Sikhs (1947-1966)


Punjab in India was a Hindu majority state (63.7%) until 1966, when it was partitioned to remove the Hindu majority districts, as a result of demands made by Sikh leaders for a Punjabi Suba
Punjabi Suba
Punjabi Suba was a proposed state in northwest India. It was proposed by Shiromani Akali Dal in 1966. The Punjabi Suba movement resulted in the trifurcation of the East Punjab into three states: Punjab , Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.-References:...

. The state now has a slight (59.9% in 2001) Sikh majority.

Kapur Singh, a Deputy Commissioner (senior government official in the Indian bureaucracy) and a member of the Indian Civil Service, had been dismissed from service on charges of corruption. After he was dismissed, he published a pamphlet, in which he alleged that Prime Minister Nehru, through Governor Chandu Lal Trivedi, had issued a directive in 1947 to all the Commissioners in Punjab to the effect that the Sikhs in general must be treated as a criminal tribe.
Pritam Singh Gill, a retired Principal of Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, also made allegations of "the Hindu conspiracy to destroy Sikhs; kill the language, kill the culture, kill the community."

Kapur Singh won the favour of Akali leader Tara Singh who assisted him in winning the election into the Punjab Legislature and then to the Lok Sabha.

Language issues


In the 1950s and 1960s, linguistic issues in India caused civil disorder when the central government declared Hindi as the national language of India. The nationwide movement of linguistic groups seeking statehood resulted in a massive reorganisation of states according to linguistic boundaries in 1956. At that time, Indian Punjab had its capital in Shimla(the capital of Punjab between August 1947 and October 1953), and though the vast majority of the Sikhs lived in Punjab, they still did not form a majority. But if Haryana and Himachal could be separated they could have a Punjab in which they could form a majority of 60 per cent against the Hindus being 40 per cent. The Akali Dal, a Sikh dominated political party active mainly in Punjab, sought to create a Punjabi Suba, or a Punjabi-speaking state. This case was presented to the States Reorganisation Commission established in 1955. It is generally believed that the Hindus sensed what the Sikhs had in mind. They, supported by the Hindu newspapers from Jalandhar, exhorted Punjabi Hindus to declare Hindi as their “mother tongue” instead of Punjabi in the censuses that took place, so that the Sikhs could be deprived of the argument that they were only asking for a Punjabi-speaking Suba. The demand for adoption of Punjabi for Punjabi-speaking areas first created and later intensified the rift between Hindus and Sikhs of Punjab.

The States Reorganization Commission, not recognizing Punjabi as a language that was distinct grammatically from Hindi, rejected the demand for a Punjabi suba or state. Another reason that the Commission gave in its report was that the movement lacked general support of the people inhabiting the region. Many Sikhs felt discriminated against by the commission.

Punjabi Suba movement


The Akal Takht played a vital role in organizing Sikhs to campaign for the Punjabi suba. During the course of the campaign, twelve thousand Sikhs were arrested for their peaceful demonstrations in 1955 and twenty-six thousand in 1960-61. Finally, in September 1966, the Punjabi suba demand was accepted by the central government and Punjab was trifurcated under the Punjab State Reorganisation Bill. Areas in the south of Punjab that spoke a language that is a derivative of Braj
Brij Bhasha
Braj Bhasha , also called Brij Bhasha , Braj Bhakha , or Dehaati Zabaan , is a Central Indian language closely related to Hindi...

 formed a new state of Haryana
Haryana
Haryana is a state in India. Historically, it has been a part of the Kuru region in North India. The name Haryana is found mentioned in the 12th century AD by the apabhramsha writer Vibudh Shridhar . It is bordered by Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and by Rajasthan to the west and south...

 and the Pahari
Pahari languages
The Pahari languages are a geographic group of Indic languages spoken in the lower ranges of the Himalayas, from Nepal in the east to the Indian states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir in the west.-Classification:The Pahari languages fall into three groups:*Eastern, consisting...

- and Kangri
Kangri
Kangri can mean:*Kangri language, a dialect spoken in northern India, predominantly in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, by the people of Kangra Valley...

-speaking districts north of Punjab were merged with Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a state in Northern India. It is spread over , and is bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir on the north, Punjab on the west and south-west, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on the south, Uttarakhand on the south-east and by the Tibet Autonomous Region on the east...

, while the remaining areas formed the new Punjabi speaking state, which retained the name of Punjab. As a result, the Sikhs became a majority in the newly created state with a population of a little over sixty percent.

River waters dispute


Before the creation of the Punjabi suba, Punjab was the master of its river waters (The North Indian rivers — Sutlej, Beas, Ravi did not flow through any other state for any length). The trifurcation of the state led to three competing demands for these river waters, and the central government decided to step in. The central government—against the provisions of the Indian constitution—introduced sections 78 to 80 in the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, under which the central government “assumed the powers of control, maintenance, distribution and development of the waters and the hydel power of the Punjab rivers.”. Many Sikhs perceived this division as unfair and as an anti Sikh measure, since the vast majority of the people of Punjab are dependent on agriculture.

Akali Dal's demands


The Akali Dal led a series of peaceful mass demonstrations to present its grievances to the central government. The demands of the Akali Dal were based on the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, which was adopted by the party in October 1973 to raise specific political, economic and social issues. The major motivation behind the resolution was the safeguarding of the Sikh identity by securing a state structure that was decentralised, with non-interference from the central government. The Resolution outlines seven objectives.
  1. The transfer of the federally administered city of Chandigarh to Punjab.
  2. The transfer of Punjabi speaking and contiguous areas to Punjab.
  3. Decentralisation of states under the existing constitution, limiting the central government’s role.
  4. The call for land reforms and industrialisation of Punjab, along with safeguarding the rights of the weaker sections of the population.
  5. The enactment of an all-India gurdwara (Sikh house of worship) act.
  6. Protection for minorities residing outside Punjab, but within India.
  7. Revision of government’s recruitment quota restricting the number of Sikhs in armed forces.


The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

noted:

"The Akali Dal is in the hands of moderate and sensible leadership...but giving anyone a fair share of power is unthinkable politics of Mrs. Gandhi [the then Prime Minister of India]...Many Hindus in Punjab privately concede that there isn't much wrong with these demands. But every time the ball goes to the Congress court, it is kicked out one way or another because Mrs. Gandhi considers it a good electoral calculation."

The assassination of Lala Jagat Narain


In a politically charged environment, Lala Jagat Narain
Lala Jagat Narain
Lala Jagat Narain was the founder of the Hind Samachar group.Lala Jagat Narain, a Chopra Khatri and Congress Party leader, was born at Wazirabad, Gujranwala District in 1889. He graduated from D.A.V. College, Lahore in 1919, and joined the Law College, Lahore...

, the owner of the Hind Samachar group of newspapers and member of Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

, was assassinated by Sikh militants in September 1981. In September 1981, Bhindranwale was arrested for his alleged role in the assassination but was later released by the Punjab State Government, as no evidence was found against him.

The Khalistani movement can be considered to have effectively started from this point. Though there were a number of leaders vying for leadership role, most were based in United Kingdom and Canada, and had limited influence. In Punjab, Bhindranwale was the unchallenged leader of the movement and made his residence in the Golden Temple
Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab . Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev...

 in Amritsar. By convention, the Indian Army
Indian Army
The Indian Army is the land based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. With about 1,100,000 soldiers in active service and about 1,150,000 reserve troops, the Indian Army is the world's largest standing volunteer army...

 and the Punjab Police
Punjab Police
Punjab Police may refer to:* Punjab Police , which operates in the Indian state of Punjab* Punjab Police , which operates in the Pakistani province of Punjab...

 would not enter this religious building.

Dharam Yudh Morcha


In August 1982, the Akali Dal under the leadership of Harcharan Singh Longowal launched the Dharam Yudh Morcha, or the “battle for righteousness.” Bhindranwale and the Akali Dal united; their goal was the fulfillment of demands based upon the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. In two and a half months, security forces arrested over thirty thousand Sikhs.

In November 1982, Akali Dal announced the organisation of protests in Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 during the Asian Games
Asian Games
The Asian Games, officially known as Asiad, is a multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia. The Games were regulated by the Asian Games Federation from the first Games in New Delhi, India, until the 1978 Games. Since the 1982 Games they have been organised by the...

. The police were instructed to stop all buses, trains and vehicles that were headed for Delhi and interrogate Sikh passengers. The Sikhs as a community felt discriminated against by the Indian state. Later, the Akali Dal organised a convention at the Darbar Sahib attended by over 5,000 Sikh ex-servicemen, 170 of whom were above the rank of colonel. These Sikhs claimed that there was discrimination against them in government service.

Religious confusion


During this turmoil, the Akali Dal began another agitation in February 1984 protesting against clause (2)(b) of Article 25 of the Indian constitution, which ambiguously states "the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion", though it also implicitly recognizes Sikhism as a separate religion with the words "the wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.".

The Akali Dal members demanded that the constitution should remove any ambiguous statements that uses the word Hindu to refer to the Sikhs. For instance, a Sikh couple who marry in accordance to the rites of the Sikh religion must register their marriage either under the Special Marriages Act (1954) or the Hindu Marriage Act – the Akalis demanded replacement of such rules with Sikhism-specific laws. However, their demands were not taken seriously, and several Akali leaders were arrested for burning the Indian constitution in protest. Thus, the Indian Government's implicit defining of its Sikh citizens as being part of the Hindu community created discontent among Sikhs, who feared a loss of identity.

Operation Bluestar



The Harimandir Sahib is the holiest of Sikh temples. In 1984, Bhindranwale and Shabeg Singh
Shabeg Singh
Major General Shabeg Singh AVSM and PVSM , was an Indian Army officer noted for his service in training of Mukti Bahini volunteers during the Bangladesh Liberation War, and later for his role in training Sikh militants in their occupation of the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar.- Early days :General...

 placed ammunitions and militants in the temple. Negotiations were held with Bhindranwale and his supporters up there in the Harimandir Sahib Complex. After all negotiations failed, indira gandhi ordered the army to storm the temple complex. A variety of army units along with paramilitary forces surrounded the temple complex on 3 June 1984. The army kept asking the militants to surrender, using the public address system. The militants were asked to send the pilgrims out of the temple premises to the safety, before they start fighting the army. However, nothing happened. General Brar then asked the police, if they could send emissaries inside to help get the civilians out, but the police said that anyone sent inside would be killed by the militants but that was not true as police itsalf wanted to do as much civillian casualities they can do. They believed that the militants were keeping the pilgrims inside to stop the army from entering the temple,but this was police's excuse to hide themselves under this pretext. Finally,all off the civillians who were willing to go out were let out(because people knew that those whoever went out were to be killed by so called indian but actually hind forces). These people informed the army that the others were inside willingly as they were aware of the real motive of hindu forces so called indian army behind insisting them to come out of harmandar saheb. The army had grossly underestimated the firepower possessed by the militants. Thus, tanks and heavy artillery were used to forcefully suppress the anti-tank and machine-gun fire. After a 24 hour firefight, the army finally wrested control of the temple complex. According to Indian Government sources, 5683 army personnel were killed and 11249 injured. while insurgent casualties were 493 killed and 86 injured. Unofficial figures go well into the thousands. Along with insurgents, many innocent worshipers were caught in the crossfire. Though the operation was militarily successful, it was a huge political embarrassment - as the attack coincided with Sikh religious festival, a large number of pilgrims were staying inside the complex.

There were allegations of civilians being targeted for attack by the Indian army. A statement made by the army Lt. General K. Sundarji’s viz.—“We went inside [the Darbar Sahib] with humility in our hearts and prayers on our lips”
The pro-Khalistan activists have alleged that the Indira Gandhi government had been preparing for an attack on the Darbar Sahib for over a year. According to Subramaniam Swami, then a member of the Indian Parliament, the central government had allegedly launched a disinformation campaign in order to legitimise the attack. In his words, the state sought to "make out that the Golden Temple was the haven of criminals, a store of armory and a citadel of the nation's dismemberment conspiracy.”

The assassination of Indira Gandhi and subsequent Sikh Genocide



On the morning of 31 October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

 was shot-dead by two Sikh security guards (Satwant Singh and Beant Singh) in New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

. The assassination triggered fulminant violence against Sikhs
1984 anti-Sikh riots
The 1984 Anti-Sikh pogroms / riots or the 1984 Sikh Massacre was a sikh genocide there was four days of violence in northern India, particularly Delhi, during which armed mobs killed Sikhs, looted and set fire to Sikh homes, businesses and schools, and attacked gurdwaras, in response to the...

 across north India.

While the ruling party, Congress (I), maintained that the violence was due to spontaneous riots, its critics have alleged that the Congress members had planned a pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

 against the Sikhs. Its critics alleged that State-operated national television was used by the state to incite violence against the Sikhs, in violation of the Article 20.2 of the ICCPR and the Article 7 of the UDHR . Sixteen politicians were named as organisers of the riots. Many senior Congress leader were also indicted.

Other political parties, such as the Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party
The Bharatiya Janata Party ,; translation: Indian People's Party) is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Indian National Congress. Established in 1980, it is India's second largest political party in terms of representation in the parliament...

 (BJP) strongly condemned the riots.

Two major civil-liberties organisations issued a joint report on the anti-Sikh riots naming sixteen important politicians, thirteen police officers and one hundred and ninety-eight others, accused by survivors and eye-witnesses. In January 1985, journalist Rahul Bedi of the Indian Express and Smitu Kothari of the People's Union for Civil Liberties “moved the High Court of Delhi to demand a judicial inquiry into the pogrom on the strength of the documentation carried out by human rights organizations.

Declaration of Khalistan and the rise of militancy



On 29 April 1986, an assembly of separatist Sikhs at the Akal Takht
Akal Takht
The Akal Takht of the Timeless One or Seat of God. It is one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs equivalent to any parliament of world sovereign country. Akal means The Timeless One - another term for God. Takht means 'seat' or 'throne' in Persian...

 made a declaration of an independent state of Khalistan. These events were followed by a decade of violence and conflict in Punjab before a return to normality in the region. During the late 1980s and the early 1990s, there was a dramatic rise in radical State militancy in Punjab. On October 7, 1987, Khalistan was declared an independent state, and Council of Khalistan, headed by Dr. Gurmit Singh Aulakh, was formed.

The period of insurgency saw clashes of the Sikh militants with the police, as well as with the Hindu-Nirankari groups. In 1987, 32 Hindus were pulled out of a bus and shot by sikh militants near Lalru in Punjab. According to Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 "In the beginning on the 1980s, Punjab Police And Govt. Agencies committed serious human rights abuses, including the massacre of civilians, attacks upon Sikhs in the state, and indiscriminate attacks in Sikh crowded places".
While the militants enjoyed some support within the Sikh separatists in the earlier period, the support for Sikh militants gradually disappeared. The insurgency weakened the Punjab economy and led to an increase in the violence in the state. With dwindling support and an increasingly effective Indian security troops eliminating the terrorists, the Sikh militancy was effectively over by early 1990s.

There were serious charges leveled by human rights activists against Indian Security forces (Headed by KPS Gill - himself a Sikh) that thousands of suspects were killed in staged shootouts and thousands of bodies were cremated/disposed without proper identification or post-mortem.

The organization International Human Rights Organization
Punjab Rights Forum
The Punjab Rights Forum came into existence on June 28, 2005 at a convention held in Ludhiana, Punjab, India, that had been organized by D. S. Gill, Chair of the ....

 claims that several Sikh women were reportedly gang-raped and molested by the Punjab Police and the Indian security forces during house to house searches. It also claims that looting of the villagers' property and ransacking of the entire villages happened during his reign. Amnesty International has also alleged several cases of appearances, torture, rape and unlawful detentions by the police during Punjab insurgency
Punjab insurgency
The insurgency in the Indian state of Punjab originated in the late 1970s. The roots of the insurgency were very complex.-Punjabi Suba Movement:In the 1950s and 1960s, linguistic issues in India caused civil disorder when the central government declared Hindi as the national language of India...

, for which 75-100 police officers had been convicted by December 2002.

In reference to research Reduced to Ashes Book by a human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 group Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh is a prominent Indian novelist and journalist. Singh's weekly column, "With Malice towards One and All", carried by several Indian newspapers, is among the most widely-read columns in the country....

 remarked "It is spine-chilling.... Well, Mr Gill, it is not rubbish; you and the Punjab police have quite a few awkward questions to answer".

"Human Rights Watch" reported that since 1984, government forces in Punjab, including the Punjab Police, Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force and the Indian Army, have resorted to widespread human rights violations to fight the militants, including arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without trial, torture, disappearance and summary killing of civilians and suspected militants. Family members were frequently detained and tortured to reveal the whereabouts of relatives sought by the police

Air India Flight 182


Air India Flight 182
Air India Flight 182
Air India Flight 182 was an Air India flight operating on the Montreal–London–Delhi route. On 23 June 1985, the airplane operating on the route a Boeing 747-237B named after Emperor Kanishka was blown up by a bomb at an altitude of , and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean while in Irish airspace.A...

 was an Air India
Air India
Air India is the flag carrier airline of India. It is part of the government of India owned Air India Limited . The airline operates a fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft serving Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. Its corporate office is located at the Air India Building at Nariman...

 flight operating on the Montréal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

-London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

-Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

-Bombay route. On 23 June 1985, the airplane operating on the route was blown up in midair by a bomb in the coast of Ireland. In all, 329 people perished, among them 280 Canadian nationals, mostly of Indian birth or descent origin, and 22 Indian nationals.

The main suspects in the bombing were the members of a Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 separatist group called the Babbar Khalsa
Babbar Khalsa
Babbar Khalsa , also known as Babbar Khalsa International , is a Sikh armed organisation based in India. Many consider the Babbar Khalsa a Resistance movement, and it played a prominent role in the Punjab insurgency. Babbar Khalsa International was created in 1978, after a number of Sikhs were...

 and other related groups who were at the time agitating for a separate Sikh state called Khalistan in Punjab, India. In September 2007, the Canadian commission investigated reports, initially disclosed in the Indian investigative news magazine Tehelka
Tehelka
Tehelka is an Indian weekly political magazine under the editorship of Tarun Tejpal known for its undercover exposé style of journalism. Its cover price is Rs 20 per issue. The publication began in 2000 as a news website, Tehelka.com...

that an hitherto unnamed person, Lakhbir Singh Brar Rode
Lakhbir Singh Brar Rode
Lakhbir Singh Brar Rode is the nephew of Sikh leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, and currently heads the banned International Sikh Youth Federation , which has branches in over a dozen countries in western Europe and Canada. Lakhbir is also affiliated with the Khalistan Zindabad Force...

 had masterminded the explosions.

Khalistan militant outfits

  1. Babbar Khalsa
    Babbar Khalsa
    Babbar Khalsa , also known as Babbar Khalsa International , is a Sikh armed organisation based in India. Many consider the Babbar Khalsa a Resistance movement, and it played a prominent role in the Punjab insurgency. Babbar Khalsa International was created in 1978, after a number of Sikhs were...

     International (BKI)
  2. Khalistan Zindabad Force
    Khalistan Zindabad Force
    The Khalistan Zindabad Force is a militant group, and is part of the Khalistan movement to create a Sikh homeland called Khalistan via armed struggle.It was identified in 2005 as a terrorist organisation by the EU.-Organization and activity:...

     (KZF)
  3. International Sikh Youth Federation
    International Sikh Youth Federation
    The International Sikh Youth Federation is banned under British, Indian, Canadian and American terrorism legislations.- Bannings :In February 2001, the United Kingdom banned twenty-one groups, including the ISYF, under a new terrorism law....

     (ISYF)
  4. Khalistan Commando Force
    Khalistan Commando Force
    The Khalistan Commando Force or KCF is a private paramilitary organization operating in the Indian state of Punjab. According to the US State Department, and the Assistant Inspector General of the Punjab Police Intelligence Division, the KCF was responsible for the deaths of thousands in India,...

     (KCF)
  5. All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF)
  6. Bhindranwala Tigers Force of Khalistan
    Bhindranwala Tigers Force of Khalistan
    The Bhindranwala Tigers Force of Khalistan, also known variously as Bhindranwale Tigers Force of Khalistan or Bhindranwale Tiger Force , was a militant group, and was part of the Khalistan movement to create a Sikh homeland called Khalistan via armed struggle.This organisation appears to have...

     (BTFK)
  7. Khalistan Liberation Army (KLA)
  8. Khalistan Liberation Front (KLF)
  9. Khalistan Armed Force
    Khalistan Armed Force
    The Khalistan Armed Force or also known as Dashmesh Regiment was a Khalistani militant Jathebandi in India....

     (KAF)
  10. Dashmesh Regiment
    Dashmesh Regiment
    The Dashmesh Regiment was a militant group, and is part of the Khalistan movement to create a Sikh homeland called Khalistan via armed struggle....

  11. Khalistan Liberation Organisation (KLO)
  12. Khalistan National Army (KNA)
  13. Kamagata Maru Dal of Khalistan
  14. Shaheed Khalsa Force
    Shaheed Khalsa Force
    The Shaheed Khalsa Force claimed credit for marketplace bombings in New Delhi in 1997. The group was previously unknown.-Bomb blasts:...

  15. Khalistan Guerilla Force
  16. Khalistan Security Force
  17. Khalistan Rebel Fediration (KRF)
  18. Khalistan Navy


After the movement for Khalistan rose, many outfits were created. The most known are Babbar Khalsa
Babbar Khalsa
Babbar Khalsa , also known as Babbar Khalsa International , is a Sikh armed organisation based in India. Many consider the Babbar Khalsa a Resistance movement, and it played a prominent role in the Punjab insurgency. Babbar Khalsa International was created in 1978, after a number of Sikhs were...

, Khalistan Commando Force, Khalistan Zindabad Force and Dal Khalsa. Most of them were crushed till/in 1993. In recent years, active groups included Babbar Khalsa, International Sikh Youth Federation, Dal Khalsa, Bhinderanwala Tiger Force. A unknown group till then, the Shaheed Khalsa Force, claimed credit for the marketplace bombings in New Delhi in 1997. Further there is never heard or written about this group.

Rajiv-Longowal Accord


Many Sikh and Hindu groups, as well as organizations not affiliated to any religion, attempted to establish peace between the Khalistan proponents and the Government of India.

The Central government attempted to seek a political solution to the grievances of the Sikhs through the Rajiv-Longowal Accord, which took place between the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Ratna Gandhi was the sixth Prime Minister of India . He took office after his mother's assassination on 31 October 1984; he himself was assassinated on 21 May 1991. He became the youngest Prime Minister of India when he took office at the age of 40.Rajiv Gandhi was the elder son of Indira...

 and Harchand Singh Longowal, the then President of the Akali Dal, who was assassinated a few months later. The accord recognised the religious, territorial and economic demands of the Sikhs that were thought to be non-negotiable under Indira Gandhi's tenure. The agreement provided a basis for a return to normalcy, but it was denounced by a few Sikh militants who refused to give up demand for an independent Khalistan. Harchand Singh Longowal was later assassinated by these militants. The transfer has allegedly been delayed pending an agreement on the districts of Punjab that should be transferred to Haryana in exchange.

The Khalistani separatists have alleged that the Indian government has not implemented several of the points outlined in the Rajiv-Longowal Accord. The table below provides some of the solutions outlined in the agreement and the status of their impending implementation:
Issue Agreement Implementation
Implementation of Anandpur Sahib Resolution (ASR) seeking greater autonomy to states Referred to Sarkaria Commission Report October 1987: Rejects ASR approach to Center-State relations
Transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab To be transferred by January 1986. Punjab to compensate Haryana with equivalent territory for a new capital. Other territorial disputes to be settled by a commission. Three commissions (Matthew/Venkatarmiah/Desai) fail to provide an agreement. Strong opposition in Haryana. July 1986: union government suspends the transfer for an indefinite period.
Sharing of Ravi-Beas Waters by non-riparian states A tribunal headed by a Supreme Court judge to adjudicate. July 1985 consumption as a baseline. May 1987: Eradi Tribunal reduced Punjab's July 1985 level while doubling Haryana’s share.
Prosecution of those responsible for November 1984 Anti-Sikh Pogroms Referred to Mishra Commission February 1987: Absolves Congress (I) of responsibility placing guilt on Delhi police.
Army Deserters To be rehabilitated and given gainful employment August 1985: 900 out of 2,606 deserters rehabilitated.
Political Detainees Release of political detainees and withdrawal of special powers Limited releases. May 1988, Parliament passes the 59th amendment to the constitution. The amendment allowed for the suspension of the rights to life and liberty, habeas corpus, freedoms of speech and association, and the guarantee of fundamental rights.
Religious Autonomy Enactment of an all-India Gurdwara act Not enacted; May 1988: Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Ordinance.

Present situation


The present situation in Punjab is generally regarded as peaceful; and the militant Khalistan movement weakened considerably, especially due to the recent bombings throughout India giving way to more patriotism, higher level of renewed respect between the Hindus and Sikhs, and to a large extent. The Sikh community maintains its own unique identity and is socially assimilated in cosmopolitan areas. India presently has a Sikh Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh is the 13th and current Prime Minister of India. He is the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term. A Sikh, he is the first non-Hindu to occupy the office. Singh is also the 7th Prime Minister belonging to the Indian...

, who is highly regarded by both the left and right wing sections of the political spectrum.

Some organizations claim that social divisions and problems still exist in rural areas, but the present situation remains peaceful to a large extent, though support for an independent homeland may remain strong among the separatist Sikh leaders.. The separatist movement is popular in the Sikh diaspora
Sikh diaspora
The Sikh diaspora is a relatively recent term used to describe the phenomenon of Punjabi Sikh migration from the traditional area of the Punjab region. Sikhism is an ethnic religion but welcomes converts, the Punjab region being the historic homeland of Sikhism...

 in Europe and North America.

See also

  • Dal Khalsa
    Dal Khalsa
    Dal Khalsa is a socio-religio-political organization of the Sikh nation, based in the city of Amritsar . The primary aim of Dal Khalsa is to achieve the independence of the Punjabi-speaking Sikh majority region of North West India through peaceful and democratic means in order to establish a...

  • Damdami Taksal
    Damdami Taksal
    The Damdami Taksal is a 300 years old educational organization said to have been founded by the tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh. According to the Damdami Taksal, it was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching the reading , analysis and recitation of the Sikh scriptures by Guru Gobind...

  • Indira Gandhi
    Indira Gandhi
    Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

  • Irredentism
    Irredentism
    Irredentism is any position advocating annexation of territories administered by another state on the grounds of common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged. Some of these movements are also called pan-nationalist movements. It is a feature of identity politics and cultural...

  • Jaswant Singh Khalra
    Jaswant Singh Khalra
    - Family :Jaswant Singh Khalra's grandfather Harnam Singh was an activist in the Ghadar movement for the independence of India.- Activism :Jaswant Singh Khalra was a bank director in the city of Amritsar in Punjab during the militancy...

  • Khalsa Raj Party
    Khalsa Raj Party
    The Khalsa Raj Party is a political party in Punjab. It was formed by Dr. Jagjit Singh Chohan . Dr. Chohan says that he returned to achieve the goal of Khalistan...

  • Punjab insurgency
    Punjab insurgency
    The insurgency in the Indian state of Punjab originated in the late 1970s. The roots of the insurgency were very complex.-Punjabi Suba Movement:In the 1950s and 1960s, linguistic issues in India caused civil disorder when the central government declared Hindi as the national language of India...

  • Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar)
    Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar)
    Shiromani Akali Dal , registered with the Election Commission of India as Shiromani Akali Dal , is a splinter group, led by Simranjit Singh Mann, of the Shiromani Akali Dal....

  • List of active separatist movements in Asia

Further reading

  • Punjab: The Knights of Falsehood by K P S Gill
  • The Ghost of Khalistan - Sikh Times
  • Parvinder Singh. 1984 Sikhs' Kristallnacht. 28-page report, 2009.
  • Cynthia Keppley Mahmood. Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues With Sikh Militants. University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 0-8122-1592-3.
  • Cynthia Keppley Mahmood. A Sea Of Orange: Writings on the Sikhs and India. Xlibris Corporation, ISBN 1-4010-2857-8
  • Ram Narayan Kumar et al. Reduced to Ashes: The Insurgency and Human Rights in Punjab. South Asia Forum for Human Rights
    South Asia Forum for Human Rights
    The South Asia Forum for Human Rights is a South Asia-focused human rights organization based in Kathmandu whose mission is to "promote respect for universal standards of human rights with emphasis on universality and interdependence of human rights." They view human rights as interlinked with...

    , 2003.
  • Joyce Pettigrew. The Sikhs of the Punjab: Unheard Voices of State and Guerrilla Violence. Zed Books Ltd., 1995.
  • Anurag Singh. Giani Kirpal Singh’s Eye-Witness Account of Operation Bluestar. 1999.
  • Patwant Singh. The Sikhs. New York: Knopf, 2000.
  • Harnik Deol. Religion and Nationalism in India: The Case of the Punjab. London: Routledge, 2000
  • Satish Jacob and Mark Tully. Amritsar: Mrs Gandhi's Last Battle. ISBN 0-224-02328-4.
  • Ranbir Singh Sandhu. Struggle for Justice: Speeches and Conversations of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Ohio: SERF, 1999.
  • Iqbal Singh. Punjab Under Siege: A Critical Analysis. New York: Allen, McMillan and Enderson, 1986.
  • Paul Brass. Language, Religion and Politics in North India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974.
  • Julio Riberio. Bullet for Bullet: My Life as a Police Officer. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1999.
  • Harjinder Singh Dilgeer. "Sikh History" in 10 volumes (volumes 7,8,9). Waremme, Belgium: Sikh University Press, 2010-11.
  • Harjinder Singh Dilgeer. "Akal Takht: Concept and Role". Waremme, Belgium: Sikh University Press, 2011.

External links