Khalistan movement

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Separatist Flag of Khalistan
Map of Khalistan

The Khalistan movement is a political Sikh nationalist movement that wants to create an independent state for Sikh people, inside the current North-Western Republic of India Such a state existed in Punjab from 1709 to 1849. It was called the Sikh Empire. The new state created would be called Khalistan (Doabi:ਖਾਲਿਸਤਾਨ) in the modern territories of East Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Its capital would be Chandigarh or possibly Amritsar.

Background[change | change source]

The movement was most popular in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1971, the movement could collect millions of dollars of funding.[1] Today, it is seen on a smaller scale. There are claims that the movement supports young people financially, if they join militant groups fighting to get a Sikh homeland. Most of this funding comes from Sikh supporters outside the current state of India.[2]

On April 12, 1980, Jagjit Singh Chauhan, a prominent supporter of the movement, met with Indira Gandhi. After the meeting, he declared that he had formed the National Council Of Khalistan, at Anandpur Sahib.[3] He said he was the President of this movement, and Balbir Singh Sandhu was its Secretary General. In May 1980, Chauhan travelled to London and announced the formation of Khalistan. A similar announcement was made by Sandhu, in Amritsar. Sandhu also released stamps and currency of Khalistan. Some people said, the Indian authorities in Amritsar and elsewhere should not have been inactive and that this was a planned political move by the Indian National Congress. [4]

Important events and issues[change | change source]

In the 1980s, some supporters of the movement became violent. The Indian Army reciprocated the violence. In one such incident, the Indian Army forced their way into the Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple. The Indian Government was criticised for how they handled the operation, which resulted in deaths to both parties, and damage to the Temple. Many Sikhs say that the Indian Government desecrated 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 riots. In January 1986, the Golden Temple was occupied by militants of the All India Sikh Students Federation and Damdami Taksal.[5] On 26 January 1986, the gathering passed a resolution (gurmattā) favouring the creation of Khalistan. The people in favor of Khalistan said it should become a Sikh-majority state. Those opposed to the idea said the state would probably become a theocracy.

The Constitution of India says it is forbidden to make new states which are independent of India. This is known as "secession". Different groups in favor of Khalistan fought an insurgency against the government of India. Indian security forces suppressed this insurgency in the early 1990s. Since then, little has been done inside Punjab to get a Sikh state, but certain organisations in favor of Khalistan, such as Dal Khalsa (International) are still active outside India.[6]

Support[change | change source]

People in the US who supported the idea of Khalistan include Dan Burton,[7] Jesse Helms[8] and Edolphus Towns.[9] Other people who sympathise are Eric Lubbock, fourth Baron Avebury[10] and Lord Nazir Ahmed.[11]

References[change | change source]

  1. Haresh Pandya (11 April 2007). "Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Sikh Militant Leader in India, Dies at 80". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/11/world/asia/11chauhan.html?_r=1&fta=y&oref=slogin. Retrieved 28 August 2008.
  2. "Sikh separatists 'funded from UK'". BBC. 4 March 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/file_on_4/7263211.stm. Retrieved 28 August 2008.
  3. Nayar, Kuldip; Kushwant Singh (1985). Tragedy of Punjab. India: Vision Books Pvt. Ltd. p. 51. ISBN 1851270698 .
  4. Singh, Satinder (1982). Khalistan: An Academic Analysis. Delhi & Punjab: Amar Prakashan. p. 114.
  5. Sikh Temple sit-in is a challenge for Punjab. The New York Times, 2 February 1986
  6. The Ghost of Khalistan, Sikh Times
  7. http://www.khalistan.com/PressReleases/PR051204_DrAulakhTestifies.htm Dr. Aulakh, others expose Indian human rights violations at Congressional Hearing
  8. Studying the Sikhs: issues for North America By John Stratton Hawley, Gurinder Singh Mann, 1993 SUNY Press
  9. http://bulk.resource.org/gpo.gov/record/1998/1998_E02197.pdf Dr. Aulakh of Council of Khalistan nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. Hon. Edolphus Towns of New York in the House of Representatives, Thursday, 15 October 1998.
  10. (8) IHRO Watch- August 1991
  11. http://www.panthic.org/news/121/ARTICLE/1619/2005-07-31.html Self determination: the only basis for human rights in South Asia Sunday 31 July 2005.