What is Khalistan?
The Khalistan movement is a Sikh nationalist movement, which seeks to create a separate country called Khalistan – “The Land of the Pure“ – in the Punjab
History of Sikhs
- Guru Ram Das, fourth of the 10 gurus, founded the city of Amritsar in the 16th century
- 5th Guru Arjan Dev constructed Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple) in 1605 and installed the Adi granth there
. • 17th and 18th century – constant clashes with Mughal empire and Afghan Durrani empire
Harmandar Sahib – Golden temple
- Sikh Misls – 18th century
- Sikh Empire 1799- 1849
- 1920 Akali movement – reform in Gurudwaras Akali Dal – political arm of Sikh religious body SGPC • Partition,1947 – Historic region of Punjab divided between India and Pakistan. Bloodshed and migration
- Demand from Sikh groups for a Sikh majority state – rejected by SRC in 1956
- Irrigation resources, water disputes, led to demand for autonomy
- A large Sikh Diaspora present in UK, Canada and USA
- In 1970s donation drive was started by some leaders for Khalistan
- Declaration of a separate country, currency were all made on foreign soil by leaders like Jagjit singh Chauhan
**Note – Akali Dal never wanted a ‘separate country’ but more autonomy
Anandpur Sahib Resolution,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 transfer of the federally administered city of Chandigarh to Punjab.
- The transfer of Punjabi-speaking and contiguous areas of Haryana to Punjab.
- Decentralisation of states under the existing constitution, limiting the central government’s role
- The call for land reforms and industrialisation of Punjab, along with safeguarding the rights of the weaker sections of the population.
- The enactment of an all-India gurdwara (Sikh house of worship) act.
- Protection for minorities residing outside Punjab, but within India.
- Revision of government’s recruitment quota restricting the number of Sikhs in armed forces.
The resolution was largely forgotten until raised by Bhindrawale and Akali Dal again in 1982 Indira Gandhi considered the Anandpur Resolution as a secessionist document
Emergence of Bhindrawale
- Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale – A religious scholar who became the head of the Damdami Taksal in 1977 (a seat of religious learning near Amritsar)
- He opposed Nirankari Sikhs and was part of deadly clashes with Nirankaris in 1978
- 1977 – Akali Dal govt. was formed in Punjab after end of emergency
- Giani Zail Singh (ex CM of Punjab) and Sanjay Gandhi supported and propped up Jarnail Singh to counter the Akali dal’s hold over Sikh shrines and politics in Punjab
The ‘Saint Soldier’
- 1980 – Congress govt formed in Punjab – C.M .Darbara Singh
- 1980 – Baba Gurbachan Singh, leader of Nirankaris was killed.
- 1981 – Census started. Issue of language came to the fore.
- The editor of Punjab Kesari newspaper, Lala Jagat Narain was murdered as the paper had espoused the cause of Hindi language
- Bhindrawale was arrested and released soon as violence erupted in Punjab – He started gaining cult following after this ©DrMahipalRathore
- 1982 – Bhindrawale + Akali Dal (Sant Harchand Singh Longowal) started Dharm Yudh Morcha, an agitation for adoption of Anandpur Sahib resolution Heavy crackdown by Congress govt
- November 1982 – Threat of protests during Asian games by the movement led to frisking of Sikhs at Punjab state border
- April 1983 – DIG AS Atwal was killed on the steps of Golden temple
- October 1983 – 6 Hindu bus passengers were killed
- President’s rule imposed in Punjab after this event
Prelude to Operation Blue Star
- Militants gathered weapons and ammunition in Harmandar Sahib
- 15 December 1983- Bhindrawale along with his supporters took control of Akal Takht
- 9 ft high throne/Seat – political and temporal power of Sikhism
- Indira Gandhi tried to negotiate and sent a proposal for Akali leaders and Bhindrawale but the latter rejected all proposals
- 1983/84 – Tensions between Hindus and Sikhs started rising in Punjab as well as other states like Haryana – Killings of both Hindus and Sikhs ,desecration of Gurudwaras took place
- 1st June 1984 – Punjab put under a curfew and a communication blockade
- Army and paramilitary took over
- News reporters were asked to leave Amritsar
Operation Blue Star (3-6 June 1984)
- Objective – To flush out militants, led by Bhindrawale, holed up inside Akal Takht
- 3rd June 1984 – On the anniversary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan, army blockaded Golden temple
- Pilgrims were stopped from leaving by Bhindrawale’s men
- Maj. Gen. Kuldeep Singh Brar led army operations
- Maj. Gen. Shahbeg Singh led the militants inside the temple complex
- 5th June evening – Fighting began
- Army took heavy casualties initially as they underestimated the militants firepower.
- The militants had anti tank guns, rocket launchers, machine guns, positioned snipers and fought like a trained militia
- 6th June – Tanks called in to attack Akal Takht
- Bhindrawale died in the fight
- Heavy damage to Akal Takht and the library
- A large cache of weapons was captured from the complex after the operation
- Military objective achieved
- Big political blunder
- Religious feelings of millions of Sikhs hurt
- Army soldiers – 83 dead, 248 injured
- Militants ~500
- A crackdown throughout rural Punjab, right after Operation Blue Star – to crush remaining militants
- 2800 soldiers of Sikh regiment resigned/deserted or showed insubordination to protest army action in Op. Blue Star
- Most were later re-instated
The Deadly Fallout of Blue Star
- 31 October 1984 – Indira Gandhi assassinated by her Sikh Bodyguards
- 1985 – Air India flight 182 ‘Kanishka’ from Montreal to Delhi bombed – 329 passengers killed
- 1985 – Harchand singh Longowal of Akali Dal murdered as he signed an agreement with P.M.Rajiv Gandhi
- 1986 – Gen AS Vaidya , the chief of army during Blue star assas
The Anti Sikh Riots
- After Indira Gandhi’s assassination
- Worst affected – Delhi
- ~3000 Sikhs killed
- Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler were charged
Operation Black Thunder
- Black thunder 1 – 1986
- Black Thunder 2 – 1988
- Flushing out extremists who had taken shelter inside Harmandar sahib once again
- IPS officer KPS Gill
- National Security Guard
- Full media presence allowed this time – No damage to sacred buildings
Militancy in Punjab
- For 10 years after Operation Blue Star, militancy continued in Punjab.
- President’s rule till 1992
- ISI trained terrorists of BABBAR KHALSA and others
- Operation Woodrose – 1984-92
- The insurgency subsided due to crackdown by army and police
- Human rights abuse – ~10,000 youth died/missing
- Elections in 1992 – Congress came to power
- C.M. Beant Singh was assassinated in 1995
- Though crushed in India, few militant groups ( International Sikh Youth Federation,BKI) are still active in countries like Canada and UK.
- Try to gather funds from sikh communities overseas
- Canadian leaders attending such events has irked Indian govt.
By Dr. Mahipal Singh Rathore
Facebook Id-> facebook.com/mahipalsinghrathore