How Congress was responsible for the Bhindrawale uprising

Khalistan Movement - Khalistan movement

Sikh movement in the Punjab region

The Khalistan movement is a Sikh separatist movement that is trying to create a homeland for Sikhs by creating a sovereign state called a sovereign state in the Punjab region Khālistān ("Land of the Khalsa"). The proposed state would consist of land that currently makes up Punjab, India and Punjab, Pakistan.

Since the separatist movement gained strength in the 1980s, Khalistan's territorial ambitions have at times included Chandigarh, parts of Indian Punjab, including all of northern India, and some parts of the western states of India. Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, according to Jagjit Singh Chohan, had suggested all help to create Khalistan during his talks with Chohan after the end of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

The demand for a separate Sikh state began after the fall of the British Empire. In 1940 the first explicit appeal for Khalistan was published in a pamphlet called "Khalistan". With financial and political support from the Sikh diaspora, the movement flourished in the Indian state of Punjab - which has a Sikh majority population - in the 1970s and 1980s, and peaked in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, the uprising subsided and the movement failed to achieve its goal for a number of reasons, including police crackdown on separatists, factional struggles and disillusionment with the Sikh population.

There is some support in India and the Sikh diaspora, with annual demonstrations in protest against those killed during Operation Blue Star. In early 2018, several militant groups in Punjab, India were arrested by police. Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh claimed the recent extremism was backed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and "Khalistani sympathizers" in Canada, Italy and the UK.

Before the 1950s

Sikhs were concentrated in the Punjab region of South Asia. Before it was conquered by the British, the region around Punjab was ruled by the Confederation of Sikh Misls founded by Banda Bahadur. The Misls ruled over the entire Punjab from 1767 to 1799 until their confederation was united by Maharajah Ranjit Singh from 1799 to 1849 to form the Sikh Empire.

At the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849, the Sikh Empire dissolved into separate princely states and the British province of Punjab. As a result of the British "Divide and Conquer" process, in which religions were differentiated and identified within communal boundaries, many religious nationalist movements arose among Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Sikhs. .

When the British Empire began to disintegrate in the 1930s, Sikhs first called for a Sikh homeland. When the Muslim League's Lahore resolution called for Punjab to be made a Muslim state, the Akalis viewed this as an attempt to usurp historically Sikh territory. In response, the Sikh party, Shiromani Akali Dal, advocated a community that was separated from Hindus and Muslims. The Akali Dal envisioned Khalistan as a theocratic state led by the Maharaja of Patiala with the help of a cabinet made up of representatives from other units. The country would include parts of what is now Punjab, India, what is now Punjab, Pakistan (including Lahore), and the Simla Hill states.

Partition of India, 1947

Before the partition of India in 1947, Sikhs were not a majority in any of the pre-partition counties of Britain's Punjab Province except Ludhiana (where Sikhs made up 41.6% of the population). Most Hindus or Muslims lived in the districts of the region, depending on their location in the province.

British India was divided on a religious basis in 1947, with the Punjab province being split between India and the newly created Pakistan. As a result, a majority of the Sikhs emigrated along with the Hindus from the Pakistani region to the Indian Punjab, to which today's Haryana and Himachal Pradesh belonged. The Sikh population, which rose to 19.8% in some Pakistani districts in 1941, declined to 0.1% in Pakistan and rose sharply in the districts assigned to India. However, they would still be a minority in the Indian province of Punjab, which remained a Hindu majority province.

Sikh relationship with Punjab (via Oberoi)

Map of today's Indian state of Punjab. After the division, East Punjab became PEPSU, which was further divided in 1966 with the formation of the new states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh as well as today's state of Punjab. Punjab is the only state in India with a majority of the Sikh population.

Sikh historian Harjot Singh Oberoi argues that despite the historical ties between Sikhs and Punjab, the territory was never an essential element of Sikh self-definition. He contends that Punjab's attachment to Sikhism is a more recent phenomenon dating back to the 1940s. Historically, Sikhism was Pan-Indian, with Guru Granth Sahib (the main script of Sikhism) coming from the works of saints in northern and southern India, while several important seats in Sikhism (e.g. Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, Takht Sri Patna Sahib) in Bihar and Hazur Sahib in Maharashtra) are outside of Punjab.

Oberoi contends that Sikh leaders realized in the late 1930s and 1940s that the dominance of Muslims in Pakistan and Hindus in India was imminent. To justify a separate Sikh state within the Punjab, Sikh leaders began mobilizing meta-comments and signs to argue that Punjab belong to Sikhs and Sikhs belong to Punjab. This began the territorialization of the Sikh community.

This territorialization of the Sikh community would be formalized in March 1946 when Akali Dal's Sikh party passed a resolution proclaiming the natural union of Punjab and the Sikh religious community. Oberoi argues that, as a separatist movement, despite its beginnings in the early 20th century until the late 1970s and 1980s when it began to militarize, Khalistan was never a major problem.

1950s to 1970s

There are two different accounts of the origins of the demands for a sovereign Khalistan. One relates to the events in India itself, while the other privileges the role of the Sikh diaspora. Both narratives differ in the form of government proposed for this state (e.g. theocracy versus democracy) as well as in the proposed name (i.e. Sikhistan versus Khalistan). Even the exact geographical boundaries of the proposed state differ between them, although it was commonly believed that they were carved out of one of several historical constructions of Punjab.

Origin in India

Shiromani Akali Dal was founded on December 14, 1920 and was a Sikh political party that wanted to form a government in Punjab.

After India gained independence in 1947, the Punjabi Suba movement, led by Akali Dal, sought the creation of a province ( Suba ) for the Punjabi. The maximum position of Akali Dal's demands was a sovereign state (i.e. Khalistan) while his minimum position was to have an autonomous state within India. The questions raised during the Punjabi Suba movement were later used by proponents of Khalistan as a prerequisite for the creation of a Sikh country of its own.

Since the religious division of India resulted in much bloodshed, the Indian government initially rejected the request, fearing that creating a Punjabi-majority state would effectively mean creating a state on religious grounds.

In September 1966, the Union government led by Indira Gandhi accepted the request. On September 7, 1966, the Punjab Reorganization Law adopted, which was implemented with effect from November 1, 1966. Accordingly, Punjab was divided into the state of Punjab and Haryana with certain areas after Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh was made a centrally administered area of ​​the Union.

Anandpur Resolution

When Punjab and Haryana now shared the capital Chandigarh, resentment was felt among the Sikhs in Punjab. A canal system was established over the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers, which flowed through Punjab, so that the water could also reach Haryana and Rajasthan. As a result, Punjab would only receive 23% of the water while the rest would go to the other two states. The fact that the issue would not be taken up again created additional turmoil in Sikh resentment against Congress.

The Akali Dal was defeated in the 1972 Punjab elections. To regain public appeal, the party tabled the 1973 Anandpur Sahib resolution calling for a radical transfer of power and further autonomy for Punjab. The resolution document contained both religious and political issues and called for the recognition of Sikhism as a separate religion from Hinduism and the transfer of Chandigarh and certain other areas to Punjab. She also called for a radical transfer of power from the central government to the state governments.

The document was largely forgotten some time after its adoption until it received attention in the following decade. In 1982 Akali Dal and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale joined forces to start the Dharam Yudh Morcha and implement the resolution. Thousands of people joined the movement and felt it was a real solution to such needs as increasing water for irrigation and returning from Chandigarh to Punjab.

Origin in the diaspora

After the narrative "Events outside India", especially after 1971, the idea of ​​a sovereign and independent state of Khalistan began to become popular among Sikhs in North America and Europe. Such a report is provided by the Khalistan Council, which moored in West London, where the Khalistan Movement is believed to have started in 1970.

Davinder Singh Parmar emigrated to London in 1954. According to Parmar, his first pro-Khalistan meeting was attended by fewer than 20 people and he was classified as a madman with only one person to assist. Parmar continued his efforts despite a lack of followers and eventually hoisted the Khalistani flag in Birmingham in the 1970s. In 1969, two years after losing the Punjab Assembly elections, Indian politician Jagjit Singh Chohan moved to Britain to start his campaign for the creation of Khalistan. In addition to Punjab, Himachal and Haryana, Chohan's proposal for Khalistan also included parts of the state of Rajasthan.

Parmar and Chohan would meet in 1970 and officially announce the Khalistan movement at a press conference in London, although they would largely be dismissed as fanatical fringe by the community without any support.

Chohan in Pakistan and the USA

After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Chohan visited Pakistan as a guest of leaders such as Chaudhuri Zahoor Elahi. Visiting Nankana Sahib and several historical gurdwaras in Pakistan, Chohan used the opportunity to spread the idea of ​​an independent Sikh state. Extensive coverage of his remarks, widely publicized in the Pakistani press, first introduced the international community, including those in India, to the Khalistan's demand. Although there was a lack of public support, the term became Khalistan always more recognizable. According to Chohan, during a conversation with Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Bhutto proposed making Nankana Sahib the capital of Khalistan.

On October 13, 1971, when Chohan visited the United States at the invitation of his followers in the Sikh diaspora, he placed an advertisement in the New York Times, in the he proclaimed an independent Sikh state. This promotion enabled him to raise millions of dollars from the diaspora, which eventually led to indictments of sedition and other crimes related to his separatist activities in India.

Khalistan National Council

After returning to India in 1977, Chohan traveled to the UK in 1979. There he founded the Khalistan National Council and declared its establishment on April 12, 1980 in Anandpur Sahib. Chohan appointed himself President of the Council and Balbir Singh Sandhu as Secretary General.

In May 1980, Chohan traveled to London to announce the formation of Khalistan. A similar announcement was made in Amritsar by Sandhu, who issued postage stamps and the currency of Khalistan. Chohan, who operated from a building called "Khalistan House", appointed a cabinet and proclaimed himself President of the "Republic of Khalistan" by issuing symbolic Khalistan passports, postage stamps and Khalistan dollars. In addition, Chohan opened embassies in the UK and other European countries. It is reported that, with the assistance of a wealthy California peach tycoon, Chohan opened an Ecuadorian bank account to further support his business. Chohan not only cultivated contacts between different groups in Canada, the USA and Germany, but was also in contact with the Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who campaigned for a theocratic Sikh homeland.

The globalized Sikh diaspora invested efforts and resources on Khalistan, but the Khalistan movement remained almost invisible on the global political scene until Operation Blue Star in June 1984.

Late 1970s to 1983

Delhi Asian Games (1982)

Akali leaders, who had planned to announce a victory for Dharam Yudh Morcha, were outraged by the changes to the agreed settlement. In November 1982, Akali leader Harchand Singh Longowal announced that the party would disrupt the 9th annual Asian Games by sending groups of Akali workers to Delhi to be deliberately arrested. After negotiations, the Akali Dal and the government failed at the last moment due to differences of opinion over the transfer of territories between Punjab and Haryana.

Knowing that the Games would receive extensive coverage, Akali leaders vowed to overwhelm Delhi with a flood of protesters to raise international audiences' perception of the Sikh plight. A week before the Games, Bhajan Lal, Prime Minister of Haryana and a member of the INC party, sealed the Delhi-Punjab border and ordered that all Sikh visitors traveling from Punjab to Delhi be searched. While such measures were viewed by Sikhs as discriminatory and humiliating, they proved effective as Akali Dal was only able to organize small and scattered protests in Delhi. As a result, many Sikhs who initially did not support Akalis and Bhindranwale began to sympathize with the Akali Morcha.

After the games were over, Longowal organized a gathering of Sikh veterans in Darbar Sahib. It was visited by a large number of Sikh ex-soldiers, including Retd. Major General Shabeg Singh, who later became Bhindranwales Military Adviser.


Increasing militant activity

Widespread killings of Bhindran whale followers occurred in Punjab in the 1980s. Armed Khalistani fighters of that time referred to themselves as Kharku what most likely " Noise maker " means from the Punjabi Kharaka ("Noise") in relation to their rigorous activity. Between August 4, 1982 and June 3, 1984, more than 1,200 violent incidents occurred, in which 410 people died and 1,180 were injured.

In 1984 alone (from January 1 to June 3) there were 775 violent incidents in which 298 people were killed and 525 injured. One such murder was that of DIG Avtar Singh Atwal, who was killed on April 25, 1983 at the gate of Darbar Sahib and whose body would remain at the place of death for two hours as even police officers were afraid of touching the body without Bhindranwal's permission . This demonstrated the power and influence that Bhindranwale had over the region.

Although it was widely known that those responsible for such bombings and murders sought refuge in Gurdwaras, the Indian INC government declared that it could not enter these places of worship for fear of offending Sikh sentiments. Even after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi received detailed reports on open navigation of trucks loaded with weapons, the government would decide not to take action. Finally, after the murder of six Hindu bus passengers in Punjab in October 1983, an emergency rule was imposed that was to last for more than a decade.

Constitutional issues

The Akali Dal began more agitation in February 1984, protesting Article 25 (2) (b) of the Indian Constitution, which ambiguously states that "the reference to Hindus should be construed as containing a reference to those professing Sikhs . " Jaina or Buddhist religion ", while Sikhism as a separate religion implicitly recognizes:" wearing and wearing kripans [ sic .] will be considered to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion diese Even today this clause is viewed as offensive by many religious minorities in India, as it does not recognize such religions separately in the constitution.

Akali Dal members demanded that the removal of any ambiguity in the constitution that Sikhs designate as Hindu, as such, raise various concerns for the Sikh population, both in principle and in practice. For example, a Sikh couple who would marry according to the rites of their religion would have their union according to either Special Marriage Act of 1954 or that Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 to register . The Akalis called for such rules to be replaced by laws specific to Sikhism.

Operation Blue Star

Operation Blue Star was an Indian military operation ordered by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi between June 1 and 8, 1984 to remove militant religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers from the buildings of the Harmandir Sahib complex (also known as Golden Temple) in Amritsar, Punjab - the holiest site in Sikhism.

In July 1983, Akali Dal President Harchand Singh Longowal invited Bhindranwale to settle in the sacred temple complex. The government claimed Bhindranwale would later become an armory and headquarters for his armed uprising.

Since the beginning of the Dharam Yudh Morcha on the violent incidents leading up to Operation Blue Star, Khalistani militants had directly killed 165 Hindus and Nirankaris and 39 Sikhs against Bhindran whales, while a total of 410 dead and 1,180 wounded were from Khalistani violence and unrest.

When negotiations with Bhindranwale and his supporters were unsuccessful, Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian army to start Operation Blue Star. Along with the army, the operation would involve the Central Reserve Police Force, the Border Security Force and the Punjab Police. Army units led by Lieutenant General Kuldip Singh Brar (a Sikh) surrounded the temple complex on June 3, 1984. Shortly before the operation began, Lieutenant General Brar addressed the soldiers:

The action is not against the Sikhs or the Sikh religion; it's against terrorism. If there is someone among them who has strong religious feelings or other reservations and does not want to participate in the operation, they can opt out and it will not be directed against them.

However, none of the soldiers chose to do so, including many "Sikh officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks". Using a public address system, the army repeatedly urged the militants to surrender, telling them to at least allow the pilgrims to leave the temple grounds before starting the fight.

Nothing happened until 7:00 p.m. (IST). Armored with tanks and heavy artillery, the army had greatly underestimated the firepower of the militants who attacked the heavily fortified Akal Takht with anti-tank and machine gun fire and had rocket-propelled grenade launchers from China with armor-piercing capabilities. After a 24-hour shooting, the army finally took control of the temple complex.

Bhindranwale was killed in the operation while many of his followers escaped. The number of casualties in the army was 83 dead and 249 injured. According to official estimates by the Indian government, the event resulted in a total of 493 militant and civilian casualties and the arrest of 1,592 people.

The British Foreign Secretary William Hague attributed high civilian casualties to the attempt by the Indian government to attack the militants in full head-on fashion, which deviates from the recommendations of the British military. Gandhi's opponents also criticized the operation for using excessive force. Lieutenant General Brar later stated that due to a "total collapse" of the situation, the government had "no other recourse": the state machinery was under the control of the militants; The Khalistan Declaration was imminent; and Pakistan would have come into the picture and declared its support for Khalistan.

Even so, the operation did not crush the Kalistani militancy as it continued.

Assassination of Indira Gandhi and anti-Sikh riots

On the morning of October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi was murdered in New Delhi by her two personal security guards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, both Sikhs, in retaliation for Operation Blue Star. The attack would spark the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 across northern India. While the ruling party, the Indian National Congress (INC), claimed the violence was due to spontaneous unrest, its critics have claimed that INC members themselves planned a pogrom against the Sikhs.

The Nanavati Commission, a special commission to investigate the riots, concluded that INC leaders (including Jagdish Tytler, HKL Bhagat and Sajjan Kumar) had a direct or indirect role in the riots. Union Minister Kamal Nath was accused of rioting near Rakab Ganj but was released for lack of evidence. Other political parties strongly condemned the unrest. Two major civil liberties organizations published a joint report on the anti-Sikh riots, which identified 16 major politicians, 13 police officers and 198 others who were indicted by survivors and eyewitnesses.

1985 until today


Rajiv Longowal Agreement

Many Sikh and Hindu groups, as well as non-religious organizations, have tried to bring peace between the supporters of Khalistan and the Indian government. Akalis continued to witness the radicalization of Sikh politics and feared catastrophic consequences. In response, President Harchand Singh Longowal reinstated the head of Akali Dal and pushed for a peace initiative that reaffirmed the importance of Hindu-Sikh friendship, condemned Sikh extremist violence and declared that the Akali Dal was not for Khalistan.

In 1985 the Indian government tried to find a political solution to the grievances of the Sikhs through the Rajiv-Longowal Agreement between Longowal and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The agreement - which recognizes the religious, territorial, and economic demands of the Sikhs, which were deemed non-negotiable under Indira Gandhi's tenure - agreed to set up commissions and independent tribunals to resolve and lay the groundwork for the Chandigarh problem and river dispute Akali Dal's victory in the upcoming elections.

Although Chandigarh provided a basis for a return to normal, it apparently remained an issue and the deal was denounced by Sikh militants who refused to give up the demand for an independent Khalistan. Those extremists, who were not satisfied, would then murder Longowal. Such behavior would lead to a refusal to negotiate, with both Congress and the Akali parties accusing each other of supporting terrorism.

The Indian government pointed to the involvement of a "foreign hand" and referred to Pakistan's support for the movement. Punjab stated to the Indian government that militants were able to obtain sophisticated weapons from sources outside the country and by connecting with sources within the country. Hence, the government believed that large illegal arms flows were flowing through India's borders, with Pakistan responsible for the arms trade. India alleged Pakistan had provided refuge, weapons, money and moral support to the militants, although most of the allegations were based on circumstantial evidence.

Air India Flight 182

The Irish maritime service retrieves bodies after the bombing on Air India Flight 182

Air India Flight 182 was an Air India flight operated on the Montreal - London - Delhi - Bombay route. On June 23, 1985, a Boeing 747 operating on the route was blown up by a mid-air bomb off the coast of Ireland. A total of 329 people were killed on board, 268 Canadian citizens, 27 British citizens and 24 Indian citizens, including the flight crew. On the same day, a baggage bomb explosion, linked to the terrorist operation, occurred at Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan, designated for Air India Flight 301, killing two baggage handlers. The entire event was intercontinental in nature and killed a total of 331 people. It affected five countries on different continents: Canada, Great Britain, India, Japan and Ireland.

The main suspects in the bombing were members of a Sikh separatist group called Babbar Khalsa and other related groups who were advocating a separate Sikh state of Khalistan in Punjab, India at the time. In September 2007, the Canadian Commission of Inquiry investigated reports originally published in the Indian investigative news magazine Tehelka were published that a previously unnamed person, Lakhbir Singh Rode, had mastered the explosions. In conclusion, two separate Canadian investigations officially determined that the mastermind behind the terrorist operation was, in fact, the Canadian Talwinder Singh Parmar.

Several men were arrested and tried for the Air India bombing. Inderjit Singh Reyat, a Canadian national and a member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, who pleaded guilty of manslaughter in 2003, would be the only person convicted in the case. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for assembling the bombs that exploded on Air India Flight 182 and at Narita Airport.

Late 1980s

In 1986, when the uprising was peaking, the Golden Temple was reoccupied by militants from the All India Sikh Students Federation and Damdami Taksal. The militants called a meeting (Sarbat Khalsa) and would pass a resolution on January 26th ( gurmattā ) in favor of the creation of Khalistan saying goodbye . However, only the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had authority over the Jathedar to appoint the highest religious-temporal seat of the Sikhs. The militants dissolved the SGPC and appointed their own Jathedar, who also refused their commandments. The militant leader Gurbachan Singh Manochahal forcibly appointed himself.

On April 29, 1986, a gathering of separatist Sikhs in Akal Takht issued a declaration of the independent state of Khalistan, and a number of militant rebel groups in favor of Khalistan led a major revolt against the Indian government. A decade of violence and conflict in Punjab would follow before normalcy was restored to the region. During this period of uprising, Sikh fighters clashed with the police and with the Nirankaris, a mystical Sikh sect who are less conservative in their aims to reform Sikhism.

The Khalistani militant activities took the form of several attacks, such as the 1987 massacre of 32 Hindu bus passengers near Lalru and the murder of 80 train passengers in Ludhiana in 1991. Such activities continued until the 1990s, when the perpetrators of the 1984 riots went unpunished while many Sikhs felt they were being discriminated against and their religious rights were being suppressed.

In the parliamentary elections of 1989, representatives of the Sikh separatists won 10 of Punjab's 13 national seats and had the most popular support. Congress canceled these elections and instead held a khaki election. The separatists boycotted the poll. The turnout was 24%. Congress won this election and used it to advance its anti-separatist campaign. Most of the separatist leadership was wiped out and the moderates suppressed until the end of 1993.


Indian security forces suppressed the uprising in the early 1990s, while Sikh factions such as the Khalsa Raj Party and SAD (A) continued to pursue a nonviolent Khalistan by nonviolent means. reported that in the early 1990s journalists who did not follow militant-approved behavior were sentenced to death. Indiscriminate attacks were also reported to have resulted in extensive civilian casualties: train derailments and bombs exploding in markets, restaurants and other civilian areas between Delhi and Punjab. It was further reported that militants murdered many of these moderate Sikh leaders who opposed them, and sometimes killed rivals within the same militant group. It was also found that many civilians kidnapped by extremists were murdered when the militants' demands were not met. Eventually it was reported that Hindus were leaving Punjab by the thousands. In order to take iron from the terrorists in Bhikhiwind village, the Tarn Taran 'Sandhu' family fought every day as they did on the last day and defeated terrorists several times. One such incident occurred on September 30, 1990, when about 200 terrorists attacked Balwinder Singh's home. In retaliation, the Sandhu family killed several using State Police weapons and gathered the rest of the terrorists to run away. The family bestowed the Shaurya Chakra to show the most striking bravery and indomitable courage.

In August 1991, Julio Ribeiro, the Indian ambassador to Romania at the time, was attacked and wounded in Bucharest by armed men identified as Punjabi Sikhs. Sikh groups also took responsibility for the 1991 kidnapping of Liviu Radu, the Romanian charge d'affaires in New Delhi, in retaliation for the Romanian arrest of members of the Khalistan Liberation Force suspected of attempted murder of Ribeiro were. Radu was released unharmed after Sikh politicians criticized the action.

In October 1991 the New York Times that violence had risen sharply in the months leading up to the abduction, with Indian security forces or Sikh militants killing 20 or more people a day, and that the militants "gunned down" family members by police officers. Scholar Ian Talbot explains that all sides including the Indian army, police and militants have committed crimes such as murder, rape and torture.

From January 24, 1993 to August 4, 1993, Khalistan was a member of the NGO Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. Membership was finally suspended on January 22, 1995.

On August 31, 1995, Prime Minister Beant Singh was killed in a suicide attack for which the pro-Khalistan group Babbar Khalsa took responsibility. However, the security authorities said the group's involvement was doubtful. A 2006 press release from the US Embassy in New Delhi indicated that the responsible organization was the Khalistan Commando Force.

While the militants enjoyed some support among Sikh separatists in the past, that support has gradually disappeared. The uprising weakened the Punjab economy and increased violence in the state. With dwindling support and increasingly effective Indian security forces eliminating subversive fighters, Sikh militancy ended in the early 1990s.



Human rights activists have made serious charges against Indian security forces (led by Sikh police officer KPS Gill) alleging thousands of suspects were killed in staged shootings and thousands of bodies were cremated / disposed of without proper identification or post-cremation. mortems. Human Rights Watch reported that since 1984 government forces had used widespread human rights abuses to combat the militants, including: arbitrary arrests, prolonged detention without trial, torture and executions of civilians and suspected militants. Family members were often arrested and tortured to track the whereabouts of relatives wanted by the police. Amnesty International has alleged several cases of enforced disappearance, torture, rape and unlawful detention by the police during the Punjab uprising, for which between 75 and 100 police officers had been sentenced as of December 2002.

Current activities

Today's activities by the Khalistani militants include the Tarn Taran explosion which resulted in police arresting four terrorists, one of whom revealed that they had been ordered by Sikhs for Justice to kill several Dera leaders in India. Pro-Khalistan organizations like Dal Khalsa are also active outside of India and are supported by part of the Sikh diaspora. As of December 25, several authorities had also contributed to a possible attack by Babbar Khalsa and Khalistan Zindabad Force in Punjab. According to Indian media, they are allegedly in contact with their Pakistani traders trying to smuggle weapons across the border.

In November 2015, a Sikh community (i.e. a Sarbat Khalsa) was convened in response to recent unrest in the Punjab region. The Sarbat Khalsa passed 13 resolutions to strengthen Sikh institutions and traditions. The 12th resolution reaffirmed the resolutions adopted by the Sarbat Khalsa in 1986, including the declaration of the sovereign state of Khalistan.

In addition, signs were set for Khalistan when SAD (Amritsar) President Simranjeet Singh Mann met with Surat Singh Khalsa, who was admitted to Dayanand Medical College & Hospital (DMCH). While Mann was discussing Satish Malhotra with ACP, supporters standing at the main gate of the DMCH raised Khalistan signs in the presence of heavy police forces. After a 15 to 20 minute confrontation with the police authorities, Mann Khalsa and ADCP were allowed to meet Paramjeet Singh Pannu.

Although Sikhs live outside India, there is a strong sense of attachment to their culture and religion. As such, Sikh groups operating from other countries could potentially revive the Khalistan movement. During the height of the Khalistan movement, there is an ongoing demand for justice for Sikh victims. In some ways, the Sikh diaspora can be seen as the torchbearers of the Khalistan movement, which is now seen as very political and military. Recent reports suggest a surge in pro-Khalistan sentiment in the overseas Sikh diaspora, which may revive the secessionist movement. Some people were even spotted wearing Pro Khalistan jerseys during the 2019 World Cup but were then taken out of the stadium.

There have been numerous indications of support for the Khalistan movement in several places recently, despite Canada's Immigration and Refugee Service (IRCC) reports that Sikhs who support Khalistan may themselves be arrested and tortured. In particular, on the 31st anniversary of Operation Bluestar, pro-Khalistani signals were set in Punjab, which resulted in 25 Sikh youths being arrested by police. Pro-Khalistan signs were also hoisted during a function of Punjabi Prime Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Two members of SAD-A, Sarup Singh Sandha and Rajindr Singh Channa, made pro-Khalistani and anti-Badale signals during the Prime Minister's speech.

In retrospect, the Khalistan movement failed to achieve its goals in India for several reasons:

  • Heavy police crackdown on the separatists led by Punjab Police Chief KPS Gill. Several militant leaders were killed and others surrendered and rehabilitated.
  • Gill credits the decline to the policy change in providing adequate police and security personnel to deal with the militancy. The government's clear political will without interference.
  • Lack of a clear political concept of "Khalistan" even for the extremist supporters. According to Kumar (1997), the name, which was wishful thinking, merely represented their dislike for the Indian establishment and found no alternative to it.
  • In the later stages of the movement, the militants lacked ideological motivation.
  • The entry of criminals and government loyalists into its ranks further divided the groups.
  • Loss of sympathy and support from the Sikh population of Punjab.
  • The divisions among the Sikhs have also undermined this movement. According to Pettigrew not Jat urban Sikhs do not want to live in a country called “Jatistan.” Another split was caused as people in the region traditionally preferred police and military service as career options. The Punjab Police had a majority of Jat Sikhs and the conflict was considered by Police Chief Gill as "Jat against Jat" is called .
  • Akali Dal's moderate factions, led by Prakash Singh Badal, have regained political positions in the state through all three assembly (namely parliamentary) and SGPC elections. The dominance of traditional political parties was reaffirmed over the militantly associated factions.
  • The increased vigilance of the security forces in the region against the rise of separatist elements.
  • The confidence-building measures taken by the Sikh community have helped eradicate the Khalistan movement.

Simrat Dhillon (2007), who wrote for the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, noted that while some groups continued to fight, "the movement has lost popular support both in India and within the diaspora community".


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a dramatic increase in radical state militancy in Punjab. The 1984 Blue Star military operation in the Golden Temple in Amritsar insulted many Sikhs. The separatists used this event, as well as the anti-Sikh riots that followed, to claim that the Sikhs' interests in India were unsafe and to encourage the spread of militancy among the Sikhs in Punjab. Some sections of the Sikh diaspora also began to join the separatists with financial and diplomatic support.

Part of the Sikhs turned to militancy in Punjab, and several Sikh militant outfits proliferated in the 1980s and 1990s. Some militant groups aimed to create an independent state through acts of violence against members of the Indian government, army or armed forces. Large numbers of Sikhs condemned the actions of the militants. According to anthropological analysis, one reason young men joined militants and other religious nationalist groups was for fun, excitement and expressions of masculinity. Puri, Judge and Sekhon (1999) suggest that illiterate / undereducated young men who lack job prospects have joined pro Khalistan militant groups for "fun". They mention that the persecution of Khalistan itself was the motivation for only 5% of the "militants".

Militant groups

There are several Sikh militant groups, such as the Khalistan Council, that are currently operational and provide organization and guidance to the Sikh community. Several groups are organized around the world that coordinate their military efforts for Khalistan. Such groups were most active in the 1980s and early 1990s and have since declined in activity. These groups have largely died in India but still have a political presence in the Sikh diaspora, especially in countries like Pakistan where they are not required by law.

Most of these outfits were destroyed during counterinsurgency operations in 1993. Active groups in recent years have included Babbar Khalsa, the International Sikh Youth Federation, Dal Khalsa, and Bhindranwale Tiger Force. The Shaheed Khalsa Force, previously an undisclosed group, claimed the New Delhi market bombings in 1997 had been recognized. The group has never been heard from since then.

The main militant outfits for Khalistan include:

Fighting extremism

The US State Department found that Sikh extremism had decreased significantly from 1992 to 1997, despite a 1997 report found that "Sikh militant cells operate internationally and extremists raise funds from overseas Sikh communities".

In 1999, in an article titled "It's Fundamentalism Again," Kuldip Nayar, who wrote for, stated that the Sikh masses had rejected terrorists. By 2001, Sikh extremism and the demand for Khalistan had all but subsided.

Director Mark Juergensmeyer of the Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies, UCSB, reported in his article entitled "From Bhindranwale to Bin Laden: Understanding Religious Violence" and interviewed a militant who said "the movement is over", like many colleagues of his had been killed, imprisoned, or gone into hiding, and because public support was gone.

Outside India

Operation Blue Star and its violent aftermath have popularized the demand for Khalistan among many Sikhs scattered around the world. The involvement of sections of the Sikh diaspora proved important to the movement as it provided the diplomatic and financial support. It also enabled Pakistan to get involved in promoting the movement. Sikhs in the UK, Canada and the US prompted cadres to travel to Pakistan for military and financial assistance. Some Sikh groups abroad even declared themselves to be the government in exile of Khalistan.

The Sikh cult site of Gurdwaras