Sikhs Intensify Khalistan Movement for Independence
By Sajjad Shaukat
India which, apparently, claims to be the largest democracy, acting upon the principles of liberalism and secularism has broken all the records of mistreatment of religious minorities by acceleration of violence, genocide and massacre, perpetrated on various ethnic and religious groups.
Since Narendar Modi, the leader of the ruling party BJP became the Indian Prime Minister, he started implementing ideology of Hindutva ((Hindu Nationalism). Under his regime, persecution of religious minorities such as Christians and particularly Muslims and Sikhs, including even of lower cast-Hindus have been intensified by the extremist Hindus.
In this regard, in its annual report of 2017, Human Rights Watch which conducted investigative work in 2016 pointed out Indian government’s failure to control growing attacks on Dalits and religious minorities-Sikh community.
The report elaborated, “Authorities continue to use sedition and criminal defamation laws to prosecute citizens who criticize government officials or oppose state policies. In rare cases in 2016, police were held accountable for abuses. In April, 47 policemen were sentenced to life in prison for involvement in the killing of 11 Sikhs in 1991 in the Pilibhit district of Uttar Pradesh state. Despite calls for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, soldiers continue to have immunity from prosecution when deployed in areas of internal conflict.”
According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s report: “Religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India…Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups…these actions, coupled with perceived crackdowns on groups or individuals critical of the Indian government, have many concerned that the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association are being increasingly curtailed.”
However, the Sikhs are fighting for a separate homeland since 1947, but the movement attained impetus by the efforts of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, which in 1984 resulted in most brutal operation against a highly sacred Sikh religious place-the Golden Temple complex (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar, Punjab, which resulted in killings of thousands of Sikhs.
In this respect, Indian Army led by General Kuldip Singh Brar, supported by troops and armoured vehicles had broken all records of the state terrorism and extra-judicial killings through the barbaric Operation Blue Star which occurred between 3–8 June 1984, ordered by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to control over the Harmandir Sahib complex.
In this context, in their book, “The Sikh Struggle”, Ramnarain Kumar and George Sieberer writes, “The army killed every Sikh who could be found inside the temple-complex. They were hauled out of rooms, brought to corridors on the circumference of the temple and with their hands tied behind their back, were shot in cold blood. Among the victims were many old men, women and children…However, all visitors were locked up in rooms for two days without any food, water, or electricity and were starved to death. Besides, the Harmandir Sahib remained under the army control for many months”.
The brutality of the Operation was not confined to the Harmandir Sahib. Indian armed forces simultaneously attacked 40 other historical gurdwaras all over East Punjab. When Sikhs in other states came to know about the desecration of the Harmandir Sahib and massacre of their brethren, they quickly left for Punjab. New Delhi tried to stop them before they could reach Punjab. Many Sikhs were assassinated on the way and many others were arrested.
In the same year of November, two dedicated Sikhs named Beant Singh and Satwant Singh who were posted at Premier Indira Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi, assassinated her. Then Hindu riots erupted in the capital and other cities in which more then 15,000 Sikhs were murdered in broad daylight by the supporters of Indira Gandhi, while police watched silently so as to provide the Hindus with free hand to massacre Sikhs.
Nevertheless, the attack on the Harmandir Sahib and genocide of Sikhs accelerated the liberation movement for Khalistan, as Bhindrenwale became a folk hero.
To maintain its control over the Harmandir Sahib, another attack was launched on the Temple in 1987, called ‘Operation Black Thunder’. That time only Sikh resistance which was natural outcome of the tragedy was the main target. Afterwards, ‘Operation Woodrose’ and ‘Operation Black Thunder-II’ were conducted against the Sikh community, which also assassinated them extra-judicially.
After these barbaric operations, Sikhs organised themselves into an armed power in order to fight the Indian state terrorism. Many Sikhs left India to escape religious persecution. Sikhs have spread out all over the world to keep the movement of Khalistan alive.
It is of particular attention that New Delhi and Indian intelligence agency RAW is trying to create division between the Sikh community-platforms in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and Pakistan etc. In this context, a deliberate campaign has been launched to ban or disallow Indian diplomats or officials’ entry to gurdawaras for misusing them for their ulterior motives so as to divide the Sikh community.
Gopal Singh Chawla leader of the Khalistan movement for independence has announced that “Peace for Sikhs” has stepped up registration process for the Khalistan referendum 2020. He has asked the other Sikh leaders to resign and join the movement and revealed that 11000 to 13000 Sikh leaders have already left Indian Army without any benefits and joined Khalistan movement—have reiterated that from now onward Sikhs will not fight for India. He pointed out that the Sikhs leaders have realized that Indian military leadership always post Sikh outfits on borders to meet any operation confrontation and it is either Sikhs or low caste Hindus lay their lives for India, from now onwards Sikhs will only lay their lives for Khalistan.
Gopal Singh also stated that Modi government is facing a fearful sit in the wake of thousands of Sikhs registering for Referendum 2020 and the India Army is in dire problems regarding the resignation of Sikhs at a time when Indian Army is in a fix in Ladakh after facing defeat and humiliation at the hands of Chinese.
Gopal Singh claimed that Khalistan is the basic right if Sikh nation and Sikhs will now create Khalistan at any cost. Referring to the promise of Gandhi made with Sikhs in 1947 for Khalistan, which was never fulfilled by cunning Hindu rulers, he said that mow Sikhs nation has complete awareness and at present New Delhi is in panic.
It is mentionable that India, dominated by politicians from the Hindi heartland—Hindutva have been using brutal force ruthlessly against any move to free Assam, Kashmir, Khalistan, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu and Tripura where wars of liberation continue in one form or the other.
These states have witnessed various sorts of India’s state terrorism, but, did not stop their struggle. Instead of redressing the grievances of the people, Modi-led Indian regime is depending upon ruthless force to crush the movements of self-determination. Therefore, India’s unrealistic counterinsurgency strategy has badly failed.
Notably, Sikhs have intensified Khalistan Movement for Independence, as in the recent years, Sikhs have conducted anti-India demonstrations and rallies in New York, London, Switzerland and Geneva, raising slogans for Khalistan as an independent state.
In fact, the Indian vulnerabilities have been exposed first during the mishandling of Covid-19 and lately by the Chinese attaining Ladakh area as per their claims prior to 1959. India seems to be acting like a rudderless ship destined to sink. The fascist policies of the fundamentalist outfits-BJP and RSS have not only weakened the Indian federation, but also created rift in society and institution. Presently, nothing seems to be going right for New Delhi, as every coming day is bringing bad news for the country.
Nonetheless, Sikhs move of leaving Indian Army will definitely affect other castes and religious communities in the Indian Army. Indian Army due to paucity of resources coupled with complex caste system is already at a low morale—discontented and un-professional military has generated serious concerns for its military leadership. The Indian drastic situation is providing opportunities to weaken its Army and federation in manner which could pave the way for its disintegration.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations