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A proposed flag for Khalistan
Defunct 'Khalistani' Currency

The goal of the Khalistan movement is[1][2][3][4][5][6] or was [7] to create a Sikh homeland, often called Khālistān (Punjabi: ਖ਼ਾਲਿਸਤਾਨ "The Land of the Pure"), in the Punjab region of India. Harking back to the 18th century Sikh Empire, the envisioned Sikh state would include all Punjabi-speaking areas, viz. Indian Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and some other Punjabi speaking parts of states like Gujarat and Rajasthan.

The movement reached its zenith in 1970s and 1980s. In 2009, 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.[8]

In 1971, Khalistan proponent Jagjit Singh Chauhan, 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.[9]

On April 12, 1980, he held a meeting with Indira Gandhi before declaring the formation of "National Council of Khalistan", at Anandpur Sahib.[10] He declared himself to be the President and Balbir Singh Sandhu as its Secretary General. In May 1980, Jagjit Singh Chauhan travelled to London and announced the formation of Khalistan. A similar announcement was made by Balbir Singh Sandhu, in Amritsar, 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) party.[11]

In the 1980s, some Khalistan proponents turned to militancy, resulting in Indian Army's counter-militancy operations. In one such operation, Operation Blue Star, the Indian Army forcibly entered and badly damaged the Harmandir Sahib (often called the Golden Temple). The handling of the operation, damage to the temple 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 riots. In January 1986, the Golden Temple was occupied by militants belonging to All India Sikh Students Federation and Damdami Taksal.[12] 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.

Under the Constitution of India, secessionism is forbidden[citation needed], and various rebel groups in favour of Khalistan fought an insurgency against the government of India. Indian security forces suppressed the major secessionist insurgency in Punjab in the early 1990s,[13] but several Indian Sikh political parties are still fighting for independent Khalistan through peaceful means inside India[14][15][16][17][18][19][20] and international pro-Khalistan organizations such as Dal Khalsa (International) are still active outside India.[21]




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.[22] 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.[23] The Sikh population that was as high as 19.8% in 1941 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, 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.[24]

Jawaharlal Nehru reiterated Gandhi's assurance to the Sikhs at the All India Congress Committee meeting in Calcutta in 1946.[25] 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.”[26] This was formalized through a resolution passed by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 9 December 1946.


During a press conference on 10 July 1946 in Bombay, 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, 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.[27]

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.[28] The state now has a slight (59.9% in 2001) Sikh majority.[29]

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.[30] 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.

In 1947, the governor of Punjab, Mr. C.M. Trevedi, in deference to the wishes of the Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sardar Patel, the Deputy Prime Minister, issued certain instructions to all the Deputy Commissioners of Indian Punjab...These were to the effect that, without reference to the law of the land, the Sikhs in general and Sikh migrants in particular must be treated as a "criminal tribe". Harsh treatment must be meted out to the extent of shooting them dead so that they wake up to the political realities and recognise "who are the rulers and who the subjects".[31]

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."

Sikh writer Khushwant Singh writes, however, that there was no truth whatsoever in Nehru ever having sent out such a directive, nor was Kapur Singh a victim of any conspiracy against him.[30] This pamphlet is thus largely regarded as a hoax. Nevertheless, 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, and though the vast majority of the Sikhs lived in Punjab, they still did not form a majority. 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 1953. It is generally believed that many Punjabi-speaking Hindus declared Hindi as their mother tongue in the censuses of 1951 and 1961, and therefore the census figures did not support the case for a Punjabi speaking state. 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.[32] 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.[33] 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 formed a new state of Haryana and the Pahari- and Kangri-speaking districts north of Punjab were merged with Himachal Pradesh, 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[34]—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.”.[35] 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,[36] 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.[37]

  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 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."[38]

The assassination of Lala Jagat Narain

In a politically charged environment, Lala Jagat Narain, the owner of the Hind Samachar group of newspapers and member of Indian National Congress, 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 in Amritsar. By convention, the Indian Army and the Punjab Police 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 thirty thousand Sikhs.[39]

In November 1982, Akali Dal announced the organisation of protests in Delhi during the Asian Games. 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 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.[39]

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.".[40]

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.[41] 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 placed ammunitions and militants in the temple. The Indian military attacked during a curfew and at night.Though the operation was militarily successful,it was a huge political embarssement,as the attack coincided with sikh religious festival and a large number of pilgrims were staying inside the complex.The death toll of civilians was put at around 430 but may have been higher.

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”[42]

"Apparently, the government had no other recourse. The events in Punjab had reached a complete breakdown. The Sikh militants were in total control of the state machinery. There was a strong feeling that Khalistan was going to be established at any time. [Jarnail Singh] Bhindranwale was being seen as a prophet; he was making very strong speeches against (the then Prime Minister of India) Indira Gandhi and non-Sikhs; and trying to send a message across to the rural areas that the Sikhs are being given second-grade treatment and that it is high time we formed our own independent state of Khalistan. There was a strong possibility of Pakistan helping them and I think there was the possibility of a Bangladesh being repeated."

Lieutenant General Kuldip Singh Brar[43], then Major General who commanded Indian Army soldiers to enter the Golden Temple, defending the attack

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.”[44]

The assassination of Indira Gandhi and subsequent anti-Sikh riots

File:The place where Indira Gandhi was assassinated.jpg
The place where Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984 by two of her Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh in New Delhi.

On the morning of 31 October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot-dead by two Sikh security guards (Satwant Singh and Beant Singh) in New Delhi. The assassination triggered fulminant violence against Sikhs 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 against the Sikhs[citation needed]. 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[citation needed]. Sixteen politicians were named as organisers of the riots. Many senior Congress leader were also indicted.[citation needed]

Other political parties, such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongly condemned the riots.[45] The Sikh author Khushwant Singh stated:

"It was the Congress leaders who instigated mobs in 1984 and got more than 3000 people killed. I must give due credit to RSS and the BJP for showing courage and protecting helpless Sikhs during those difficult days. No less a person than Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself intervened at a couple of places to help poor taxi drivers."[46]

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.[47] 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 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 Sikh militancy in Punjab, in response to alleged human rights violations by Indian Army and Punjab Police. On October 7, 1987, Khalistan was declared an independent state, and Council of Khalistan, headed by Dr. Gurmit Singh Aulakh, was formed[citation needed].

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, near Lalru in Punjab.[48] According to Human Rights Watch "In the beginning on the 1980s, Sikh separatists in Punjab committed serious human rights abuses, including the massacre of civilians, attacks upon non-Sikhs in the state, and indiscriminate bomb attacks in crowded places.[49] While the militants enjoyed some support within the Sikh separatists in the earlier period, the support for Sikh militants gradually disappeared.[50] 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.[51]

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.[52][53][54][55][56]

The pro-Khalistan organization International Human Rights Organization 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.[57] Amnesty International has also alleged several cases of appearances, torture, rape and unlawful detentions by the police during Punjab insurgency, for which 75-100 police officers had been convicted by December 2002.[58]

In reference to research Reduced to Ashes Book by a human rights group[59][60] Khushwant Singh 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".[59]

"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 [61]

Air India Flight 182

The main suspects in the bombing were the members of a Sikh separatist group called the Babbar Khalsa 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[62] that an hitherto unnamed person, Lakhbir Singh Brar Rode had masterminded the explosions.

Khalistan millitant outfits

  1. Babbar Khalsa International (BKI)
  2. Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF)
  3. International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF)
  4. Khalistan Commando Force (KCF)
  5. All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF)
  6. Bhindranwala Tigers Force of Khalistan (BTFK)
  7. Khalistan Liberation Army (KLA)
  8. Khalistan Liberation Front (KLF)
  9. Khalistan Armed Force (KAF)
  10. Dashmesh Regiment
  11. Khalistan Liberation Organisation (KLO)
  12. Khalistan National Army (KNA)
  13. Kamagata Maru Dal of Khalistan
  14. Shaheed Khalsa Force
  15. Khalistan Guerilla Force
  16. Khalistan Security Force

After the movement for Khalistan rose, many outfits were created. The most known are Babbar Khalsa, 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 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:[63]

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 growing power of the Indian Armed Forces. The Sikh community maintains its own unique identity and is socially assimilated in cosmopolitan areas. India presently has a Sikh Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 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.[64]. The separatist movement was popular in the Sikh diaspora in Europe and North America.[65]

See also

Further reading

  • Punjab: The Knights of Falsehood by K P S Gill
  • The Ghost of Khalistan - Sikh Times
  • Jaskaran Kaur, Barbara Crossette. Twenty Years of Impunity: The November 1984 Pogroms of Sikhs in India. London: Nectar, 2004.[66]
  • Parvinder Singh. 1984 Sikhs' Kristallnacht. 28-page report, 2009.[67]
  • 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, 2003.[68]
  • 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.


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  2. ^ "Ludhiana: Sikh separatists-Jihadi link suspected". 2004-12-31. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  3. ^ Sun, Vancouver (2007-07-29). "Avowed Sikh separatist keeps the faith". Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  4. ^ Colonist, Times (2008-03-11). "Sikh separatists in Canada concern Indian government". Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  5. ^ Jolly, Asit (2006-03-08). "Sikh separatist remanded in India". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  6. ^ "25 years on, few takers for Khalistan in Canada". Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
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  9. ^ Haresh Pandya (11 April 2007). "Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Sikh Militant Leader in India, Dies at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 August 2008. 
  10. ^ Nayar, Kuldip; Kushwant Singh (1985). Tragedy of Punjab. India: Vision Books Pvt. Ltd.. p. 51. ISBN 1851270698. 
  11. ^ Singh, Satinder (1982). Khalistan: An Academic Analysis. Delhi & Punjab: Amar Prakashan. p. 114. 
  12. ^ Sikh Temple Sit-In Is a Challenge for Punjab, The New York Times February 2, 1986
  13. ^ "Amnesty International report on Punjab". Amnesty International. 2003-01-20. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  14. ^ "SAD (A) to contest the coming SGPC elections on Khalistan issue: Mann". 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  15. ^ "Radical Sikh group again voices ‘Khalistan’ demand". Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Opinion / Leader Page Articles : The road home from Khalistan". The Hindu. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  18. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Punjab". Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  19. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Punjab". Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  20. ^ "Punjab police withdrawn sedition charges against Daljit Bittu". 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  21. ^ Punj, Balbair (June 16, 2005 title=The Ghost of Khalistan). Sikh Times. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  22. ^ A Demographic Case Study of Forced Migration: The 1947 Partition of India Authors: Hill K, Seltzer W, Leaning J, Malik SJ, Russell SS4, Makinson C,
  23. ^ The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia By Tai Yong Tan, Gyanesh Kudaisya, Published 2000, Routledge
  24. ^ Singh, Patwant (1999). The Sikhs. John Murray. 
  25. ^ The Statesman, Calcutta, July 7, 1946 quoting Jawaharlal Nehru in Patwant Singh, The Sikhs, London: John Murray, 1999, p. 37.
  26. ^ Congress Records, quoted in Singh, Iqbal, Punjab Under Siege: A Critical Analysis, New York: Allen, McMillan and Enderson, 1986, p. 38.
  27. ^ Singh, Gurmit, History of Sikh Struggles, New Delhi: South Asia Books, 1989, p. 110-111
  28. ^ <The Sikhs: History, Religion, and Society By W. H. McLeod,Published 1991, Columbia University Press
  29. ^ The Sikhs as a "Minority" in a Sikh Majority State in India, by Paul Wallace, Asian Survey, 1986 University of California Press
  30. ^ a b "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Opinions". The Tribune (Chandigarh, India: 2003-11-03. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  31. ^ Singh, Kapur, Sachi Sakhi, Amritsar: SGPC, 1993, p. 4-5. Kapur Singh was one of the officials who received a copy of the memorandum and speaks as an insider.
  32. ^ Ibid, p. 95.
  33. ^ Ibid, p. 96.
  34. ^ States have full ownership and exclusive legislative and executive powers to their river waters under Articles 246(3) and 162 of the Indian Constitution.
  35. ^ Singh, Gurdev, “Punjab River Waters”, Chandigarh: Institute of Sikh Studies, 2002. (last accessed, May 12, 2004).
  36. ^ "Anandpur Sahib Resolution". 1972-12-11. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  37. ^ Deol, Harnik, Religion and Nationalism in India: The Case of the Punjab, London: Routledge, 2000, p. 101-102.
  38. ^ The Wall Street Journal, 26 September 1983.
  39. ^ a b Deol, Harnik, Religion and Nationalism in India: The Case of the Punjab, London: Routledge, 2000, p. 105.
  40. ^ "Chapter 5". Discrimination Based on Sex, Caste, Religion and Disability A Conceptual Framework. National Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  41. ^ Deol, Harnik, Religion and Nationalism in India: The Case of the Punjab, London: Routledge, 2000, p. 106.
  42. ^ Quoted in Brar, K.S., Operation Blue Star: The True Story, New Delhi: UBSPD, 1993, p. 74.
  43. ^ "'Pakistan would have recognised Khalistan'". June 3, 2004. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  44. ^ Swami, Subramaniam, Imprint, July 1984, p. 7-8. Quoted in Kumar, Ram Narayan, et al., [[Reduced to Ashes Book|Reduced to Ashes: The Insurgency and Human Rights in Punjab, Kathmandu: South Asia Forum for Human Rights, 2003, p. 34. (Hereafter, Reduced to Ashes.)
  45. ^ Swadesh Bahadur Singh (editor of the Sher-i-Panjâb weekly): “Cabinet berth for a Sikh”, Indian Express, 31 May 1996.
  46. ^ K. Singh: “Congress (I) is the Most Communal Party”, Publik Asia, 16 November 1989.
  47. ^ Kumar, Ram Narayan, et al., Reduced to Ashes, p. 43.
  48. ^ Gunment Slaughter 38 on Bus in India in Bloodiest Attack of Sikh Campaign. July 7, 1987. Page A03. The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  49. ^ Human Rights Watch; Time for India to Deliver Justice in Punjab]
  50. ^ Mahmood, Cynthia. Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Maine, Orono. Fax to Ted Albers, Resource Information Center, (Orono, Maine, 5 May 1997), 4p.
  51. ^ Documentation, Information and Research Branch, Immigration and Refugee Board, DIRB-IRB. India: Information from four specialists on the Punjab, Response to Information Request #IND26376.EX, 17 February 1997 (Ottawa, Canada).
  52. ^ "Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India: I. Summary". Human Rights Watch. 2006-10-09. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  53. ^ Special Broadcasting Service:: Dateline - presented by George Negus
  54. ^ "The Hindu: Opinion / News Analysis: Is justice possible without looking for the truth?". The Hindu:. 2005-09-09. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  55. ^ "Missing justice for 'disappearances' in Punjab - June 2003". India Together. June 2003. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  56. ^ "India: A vital opportunity to end impunity in Punjab". Amnesty International USA. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  57. ^ (5) IHRO WATCH- May 1991 | IHRO
  58. ^ "Document - India: Break the cycle of impunity and torture in Punjab | Amnesty International". Amnesty International. 2003. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  59. ^ a b Singh, Khushwant (20 June 2003). "K. P. S. Gill you have questions to answer". The Hindustan Times. 
  60. ^ Singh, Baldev (February, 2004), "Changing Interpretation of Khushwant Singh", Sikh Spectrum Quarterly (15), 
  61. ^ "ASW". 1992. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  62. ^ "Free. Fair. Fearless". Tehelka. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  63. ^ Singh, Gurharpal, Ethnic Conflict in India: A Case-Study of Punjab, New York: St. Martin’s Press, Inc., 2000, p. 133 (adapted).
  64. ^ Kumar, Ram Narayan, et al., Reduced to Ashes: The Insurgency and Human Rights in Punjab, p. IV.
  65. ^ Beyond Khalistan? The Sikh Diaspora and the International Order by Prof. Giorgio Shani [1]
  66. ^ "Ensaaf › Publications › Reports › Twenty Years of Impunity". 2004-06-29. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  67. ^ "1984 Sikhs Kristallnacht" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  68. ^

External links

Khālistān (Punjabi: ਖ਼ਾਲਿਸਤਾਨ) is a proposed Sikh homeland, possibly theocratic [1][2][3] and possibly democratic.[4][5][6]

The separatist movement for Khalistan rose to its peak in the 1980s in India. Khalistan had support among overseas Sikh communities, including the UK.[7][8]



In the 1970s and 80s, a movement began in the Indian state of Punjab to secede from the Indian Union and create a separate sovereign Sikh state of Khalistan. Supported by many Punjabis, Sikh immigrants and refugees abroad as well as the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence[9][10] agency, the movement reached its peak during mid 1980s under Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who along with a group of supporters got ready to protect the Golden Temple compound at Amritsar. After the death of Bhindranwale and his supporters and untold numbers of visitors to the Harmandir Sahib in Operation Bluestar the movement slowly ebbed out, primarily due to the loss of popular support. The movement also hindered economic investment, became increasingly militant in nature, and threw Punjab into a state of anarchy with increased levels of freedom. The movement was also countered by operations conducted by the Indian Army and the Punjab Police. Template:Fact

After the bombing of Air India Flight 182 that claimed the lives of 329 Canadian civilians off Ireland's south coast on 23 June 1985, the worst aviation terrorist attack before September 11, 2001 attacks, support for Khalistan lessened to a large extent. Those prosecuted were accused of being Sikh terrorist separatists.Template:Fact Inderjit Singh Reyat was sentenced to ten years after pleading guilty to manslaughter in 1989.[11] The other two Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri were found not guilty for lack of admissible evidence and released.

Canadian journalists Zuhair Kashmeri and Brian McAndrew in their book Soft Target propounded a conspiracy theory that the Government of India could have staged the attack to portray the separatists in bad light. This book was later viewed by the official Commission of Inquiry in Canada as a work of fiction based on the events surrounding Flight 182 especially after the plead of guilt by Inderjit Singh Reyat[12]

Other prominent journalists who have had death threats against them for their investigative journalism include Vancouver Sun journalist Kim Bolan and Tara Singh Hayer, who was murdered on November 18 1998. In 1999, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression renamed its Press Freedom Award the "Tara Singh Hayer Press Freedom Award" in Hayer's honour. Each year, the award is given to a Canadian journalist who, through his or her work, has made an important contribution to reinforcing and promoting the principle of freedom of the press in Canada or elsewhere.

Groups which openly support Khalistan have been under surveillance in the UK.[13]


According to the Khalistan web-site:

The geographical boundaries of Khalistan will include current India Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pardesh and River Ravi on the west and river Jamuna on the east will be some of the boundary lines between Khalistan & Pakistan, Khalistan & India respectively. In the north, part of Himalayan range and in south, part of Thar Desert will make the geographical boundaries of Khalistan.[14]


  1. Kapur, Rajiv A. (Oct. 1987). "'Khalistan': India's Punjab problem". Third World Quarterly (Taylor & Francis, Ltd.) 9 (4): 1206-1224. Retrieved on June 2009. 
  2. Gupte, Pranay (December 10, 1992). "This Is Not Hinduism and India Should Not Abide It". The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-06-30. 
  4. Extensions of Remarks - May 26, 1994 by HON. PETER T. KING of New York in THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Proceedings and Debates of 103rd Congress (First Session)
  5. Document submitted from Council of Khalistan in the Extensions of Remarks - April 15, 1997 by Edolphus Towns of New York in THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES as Congressional Record, pp E664
  6. A History of The Sikh People -Dr Gopal Singh ISBN 8170231396 page 701 - 'If, however, India was to be divided, the Sikhs would demand and independent sovereign Sikh state with its own Constituent Assembly'
  7. "BBC NEWS | Programmes | File on 4 | Sikh separatists 'funded from UK'". Last Updated:. Retrieved on 2008-11-12. 
  8. "Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1997 - appendix B" (in English). U. S. Department of State. 1997. Retrieved on 2009-05-25. 
  9. Jaffrelot, Christophe (2004). A History Of Pakistan And Its Origins. Anthem South Asian Studies. Anthem Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-1843311492. 
  10. Shah, Mehtab Ali (1997). The Foreign Policy of Pakistan: Ethnic Impacts on Diplomacy, 1971-1994. I.B.Tauris. p. 23. ISBN 978-1860641695. 
  11. Sentencing Inderjit Singh Reyat
  12. Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182 TERRORISM, INTELLIGENCE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT – CANADA’S RESPONSE TO SIKH TERRORISM DOSSIER 2)
  13. "Proscribed terrorist groups | Home Office". Retrieved on 2008-11-12. 
  14. " - Khalistan the New Global Reality". Retrieved on 2008-11-12. 


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|250px|National flag of Khalistan]] The Khalistan movement is a political movement that wants to create an independent state for Sikh people, inside the current Republic of India. Such a state already existed, in Punjab from 1799 to 1849. It was called the Sikh Empire. The new state created would be called Khalistan (Doabi:ਖਾਲਿਸਤਾਨ ), its capital would be Chandigarh.

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 planned political move by the Indian National Congress. [4]

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 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 with the exception of Indian-administered Kashmir, which is disputed by Pakistan. 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 people live in repression and oppression.[6] 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.[7]

People in the US who supported the idea of Khalistan include Dan Burton[8], Jesse Helms[9] and Edolphus Towns.[10] Other people who sympathise are Eric Lubbock, fourth Baron Avebury[11] and Lord Nazir Ahmed.[12]

The Republic of China (Taiwan), State of Israel, Bangladesh, Qatar, Kuwait, Singapore and other states recognize Sikh integrity and freedom.[needs proof]


  1. Haresh Pandya (11 April 2007). "Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Sikh Militant Leader in India, Dies at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 August 2008. 
  2. "Sikh separatists 'funded from UK'". BBC. 4 March 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2008. 
  3. Nayar, Kuldip; Kushwant Singh (1985). Tragedy of Punjab. India: Vision Books Pvt. Ltd.. pp. 51. ISBN 1851270698. 
  4. Singh, Satinder (1982). Khalistan: An Academic Analysis. Delhi & Punjab: Amar Prakashan. pp. 114. 
  5. Sikh Temple sit-in is a challenge for Punjab. The New York Times, 2 February 1986
  6. Amnesty International report on Punjab
  7. The Ghost of Khalistan,Sikh Times
  8. Dr. Aulakh, others expose Indian human rights violations at Congressional Hearing
  9. Studying the Sikhs: issues for North America By John Stratton Hawley, Gurinder Singh Mann, 1993 SUNY Press
  10. 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.
  11. (8) IHRO Watch- August 1991
  12. Self determination: the only basis for human rights in South Asia Sunday 31 July 2005.


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