Khalistan Movement

Khalistan Movement

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the Topic details “Khalistan Movement”. This Topic has relevance in the Security section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

About the Khalistan Movement?

Anandpur Sahib Resolution?

For Mains:

GS 3: Security

Khalistan and Canada?

History of demand for Khalistan?

Why in the news:

India has refuted the Canadian claim that a well-known pro-Khalistan activist was assassinated by Indian agents “on Canadian territory.”

The Khalistan Movement: 

  • The Khalistan movement represents a longstanding struggle for the establishment of a separate and sovereign Sikh state in the region of Punjab, encompassing parts of both India and Pakistan.
  • The movement faced severe repression in India, mainly through military operations like Operation Blue Star in 1984 and subsequent operations known as Operation Black Thunder in 1986 and 1988. 
  • Operation Blue Star was initiated on June 1, 1984, with the primary objectives of flushing out militants from the Golden Temple and neutralizing Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a prominent leader associated with the Khalistan movement.
  • In India, the Khalistan movement and its affiliated groups have been outlawed, with government authorities regarding them as a significant national security threat.
  • Despite its suppression in India, the Khalistan movement retains a degree of support, particularly in North India and among the Sikh diaspora living in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom.


Khalistan and Canada

  • Canada hosts a substantial Sikh population, making Sikhs the fastest-growing religious group, accounting for 2.1 percent of the country’s population as per the 2021 Canadian census. Canada boasts the world’s second-largest Sikh population, following India.
  • In 2002, a Toronto-based Punjabi-language publication, Sanjh Savera, marked Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary with a cover illustration depicting her assassination. The magazine received government advertisements and has since become a prominent daily in Canada.
  • Furthermore, in Brampton, which is home to Canada’s largest Sikh population, a pro-Khalistan organization known as Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) conducted what they termed a “referendum” on Khalistan in recent years.


The Khalistan Movement: Origins and Causes

  • The Khalistan movement traces its roots back to the period surrounding India’s independence and the subsequent Partition in 1947, which resulted in the division of the Punjab province between India and Pakistan. This division brought about some of the most severe communal violence in history and created millions of refugees.


Partition’s Impact on Sikhs

  • Lahore, the historical capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s vast Sikh Empire, became a part of Pakistan during the Partition. Additionally, several holy Sikh sites, including Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak (the founder of Sikhism), also fell within Pakistan’s borders. This left a significant portion of Sikhs in India, but they constituted only a small minority, making up approximately 2 percent of India’s population.


Struggle for Autonomy and States Reorganisation

  • The political struggle for greater autonomy for Sikhs began in the post-independence period, with the emergence of the Punjabi Suba Movement, which advocated for the creation of a Punjabi-speaking state. However, the 1955 report of the States Reorganisation Commission rejected this demand.
  • Years of persistent protests finally led to a significant development in 1966, as the state of Punjab was reorganized to accommodate the Punjabi Suba demand. The erstwhile Punjab state was divided into three parts: Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, which were Hindi-speaking and Hindu-majority states, and the Punjabi-speaking, Sikh-majority Punjab. This move aimed to address the linguistic and cultural aspirations of the people of Punjab, particularly the Sikhs, who sought greater autonomy and recognition. However, it also laid the foundation for ongoing demands for an independent Sikh state, Khalistan.


The Anandpur Sahib Resolution: A Catalyst for the Khalistan Movement

  • In 1973, leaders of the Akali Dal convened in Anandpur Sahib, a sacred town and the birthplace of the Khalsa, and unveiled a significant document known as the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. This resolution outlined a series of demands that would shape the political trajectory of the Akali Dal, a Sikh political party.


Key Demands of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution:

  • Autonomy for Punjab: It sought greater political autonomy for the state of Punjab.
  • Identification of Regions: The resolution identified specific regions that would form part of a potential separate Sikh state.
  • Right to Frame Constitution: It aimed to secure the right for Punjab to frame its internal constitution.


Building on the Punjabi Suba Movement

  • The Akali Dal, through the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, aimed to capitalize on the growing demand for autonomy that had been brewing alongside the Punjabi Suba movement. This demand for autonomy had gained international attention by 1971 when an advertisement appeared in The New York Times declaring the birth of Khalistan.


The Emergence of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale

  • Within Punjab, the quest for autonomy evolved into something more profound. One influential figure in this transformation was Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a charismatic preacher who positioned himself as the authentic voice of the Sikh community. Bhindranwale garnered a substantial following, particularly among the youth, including those from marginalized backgrounds.


Shift to Radical Action

  • By 1982, Bhindranwale had taken up residence inside the Golden Temple and began orchestrating demonstrations and clashes with the police. The movement aligned itself with the objectives outlined in the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. However, amidst growing religious polarization, sectarian violence, and Bhindranwale’s inflammatory rhetoric against Hindus, the Indian government deemed the movement tantamount to secession.

Aftermath of Operation Blue Star

  • The culmination of this tension was Operation Blue Star in 1984, which aimed to flush out militants from the Golden Temple and neutralize Bhindranwale. This operation not only wounded the Sikh community worldwide but also intensified the demand for Khalistan.
  • Following Operation Blue Star, Punjab became the epicenter of a protracted insurgency that lasted until 1995, characterized by violence, political turmoil, and the enduring struggle for Khalistan.



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Q.1 Operation Black Thunder is related to:

(a) Khalistan Movement

(b) Maoist Movement

(c) Naga Movement

(d) Bodoland Movement


Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding the Demands of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution:

  1. The resolution identified specific regions that would form part of a potential separate Sikh nation, Khalistan.
  2. It aimed to secure the right of Punjab to frame its internal constitution.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? 

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.3 Separatist movements are a result of lopsided federalism. comment

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