Why are some Sikhs calling for a separate homeland in India?

Why are some Sikhs calling for a separate homeland in India?
Pro-Khalistan supporters protesting in front of the Indian Consulate in Toronto in Julyshabby Graphics

After Canada said it was looking into” credible allegations probably linking” the American state to the death of a dissident president in British Columbia, political tensions over calls for an independent homeland for Sikhs in India have risen.

India has refuted the claims, calling them” ironic.”

Here is a brief overview of the history and present situation for those who are unfamiliar with this long-running discussion:

Sikhism: Who are they and where do they reside?

One of the major religions in the world, Sikhism was established in 1947 in Punjab, a place that is now part of India and Pakistan and was split between the two nations following the fall of English rule.

Sikhs are the fifth-largest religious team in the world, with about 25 million of them.

They account for about 2 % of the 1.4 billion people in India, where the vast majority resides. However, there are also sizable community groups.

With 780, 000 Sikhs making up more than 2 % of the country’s inhabitants, Canada has the largest people outside of India. In contrast, the US, UK, and Australia each have about 500 000 and 200 000, respectively.

Why do some Sikhs want their own country?

The Khalistan motion demands an Indian Sikh country with independence.

In Punjab, an Indian state, the activity reached its zenith in the 1980s, when a string of violent attacks and hundreds of fatalities occurred there.

After specific operations by Indian armed forces against the action, it lost steam.

According to Prof. Shruti Kapila of the University of Cambridge, politics in contemporary Punjab have shifted away from the action and calls for freedom are not a lot placement.

However, despite growing calls for democracy in recent years, Sikh community supporters have persisted in calling for a separate state.

Map showing Amritsar and Punjab

Why does Khalistan care so much about the government of India?

India has been adamantly opposed to the Khalistan activity. All major political parties, including Punjab, have criticized fury and segregation.

The smashing of the Golden Temple and the assassination of Indira Gandhi were the results of long-running conflicts in contemporary American history.

The holiest page for Sikhs was stormed by American military forces in June 1984, and militant separatists hiding in the temple complex in Amritsar were driven out.

Indira Gandhi, the then-prime minister, had given the order for the assault, which resulted in numerous fatalities and major harm to the Golden Temple.

Two of Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards killed her a few months after the procedure, sparking four nights of violence and intercommunal violence.

The majority of those killed were Sikhs, numbering in the hundreds. Estimates range from 3, 000 to 17, 000 useless.

Because the wrinkles from the crime in the 1980s are still visible, Khalistan is a red line for India.

No American government can afford to ignore the Khalistan problem in the interest of diplomatic diplomatic relations because all political parties in India are united in their antagonism to Sikh freedom.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was he?

At the age of 45, American member Hardeep Singh Nijjar was killed by gunfire outside a Sikh temple on June 18.

In 1997, he immigrated to Canada from the Punjabi community of Bharsinghpur in Jalandhar.

He started out as a handyman before rising to prominence as an Sikh leader in the province of British Columbia in eastern Canada.

Due to his alleged ties to the Khalistan Tiger Force, an organization fighting for an independent Khistan in India’s Punjab location, India declared him a terror in 2020.

His followers referred to these charges as” unfounded” and claimed that because of his engagement, he had previously been the target of threats.

According to reports in the American media, at the time of his passing, he was preparing an unauthorised referendum for an independent Sikh state in India.

The next well-known Hindu figure to have passed away unexpectedly in recent months is Mr. Nijjar.

How does India exert force on Sikhs living abroad?

The growing stress India has placed on the governments of three nations with sizable Hindu communities: Canada, Australia, and the UK, serves as the backdrop for the political tensions.

The Indian government has made it clear that failing to combat what it refers to as” Hindu extremism” would be a barrier to good relationships.

American officials stated that they would investigate pro-Khalistan activists’ vandalism of Buddhist temples but would not obstruct Australian Sikhs from speaking out in favor of an independent homeland.

Canada has come under fire for Delhi’s most frank critique of what it perceives as a failure to combat the pro-Khalistan movement that. Justin Trudeau, the prime minister, has vowed to put an end to the ongoing violence but has also resisted” foreign disturbance.”

A dispute broke out in the UK in March as a result of demonstrations outside the Indian High Commission in London, during which people waved yellow” Khalistan” flags and one of the building’s first-floor ledge was stripped of its American flag.

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