Khalistan movement refers to a global political secessionist movement which seeks to create a separate Sikh state, called Khālistān (Punjabi: ਖ਼ਾਲਿਸਤਾਨ, "The Land of the Pure") in the Punjab region of South Asia. The territorial definition of the proposed state consists of the state of the Punjab region.
The Khalistan movement reached its zenith in 1970s and 1980s, flourishing in the Indian state of Punjab, which has a Sikh-majority population and has been the traditional birthplace and homeland of the Sikh religion. Various pro-Khalistan outfits have been involved in a separatist movement against the government of India ever since. There are claims of funding from Sikhs outside India to attract young people into these pro-Khalistan militant groups.
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. On 12 April 1980, he held a meeting with the Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi before declaring the formation of "National Council of Khalistan", at Anandpur Sahib. He declared himself as the President of the Council 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 the Sikh leader Harchand Singh Longowal as a political stunt by the Congress(I) party of Indira Gandhi.
In the 1980s, some of the Khalistan proponents turned to militancy, resulting in counter-militancy operations by the Indian security forces. In one such operation, Operation Blue Star (June 1984), the Indian Army led by the Sikh General Kuldip Singh Brar forcibly entered the Harmandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) to overpower the armed militants and the religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The handling of the operation, damage to the Akal Takht (which is one of the five seats of temporal physical religious authority of the Sikhs) 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. The Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards in retaliation. Following her death, thousands of Sikhs including those opposed to the Khalistan movement, were massacred in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, termed as a genocide by the Sikh groups.
In January 1986, the Golden Temple was occupied by militants belonging to All India Sikh Students Federation and Damdami Taksal. On 26 January 1986, the gathering passed a resolution (gurmattā) favouring the creation of Khalistan. Subsequently, a number of rebel militant groups in favour of Khalistan waged a major insurgency against the government of India. Indian security forces suppressed the insurgency in the early 1990s, but Sikh political groups such as the Khalsa Raj Party and SAD (A) continued to pursue an independent Khalistan through non-violent means. Pro-Khalistan organizations such as Dal Khalsa (International) are also active outside India, supported by a section of the Sikh diaspora.
Read more about Khalistan Movement: Punjabi Suba, Khalistan National Council, Politics of The Early 1980s, Operation Blue Star, Assassination of Indira Gandhi and Massacre of Sikhs, Rise of Militancy, Rajiv-Longowal Accord, Present Situation
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