By: Javed Iqbal
Khalistan Movement is the acme of ‘Azad Khalistan’ in Indian Punjab:
The Khalistan movement has abruptly picked up steam in India. Holding a majority of Sikhs, Indian Punjab has resonated with the name of ‘Khalistan’. Punjab’s young generation is given a signal to make sacrifices for their freedom. Amrit Pal Singh, the head of the Waris Punjab organization, the movement’s leader, has instantly taken on the leadership of the Indian Punjabi people. Angry protesters took to the streets against the Modi administration’s slavery. Punjab is resounding with calls for liberation from Khalistan to Kashmir. “Now, we will not adhere to being slaves, we will not agree to Punjab’s water being used illegally, and we can not tolerate and stand by, while our gurus and places of worship are desecrated. The conflict may not stop until Kashmir and Punjab are free”.
Clashes between supporters of Khalistan and the police have become commonplace. On the one hand, the Azad Khalistan movement has gained momentum since Modi took office; on the other, young people like Amrit Pal Singh have grown to be a headache for Modi. It should be noted that Waris Punjab is the name of the group that is currently in charge of this activity in Indian Punjab.
Formation of Waris Punjab: Amrit Pal outstripped the movement
In September 2021, Waris Punjab was founded to defend the rights of the Sikh community. Amrit Pal assumed leadership of the group after Deep Sidhu, the organization’s founder, died in a car accident. And, he planned a Dastar Bandi ceremony at Bhindranwale, the Sikhs’ spiritual center. On this significant occasion, Amrit Pal wore a Bhindranwala-inspired outfit, and tens of thousands of his fans chanted pro-Khalistan slogans. “I gained inspiration from Bhandranwala. I shall go down his path. Every Sikh aspires to be like him, and while I do the same. I am not even close to copying him; I am not even the dust of his shoes”, Amrit Pal stated while addressing his followers.
Amrit Pal Sidhu:
Amrit Pal Singh Sidhu, a supporter of Khalistan, is 29 years old and operates a transport company in Dubai with his father. Amrit Pal, who speaks English, Hindi, and Punjabi well, has been compared to pro-Khalistan activist Jarnail Singh Bhandranwale, who died in Operation Blue Star in 1984. Amrit Pal Singh, known as Bhindranwala 2.0, threatened Home Minister Amit Shah with a fate akin to that of Indira Gandhi. Amrit Pal Singh’s social media accounts were all suspended last year as a result of pressure from the Modi administration.
A month ago, supporters of ‘Waris Punjab De’, led by Amrit Pal, staged a storm at Ajnala Police Station against the detention of Tofan Singh. Amritpal Singh argued in a press conference before the invasion at the police station that if a Hindu could discuss creating Rashtriya and shout slogans in support of it, and if people could be motivated by communism to create a communist state, then why should the desire for a peaceful Khalistan be treated as a crime? The rapidly growing popularity of pro-Khalistan young preacher Amrit Pal has alarmed the security agencies and the Modi administration.
Government’s rejoinder against Amrit Pal:
The Indian government has launched an operation against Amrit Pal and his associates, against whom riots have erupted in Indian Punjab. In this regard, the authorities have issued high alert in Punjab and other states. The Indian government is deploying paramilitary forces including increasing police security in Punjab to disperse the protesters. And, preparations are on the peak for imposing Governor System in order to abolish the common man’s rule in Punjab. The scope of protest of Sikh protesters has spread abroad.
The cumulative effect of the Khalistan Movement in foreign countries: If Khalistan is founded, will India’s occupation of Kashmir end?
On Monday, pro-Khalistan Sikh activists took down the Indian tricolor and put up the Khalistan flag at the High Commission in London. Sikh youth raised slogans against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanded the establishment of Khalistan. Earlier last month, supporters of the Khalistan movement hoisted the Khalistan flag on the Indian consulate in Brisbane, Australia. Conversely, the Khalistan Referendum campaign is also progressing quickly in nations in Western Europe. The international advocacy group Sikhs for Justice is sponsoring the Khalistan Referendum as a community-sponsored election ‘Sikhs For Justice’ (SFJ). The Sikhs are being invited to weigh in on whether Punjab should become an independent nation in a referendum campaign. Sikhs for Justice is a group that was founded in the USA in 2007. Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, a law graduate of Punjab University who works in the US, is the umbrella of the organization. He also serves as this organization’s legal counsel. He had launched an initiative to arrange a Khalistan-supporting referendum in 2020. Pannu says that in August 2018, the London Declaration stated that the organization would poll Sikhs around the world in support of Khalistan.
It is said that after conducting referendums in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Kenya, Middle East and Indian Punjab, they will knock on the door of the United Nations to achieve their goal. Currently, the population of Sikhs living in India is between two and a half to three million, while in other countries there are around five million. Along with the referendum, the Sikhs have also released a map of the proposed country for the first time, which shows Sikh-majority provinces like Punjab, Haryana and Sikh-majority districts of provinces like Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan as part of Khalistan.
The current state of affairs indicates that India will be powerless to halt the Khalistan movement. Sikhs will undoubtedly achieve their goal eventually. India won’t be able to maintain control of these regions for very long, whether it’s in Kashmir, Assam, or Khalistan. India’s occupation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir would come to an end once Khalistan is established. Because Khalistan is the sole road that connects India to Occupied Kashmir. Currently, the Muslims in the prospective state of Khalistan support the Khalistan Movement, whereas the Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir support the Kashmir Liberation Movement.
Since voting began in London on October 31, 2021, the governments of Britain, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and Italy have allowed the Khalistan referendum to take place, despite protests from India, in which more than 5 million Sikhs have voted so far. On behalf of Sikhs for Justice, a referendum was held in Brisbane, Australia two years ago. Before that, a referendum was also held in Melbourne where 50 thousand Sikhs voted in favor of Khalistan where 50 thousand Sikhs voted in favor of Khalistan, while the third referendum in Australia will be held in June this year. After the diplomatic failure to stop the Khalistan referendum, India tried to influence the voting process through cyber attacks but failed. The participants in the referendum say that the results of the referendum will make it clear to the world that Sikhs want independence. Indian Punjab will soon emerge on the map of the world as an independent country, the capital of which will be Shimla. India cannot deprive the Sikhs of their right to freedom by force.
The demand for an independent state by the Sikh community has a distinct history:
The Sikh community’s demand for an independent state does not date back to the time of India-Pakistan partition, but has a separate history of its own. The first Sikh religious leader Guru Gobind Singh proposed a separate state for the Sikhs in the name of Khalsa in 1699. The Congress leaders had assured the Sikh leaders in 1929 that they would be given a semi-independent state with religious freedom. But after partition, the Indian government reneged on its promise. In 1966, Punjab was partitioned after a false census and the new states of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana were created. After which the Sikhs decided that they would get independence from India, in 1969 Sardar Jagjit Singh Chauhan, the former finance minister of the United Indian Punjab, announced the independent state of Khalistan and founded the Khalistan movement. President of Khalistan National Council Jagjit Singh Chauhan issued the flag, passport and identity card of Khalistan. Even today there is the Khalistan National Council whose members are living in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada.
These questions are being posed with tremendous fervor in the context of India’s current circumstances. Is rising Hindutva fanaticism causing India to descend into civil war? Would global human rights organizations pay attention to the crimes against Muslims and Sikhs in India? Both nationally and internationally, separatist movements in India are now being addressed. The number of diplomatic encounters amongst Sikh leaders has increased. Also, a coordinated diplomatic conflict has started, which has alarmed the Indian government and Indian diplomats abroad. After all of this, the Modi government’s policies are receiving harsh criticism. Indian opposition groups have already blamed the Modi administration for the country’s deterioration. Because, the violent approach of the Modi government has forced the minority nations of India to create this kind of situation. At this time in India, the lives and properties of other minority nations, including Muslims and Sikhs, are not secured.