Continuous failures on all fronts have always created a state of panic among the political and military leadership of Pakistan. As on date, the credibility and morale of the institutions handling programmes-related to causing distress in India have been at its lowest since the birth of Pakistan. To reinstate the faith of its citizens on the Islamic State of Pakistan, they are trying hard to refuel the inert Khalistan movement.
The recent official report of ‘PREVENT Review’ tabled on February 8, 2023, by the senior British official William Shaw Cross has sparked a controversy in the media and activist circles of London. The report has been appreciated across the world and also have faced criticisms from few socio-political organisations and media platforms. This report has stirred up a hornet’s nest in the Left liberal intelligentsia.
In April, 2022 when the then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was on an official visit to India, he declared that both India and England have agreed to set up an “anti-extremist task force” so to tackle the “Khalistani extremist” who were “threatening India”.
Protests in London
On January 26, 2018, a demonstration for the independence of Kashmir and Khalistan was organised outside the Indian High Commission of London. It was led by a previously expelled Pakistani-origin British Parliamentarian accused of serial sexual abuses (including on women and children). His name was Lord Nazir Ahmed.
The protestors planned the rally to coincide with India’s Republic Day. Billboard vans with messages such as “India Leave Kashmir: Free Kashmir”, “Khalistan Zindabad” and “70 Years of Indian Brutality” were seen during the demonstration. Similar other protests were organised in different parts of the country by the same group, led by Lord Ahmed.
Over 2,000 pro-Khalistan demonstrators took part in a rally organised by the United States-based outfit, “Sikhs for Justice” (SFJ), on Trafalgar Square in London on August 12, 2018. According to sources in the Punjab Government, the rally in London was aimed to campaign and mobilise support for “Referendum 2020” (also known as “Khalistan Referendum-2020).
Notably, neither any prominent Sikh leader from the US, Canada or the UK, nor any elected head of the UK Gurdwaras participated in the rally. The demonstrators waved flags designed by the SFJ and those from separatist Kashmiri groups.
Understanding Between AAP & Khalistani Forces
In the 2017 Punjab elections, the advocated a soft and supportive stand on the Khalistan issue. AAP’s Khalistan connection was exposed when a photo revealing the banned “International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF)”, chief operative Gurdial Singh working for the AAP MLA Jaikishan Singh Rodi, from Garhshankar, during Assembly elections, surfaced.
Manjeet Sehgal, in his report, dated June 5, 2017, published in India Today, detailed the connection between AAP and Khalistani supporters. Manjeet writes “Khalistan connections continue to haunt the Aam Aadmi Party. After the allegations of election funding from the hardliner Sikh groups, the party has courted a fresh controversy as one of the three hardliner Khalistani terrorists, arrested from Nawanshahar and Hoshiarpur districts of Punjab, has been seen as actively working for AAP during the assembly elections. Gurdial Singh hailed from Raud Majra village of Hoshiarpur district and was introduced to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale’s nephew Lakhbir Singh Rode, who heads the banned ISYF and is stationed in Lahore, by a Germany based Khalistani, Balbir Singh Sandhu…According to the police, Gurdial Singh paid several visits to Pakistan under the guise of a Sikh pilgrim in the past six-seven years. He had last visited Pakistan between November 12 to 21, 2016. Another arrested terrorist, Jagroop Singh also accompanied him.”
In the 2017 Punjab elections, AAP advocated a soft and supportive stand on the Khalistan issue. AAP’s Khalistan connection was exposed when a photo revealing the banned “International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF)”, chief operative Gurdial Singh working for the AAP MLA Jaikishan Singh Rodi during assembly elections, surfaced
Manjeet further adds: “This is not the first time that AAP’s Khalistan connection has been exposed. Earlier in 2016, AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal on January 29 had spent a night at the house owned by an acquitted Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) militant Gurinder Singh, who is currently settled in England. Gurinder Singh was allegedly part of a module of the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF), which in 1997 had triggered a blast near a temple in Mandi Mustafa, Baghapurana area of Moga district. Posters depicting Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi CM, Bhagwant Mann, AAP’s Punjab chief, and Sanjay Singh, besides several others, were released marking the birth anniversary of Khalistan militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, appealing the general public to pay obeisance to
Funding From Separatists
AAP’s former MLA Jarnail Singh was seen seeking donations from Khalistan supporters in the UK during 2011, and had also participated in a rally organised in support of Khalistan. Many other AAP leaders allegedly supported and justified the Khalistan Referendum. AAP MP from Patiala, Dharamvir Gandhi, supported the Khalistan Referendum, saying that the people had the democratic and legal right to demand a separate homeland. Earlier, another senior AAP leader, who was also leader of opposition in Punjab, and AAP Member of Legislative Assembly, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, had allegedly supported the campaign by extending support to Khalistanis, demanding a referendum on Khalistan by 2020. Despite distancing himself, the AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal never officially criticised the Referendum 2020.
Sacrilege of Sri Guru Grath Sahib
In October, 2015, repeated instances were noticed where copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib were stolen from prominent Gurudwaras, and later on desecrated remains were found at different places. These incidents agitated a majority of the population in the State.
Prakash Singh Badal did resort to lathi charge and police firing in which two people died. The Justice Jora Singh Commission set by the then Government came up with unsatisfactory reports. It was a matter of no surprise that Justice Jora Singh later on joined AAP in December 2018. The latest Punjab Assembly elections can be seen as a potential event to revisit the different avenues of national security. AAP again strategically didn’t clear its stand on the Khalistan issue. At many places, the ISJ claimed that they have helped AAP in winning the Punjab elections.
What is Anandpur Sahib Resolution?
The Anandpur Sahib Resolution was a statement with a list of demands made by Punjab’s political party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, in 1973. After being routed in the 1972 Punjab elections, the Akali Dal came out with the Anandpur Sahib Resolution of 1973 to demand more autonomy for Punjab.
Indira Gandhi, a rival of the Akali Dal, viewed the Anandpur Sahib Resolution as a secessionist document. The document was, however, largely forgotten, until it again came into limelight in the 1980s. The Akali Dal leadership joined hands with Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and launched the “Dharam Yudh Morcha” in 1982, aiming to implement the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. Thousands of people joined the movement, feeling that it embodied a real solution to their demands such as a larger share of water for irrigation and the return of Chandigarh to Punjab. However, the Akali Dal officially stated that the Anandpur Sahib Resolution did not envisage an autonomous Sikh State of Khalistan.
What is Sikhs for Justice ?
SFJ is US-based organisation and is among one of the leading platforms used to support the secession of Punjab from India. The SFJ is founded and headed by a lawyer Gurpatwant Singh Pannu and has numerous other active members. The Indian Government proscribed SFJ in 2019 after consultation with major representative bodies of the Sikh community. Several criminal cases were being pursued by the Indian agencies, including the National Investigation Agency, the Punjab Police and the Uttarakhand Police (who too have arrested dozens of active SFJ members in India). In the wake of the activities by SFJ, Interpol issued a Red Corner Notice in October 2019 against Pannu, besides a few more Khalistani terrorists.
Use of International Media Platforms
In all its forms of news, social media, films and television, the media today is used as a weapon in the 5th Generation Warfare Technology (5GW). In London, November 2019, Imran Khan was presented the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by pro-Khalistan Sikh groups in Britain for his role in the opening up of Kartarpur corridor. A Pakistani website, www.defence.pk, celebrated the events related to Referendum 2020.
How Extremism in Punjab Was Instigated
On Baisakhi Day (April 13, 1978), Gurbachan Singh was scheduled to address a samagam (gathering) in Amritsar, before which his followers took out a procession protesting against the samagam. Sikh militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who had taken over the Damdami Taksal in 1977, sent a jatha (an armed group of Sikhs) to the venue. They were joined by the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, led by Fauja Singh. Riot began and one Fauja Singh was killed by Gurbachan Singh’s guard and another 12 Sikhs and the Nirankaris were killed in the ensuing clash. Despite what happened, the Samagam continued and Gurbachan Singh addressed the gathering. The incident is considered to be a turning point in Punjab’s history, triggering a series of events that pushed the State into almost two decades of militancy. The Baisakhi incident gave birth to the Dal Khalsa in August 1978. In 1981, five of its members hijacked an Indian plane to Lahore to protest against Bhindranwale’s arrest for the murder of politician and Editor Lala Jagat Narain. The organisation was banned in 1982 and scrapped 10 years later, but it staged a comeback in Punjab in 1998.
The December 2021 bomb blast at Ludhiana High Court, the killing of an insane unidentified man at Swarn Mandir in Amritsar, the killing of a Dalit at Singhu border or several instances of sacrilege of the holy Guru Granth Sahib in the past were surely not unrelated incidents. The way these events have taken place proves involvement of professionals, who were expert in their job. The recent chain of events indicate the future plan of action by the external forces.
Who propagated the Sikhs-Hindu division theory?
To understand the genesis of Hindu-Sikh divide and the present Khalistan Referendum, we must revisit the history of 1857. And also how and why Max Arthur Macauliffe inspired Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha to write the book in 1898 “Sikhs: we are not Hindus” (Hum Hindu Nahin)”. After the 1857 Mutiny, the East India Company (EIC) had set up a Commission to analyse the causes of the rebellion and suggest ways to perpetuate its rule. Lord Elphinstone, then Governor of Bombay, suggested to the Commission: “Divide et impera (Divide and Rule) was the old Roman motto, and it should be ours.” The British had to contend with the majority Hindus. And so this became the main plank of their policy to fragment Hindu society and pit groups against each other. At the same time, they tried to create pockets of solid support for their regime. One such pocket that was the focus of the British were the Sikhs.
Timeline of Khalistan Narrative
- The calls for a different identity from the Hindus and attempt at the formation of a Muslim-Sikh alliance were started by the British post-1857
- Macauliffe’s studies on Sikhism first appeared in the ‘Calcutta Review’ in articles published between 1875 and 1881
- In 1898, Max Arthur Macauliffe inspired Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha to write the book ‘Sikhs: We Are Not Hindus’ (Hum Hindu Nahin)
- On the day of Baisakhi, on April 13, 1978, Gurbachan Singh was scheduled to address a ‘samagam’ (gathering) in Amritsar. Protesting against the ‘samagam’, Sikh militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale sent a ‘jatha’ to the venue. They were joined by the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, led by Fauja Singh. Riot began and one Fauja Singh was killed by Gurbachan Singh’s guard and 12 Sikhs and Nirankaris were killed in the ensuing clash
- The Baisakhi incident gave birth to the Dal Khalsa in August 1978
- In 1981, five of its members hijacked an Indian plane to Lahore to protest against Bhindranwale’s arrest for the murder of politician and Editor Lala Jagat Narain
- Dal Khalsa was banned in 1982 and scrapped 10 years later
- Sikhs for Justice (SFJ, a US-based organisation, is among one of the leading organisations which is behind the Khalistan propaganda
- The Indian Government proscribed SFJ in 2019 after consultation with major representative bodies of the Sikh community
Macauliffe expressed dismay that some of the Sikh States, in ignorance of the teachings of the Gurus, maintained temples and spiritual arenas in Haridwar and Rishikesh. In his view, the nearly one hundred thousand Sikhs, who attended the Haridwar fair, possessed a very elementary knowledge of their religion and did not know that all their Holy Gurus would disapprove such action. Macauliffe was perhaps the leading light among those who established the theological foundation for Sikh separatism. His work provided the basis for the work of subsequent Sikh intellectuals and formed the ideological underpinnings of later Sikh separatist politics.
Demand For Khalistan
The calls for a different identity from the Hindus and attempt at the formation of a Muslim-Sikh alliance were started by the British post-1857. It was perpetuated by anti-India forces that have conspired to ‘bleed India with thousand cuts.’ The Sikhs were forced to depart, often overnight, by the Muslim League, during partition. But the attempt for Sikh-Muslim brotherhood is not new. The same recipe had been cooked in ISI’s kitchen. The Khalistan Referendum 2020 propaganda has gained momentum because a defeated and infuriated Pakistan wants to avenge the direct-action programmes pointed at it by the Indian government on borders, as well as on international forums.
The mysterious rise of Amritpal Singh, whom some also call Bhindranwale 2.0 doesn’t seems to be an organic phenomenon. A clean-shaven transporter in Dubai, a few months ago, has suddenly become a Pagdidhari Sikh. Giving lectures on Khalistan and Indian passport, he says, “Militancy is not something that I am able to start. Nobody can start or end militancy. Militancy is a very natural phenomenon. It happens after a long period of suppression anywhere. Is militancy a constructive thing to start? I can order someone to start militancy, it does not happen like that. There is a peaceful protest. When Amit Shah said that he will suppress things, I said there will be consequences. It’s not just about Indira Gandhi’s murder as consequence. It’s not a threat to Home Minister. I would say is a threat to us. What options do we have when there are legal binaries in India? I don’t consider myself a citizen of India. I just have a passport, which does not make me Indian. It’s a travel document,” he said. On September 25 last year, Amritpal went through a formal Sikh baptism at Anandpur Sahib to become an ‘Amritdhari Sikh’. Punjab observers were surprised by the turnout at the ceremony. Just four days later, on September 29, large number of Sikhs again gathered to witness Amritpal’s ‘Dastar Bandi’ (turban-tying ceremony to indicate the taking on of a responsibility) at Rode village, the birthplace of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
We must understand that this attempt to create unrest in India is not new; it has a long history. There are forces across the borders having allies inside, who don’t want India to upgrade its league from a developing nation to a developed nation. These forces want India to bleed—to be dismembered, demeaned, demonised, and entangled in permanent chaos. The foreign powers are trying to further the fault lines if Indian society on the name of a sacred religion i.e. Sikhism.