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The Myth of Khalistan: A Misrepresented Story

The name “Khalistan” is a misnomer, a creation of the mind, and more of an aberration. Only after the partition of India in 1947 CE, when British control ended in this area, did the concept of “Khalistan” come into widespread use.

The word “khalis,” according to Sikhs, was given to them by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and final in the lineage starting with Guru Nanak. “Khalis” refers to purity, an uncorrupted place where women and people of all castes and social groups are treated equally. The region of Khalis or Khalsa is free of evil. Ironically, the word “khalis” is where the name of the Khalistan movement comes from.

Nearly 30 million Sikhs make up a substantial religious community in the Indian state of Punjab, where they comprise the bulk of the population. Sikhs also live in other regions of India and other nations. The Sikhs are renowned for their tenacity, initiative, courage, and altruism. Additionally, they are infamous for their innate aggression and sometimes fanatical attitudes. It is apparent that “Khalistan” should be seen as a theocratic state that will be separated from India. The Gurbani Granth, which the Sikhs respect as both their eternal Guru and holy text, does not include any mention of such a requirement. The majority of Sikhs have never made a direct demand for “Khalistan.” ‘Khalistan’ is essentially a ridiculous idea and not a realistic solution since it lacks defined plans, a designated region, clarity about the structure of the government, a battle plan, leadership, resources, and diplomatic assistance from other countries. The end consequence is complete chaos that leads nowhere.

As a result of the Sikh community’s historical struggles for political power in the 18th century CE, as well as their participation in the Gurdwara reform movement and the fight for independence from the British, some Indian factions had attempted to manage and temper this dynamism through a variety of tactics. In an effort to undermine their solidarity, this meant presenting the Sikh community as aggressive, intolerable, fanatical, radical, and separatist. To accomplish this, the concept of Khalistan was successfully exploited as bait to seduce the more extreme Sikhs.

One Jagjit Singh Chauhan, a former Punjab Minister, was primarily responsible for bringing up the demand for Khalistan in the 1970s. He even formed a government of Khalistan in exile with himself as its self-styled President. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was hailed as a Sikh hardliner in the early 1980s of the previous century, was not outspoken enough to express a definite desire for secession. Due to this, the hardline group Dal Khalsa was founded, but no one showed out to take up arms in an effort to make any notable progress in this area. Unfortunately, numerous militant groups with the desire for an independent state spontaneously arose within the Sikh religion during Operation Blue Star at Amritsar in June 1984. However, their movement was eventually put down with an iron fist, rather via official brutality. By the middle of the last decade of the twentieth century CE, it seemed that things had returned to normal in the state.

However, the Sikhs’ fringe groups, both in India and overseas, have been working to keep the issue alive, mostly via propaganda. The key players on this front are a few businesses and entities that are managed from outside, including some that are even based in Punjab. By depicting the Hindu population as being at odds with the Khalistani protagonists, these groups have been effective in giving Indian political parties the necessary footing to win over people who identify as Hindus. To this end, efforts are being made to investigate other options. The most recent instance, which emerged against the background of upcoming general elections in India scheduled for about a year from now, was the Amritpal Singh phenomena.

These are the author’s views, which are stated throughout the article. They make no claim to represent the thoughts or opinions of Khalsa Vox or its contributors.

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