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Majority Sikhs with India, against Khalistan

Western powers allowing handful Khalistanis to over their streets, resort to vandalism may be a way to pressurise India on Russia

Neha Dahiya / New Delhi                      

Barring a miniscule, vociferous and terror prone variety, majority Sikhs in India and elsewhere may not subscribe to the very concept of Khalistan.

Silent majority may not have come out openly to say so. But, groundswell opinion of Sikhs may not be found in columns of print media, digital networks or TV shows that are beamed across.


Whether Sikhs want a separate homeland called Khalistan becomes increasingly significant in wake of recent developments in Punjab and noisy, violent as well as aggressive protests being staged across world capitals.

Also, for a research-based organization like Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies (CIHS), gauging the mood of Sikh society was important before making out a case on the issue.

Ground inputs, media reports, publicly available intelligence suggests that there’s no popular support for Khalistan whatsoever either within or outside India.

Violence and demonstrations orchestrated by Khalistani proponents is only to drum up support for their elusive concept of a separate homeland.

There’s enough documentation in public domain to drive home the point that Khalistan and Kashmir (K2) were a project of Pakistan’s dirty tricks department, ISI to foment trouble in Indian Border States by propping up sub-nationalism, religious activities.

Otherwise, Amritpal Singh, a small time businessman from Dubai is just a handle with drug lords that are pushing narcotics illegally from across the border. He’s a fugitive with no popular support and seen by some as a ‘robin hood’ variety. And, Amritpal is not a ‘preacher’ as made out by the Western media that lacks basic understanding of the issue.

Otherwise, there’s no reason why Sikh leaders in India and abroad would dare come out against this fugitive on the run from law enforcement agencies in India.

They are of the view that Amritpal and his outfit Waris Punjab De may have captured imagination of a few misled youth. But, publicly influential Sikh leaders hold the view that he has ruined dignity of the Sikh community and teachings of Gurus. 

On March 19, 2023, Khalistani protestors pulled down the Indian tricolour and made an attempt to storm the Indian High Commission in London.

Prior to this, Khalistanis have had derided India and called martyr Bhagat Singh as a traitor or a terrorist, defaced statues of Mahatma Gandhi in western cities and did not spare Hindu religious places scribbling provocative, anti-India, anti-Hindu and Pro-Khalistan slogans on the walls of the temples.

Silent majority in Sikh society have begun to speak out slow but cautiously. For instance, President of Takht Sri Patna Sahib managing committee Jagjot Singh Sohi condemned the incident of pulling down our national flag. It has sent the wrong message across the world.

“We would request the London government to take strict action against those people responsible for this shameless act. There are few people living outside the country and engaged in such work. The people of the Sikh community are doing great work in the world, but time and again, such people malign the name of our community”, added Jagjot Singh Sohi.

“No one else except Gurpatwant Singh Pannu — founder of banned Khalistani terrorist organisation — is behind this episode. He is a controversial person and keeps on doing such things. He has no followers in India, and he has only a handful of people supporting him”, Sohi said.

There’s considerable underlying anger within the Sikh society on tactics, activities and posturing by the Khalistani elements.  Insult to Indian flag has disappointed several prominent leaders that do not subscribe to Khalistan or dissociate from India for a separate homeland.

Balgendra Singh Shami, a sikh community leader from Washington DC partly blamed the western media for the ‘hype’ around Khalistani activists violence unleashed in San Francisco and the American capital

Shami said, “There are more than a million sikhs who live in North America and out of that only 50 show up outside Indian Embassy (San Francisco) to protest.”

 Sounding a word of caution and reconciliation  Balgendra Singh Shami, “Whatever happened in Punjab is very unfortunate. I also condemn the violent incident that happened in the United Kingdom and the Indian consulate in the United States. As we are a democratic country, we have full right to protest, but it should be peaceful”. 

Another Sikh leaded Jasdeep Singh was quoted as saying “We condemn any violence that has happened outside the Indian Embassy in San Francisco or the desecration of the Indian flag in London. Everybody has a right to protest, but it should be peaceful & no violence or vandalism should happen”.

Moderation has been hallmark of most sikh leaders in western cities. Interestingly, not many have even referred to Khalistan or even offered lip sympathy.

 Former president of Haryana Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak committee, Baljit Singh Daduwal, said, “We should not take any such step which will affect the sikh community across the world. Punjab needs peace, brotherhood and development”.

Most sikh and Hindu leaders have pushed the development plank as a meeting point for larger peaceful co-living within and outside India.

United Kingdom Member of Parliament, Bob Blackman summed up the violence in Western cities by a handful of Sikhs.

Blackman said, “this (Khalistanis) is a very small, ultra-small section of the sikh community. Vast majority of sikhs in this country (UK) absolutely reject the Khalistani project. It\’s not going to happen, as we know… My message is very simple to the police, when this (violence) happens; those people need to be arrested and dealt with properly.”

President of Shiromani Akali Dal Sukhbir Singh Badal was more emphatic notwithstanding his party’s rejection in the last couple of state elections.

Badal pointed out, “The people of Punjab do not know Amritpal. Media has built him up and media has created the fear that Khalistani sentiment is reviving and growing in Punjab. We Sikhs do not want Khalistan. We want a strong and peaceful nation and a strong Punjab.”

He added, 99.99 per cent people of Punjab want peace and only 0.1 per cent preferred Khalistan.  As if on afterthought he said, “100 per cent want peace; there is no sentiment of Khalistan in Punjab”. 

There is history and context to what most sikh leaders believe as most fought on the ground to ward off foreign invasion on India including the imperialist British rulers.

A pantheon of sikh preachers and religious leadership beginning with Guru Nanak, Guru Tegh Bahadur to Guru Gobind Singh have shed blood to see India as a free, democratic and self-ruled country.

In fact, response of Western powers to violence in their cities by Khalistani elements is rather perplexing.

This has led top policymakers to believe that these powers were breathing down India’s neck using Khalistani protests as a weapon or pressure point for New Delhi taking an independent stand and equidistant stand on Russia – Ukraine conflict.

Otherwise, there’s no plausible explanation to free run given to Khalistani subversives, their supporters, financiers and handlers in Pakistan across United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Diplomats and security analysts from Asian region have not ruled out the possibility of allowing Khalistanis to take over streets in Western cities as a fallout of India’s independent stand vis-à-vis Russia and Ukraine.

There has been consistent pressure on New Delhi from G-7, QUAD to severe its relations with Moscow especially after the US and Europe severed its energy linkages with Russia while siding with Ukraine both directly and indirectly.

Also, Western capitals seem to have very little appreciation for India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stand on Russia given New Delhi’s linkages with Moscow for oil and gas, military spares and equipment to keep the security establishment going with pre-Nehruvian era hardware.

(Author is a specialist content writer at CIHS based in New Delhi)

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