Home Global Village India fumes over pro-Khalistan posters in Pakistan

India fumes over pro-Khalistan posters in Pakistan

pro-Khalistan
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News Analysis |

India, on Monday, accused Pakistan of trying to incite Indian Sikh pilgrims by raising the issue of “Khalistan” through inflammatory statements and posters. India summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner and lodged a strong protest over attempts to raise the Khalistan issue during the visit of Sikh pilgrims to the neighboring country, while asking it to immediately cease all such activities aimed at undermining India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Islamabad was told that such repeated attempts by authorities and entities in Pakistan to extend support to “secessionist movements” in India amounted to “interference” in India’s internal affairs.

“A strong protest was lodged at attempts being made during the ongoing visit of the Sikh pilgrims from India to Pakistan to raise the issue of ‘Khalistan’ by making inflammatory statements and displaying posters” at various places of pilgrimage in Pakistan, the ministry said.

India has been unable to suppress the demands of a separate Sikh state by both force and greed. In order to demean the struggle for Khalistan it often usesthe foreign boogeyman as a tool for disinformation.

“Pakistan was called upon to immediately stop all such activities that were aimed at undermining India’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and incitement of disharmony in India,” the MEA said. It said such incidents during the visit of the Indian pilgrims went against the spirit of the bilateral protocol of 1974 governing the exchange of visits of pilgrims between the two countries.

The summoning of Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner came a day after India lodged a strong protest with Islamabad for preventing the group of visiting Sikh pilgrims from meeting Indian diplomats in Pakistan and “compelling” the Indian envoy in Islamabad to return while on way to a prominent Gurudwara there.

The fresh incidents come over two weeks after India and Pakistan agreed to resolve matters related to treatment of diplomats. The diplomats of the two countries had made claims and counter-claims about harassment in each other’s country.

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The MEA had yesterday said a group of around 1,800 Sikh pilgrims are on a visit to Pakistan, from April 12, under a bilateral agreement on facilitating visits to religious shrines. It had said the Indian High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was compelled to return when he was en route to Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

The MEA had called it an “inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy” by Pakistan, holding that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. Pakistan, however, had rejected the allegations as baseless, with Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal saying that it was “deeply regrettable that facts in this matter had been completely distorted and misrepresented.”

The fresh incidents come over two weeks after India and Pakistan agreed to resolve matters related to treatment of diplomats. The diplomats of the two countries had made claims and counter-claims about harassment in each other’s country.

The Khalistan Movement is a Sikh nationalist movement that wants to create an independent state for Sikh people, via peaceful struggle, inside the current North-Western Republic of India. An ignoredaspectis that the concept of an independent Sikh state was originally floated by none other than PanditJawaharLal Nehru in the pre-independence period through a Sikh leader whose ear he had at that time.

Although the term had popped up occasionally as a non-serious slogan by stray unrepresentative voices during the period leading up to the partition of the country into India and Pakistan, the concept was first given formal shape and the term Sikh Home Land first used by Master Tara Singh at Nehru’s behest as a “counterblast to Jinnah’s demand for an independent Muslim state, Pakistan. In other words, the demand for Khalistan was first raised to counter and kill the demand for Pakistan. Thus, ironically, Khalistan was invented to preserve India’s unity and integrity, and not to break it. It was used to frighten the British away from the idea of Pakistan.

Read more: Khalistan factor defined Trudeau visit to India

The Sikhs as a separate nation before British rule chose to join India by choice on promises made by Nehru. The Independence of India was not a joyful event for Sikhs and the scars of partition left Sikhs in a lot of discontentment with regard to their traditional lands being lost to Pakistan; and the truncated Eastern Punjab being dominated by a non-Punjabi speaking majority. These grievances were further aggravated by the u turn of Nehru on promises made to the Sikh community.

Further on, Indira Gandhi tried to prop up Deras of Nirankaris to counter the Sikh’s growing political clout. Nirankari Gurus desecrated the Sikh scriptures and were allowed to do it under police protection. In a major altercation, 8 Sikhs were murdered by Nirankaris while they were protesting the desecration. This was the incident that created call for taking up arms against the Nirankaris, and thereof against the government,  if it protected them.

The MEA had yesterday said a group of around 1,800 Sikh pilgrims are on a visit to Pakistan, from April 12, under a bilateral agreement on facilitating visits to religious shrines.

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwaleemerged as the voice of Sikhs, over-ruling the pro State leaders like Longowal. Bhindrawale declared himself as the protector and arbiter of Sikh rights and acquired arms. A list of attacks attributed to Bhindranwale by the government but never substantiated by proof, finally gave New Delhi the excuse to impose an emergency in October 1983.

In June 1984, an event would happen that would ignite the flame for Khalistan. The assault on Darbar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple (the holiest of Sikh temples) by the Indian military forces using tanks and artillery – known as Operation Blue Star was conducted in order to evict a group of armed pro-Khalistan activists from the temple – a claim that remains controversial to this day with prominent politicians like Subramian Swamy asserting that this was a disinformation campaign to legitimize the attack.

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According to the Indian Army, 136 army personnel were killed and 249 injured. In all, 493 people in the complex were killed including Bhindranwale and 86 injured; the government report also mentions that 1600 people were unaccounted for, though it does not state what fraction were killed or injured. Unofficial figures go well into the thousands. Massive human right violations by Indian Army personnel took place like gunning down of prisoners and burning & looting of the Sikh Reference Library.

Nirankari Gurus desecrated the Sikh scriptures and were allowed to do it under police protection. In a major altercation, 8 Sikhs were murdered by Nirankaris while they were protesting the desecration.

Retaliation by some Sikhs came in the way of the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. This act triggered the so called anti Sikh riots of 1984, which has been reported to be a planned pogrom by the Congress against the Sikhs. This wholesale slaughter, which led to the deaths of many Sikhs including entire families, has been widely condemned by human rights activists, and has been designated as genocide by the California State Assembly.

Read more: Indian Republic Day met with global protests

The army occupation of Punjab which followed Operation Blue Star was highly detrimental to the Sikhs. Mass human rights violations like torture, extra judicial murders, rapes, illegal detentions, forced disappearances were inflicted upon the Sikh community by the Indian authorities to subdue resistance. Sikh groups resisted through an armed insurgency, which carried on for decades.

India has been unable to suppress the demands of a separate Sikh state by both force and greed. In order to demean the struggle for Khalistan it often uses the foreign boogeyman as a tool for disinformation.


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