Khalistan Movement : Bhindranwale & Operation Blue Star | UPSC Notes

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• The Khalistan movement is a Sikh separatist movement that wants to set up an independent state called Khalistn in the Punjab Region. Khalistn would be a home for Sikhs. From 1709 to 1849, Punjab was home to such a state.

The suggested state would be made up of land that is now in the Indian province of Punjab. The proposed state’s area varies, and different groups have made different plans for it. However, all of the plans that have been seriously considered so far involve land that is currently part of Indian Punjab, Chandigarh, and some parts of the neighbouring Indian states, especially the Punjabi-speaking areas of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan. Lahore, which was once the capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Khalsa Empire, is also proposed as the state’s capital, because itOver time, it has lived on in different ways, in different places, and with different groups of people.

• Operation Blue Star (1984) and Operation Black Thunder (1986 and 1988) put an end to the movement in India, but some Sikhs still care about it and support it, especially in the Sikh diaspora in places like Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.


• The movement can be traced back to when India got its freedom and then split into two countries based on religion.

• The Punjab province, which was divided between India and Pakistan, saw some of the worst communal violence and generated millions of refugees: Sikhs and Hindus stranded on the west (in Pakistan) rushed to the east, whereas Muslims in the east fled westward. • Lahore, the capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s great Sikh Empire, went to Pakistan, as did holy Sikh sites including Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Most Sikhs lived in India, but they were only about 2% of the country’s population, making them a small group.Around the time of Independence, the Punjabi Suba Movement called for the creation of a Punjabi-speaking state. This was the start of the political fight for more freedom.In its report from 1955, the States Reorganisation Commission said no to this request. However, after years of protest, the state of Punjab was changed to meet the Punjabi Suba demand in 1966.

• The old Punjab state was split into three parts: Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, which are mostly Hindu and speak Hindi, and Punjab, which is mostly Sikh and speaks Punjabi.

Anandpur Sahib Resolution:

• The Punjabi Suba movement had energised the Akali Dal, which became a major force in the new Sikh-majority Punjab and gave the Congress a hard time in the Legislative Assembly elections of 1967 and 1969. •But after Indira Gandhi’s resounding win in the Lok Sabha elections of 1971, the Akali Dal did not do well in the state in 1972.

• In 1973, the party got together in the holy town of Anandpur Sahib, which was the birthplace of the Khalsa. There, they made a list of requests that would guide the Akali Dal’s political path. The Anandpur Sahib Resolution, among other things, asked for autonomy for the state of Punjab, listed the areas that would make up a separate state, and asked for the right to write its own constitution. • The Akali Dal was trying to cash in on the growing demand for an autonomous state, which started with the Punjabi Suba movement and went global in 1971, when an ad in The New York Times announced the birth of Khalistan.Even though the Akalis made it clear over and over that they did not want to leave India, the Indian government was very worried about the Anandpur Sahib Resolution.

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Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale:

• Many people in Punjab wanted to do more than just ask for more freedom.One of these people was Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a charismatic preacher who quickly set himself up as “the real voice of the Sikhs,” in opposition to the weak, wavering leadership of the Akali Dal.

Some stories say that Sanjay Gandhi, Indira’s son, helped Bhindranwale stand up to the Akalis for the political benefit of Congress.But by the 1980s, Bhindranwale’s popularity had grown to the point where he was becoming a problem for the government.

• He found that the state’s kids, especially those at the bottom of the social ladder, were interested in what he had to say, so he got a lot of people to follow him. He and the people who followed him were also getting more aggressive.

• In the summer of 1982, Bhindranwale started a movement called the Dharam Yudh Morcha. The leaders of the Akali Dal helped him do this. He moved into the Golden Temple and ran protests and fights with the cops from there.The movement was aimed at getting the Anandpur Sahib Resolution’s demands met, especially the socio-economic demands that addressed the concerns of the state’s rural Sikh population. However, Indira Gandhi’s government said that the movement was the same as secession because of growing religious polarisation, sectarian violence, and Bhindranwale’s harsh words against Hindus.

Operation Blue Star:

• By 1984, the government could no longer deal with the situation in Punjab.

• Bhindranwale called for people to take up guns, and violence against Hindus and government officials became common after that.

• Indira Gandhi made a fateful choice when she told the Indian Army to clear militants out of the Golden Temple and stop Bhindranwale.Operation Blue Star started on June 1, 1984, but Bhindranwale and his highly armed followers fought back hard, so the Army used tanks and air support to make the operation bigger and more violent than they had planned.

• The sight of Indian Army tanks shelling the holy place in Sikhism was shocking, and the fact that so many civilians died during the operation made it even more shocking.

• The government says that during the raid, 83 Indian Army soldiers died and 249 were hurt. During the raid, 493 people, both militants and civilians, were killed.


Even though the operation seemed to achieve its goals (Bhindranwale was killed and terrorists were taken out of the Golden Temple), it hurt the Sikh community around the world very badly.It also made more people want Khalistan.Indira Gandhi was shot and killed by two Sikh security on October 31, 1984.

This led to the worst violence between different groups since Partition. Even conservative figures say that more than 8,000 Sikhs were killed in massive anti-Sikh street violence.A year later, 329 people were killed when Sikh nationalists from Canada blew up an Air India flight. They said the attack was to “avenge the death of Bhindranwale.” Punjab had the most violence and was the centre of a long insurgency that went until 1995.

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Khalistan movement- the tangle of different countries

The Khalistan movement, which began in India, is no longer just in India. People and governments in many other countries are slowly becoming interested in the movement because so many people support it.

• The International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), which was founded in 1984, wants to create a separate country called Khalistan for the Sikhs of India. It works in places like the UK and Canada. It was also its job to make people angry and use violence. As part of the Khalistan movement, Jaspal Atwal shot and killed the Punjab Minister in 2018.

• Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which is based in the United States, is a pro-Khalistan group that is also involved in terrorism to support secessionist actions.

• In Canada, the government wasn’t ready for how quickly extremism spread and got support in Canada after Operation Blue Star. Extremists killed thousands of Hindus and blew up Air India flights, among other things. Khalistani’s have found that Canada is a safe place from which they can run events in India.

• Pakistan: With its “Bleed India” policy, Pakistan has been trying for a long time to break up India. It has actively helped the Khalistan movement and turned the Sikhs against India.

Pakistan Role in Khalistan Movement

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a Canadian think tank, put out a report called “Khalistan: A project of Pakistan.” The study, called “Khalistan: A project of Pakistan,” says that Khalistan is a geopolitical project supported by Pakistan that threatens Indian and Canadian national security.

• A former member of the Indian Army says that Pakistani Muslims in Britain and Canada are helping Khalistanis, who want to break away from India and make their own country there.

• The home ministry said that 9 people were acting as terrorists from Pakistan and other foreign countries. They were involved in different acts of terrorism and were called terrorists by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

• Pakistan also gives money to these groups and helps them smuggle drugs and launder money in order to support secessionist activities.

• Mirza Aslam Beg, who used to be a general in the Pakistani army, has also been publicly asking the government to help the cause.

• Pakistan backs both Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and Referendum 2020.

• Officials in the intelligence community said that the websites of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) share their domain with a Karachi-based website and get their information from it.

• The problem of Sikh radicalism has been a worry for India, especially since there are Khalistan sympathisers on the Pakistani side who help run holy Sikh places there.

• India had complained before when people like this were part of Pakistan’s team for the Kartarpur link project.

The link between the Khalistan movement and the Kashmir issue

Since India got its freedom, it has had to deal with many separatist uprisings. The ones in the states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir have been the most destructive and dangerous to the country’s borders.

• Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is also trying to get young people in Kashmir to become extremists and publicly supports Kashmir breaking away from India.

• There are ties between Khalistan chiefs and Pakistani rebels. Gopal Singh Chawla, the most important Khalistani figure in Pakistan, is open about his friendship with Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the feared Lashkar-e-Taiba and a Pakistani jihadist. • In the last 30 years, LeT, which says it is fighting for Jammu and Kashmir, has mostly recruited people from the eastern and central parts of Punjab. Now that farmers’ protests are on the rise, terrorist groups like LeT and ISIS will find it easy to hire angry farmers to bring back the Khalistan movement in India.With more people using technology, it will also be easier for ISIS to radicalise people, particularly minorities and farmers, and use farmers’ protests as an excuse to attack India’s security.

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What is the status of the Khalistan movement today?

• Punjab has been calm for a long time, but the movement is still alive in some Sikh groups abroad.

• Most of the people who are in the diaspora don’t want to live in India.Some of the younger generations of Sikhs still feel angry about Operation Blue Star and the desecration of the Golden Temple. However, even though many Sikhs see Bhindranwale as a martyr and remember the 1980s as bad times, this has not translated into political support for the Khalistan cause.

• There is a small group of people who are stuck in the past. This small group is still important, not because most people agree with them, but because they are trying to keep their political power with both left and right political parties.


• Trained the military

The police need to be properly trained to deal with this new kind of terror in cities.

Every country should have a commando group like the NSG to stop terrorist attacks that kill people.

Search-and-rescue efforts after large-scale terrorist attacks should be practised and different scenarios should be simulated and worked on.

• Good governance and social development: putting the focus on development work and how it is actually done on the ground. To stop these kinds of movements, it is important to have a clean, corruption-free, and accountable government.

• To stop these kinds of things from happening, agencies like the NIA, IB, and state police must work together and share more information.

• International cooperation: India needs to work with countries like Canada and the UK to fight the Khalistan movement in a coordinated way.

• With the help of civil society, NGOs, and other groups, we should use a multi-pronged approach that focuses on rational and logical counter-propaganda. We need very strong ways to keep an eye on things online. Supporters of Khalistan need to be able to keep an eye on social media to stop this kind of brainwashing of young people.

• A strong government will help build deterrence. This might need special rules and good ways to make sure they are followed, but there should be enough safeguards to keep it from being abused.


• Separatist groups like the Khalistan movement should be dealt with in a way that doesn’t hurt the feelings of Sikhs.

• Right now, it is important for the Indian government to take steps to stop the movement from growing. One way to do this is to arrest people who support Khalistan.