Bhindranwal’s memory evokes the restive Punjab, why did the Khalistani movement begin?

Vishwadeep De: Once again there is unrest in Punjab. Behind Khalistan (Khalistan) movement. Notorious Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh has been arrested by the police. Internet services have been suspended due to fears that unrest may spread in the area. Already in the last few years, the Khalistani movement has received a new wind. Not only India but also outside India. Agitators have been seen writing anti-India slogans in Hindu temples in countries like Australia and Canada. Which reached a new level in 2023. Amritpal is being called ‘Bhindranwale 2.0’. Which brings back memories of Journal Singh Bhindranwale and Operation Blue Star. The birth of the Khalistani movement, however, is even earlier than that. The question is, why is this poison tree repeatedly rearing its head for several decades? Why is this separatist movement not being completely suppressed? To think about this, it is necessary to look back at the history of the Khalistani movement.

First of all, it is necessary to know what the Khalistanis want. Their movement is actually a separatist movement. They want a separate state for Sikhs. Which will include Punjab of India and Punjab of Pakistan. There will also be parts of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana. Parts of these states, except Punjab, however, were first claimed in the 1980s.

The seeds of Khalistani movement were planted in the partition decision

[আরও পড়ুন: DA অনশন মঞ্চে নওশাদকে ধাক্কা! মার খেয়েও ‘গান্ধীগিরি’ ISF বিধায়কের]

If we want to find the source of this movement, we have to go back to the time of partition. In fact, the fact that like our Bengal, Punjab was divided into two parts, the problem was created immediately. Only 2 percent of Pakistan’s population is Sikh. On the other hand, there is a large number of Sikhs in India. But Lahore, the capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Sikh empire, remained in Pakistan. There is Nankhana Sahib – the birth place of Guru Nanak. The Shiromani Akali Dal has been demanding a separate Sikh state since independence. Suba movement started. In 1955, the States Reorganization Commission report rejected that claim. But the movement did not stop.

In 1966, the Punjab Reorganization Act was passed by Parliament. As a result, Punjab was divided into Punjab and Haryana. Along with this, some parts of Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh were declared as Union Territories. The Indira Gandhi government accepted the formation of Punjab but did not accept Chandigarh as its capital. He did not even agree to give it autonomy. On the other hand, after the Lok Sabha elections in 1971, the Akali Dal started to lose strength despite giving a tough fight to the Congress in 1967 and 1969. In this situation, in 1973, they started a movement with a new one-sided demand. Among the demands known as the Anandpur Sahib Pledge were the recognition of Sikhism as a separate religion from Hinduism, the return of Chandigarh as the capital of Punjab, and issues such as Punjab’s self-government. But all those demands of the Akali Dal could not stir much till 1982. It was in that year that the name of Jarnel Singh Bhindranwal started spreading across the country. Bhindranwale joined hands with the Akali Dal. Created religious war front. Thousands of people joined the movement.


[আরও পড়ুন: আসানসোল কম্বল কাণ্ড: নয়ডা থেকে গ্রেপ্তার BJP নেতা জিতেন্দ্র তিওয়ারি]

Bhindranwale lost his life in ‘Operation Bluestar’ exactly two years later. In the intervening two years, Punjab began to bleed again and again. The ordinary people of the state started to feel threatened in this violent coup. A separate mention can be made of the killing of DIG Avtar Singh Atwal at the Darbar Sahib Gate in 1983. At that time, Bhindranwal’s power reached such a level that the police did not even touch the dead body without his permission. The body of the unfortunate officer lay exposed in broad daylight.

The atmosphere was gradually getting worse. Earlier, the Akali Dal wanted to vandalize the Asian Games held in Delhi in 1982. Sensation was also spread around this incident. But the next year the situation took a more complicated shape. Emergency declared in Punjab. In this situation, it was heard that weapons were being brought and stored in the golden temple of Amritsar. The police also had information that the Khalistanis were taking shelter in the temple. But no operation could be carried out for fear of hurting Sikh sentiments. Gradually Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale began to feel unstoppable. The strange thing is that he did not want a separate Khalistani state. He practically dreamed of forming a parallel government with the Golden Temple as his party headquarters.

Indira Gandhi government at the center at that time. Indira practically did not know how to solve this problem of Punjab. One more thing needs to be said in this context. A section of informed circles claims that Bhindranwale was once the ‘black horse’ of Indira’s son Sanjay Gandhi. Sanjay wanted to gain political advantage for the Congress by pitting him against the Akali Dal. If this rumor is true, then it must be admitted that like ‘Frankenstein’s’ monster, it started to trouble the Congress. Bhindranwale called for an armed uprising against the Hindus. Murders of government officials had become regular.

golden temple

In this situation, Indira planned ‘Operation Bluestar’ to remove Bhindranwale and his team, who were entrenched in the Golden Temple. The operation lasted for about a week from June 3 to 8, 1984. However, two days earlier on June 1, the army had launched an operation to remove Bhindranwale. But initially the armed response of Bhindranwale and his team was more than the army expected. Naturally the army plans bigger. Finally Bhindranwal died. In total, 493 people including militants and civilians died in that operation. Besides, 83 soldiers were also martyred. About 250 people were injured. Although according to private sources, the death toll is more than 3,000. Meanwhile, after ‘Operation Bluestar’, a backlash began to form among the Sikhs. Since the Golden Temple was damaged. That reaction was also behind Indira’s death at the hands of her two bodyguards on October 31, 1984.

Amritpal Singh

After Bhindranwal’s death it was thought that Punjab would calm down but it did not. Unrest continued across the state. Which lasted roughly until the mid-nineties. It is heard that Pakistan has regularly provided money and other support to this movement. But due to the resistance of the majority of the people, the fire of the movement was gradually extinguished.

For a long time Punjab was peaceful. Although elsewhere in the country where the Sikhs were in large numbers, the fire of the Khalistani movement was still burning. India declared the US organization ‘Sikhs for Justice’ as a terrorist group in 2020. This movement has been raising its head for the past three years. anew It was heard that the Khalistanis were involved in the peasant movement!

In this situation, the name of the Khalistani organization ‘Waris Punjab De’ is being heard. Created by late politician Deep Sidhu. After his death, the responsibility of the organization fell on Amritpal. For the past few weeks, the Khalistani movement has raised its head again. Amritpal’s arrest in this situation will bring peace for the time being? Or will the movement take a new turn? The answer lies in the womb of the future.

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