The killing of a Sikh activist in Canada has become a diplomatic row between India and Canada, but it has also become a nightmare for India’s Khalistan moment, which India has always downplayed and crushed. The Khalistan movement is a separatist movement that seeks to create an independent state for the Sikh minority in India.
The Indian government has termed the Khalistan movement as a “separatist and terrorist” campaign, backed by Sikh diaspora groups, that aims to destabilize the country and undermine its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
However, the recent of Canada and the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar is the latest blow to India suppressing the Khalistan movement. Canadian authorities are much concerned on the killing of Canadian citizen and called it an attack on sovereignty and aimed to protect Canadian nationals.
The Indian act is an attack on Canadian national and Canadian soil.
The Khalistan movement is a Sikh separatist movement seeking to create a homeland for Sikhs by establishing a sovereign state, called Khalistan (Punjabi land of the Khalsa ‘) in the Punjab region. Its origins have been traced back to India’s independence and subsequent Partition along religious lines.
The movement gained momentum in the 1980s, when Sikh groups spearheaded a violent campaign to carve out an independent Sikh state. The movement reached its peak in 1984, when the Indian army launched Operation Blue Star to flush out Silk leaders from the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhs, in Amritsar. The operation resulted in hundreds of casualties and sparked widespread protests and riots across Punjab and other parts of India.
The same year, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation for the operation. The assassination triggered anti-Sikh pogroms in Delhi and other cities, killing thousands of Sikhs.
The Indian government has since cracked down on the Khalistan movement, arresting and killing many of its leaders and supporters.
The recent dispute between Canada and India has made it difficult for India to use coercive tactics and covert operations against Sikh leaders abroad. Canada’s bold move has exposed India’s involvement in killing of Nijjar, and India will have to cooperate with the investigation or face diplomatic consequences.