'None of Khalistan's leaders could define their wishful concept of a sovereign Sikh state'
Khalistan was not a clear political concept
even to those engaged in terrorism in its name.
It merely represented their revulsion against the establishment
and found no alternative to it, says a new book on the Punjab troubles.
The Sikh Unrest and the Indian State says even
known protagonists of Khalistan -- the Sikh separatist movement --
have failed to elaborate what Khalistan meant in concrete political
terms and invariably deviated to an oft-repeated explanation
'since the Indian establishment does not fulfill their just demands...
They have no choice but to fight to the end.'
Ram Narayan Kumar, the book's author, has been a prominent campaigner
for human rights in Punjab. He says he has confronted
Khalistani leaders like Arjun Singh, Jung Bahadur Singh Virk, Dr
Jagjit Singh Chohan and Ganga Singh Dhillon in Punjab and abroad
with a direct question about Khalistan. None of them, he claims, could
define their wishful concept of 'a sovereign Sikh state'.
Kumar says none of the Khalistan leaders had a convincing answer to the
question -- 'Do you think it is possible to carve out a sovereign Sikh state out
of a 50,000 km land-locked region against the will of half
The Sikh Unrest and the Indian State, his second book
on the Punjab, chronicles various strains of
Sikh militancy, terrorists's intra-rivalry, infighting, their
mindless violence against innocents and political naivety, the role of
the official agencies and security forces when separatism was at
its zenith from 1984 to 1993.
His earlier book The Sikh Struggle: Origin, evolution and
present phase traced Sikh history
till the beginning of the violence after Operation Bluestar in
Disputing the traditional evaluation of the rise of Sikh
separatism as having its origin in widespread unemployment among
Sikh youth or the sudden prosperity of Punjab's farmers after the
Green Revolution, The Sikh Unrest and the Indian State, says
'the majority of Sikhs identify themselves with the 'mission', vague as it may be, which
inaugurated the militancy from the days of Bhindranwale.'
''Their hate for the central government and their distrust of
the traditional Akalis is stronger than their anger with
the mundas (militant youth) who are for them
fighting for the Panth's honour," says Kumar while
discussing why a section of rural Sikhs supported the terrorists
despite their excesses.
Commenting on the observation that
Sikh separatism has met its waterloo, the author says a queer
combination of Sikh sentiment ''suggests that they would
continue to support the groups who build on the notion of Sikh
uniqueness and promised Raj Karega Khalsa even if
they continued to suffer harassment and political deprivation
in the process.''
Kumar observes that the collective Sikh psyche -- dominated by
the jat Sikh mind -- does not easily forgive and forget. "It is not
a happy assessment as we look for a positive content behind
the people's readiness to fight and suffer," he says.
''Disaffected people held in
check by force," he says, "are practically as good as lost for whatever
positive objectives the State might have in claiming their
Referring to the tacit support of Sikh militancy by Sikh intellectuals,
Kumar believes, "people in
perpetual revolt against the established authority and their
intellectual mentors lack a clear sense of goals and do not
precisely know what wrongs they wish to rectify and with what
alternatives can make no progress, even in idealistic terms.''
While the Akali leaders made concrete political demands like the transfer
of Chandigarh to Punjab and restructuring of Centre-state
relations as envisioned in the Anandpur Sahib resolution, the
extremists gained popular backing by harping on the 'Hindu threat
to the Panth', 'injustices of Hindu India'', 'aspirations of the
common Sikh' and 'the vision of Bhindranwale.'
In its survey of Sikh separatist militancy, Kumar says,
''there was organisational fragmentation that compares with
the state of disunity... Like the 18th century militant
Sikh organisations were built around chiefs: Wassam Singh
Zaffarwal, Manochahal, Sohan Singh, Jagjit Singh Chohan and
Evaluating the Sikh grievances in historical linkages, Kumar observes
in the given Indian political scenario it look like that neither would the
Sikhs make up with India on its
own terms, nor would it be easy for India to assuage their
grievances which are of three types: territorial, economy and
All these issues, he feels, are difficult to be resolved as there could be
no meeting point between the perceptions of the Indian
establishment and those of the Sikh leaders.
Citing the example of the Anandpur Sahib resolution's political
philosophy on Centre-state relations, he says if the Constitution
has to take cognisance of this, it "would have to be redrafted from
cover to cover.''