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Fringe elements trying to revive Khalistan—without success

Fringe elements trying to revive Khalistan—without success

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh told the media yesterday that no Punjabi wants Khalistan. He added that only a handful of anti-India elements based abroad continue to provoke people in the name of Khalistan.

Over the past few years, there has been concern in India that the Khalistan movement is being revived. The social media remains abuzz with calls of independence for Punjab along with fake messages about atrocities on Sikhs in India. The social media activity has been accompanied with protests in London and Washington, including violent protests, mostly organized by Pakistanis along with a handful of Khalistan supporters.

Though the governments of India and Punjab, both run by different political parties, share the concern about revival of militancy in Punjab, the ground situation in the state seems different. Common people have no interest in Khalistan as they are more bothered about their day-to-day lives.

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A senior Chandigarh-based journalist says that there are no takers for Khalistan in Punjab, not even in the villages on the Indo-Pak border. "Most people don't care about these issues except for fringe elements who keep raking up these ideas," says Gurpreet Singh Nibber.

<a href="https://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/referendum-puts-spotlight-on-pannun-again/story-L6pJavXFCILb60pboCmEYM.html"><strong>Talking about Sikhs for Justice (SFJ)</strong></a>, a radical US-based organization, the journalist says it is a one-man army, with support of a handful of other people who are not much of consequence. Nibber adds: "The SFJ is trying to remain in the limelight but people in Punjab are not even paying heed to it."

The couple of anti-India events which the SFJ organized have been spectacular flops. <a href="https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/sikhs-for-justice-protest-in-us-on-jan-26-turns-out-to-be-mega-flop-show/articleshow/67706713.cms?from=mdr"><strong>A Washington event</strong> </a>on January 26, 2019, outside the Indian embassy had just over a dozen participants. The event not just attracted condemnation from prominent Indian and Sikh groups but also managed to evoke a counter-demonstration. Similarly, <a href="https://www.hindustantimes.com/nri-news/dalit-group-in-new-york-protests-burning-of-indian-constitution-by-sfj-adviser/story-8A7ldff3BnVsufUxIQMFbI.html"><strong>a repeat protest in Washington</strong> </a>by SFJ in January 2020 brought out American Dalits in support of India.

With little ground support in Punjab, watchers of the Khalistan movement feel that it sustains itself only in four countries—the UK, Italy, US, and Canada, and poses more harm to those countries than to India. Ujjal Dosanjh, the first India-origin premier of British Columbia province, <a href="https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/khalistani-extremism-more-dangerous-for-canada-than-india/story-rHU3dgeN9c4LFwH67gpFYL.html"><strong>said in an interview</strong> </a>that Khalistan radicalism is more dangerous for Canada than it is for India. His words are ringing true with Canadian police busting crime syndicates and uncovering drugs, firearms and illegal money from Khalistan supporters. Canada is sitting up and taking notice.

Dr Prithipal Singh Kapur, eminent historian and former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Guru Nanak Dev University, says that the Sikhs in Punjab do not believe in Khalistan because Sikhs do not believe in a theocratic state. "We believe in humanity. The complete thrust of Sikhism is human welfare." He says that even many Pakistanis are thinking whether a theocratic  state is needed in the modern age.

Kapur adds that the so-called concept of Khalistan has never been a political agenda of the Sikhs. "It is not consistent with the Sikh doctrine. Sikhs are present in more than 50-60 countries of the world. We are achievers wherever we go. How can we think of creating a theocratic state? The Sikhs want to be with India," says Kapur.

Sikhs in India have moved on from the dark days of Punjab terrorism. But it remains in the minds of second or third generation foreign-born Sikhs as Pakistan tries to pump money into a dying movement and simultaneously build a link between Khalistan and Kashmir. For this very reason, India will have to keep a watchful eye on the activities of secessionists in foreign lands but also <a href="https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/india-news-bhindranwale-distorted-guru-nanaks-teachings-and-the-congress-encouraged-him/302325"><strong>pursue good governance in Punjab.</strong></a>.