India keeps Khalistan threat off Kartarpur talks
17, Mar 2019
India did not raise the issue of Pakistan supporting the Khalistani movement during the March 14 delegation-level talks to discuss the modalities of the Kartarpur Corridor.
The government’s stand comes amid concerns of secessionist groups, including Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a U.S.-Canada based group, planning to organise a convention on ‘Khalistan-Referendum 2020’ at the Kartarpur shrine.
Indian security agencies have raised concerns about Pakistan using the corridor to push the Khalistani agenda from across the border.
The Khalistan movement is a Sikh separatist movement, which seeks to create a separate country called Khalistān in the Punjab region to serve as a homeland for Sikhs.
The territorial definition of the proposed country Khalistan consists of both the Punjab, India along with Punjab, Pakistan and includes parts of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Rajasthan.
It began as an expatriate venture in 1971, the first explicit call for Khalistan was made in an advertisement published in the New York Times by an expat Jagjit Singh Chohan.
With financial and political support of the Sikh diaspora the movement flourished in the Indian state of Punjab, which has a Sikh-majority population and reached its zenith in the late 1970s and 1980s, when the secessionist movement caused large-scale violence among the local population including assassination of PM Indira Gandhi and bombing of Air India plane killing 328 passengers.
Various pro-Khalistan outfits have been involved in a separatist movement against the Government of India ever since. In the 1990s the insurgency petered out, and the movement failed to reach its objective due to multiple reasons including a heavy police crackdown on separatists, divisions among the Sikhs and loss of support from the Sikh population.