Nationwide Safety: The Sikh State of North America

On February 8, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Sikhs for his or her contributions to constructing the Indian nation. Traditionally, Sikhs are well-known for his or her bravery in battle and constant service to India in lots of wars. In more moderen instances, Sikhs are well-known for his or her robust sense of group and public obligation. For the reason that 1500s, their langars (group kitchens) have fed the hungry and destitute worldwide irrespective of faith, race or intercourse. Sikhs even have a convention of serving their communities in instances of problem. Throughout the COVID pandemic, Sikhs arrange oxygen camps and helped save many lives.

Throughout India’s freedom wrestle from English colonization, Sikhs contributed magnificently. As per author Kartar Singh Duggal, 93 of the 121 patriots hanged by the British had been Sikhs and a couple of,147 of the two,626 sentenced to life imprisonment had been Sikhs. Though Sikhs shaped simply 1.5% of the inhabitants, they made 90% of the sacrifices. Their contribution to Indian independence stands unequalled.

Sikh Historical past and Psyche: Justice Above All

Between 1800-1850, Maharaja Ranjit Singh created each the primary and final Sikh Empire. Nevertheless, the primary Sikh kingdom—a state inside a state—was established 200 years earlier with the coronation of the sixth Sikh guru in 1606. That 12 months, Guru Hargobind ascended the throne within the Akal Takht, marking the start of Sikh statehood. His father—Guru Arjan—had suffered a merciless demise by the hands of the Mughals. He suggested his son to “sit totally armed on his throne and preserve a military.” In consequence, Guru Hargobind adopted the precept of Miri-Piri, which mixes each temporal energy and non secular authority. 

Guru Hargobind’s father’s tragic demise had an enduring influence on the Sikh psyche. It enshrined the idea of martyrdom within the Sikh custom. Taking an “implacable stand towards injustice and the vagaries of tyrannical rulers” is sort of a Sikh obligation. The beheading of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, and the cowardly assault on Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s life, the tenth Sikh guru, strengthened this resolve to face as much as tyranny. Sikhs have confronted three lengthy durations of lively persecution and bloodbath: the Chhota Ghallughara (1746), Wada Ghallughara (1762), and the genocide of 1984-1994 beneath the rule of India’s Congress Get together.

Sikhs have a dogged stubbornness of their pursuit of justice, which is clearly mirrored of their historical past. Hitting again oppressors is key to the Sikh psyche. This explains the 1710 sacking of Sirhind, the 1940 assassination of Micheal O’Dwyer in London by Udham Singh, the 1984 assassination of India’s then prime minister Indira Gandhi as effectively the 1986 assassination of retired military chief Arun Vaidya. Sikh extremists killed Gandhi and Vaidya for the 1984 Operation Blue Star through which the Indian Military entered the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh website.

Sikhs participated with nice gusto within the farmer agitation of 2020-21 towards the Modi authorities’s farm regulation reforms. Finally, Modi needed to repeal these legal guidelines and supply a contrite apology, which many Sikhs seen as a gracious act.

These classes of historical past are necessary for any policymaker coping with Sikhs. Any injustice, actual or perceived, invariably results in blowback. On the identical time, an apology typically results in forgiveness and embrace. Sikhs nonetheless have unhealthy recollections of the Nineteen Eighties and Nineteen Nineties. Subsequently, some radicals have demanded a separate unbiased state of Khalistan. But this demand just isn’t precisely consistent with the Sikh custom.

The Khalistan Motion Is Not Supported by Scripture

As said earlier, Sikh Gurdwaras are open to folks of all religions and all castes, male or feminine. Wealthy Sikhs do voluntary work within the langars and joota ghars (shoe retailer). Within the langar, folks of various religions, castes, intercourse, and revenue standing, sit on the bottom to eat collectively. Guru Gobind Singh Ji says, “acknowledge the entire human race as one” and “I’ll inform the reality, pay attention everybody. Solely those that have cherished, will understand the Lord.”

Radical Sikhs right this moment hark again to the tenth guru’s need for an unbiased state. But they overlook that Guru Gobind Singh Ji made this demand over 300 years in the past when confronted with Mughal spiritual persecution. His state by no means excluded Hindus. The unique Panj Piare (the 5 Beloved) who joined the Khalsa had been from completely different castes and completely different areas of India. Even the nice Sikh hero Banda Singh Bahadur was not from Punjab. Clearly, the tenth guru had a pan-India philosophy, which excluded nobody. Even Muslims, together with a Sufi group, joined his military and fought by his aspect. Importantly, most Sikhs had been initially Hindus and plenty of Sikh households nonetheless intermarry with Hindu ones. Some Hindu households had a convention of the eldest son embracing Sikhism.

See also  For European Safety, We Want Helsinki 2.0

Guru Gobind Singh Ji was very clear when he appointed the Shri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) because the eleventh and everlasting guru of the Sikhs. In truth, his personal sayings are within the Dasam Granth. The SGGS doesn’t help the concept of a Sikh theocratic state. Guru Nanak, the primary guru and founding father of Sikhism, says clearly in Ang (web page) 6 within the SGGS, “See the brotherhood of all mankind as the best order of yogis; conquer your individual thoughts and conquer the world.” That is the important thing to Sikhism and no Sikh can contradict this core instructing.

Guru Nanak’s idea of state might be inferred from his idea of God’s state: the entire universe. It places forth the best state ruled so that folks reside in prosperity and happiness. He cherished the Sufi life of fine deeds, reality and good actions. Sikhism is about inclusion and equality. Guru Arjan, the fifth guru, says in Ang 1299, “Nobody is my enemy, and nobody is a stranger. I get together with everybody.”

As said earlier, Sikhs militarized with their sixth guru who mixed the function of guru and king. But his first desire was all the time for peaceable coexistence. Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth guru, states in Ang 1427, “One who doesn’t frighten anybody, and who just isn’t afraid of anybody else… name him spiritually smart.” Guru Gobind Singh Ji says in verse 22 of the Zafarnama (his iconic letter to fanatical and merciless Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb): “When all means for fixing a battle or downside are exhausted, solely then putting your hand to the sword is respectable.” That is within the particular context of tyranny the place all authorized means (e.g. petitions, protest marches, discussions and many others.) to resolve a battle fail. 

In India, there may be at the moment no state-sponsored agenda towards Sikhs. Subsequently, scripture doesn’t permit for violence or navy motion towards the Indian state. The inflexible Khalistani concept of a theocratic state runs opposite to the Sikh cosmopolitan concept of a welfare state for all.

Guru Arjan expounded this concept of “Halemi Raj”—also called Khalsa Raj—that envisions a society full of affection and respect for one another. In a nutshell, the guru was advocating a welfare state: “Now, the Merciful Lord has issued His Command. Let nobody chase after and assault anybody else. Let all abide in peace, beneath this Benevolent Rule” (Ang 74). Bhagat Ravidas, a decrease caste shoemaker, defines peace in Ang 345, speaking of an idealized metropolis of Baygumpura—a city with out fear—the place there isn’t any struggling or worry, there may be peace and security, and all are equal:

Baygumpura, ‘the town with out sorrow’, is the identify of the city.

There isn’t a struggling or nervousness there.

There are not any troubles or taxes on commodities there.

There isn’t a worry, blemish or downfall there.

Now, I’ve discovered this most glorious metropolis.

There may be lasting peace and security there, O Siblings of Future.

God’s Kingdom is regular, steady and everlasting.

There isn’t a second or third standing; all are equal there.

That metropolis is populous and eternally well-known.

Those that reside there are rich and contented.

They stroll about freely, simply as they please.

They know the Mansion of the Lord’s Presence, and nobody blocks their approach.

Says Ravi Daas, the emancipated shoe-maker:

Whoever is a citizen there, is a good friend of mine.

From the strains above, it’s clear {that a} inflexible rule-based interpretation of the Sikh faith would by no means result in Baygumpura. A theocratic Khalistani state can be towards the very teachings of the revered Guru Arjan and different commemorated Sikh gurus. Such a state is more likely to focus extra on its outer kind, resembling  unshorn hair, as a substitute of the spirituality and charity championed by the gurus. Khalistanis overlook that many Hindus donate generously to the coffers of gurdwaras—Sikh locations of worship—and venerate their gurus. Slicing them off wouldn’t solely be going towards a shared historical past and their gurus’ ideas but in addition short-sighted and economically unwise.

The Reminiscence of 1984 Refuses to Go Away for Sikhs Outdoors India

In 2023, radical Sikhs nonetheless keep in mind Chhota Ghallughara, the grim 1746 bloodbath of an estimated 7,000 males and three,000 ladies and youngsters. In keeping with Majid Sheikh of famous Pakistani newspaper Daybreak, the Muslim butchers of Mohallah Qabasan slit throats not solely of males but in addition of girls and youngsters inside Lahore’s Delhi Gate when they didn’t settle for conversion to Islam. 

See also  US, Taliban Confront Afghanistan’s Looming Humanitarian Disaster

Unsurprisingly, these radical Sikhs haven’t forgotten 1984 both. They imagine that the Authorities of India and the Indian Military defiled the Golden Temple. About 800 folks died in Operation Bluestar, which many have known as an “avoidable tragedy” that lives on in Sikh minds to at the present time. This was adopted by Operation Woodrose, which led to eight,000 going lacking. When Indira Gandhi was assassinated, rioters killed 8,000 Sikhs, 3000 in Delhi alone. Throughout counter-insurgency operations, killings continued till 1994 and Sikh organizations speak of “tens of 1000’s” killed within the 1984-94 ten-year interval.

The Misra Fee on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, had the harshest criticism for the police. It discovered them responsible of “whole passivity, callousness and indifference.” The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) informed the Delhi Excessive Court docket that Delhi Police eliminated incriminating proof. In March 2019 through the Sajjan Kumar listening to, in keeping with the CBI: “The murders witnessed through the 1984 Sikh genocide fell beneath the class of crime towards humanity…focused by spearheaded assaults of dominant political actors… and duly facilitated by regulation enforcement businesses”.

Numerous ladies had been raped, youngsters killed, and livelihoods destroyed. About 50,000 Sikhs had been left homeless as mobs burned their homes to the bottom. Numerous Sikhs had been compelled to chop their hair. Hundreds left India. Unsurprisingly, the survivors and their descendants are crammed with negativity and a lifelong distrust of Hindus.

The justice delivered was too little and too late. Senior politicians of Indira Gandhi’s Congress Get together and senior policemen escaped punishment. Solely 400 of the accused had been sentenced by courts. Just one high-profile senior politician was given life imprisonment and simply one of many accused was given the demise sentence. Many convictions had been upheld as late as 2018 by the Excessive Court docket, 34 years after the riots. The authorized system allowed for additional delays through appeals to the Supreme Court docket.

This weird and irritating lack of fast-track mechanisms for delivering justice has fueled the historic Sikh quest for justice and varieties the muse of the Khalistan Motion. Victims of 1984 and their households residing in Canada, UK and the US are the staunchest supporters of this motion. It’s these Non-resident Indians (NRIs) of the Sikh group who need Khalistan. But these secessionists are a lot faraway from on-ground realities and the heartbeat of the folks in Punjab. The state and the nation have moved on from 1984 however these NRIs haven’t. They’re nonetheless caught in a time warp. 

In 1984, the bloodbath of Sikhs occurred due to political, not spiritual, causes. Modi’s Hindu nationalist get together—the Bharatiya Janata Get together (BJP)—resolutely opposed the Congress Get together’s actions. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was then the towering BJP chief and he stood between a mob and Sikh taxi drivers, saving their lives. Notably, the BJP had an in depth relationship with the Sikh get together Shiromani Akali Dal for many years.

NRI Sikhs fail to acknowledge this reality. They conflate the Congress Get together with the Indian state. In September 2022, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) held a second Khalistan referendum in Brampton, a city on the outskirts of Toronto within the Canadian state of Ontario. As per unofficial estimates, about 110,000 folks participated within the SFJ referendum. Word that Canada is now dwelling to 800,000 Sikhs. Referendums have additionally been held within the UK, Geneva, Italy and Australia. 

These organizing and taking part in these referendums have been fed a secessionist weight loss program. Some have ulterior motives to maintain the Khalistani flame alive. It permits them to siphon funds from naïve sponsors. Nonetheless different NRI Sikhs return to Punjab with these secessionist concepts to stir the pot.

Of the 26 million Sikhs worldwide, 24 million, i.e. 92%, reside in India. In Punjab, Sikhs comprise 57% of the inhabitants. The opposition Aam Aadmi Get together (AAP) has just lately gained elections on this state, promising change, fast growth and clear governance. The earlier authorities was deeply discredited, making a need for one thing completely different. This allowed pro-Khalistani components to get some public help and one chief gained within the constituency of Sangrur. Word that the AAP, not Khalistanis, gained the vote. This demonstrates that the democratic course of is working and that Punjabis and Sikhs have voted for higher governance, not secession.

See also  Taliban-Managed Afghanistan Will Additional Radicalize Pakistan

But footage of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the novel Sikh chief who holed up within the Golden Temple and brought on Operation Bluestar in 1984, at the moment are freely displayed. Karas—steel bracelets that Sikhs are presupposed to put on as per their faith—with AK 47s engraved on them at the moment are again in vogue. Tensions are simmering once more and radical Sikh NRIs try to kick off insurgency in Punjab once more.

How might we keep away from a violent Khalistan Motion this time round?

The Sikh State of North America – the 100 x 100 Resolution

NRI Sikhs fail to understand that, aside from a tiny minority, most Indian Sikhs don’t need Khalistan. In truth, many would favor to depart Punjab and immigrate to Canada as a substitute. So, NRI Sikhs are barking up the mistaken tree in making an attempt to create a Sikh state in Punjab. 

As a substitute, they may channel their efforts to create a brand new Sikh state in Canada. Already, the nation has massive numbers of Sikhs (800,000) as do Australia (210,000), the UK (500,000) and the US (520,000). Canada has 10 million sq. kilometers of land with a inhabitants of solely 38.25 million. Arguably, the Canadian authorities already has pro-Khalistan leanings and the nation already has some highly effective Sikh politicians. NRI Sikhs are a rich group. Supported by gurudwara collections, they may purchase some land for a brand new state of Khalistan. This might be a peaceable and non-violent motion as approved by scripture.

Singapore presents mannequin for the Sikhs. Right here, about 5.5 million folks now reside in 730 sq. kilometers. For 26 million Sikhs, they would want 3,500 sq. kilometers, a 60 kilometers x 60 kilometers space. The Nationwide Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi covers an space of round 1,500 sq. kilometers. So, Sikhs would solely want 2.4 instances the NCT space. If we permit for inhabitants progress and non-Sikh migration, we’re a 100 kilometers x 100 kilometers space, a comparatively small 10,000 sq. kilometers, solely .001 (0.1%) of Canada’s space.

Why Canada?

Khalistan is a pipe dream except India fragments. Prospects of which can be low. Moreover, India’s fragmentation is undesirable as a result of it might result in tragic bloodshed. We solely must solid our eye again to the partition of the nation in 1947 to understand the horror of any additional partitions within the 2020s.

India is a posh EU-type entity shaped by the merger of 565 princely states. Until 1947, they lined 40% of the realm of pre-independence India. With such range, secessionist tendencies have existed in quite a few states together with Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland, and Mizoram. India has additionally confronted a homegrown communist insurgency within the type of the Naxalite Motion. With rising urbanization and inner migration, pan-Indian nationalism has strengthened and the nation is in no temper for fragmentation. Any speak of secession will solely result in violence, bloodshed and struggling.

Do not forget that Khalistan is related to a decade of ache in India. So, a brand new Sikh State of North America (SSNA), which is a part of the federal mannequin in Canada makes extra sense. Quebec already offers a template for SSNA. This state would have the identical foreign money, passport, international relations and safety preparations as Canada. They might perform beneath steady {and professional} financial and international coverage establishments in a bountiful state blessed with pure sources.

After all, Sikh NRIs must win the Canadian folks and the federal government to their trigger. The times when states offered off territory appear to belong to the period of the Louisiana and Alaska purchases. Nevertheless, SSNA might transpire given Canadian sympathies for the Sikh trigger.

The SSNA might steadily have extra management over immigration and taxation. An Abroad Citizenship of SSNA passport might at some point be given to Sikhs world wide. The path to immigration through affordable investments as already supplied by many nations could possibly be mannequin for the SSNA. 

In step with Sikh scripture and Canada’s multiculturalism, the SSNA couldn’t be theocratic. Given the big variety of Sikhs within the US, it might share a border with Canada’s southern neighbor to facilitate commerce, commerce and funding. The formation of SSNA will take the steam out of the Khalistan Motion. It can result in much less anger in Sikh NRIs and extra peace in Punjab. In the long term, a affluent SSNA might emerge as the most important investor in Punjab, making a win-win for all involved.

[Bella Bible edited this piece.]

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.