The Fight for Khalistan: Sikh Separatism in Punjab, India from 1984-1999.


Bianca Karim

Document Type


Publication Date



Since 1973, Sikh separatists in Punjab and their diasporan counterparts in the British Commonwealth and North America, have campaigned to secede from the Indian Federation to form an independent Khalistan - a "pure place" for Sikhs. Punjab is strategically positioned above New Delhi right under Jammu-Kashmir, a region over which Pakistan and India have fought two wars since 1947. India's northwestern border is a volatile region in 1999, as rebels and armed forces of both countries cross international borders and threaten national security. In the case of Punjab, what started out as a fringe movement by a few extremists" became a popular movement that initiated terrorism by Sikh separatists and human rights abuses by the federal police. This project explores the disjunction between India's political reality and the cultural and religious entities that assert claims to sovereignty. If the federal government continues to assert hegemonic control as opposed to reaching political settlements with India's disenchanted minorities, it will be plagued with internal turmoil or the break up of the federation. Alienation of the Sikhs gives Pakistan the chance to create chaos inside the Indian borders making it difficult for India to politically and militarily keep up with its long time rivals China and Pakistan. Pakistan can establish a pro-Pakistan belt and provide a base for gathering military intelligence. Conflict between the Indian government and Sikh militants may exacerbate relations between South Asian diasporan communities in the Commonwealth and North America.


L. Caldwell & M. Reddy




Ford Foundation, Anderson Foundation

This document is currently not available here.