The Divergence of the Khalistan Movement: A critical analysis of the division between the Panjabi Sikh and North American Diaspora Sikh population in the Khalistani ethnonationalist movement.
My interest in the Sikh nation's struggle for statehood began with my family. I come from a Sikh Punjabi family that was not directly affected by the Indian Army attack on the Harmandir Sahib in 1984 or the events thereafter, but nevertheless felt betrayed by the government of India. As an adolescent I participated in multiple protests because I felt a sense of betrayal as well, as if this sense was a trait passed down through generations. In high school, I finally began to do research on my own regarding the Indian Army attack, instead of relying on my parents and others for answers; only after taking this initiative did I begin to learn about the complexity of the issue. At Kalamazoo College, I continuously found myself relating my studies in political science to the concept of statehood and what it meant for the Sikh nation. Thus, it felt natural to attempt to solve the puzzle of a divergence in the Khalistan Movement that has been a part of my life for so long. Initially, I arrived at the realization of a divergence in the Khalistan movement through personal experiences. Throughout my childhood and youth I attended rallies and ·protests in the U.S., with my family, based around the Sikh nations need for a separate nation-state. When I would visit Panjab, however, I noticed a distinct difference in peoples' attitude towards the word "Khalistan;" many youth my age did not know from where the word came, while elders classified the word as dangerous or unnecessary. My research of scholarly journals and books continued to hint at this divergenve between the Panjabi Sikhs and Diaspora Sikhs. For instance, Gurharpal Singh notes that in the rural society of Panjab, where militancy was most prominent, the militants became ensnared in local feuds and factional enmities for personal aggrandizement, leading to the pursuance of multi-factional tasks rather than focusing on the fight for Khalistan (Singh 1996, 416). Furthermore, the guerilla forces depended on public support for resources and safe havens; however, once the police infiltrated the guerrillas, thus appearing to show that the guerillas had turned against the people, public support plummeted (Pettigrew 1995, 63). While the vigor of the insurgent movement and public support decreased in Panjab, the "quest for homeland has become part of the Sikh diaspora's identity" (Tatla 2010, 283). My fieldwork in Panjab also revealed a similar pattern of indifference or opposition to the Khalistan movement: none of my interviewees denied the notion that a divergence existed; rather, they argued that while a divergence existed the decrease in public support for the movement in Panjab was just a common pattern in ethnonationalist movements (Interview with member of Dal Khalsa, Amritsar, Panjab, August 2012).
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