- Subject index
The Punjab crisis, a two-decade long armed insurgency that emerged as a violent ethnonationalist movement in the 1980s and gradually transformed into a secessionist struggle, resulted in an estimated casualty of no less than 25,000 people in Punjab. This ethnonationalist movement, on the one hand ended the perceived notion of looking at Punjab as the model of political stability of independent India, and on the other raised several politico-social questions which had a great effect on Indian politics for decades to come.
The Sikh Separatist Insurgency in Punjab-India provides an authoritative political history of the Sikh separatist insurgency in Punjab by focusing on the “patterns of political leadership”, a previously unexplored variable. It describes in detail the events which led to the emergence of the “Punjab Crisis”, the various means through which the movement was sustained, and the changing nature of political leadership and courses of military action which necessitated its decline in the mid-1990s.
Providing a microhistorical analysis of the Punjab crisis, the book argues that the trajectories of ethnonationalist movements are largely based on the interaction between self-interested political elites, who not only react to the structural choices they face, but whose purposeful actions and decisions ultimately affect the course of ethnic group-state relations. It consolidates this theoretical preposition through a comparative analysis of four contemporary global ethnonationalist movementsthose that occurred in Chechnya, Northern Ireland, Kashmir, and Assam.
This book will be a good reference source for students and academics studying political science, history, South Asia and the Sikhs and also for public policy practitioners in multi-ethnic societies.
Chapter 3: Beginnings of Sikh Extremism (1978–1981)
Beginnings of Sikh Extremism (1978–1981)
The Nirankari–Sikh Clash
When the Akali–Janata coalition government was formed in Punjab in June 1977, it appeared that a more permanent Hindu–Sikh political unity had finally been forged in the state. The Akali Dal was a Sikh-based ethnic political party, and the Jan Sangh—the largest constituent member of the Janata in Punjab—was India's premier Hindu nationalist party. Yet, the unity of this coalition and the internal dynamics of Sikh politics were quickly affected by a religious controversy between Sikhs and a “Hindu–Sikh” sect called the “Nirankaris.”
The Nirankaris were one of the several reformist or offshoot sects that had emerged from either Hinduism or Sikhism which blurred the boundaries between the two major religions in Punjab. Many orthodox ...