Separatists in Canada


The Khalistan movement is again on the radar of the Indian intelligence as separatist Sikh militants flushed with cash in foreign soil are attempting to target India from the UK, Canada etc. The “celebration” of Indira Gandhi’s assassination in Canada on June 4, two days before her death anniversary, has led to the filing of a formal protest by the Indian diplomatic mission there and external affairs minister S Jaishankar has cautioned the Canadian leadership against encouragement to provocative actions. Too much need not however be read into such actions as the mood among the Sikhs in Punjab is firmly set against such adventurisms as was already proven in the context of the arrest and taming of a high-profile gun-wielding Khalistan protagonist, who styled himself in the ‘ Bhindranwale’ mode there recently.
India is a mosaic of different regions, cultures, races and religions. A nation of 140 billion, it is the world’s largest-populated and is by now on equal terms with neighbouring China on this count. The huge size of the population and the variety and conflict of interests that these spawn on multiple parameters are huge challenges to its governance as a single, unified and cohesive entity. Problems could keep arising, as is also seen in Manipur of late. These need to be tackled with patience and without hurt to regional or community sentiments. The people should be taken into confidence as a matter of first priority. Ulcers that surface by way of separatist movements, terrorism etc are handled with firmness and they are more or less under effective control. While separatists in Kashmir are effectively neutralized, the Khalistani movement in Punjab that raised national concern in the 1980s was tackled with sustained efforts over a period of time. In the past, the Khalistanis got encouragement from Pakistan’s military through its notorious ISI intelligence agency. That possibility is still there.
Sikhs are a community of valiant people. They are a pride of the Indian military for generations. Major Sikh migrations to Canada started in the 1960s and over a period of time lots of Sikhs have reached there. More so after the Delhi riots that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination, in which many Sikhs were killed by pro-Congress mobs for the unacceptable reason that some Sikh bodyguards shot the then PM down. Today, Sikhs number eight lakh in Canada, forming two per cent of the population. Sikhs are ministers in Canada while the community has built a lot of clout there and it has more MPs there than in India. Separatist pushes by some elements there should not, ideally, disturb the peace of the Sikhs there.