1984 Anti-Sikh Riots - The Causes and The Repercussions View attachment 920 Sikhism and the Punjab in Politics in the 20th century Cause for the rise of the Akali Movement By the early 20th century Sikhism had reached a troubled point in its brief history. A lot of the clergy had become neglectful of their religious office. They had begun to accumulate wealth and land that had once belonged to the Gurudwaras. Their lives no longer bore any resemblance to the simplistic life that the Gurus had preached. The simple form of Sikh service had been supplanted in the shrines by extravagant ceremonies. Their central shrine, the Golden Temple at, Amritsar, was controlled by the British Deputy Commissioner through a Sikh manager whom he appointed. There were idols installed within the temple precincts. Astrologers sat on the premises plying their trade unchecked. Pilgrims from the lower classes were not allowed inside the Golden Temple before 9 o'clock in the morning. This was a travesty of Sikhism which permitted neither caste nor image worship. The Akali Movement The Akali movement, also known as Gurdwara Reform Movement or Gurdwara Agitation, the Sikhs' long-drawn campaign for the liberation of their Gurdwaras or holy shrines, began in 1920. It started as a movement to wrest the Gurudwaras from the priests who managed them. The movement was successful and The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee took over all the gurudwaras. The Akali Dal was later founded-it was the militant wing of, the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee. Sikhistan/Punjab Subba In 1944, during the Gandhi-Jinnah talks the idea of a separate Sikh nation arose with Tara Singh’s request for “Sikhistan”. This was around the time that talks surrounding the formation of Pakistan had commenced. While the Akali Dal favored an undivided India they reasoned that if Pakistan could be formed then why not “Sikhistan”. The Akali Dal favored an undivided India with constitutional guarantees and electoral weightage for the Sikhs, but if Pakistan was conceded then it demanded an independent Sikh state. However, the arguments for Sikhistan were undermined by the absence of any contiguous area where the Sikhs formed a distinct majority. Since the Sikh religion had been founded Sikhs were concentrated in the North-West region of undivided India, i.e. the Punjab (the land of the five rivers). In 1947 Sikhs comprised 1 per cent of the population of India and 14 per cent of undivided Punjab. There was no Sikh majority area in Punjab. When Pakistan was carved out of India, the part of the Punjab that was left in India consisted of only 13 of Punjab’s original 29 districts. Partition changed Punjab's ethnic mix, with Muslims now comprising just 2 per cent of the population in Indian Punjab, whereas the Sikhs now comprised 35 per cent -- up from 15 per cent. In 1951 the first Hindu-Sikh riots occurred in Punjab over a census study on whether an individual's mother tongue was Hindi or Punjabi. A separate Punjabi Subba (State) was sought. In 1966, during Mrs. Gandhi’s stewardship of the nation and after the Akalis had proven their loyalty during the 1965 India-Pakistan war, a state with Punjabi as its national language was formed. After much consideration Himachel Pradesh and Haryana had been carved out of the part of Punjab that remained in India. The Sikh population of the new “Punjab” was 52% of the population whereas in the two new states that were formed the Sikh population was only about 5% of the entire population. The Anandpur Sahib Resolution In 1973 the Akalis approved a document called the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, which not only included these demands but also referred in vague terms to a “separate Sikh nation”. The word that was used in the document was “quam” which could mean anything from community to nation. Indira Gandhi and her government chose to interpret this as a call for a separate state. The seemingly innocuous demands of the Anandpur Sahib were: 1. Limit the power of the central/federal government to defence, foreign affairs, currency and communications; 2. Integrate Punjabi speaking areas into Punjab; 3. Provide central assistance for power generation projects; 4. Institute agricultural reform, particularly in financing of farmers; 5. Provide a solution to water sharing with neighboring states. Over a period of time the non-fulfillment of these demands became the cornerstone on which the secessionists attempted to capture popular sentiment. Mrs. Gandhi refusal to grant these demands fueled the Sikh fundamentalists’ fanaticism and their desire for an independent state called “Khalistan”.