Welcome to SPN

Register and Join the most happening forum of Sikh community & intellectuals from around the world.

Sign Up Now!

Sikh fundamentalism: Heating up or flaming out?

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, May 1, 2010.

  1. Archived_Member16

    Archived_Member16
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Messages:
    3,451
    Likes Received:
    3,761
    source: http://www.{censored word, do not repeat.}/news/Sikh%2Bfundamentalism%2BHeating%2Bflaming/2973853/story.html

    Sikh fundamentalism: Heating up or flaming out?

    The Khalistani homeland issue has boiled up again, and India's PM is asking Ottawa to monitor the activities of fundamentalist Sikhs in Canada

    By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun - May 1, 2010
     
    Reports of the death of the movement to create a separate Sikh homeland called Khalistan have been greatly exaggerated, at least according to activists and some of their Canadian opponents.

    Many Sikhs have been lately mocking secular media reports that, since the early 1990s, the fire has largely gone out of the campaign to carve an independent nation out of the Punjab region of India.

    Once believed resigned to the global back burner, the issue of a future Khalistani homeland has boiled up again this month in Canada.

    That is mostly due to renewed clashes between militant Sikh fundamentalists and moderates -- including a riot over control of a gurdwara in Toronto, a controversy over violence and Khalistani floats in the Vaisakhi parade in Surrey and in regards to death threats against Vancouver South Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh, a secular Sikh.

    To top off the re-activated controversy, no less than the prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, who happens to be a Sikh, has asked for Ottawa to more closely monitor what he called the dangerously escalating activities of pro-Khalistan Sikhs in Canada.

    "It's getting worse," echoed Dosanjh, 62, a former federal Liberal cabinet minister and one-time New Democratic Party premier of B.C., who was once badly beaten by militant Sikh fundamentalists. "We now have second-and third-generation youth whose minds are being poisoned."

    Dosanjh told Agence France-Presse that militancy among Canadian Sikh fundamentalists is worse than a generation ago when extremists blew up Air India Flight 182 off the coast of Ireland in 1985, killing 329 passengers and crew.

    B.C. Sikhs were charged with the terrorist act.

    However, apart from the statements of Dosanjh and some pro-Khalistan websites, it's hard to be convinced the Khalistani movement is near as powerful, or prone to violence, as in the 1980s.

    That was an era when most of the world's 25 million Sikhs were feeling not unjustifiable rage against acts of repression by the Indian government and some of its fanatical citizens.

    In the Punjab in the 1980s, several thousand people died in nearly 10 years of militancy-- and the country's Sikhs became disastrously alienated from broader Indian society.

    India's Congress government, led by then-prime minister Indira Gandhi, sent troops into the Sikhs' sacred shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, to weed out the militants holed up there.

    A few months later, in October 1984, Gandhi was gunned down by her Sikh bodyguards. Her death triggered riots that led to more than 3,000 Sikhs being killed by mobs.

    In horrifying scenes, Sikhs were singled out to be lynched and torched to death in public.

    Now, more than two decades after those troubles, the divide between Sikhs, who make up a tiny portion of India's population, and the Hindu majority has been largely bridged.

    The elevation in 2004 of Manmohan Singh to the position of India's first Sikh prime minister represented the culmination of Sikhs' gradual return to normal relations.

    Even though many Sikhs still feel bitter about the way they were targeted after Gandhi's assassination, time has healed the worst wounds.
    The antagonism and distrust between India's Sikhs and the Gandhi family in particular lost some steam.

    After Sonia Gandhi became the Congress party chief in 1998, she helped reconcile with Sikhs. She went to Sikh places of worship, apologizing for the riots.

    Given the savagery of the 1980s conflict, in some ways it's surprising, and a credit to the majority of Sikhs, that the Khalistan separatist movement has drastically faded in intensity.

    Compared with the grievances of Sikhs, the historical complaints of Quebec's francophone separatists, for instance, look relatively distant and pale.

    While there is nothing inherently wrong with a peaceful movement for self-rule, which is the way some Sikhs approach the dream of Khalistan, it is morally dubious to promote violence in its name.

    Still, it must be hard for most Sikhs -whether in India or major host countries of Canada, the U.S. and Britain -to feel too victimized when the people of India elect a prime minister who is Sikh.

    Indians have even done so twice; Manmohan Singh was re-elected in 2009. It's an amazing poll result in a country of 1.1 billion people, in which only about 20 million are Sikh.

    Talk about a community punching above its weight.

    However, what if Manmohan Singh and Dosanjh are right in suggesting the pro-Khalistan movement is more militant in Canada than in India?

    In a way, it would make the Sikh diaspora (the members of a group who have emigrated from their homeland) similar to the earlier Irish diaspora.

    Throughout much of the 20th century, otherwise comfortable Irish immigrants in the U.S. were infamous for advocating and financing Irish terrorist attacks on British forces and Irish citizens.

    Why would those who leave their native land, whether Sikh or Irish, become some of the most radical proponents of violent separatism in their place of origin?

    Does their savagery come from guilt for leaving behind beleaguered brothers and sisters? Is it made possible by achieving financial success in their new land?

    Is it righteous indignation in the name of freedom? Is it because it's easier to plot violent retaliation against your former country when there is less fear of prosecution in your new country?

    Or is it the result of host countries' leaky immigration practices, which often are not capable of sifting out violence-prone fundamentalists from more civilized members of the same culture?

    It's probably a combination of all these things.

    Whatever the ultimate answer to this complex question, however, neither the non-violent majority of Sikhs (which includes some fundamentalists) nor the rest of the Canadian population has to worry too much about pro-Khalistan terrorism returning to the ferocious levels of the 1980s.

    In addition to the ameliorating political developments that have occurred in India since the early '90s, the ideological fundamentalism that often feeds such fervent separatist desire -- whether Sikh, Christian or ultranationalistic -- doesn't typically have a long shelf life.

    The famed University of Chicago religion historian Martin Marty, who led a 100-scholar-plus global research effort called the Fundamentalism Project, concluded that the power of fundamentalism generally burns more like a brush fire than a conflagration.

    In other words, if the dominant culture doesn't fuel the flames of fundamentalists' rage by persecuting the minority group to which they belong, most militant campaigns tend to burn out.

    Let's hope that's what is happening to the more brutish forms of Sikh fundamentalism.

    dtodd@{censored word, do not repeat.}

    Read Douglas Todd's blog at www.{censored word, do not repeat.}/thesearch
    © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
     
  2. Loading...


  3. roab1

    roab1
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2009
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    229


    I dont support khalistan but i dont let my thinking get clouded by love for my country.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Fundamentalist? What is a Sikh fundamentalist? What does that mean? Is the author confused on this point?
     
    • Like Like x 2

Share This Page