Kangana Slapped, Two MPs bring back memories of the Violent Khalistan Movement

Left is collage of interaction between Sikh Tempo driver N police.
  • Election of 2 MPs/Kangana Slapped! FAQ includes What is the problem in Punjab? What memories of Khalistan does this bring back? Why are Farmers protesting? If farmers have an open mind solutions can be found.

One was digesting news of election as Members of Parliament (MP), the chief of ‘Waris Punjab De’, currently in jail and Sarabjeet Khalsa, son of Beant Singh-one of the assassins of former PM Mrs Indira Gandhi when came news of a Sikh lady constable slapping the newly elected MP from Mandi, at Chandigarh Airport.


The SKM (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee Farmer unions announced their support for the Central Industrial Security Force suspended constable. The constable claimed her mother was part of the 2020 farmers' protest, about whom the actor had commented that “women protestors could be hired for Rs 100”. The unions want a dope test on Kangana and warned of protests if action was taken against the lady constable.


If any person, upset by another’s comment, slaps the other what next. Can people in CISF uniform be trusted? 


My mind raced back to a scuffle between a Sikh tempo driver and the Delhi police in 2019 where the driver threatened policemen with a sword. Later he was overpowered and beaten by the cops. The video of the incident went viral. Soon a crowd of around 400 Sikhs gathered at the police station demanding Singh’s release. The group thrashed ACP Tyagi, raised slogans and damaged atleast a dozen vehicles. For video see Kirandeep’s tweet here  


Dhairya (patience) and tolerance should not be construed as weakness!


Format is question (9) and answer. Links are for those who wish to deep dive.


1. Since the cause of the slap was Farmer Protests, what are their demands?

Key Demand is MSP (minimum support price) to be backed by a legal guarantee, a demand refused by Manmohan Singh’s Congress government but now promised by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi)


Senior journalist, Late Sunil Jain wrote in the Financial Express in December 2020, “In case the MSP is guaranteed, and that will have to be for all crops and across the country – and once this is given, those growing other crops like fruits and vegetables will also demand MSP – the impact will be huge. The impact will differ from crop to crop, and even mandi to mandi, but given the difference between mandi prices and MSPs range between 20 and 50%, the cost to the government can run into several lakh crore rupees every year.”  Read   MSP trap will bankrupt government and cripple trade And Making MSP legal obligation can create complexities warns economist Ashok Gulati


Yet, farmers refuse to understand. Perhaps, the real reason for protest lies elsewhere. Read   This is about politics, not farmers rights


They keep on harping of deaths during protests that were not due to any government action. Read  95 year old Nihang dies at farmer protest site A Amritsar based friend says in Punjab society becoming Shaheed (martyr) is a big thing so many desire to be one.


In Agitation 2, “The other demands are the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, waiving of farm debts and withdrawal of police cases filed during the 2020/21 protests.” Source


Whilst protesting they blame the Centre (BJP) but surely know that under the Indian Constitution Agriculture is a State subject.


Note it is mainly farmers of Punjab and Haryana who are part of these protests. Read  Unrest among Punjab farmers-Paradox of prosperity and protests

2. Many believe protests forced Central government to withdraw farm laws

In reality, on 12/1/2021 the Supreme Court kept laws in abeyance. It set up a committee to suggest changes. Farmer groups expressed no faith in the Committee and unions refused to meet panel. The Committee submitted its report on 11/3/21. For reasons unknown the SC has not made the committee’s reports public till 7/6/24. On 19/11/21 the Centre announced scrapping of farm laws, what with assembly elections approaching. Read   Decoding scrapping of farm laws

3. So what is the problem in Punjab?

Key problems are - 1. Intertwining of religion and politics. 2. Falling ground water levels, due to increasing paddy production.


Fight for legalising MSP is to ensure guaranteed cash flows for generations. When water level falls too low, the fight would be for water from Himachal-ask for merger of state with Punjab.


The intertwining of religion and politics concerns Jaat Sikhs. They got prominence with the advent of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule and victories against the Afghans. Further, the British were grateful to the Sikh princes for assistance received during the mutiny of 1857 and seeing the bravery of Sikh armies realised, that they could be an effective buffer between Afghanistan and India. Thereafter, British wooed Sikhs, made caste the basis of land ownership and tacitly supported the division of Punjab. Read  How the British Divided Punjab into Hindu and Sikh


Since 1925 the Akali Dal controls Gurdwaras in Punjab and thus Sikh religious affairs. This control is the key to political power in Punjab. However, Akali hold has weakened over the years. (won 1 Lok Sabha seat in 2024 polls).


Farmers are primarily Jaat Sikhs. Since farmers are powerful the state government wooed them for e.g. Akali-BJP government declared free power to farmers in 1997-98. In FY20-21, free power is expected to cost Rs 8,275 crore leaving fewer resources for needy programs like education. So petition the Centre and transfer responsibility to meet unfulfilled demands. 


Unless religion and politics are delinked nothing will change in Punjab. Read  What is the problem in Punjab  + Punjab should reform its subsidy structure, reduce dependence on MSP


On problem 2 farmers are aware that if current levels of groundwater exploitation continue Punjab will become a desert soon. Read  Why are Punjab Farmers Protesting + Is Punjab Dying  

Baba Deep Singh, head cut off in fight with Jamal Khan. Holding head in hand he reached Hari Mandir.

4. What about Politics in farmer protests?

Farmers, being essentially, Jaat Sikh are the core support base of Akali Dal. Jaats have ruled the state since it was formed in 1966. For them, agriculture is a source of power. The state government, being AAP, would do anything to show other parties in poor light. Read   This is about politics, not farmers rights

5. Why does the Khalistan issue invariably come up during farmer protests?

Jaat Sikhs are the biggest farmers and were also the biggest proponents of the Khalistani Movement of the 1980-1990s (no offence meant).


During 2021-22 protests saw some videos on X (earlier Twitter) of Sikhs saying give us MSP or Khalistan. I know of many Sikhs today who publicly speak against Khalistan.


Yet, so far Khalistan is a bogie. Respected Cap Amarinder Singh (former Congress leader now in BJP) said years ago said he could not implement the Supreme Court order on the Sutlej-Yamuna canal as it would revive the demands for Khalistan. Further, because of over 21,000 deaths in 1980-1990s, courts and politicians tread with caution when the K word is used. 

My great grand-father in centre. 1948.

6. So what happened during the Khalistan Movement?

I have provided answers in brief along with links for those who wish to deep dive. Read in brief   What happened during the Khalistan Movement and I wrote a mini book How the British sowed the seeds for the Khalistan Movement before Indians took over


From 1988 to 1990, for nearly three years, I was posted in the Rajpura factory of Hindustan Levers. Our family retained many aspects of Punjabi culture. The mandir at home had a largish picture of Guru Nanak. My Ma's grandmothers, on both sides, were Sikh and am born Punjabi. 


To get a sense of conditions in Punjab then, here is what Sunil Sharan (author) wrote in the Times of India: “It is estimated that between 1980 and 1984, thousands of Hindus lost their lives to Bhindranwale’s goons. Nobody ever even memorializes their lives, leave alone talks about their deaths. I was a teenager applying to engineering college and wanted to travel to Kurukshetra to pick up the application forms. A friend of mine was accompanying me. The bus drove through Punjab. Those were the days when Bhindranwale’s thugs would stop buses, separate Sikhs from Hindus, and then mow the Hindus down.” Ask actress Richa Chadha why her family left Amritsar for Delhi!

Bhindranwale picture at San Jose Gurudwara, California. 2015.

Those who write and protest against the Army action during Operation Bluestar were and are silent when terrorists converted the holy shrine into an armed fortress.     Read  What were the conditions before Operation Bluestar + Untold Story before Bluestar


Having said that, am sad that those responsible for the unfortunate 1984 anti-Sikh violence were not convicted, be it HKL Bhagat, Dharma Dass Shastri, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar (recently sent to jail). 


Yet, even forty years later the deaths during 1984’s Operation Blue Star and Congress sponsored violence post Mrs Indira Gandhi’s assassination are spoken to paint a narrative as if Sikhs are continuously oppressed. No mention of the thousands of Hindus killed by Sikh terrorists.    There is also a campaign to malign K.P.S Gill, the then Director General of Punjab Police, but the truth is he restored peace. 

KPS Gill, the man who saved Punjab. 

Ajai Sahni, Director, Institute of Conflict Management wrote in the Tribune, Chandigarh, “For long, Khalistani formations alleging ‘genocide’ have claimed, with not a shred of evidence, that between 1 lakh and 2.5 lakh Sikhs were killed in the counterterrorism campaign in the state. The reality is, a total of 21,532 persons were killed between 1981 and 1995 in connection with Khalistani terror, including 8,090 categorised as terrorists; 11,696 civilians, almost all killed by the Khalistanis, but including some who lost their lives in ‘crossfire’; and 1,746 security force personnel (1,415 of the Punjab Police alone) killed by the terrorists.”


There is not a word of regret about these mass killings from the Sikh community.


It has become habitual for my Punjabi Sikh brothers to blame others instead of looking within and deny others credit. Here are two examples.


1. It is due to domination of Sikh affairs, by mainly Jaat Sikhs, that backward classes in North India have flocked to Deras who make the poor feel secure, cared for, loved and provide a support system with no caste bias. It is for the same reason that the Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshi Ram, a Ramdasia Sikh, chose to pursue a social revolution in Uttar Pradesh. Read  Why Dera Sacha Sauda draws followers


2. Col Anil Athale (retd) wrote, “Marathas never attempted to control Punjab. The Sikhs were a beneficiary. The weakened Afghans could no longer hold Punjab and soon a powerful Sikh state came up and ruled from Lahore.” Khushwant Singh re-confirmed, “It could be said that the battle of Panipat that was fought between the Marathas and Afghans was really won by the Sikhs.” History of Sikhs Volume 2 Pg. 145

Have you heard of Sikhs ever publicly give credit to the Marathas?    See the Ranjit Singh Panorama in Amritsar

Charan Paduka Khadavas, wooden footwear of Guru Nanak & son Baba Srichand at Lakhpat Gurdwara, Kutch. Pranams. 2018. 

None doubt the bravery of our Sikh brothers. But to think they are the only ones or saved Hinduism would be a misnomer. Read   The Maratha Century + Did Sikhs save Hindus

Statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at Tawang.

7. Much is made of Punjab being the land of five rivers and its waters going to others.

Undivided Punjab was the land of five rivers. Today, the rivers flow through Punjab. Read   Is Punjab the land of five rivers


From experience have learnt, it is very easy to find fault with others but difficult to correct and change yourself. Read  Mosewala’s song creates controversy over the politically charged nature of the song


A few more Sikh attacks on Himachalis, and the people of Himachal will ask for a new airport to be built in Haryana (near Panchkula). The current airport at Chandigarh is anyway a defence airport (both share the same runway even though there is a new passenger terminal).


8. Modi is your best bet dear Sikh brothers and sisters

Prime Minister Modi has gone out of his way to reach out to Sikhs, within and outside India (e.g. opening of Kartar Singh Corridor, declaration of December 26 as Veer Bal Diwas). The community should realize that.


If not, Khalistan 2 could take a different form for e.g. farmer’s protests, not selling wheat/rice to government agencies, stopping flow of water to Delhi, attacks on Indian embassies and diplomats abroad. Courts and anarchists may, unknowingly provide tacit supportIf India grows and becomes a threat to others the scale of protests could change.


9. How can my home state of Punjab revive?

We Punjabis are a hard-working community who have excelled worldwide and re-built our lives post partition. However, resident Punjabis have lost the risk-taking and entrepreneurial spirit. That spirit needs revival.


Perhaps, decades of freebie culture, started by parties cutting across political lines, has caused this damage.   


During farmer protests, picture of Sikhs taking a generator of a telecom company to the local gurdwara has dampened spirits of Indic Inc.


It is for resident Punjabis to decide their future. If one has an open mind, solutions can be found. 


Expressing regret by Constable is good but means little since the damage is done.  If Modi3 does not take strict action against suspended constable it shall have damaging repercussions.


1. A History of Sikhs, Volume II by Khushwant Singh

2. How the British divided Punjab into Hindu and Sikh

3. Oh, That other Hindu riot of passage by Khushwant Singh


This article should not be republished without written approval of www.esamskriti.com. Collage in cover pic is courtesy The Times of India. Kangana pic on right is courtesy The Indian Express. 


Also read

1. Hear by Def Talks Who is Kulvinder Kaur

2. Decoding Scrapping of Farm Laws

3. Why Mandatory MSP is a bad idea

4. Regulatory Framework for NRI owning agricultural land

5. Album Golden Temple

6. Did Muslims rule India for 800 years

7.  Damage caused by Free Power

8. Looking beyond loan write offs for farmers

9. As BEAS Dam completes 50 years (in Kangra district) 

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