Punjab (India)


(Some) Sikhs

Indian Government








Sikhism is a religion which was formed as a result of an attempt to reconcile Islam and Hinduism during the rule of the Moghuls. Like Islam it proclaims one God. Like Hinduism it has temples, not to gods but to its Scripture.. At first it was peaceful.

After a period of persecution the Sikhs became warriors and they conquered an area as a Sikh majority state (Khalistan).

They were conquered by the British and their main area was ruled as the province of Punjab (Five Rivers).

At independence in 1947 the province was divided in two parts, the southern area going to India. The Sikhs in the north migrated to India. But Sikhs and Hindus have always lived together, and in many families it is the custom for some members to be Hindu and others Sikh.

The more fanatical Sikhs wish to reconstitute the Sikh state and make it independent of India. They have given rise to a guerrilla or terrorist army which among other things assassinated the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, following an Indian Army occupation of the main temple, at Amritsar, in order to search for arms which the more fanatical groups were believed to be storing there. The Sikhs like to keep their temple as inviolate as the Muslims do Makkah.

This low intensity conflict seems likely to go on for a long time. One factor in it may be increasing population pressure. Another may be mechanization of agriculture which has made some landowners and farmers rich, but many landless laborers poorer. Punjab has been India's most prosperous and productive agricultural area.

There are many Sikhs in other countries, such as Britain, Canada, and East Africa. Occasional terrorist acts occur in these countries.

At present (early 2002) this conflict seems to be rather low key, but could break out again.

Last revised 10/2/02


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