During their recent meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil, the Indian government officials expressed worry over increasing support for Khalistan movement, specially in Melbourne’s Indian community
Senior Indian government officials have warned Anthony Albanese-led government over rise in Sikh separatism in Australia and its links to terrorist groups in India.
During their recent meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil, the Indian government officials expressed worry over increasing support for Khalistan movement, specially in Melbourne’s Indian community.
At an Indian Community event – The Humanity Walk – in Melbourne, Khalistan supporters waved flags and handed out pamphlets. The walk on 19 November was organised by the Victorian Sikh Gurdwara Council.
A report by The Australian quoted an Indian government official saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in India wanted to convey the Australian ministers that the Khalistan movement had ties to “proscribed terrorist organisations with a history of violent terrorism and lots of violence in the past”.
Therefore, there is a fear of communal disharmony and likely law and order problems, the official said.
He further said that Khalistan supporters have been sheltering in overseas countries including the US and Canada and have been carrying out activities from these places across the world.
The report quoted sources in the Indian government saying that the Modi government was concerned that local Khalistan movement leaders were recruiting impressionable Indian Sikhs in Australia “who don’t know what they are getting into”.
“There are certain people who are very sure of what they’re doing, and they want to use every occasion and opportunity and event to promote their narrative. They say that it’s freedom of expression; that you can say things which are considered objectionable. But we are anticipating something which is coming down the line, which is picking up steam,” the report quoted the Indian government official as saying.
Indian government bans Sikh separatist groups
Four Sikh separatist groups – Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Commando Force, Khalistan Zindabad Force, and the International Sikh Youth Federation – have been banned by the Indian government.
In India, the Khalistan movement started as the Sikh separatist movement to form a distinct sovereign state called Khalistan which would be the homeland of the Sikhs. The idea to form a separate Sikh homeland began during the fall of the British empire.
Notably, back in 1940 a call for Khalistan was made for the first time through pamphlets by the same name. Gradually with political assistance and financial support of the Sikh diaspora, the Khalistan movement started gaining momentum in Punjab. It was in late 1980s it reached its peak as a separatist movement.
Jagjit Singh Chohan is said to be the founder of the Khalistan movement.