Khalistan Movement Through Green Revolution
The Khalistan movement was a Sikh separatist movement seeking to create a homeland for Sikhs by establishing a sovereign state called Khalistan. The movement flourished in the Indian state of Punjab, which has a Sikh majority population, reaching its zenith in the late 1970s and 1980s.
The prominent leader of the movement was Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. In April 1978, there was a mass conversion at Amritsar of a religious sect Nirankaris. The Nirankaris thought of themselves as Sikhs, but they believed in living Guru Baba Gurbachan Singh. Baba Gurbachan Singh was assassinated by Jarnail Singh Bhindrawnwal’s bands on the charge that he claimed to be Guru.
Why did Jarnail Bhindranwale get huge support from the Sikh people? The answer can be divided into two parts. The first part is related to the historical background. The second part is related to socio-economic aspects.
Sikhism is the world’s youngest major religion and is still evolving. It is also a religion of the book with demanding doctrine. A holy book has much wisdom. The Green Revolution created income equality which led to economic distress. In times of economic distress, you sometimes need a human being to support you, particularly with a godly reputation. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had thus satisfied the psychological need of the economically distressed Sikh people.
Similarly, Bhindranwale also succeeded in attracting many jats of peasant background. These jat peasants who had seen the gain of the Green Revolution were cornered by the big landowners.
Again, the other followers came from the lower Sikh castes of artisans and labourers. These people saw in the process of purification their social advancement.
The Green Revolution increased economic prosperity. This economic prosperity had modernized the Sikhs who had so far forgotten themselves as to cut their hair and started to consume tobacco and alcohol. As per Sikhism, Sikhs are not allowed any form of intoxication. Bhindranwale spoke scathingly of these practices.
To conclude, Bhindranwale benefited from the general increase of religiosity in Punjab which took place because of rapid and unexpected economic development i.e Green Revolution.