The Partition of India
When British India gained its independence in 1947; it was divided between India
and the Islamic state of Pakistan. The Sikhs felt badly treated and reluctantly
chose to join India. The Sikhs were unable to demand their own state, because
there were too few of them to resist Pakistanís claim to the Punjab. Only by
siding with India were they able to keep part of the Punjab, although not before
appalling loss of life in communal massacres..
Sikhs lost many of their privileges, much of their land, and were deeply
A State of Their Own
The Sikh ambition for a state of their own was something that India would not
concede. To do so would have allowed communalism (i.e. religious groupings) an
unbreakable foothold in the politics of what was supposed to be a secular state.
However, in 1966, after years of Sikh demands, India divided the Punjab into
three, recreating Punjab as a state with a Sikh majority.
This was not enough to stop Sikh anger at what they saw as continuing oppression
and the unfair way in which they thought India had set the boundaries of the new
state. They continued to demand various concessions from the Indian government.