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 discontented.

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.