Over the past few days I have been researching the movement for a separate Sikh state in the Punjab. Before presenting my opinion, I would like to say that there is no denying the numerous hardships the Sikhs have faced. Their land was carved up during the partition. Those on the Pakistani side endured the violent resettlement of 1949. The Indian government has taken the region's water while giving little in return. When the discontentment spawned separatist paramilitaries, the Indian government reacted by bringing martial law to the Punjab and attacking the holiest spot on earth for Sikhs, the Golden Temple. When Indira Gandhi was killed by her Sikh bodyguards in response to the attack, a systematic slaughter of Sikhs took place in Dehli.
I spent some time reading the separatist website www.khalistan.com. The articles I perused seemed rooted in fear. According to the authors, the only way the Sikhs can thrive is to establish an independent nation. Israel was given as the example of a state thriving from its religious identity. Should the Sikhs emulate a state entwined in a massive civil war with little end in sight?
A former Sikh political leader was oft quoted as saying that no one can be a Sikh if he is not in favor of the independent state. This is reminiscent of Catholic bishops refusing communion to pro-choice politicians. Should doctrinal religious rules define political preferences?
I understand the Sikh path as a recognition that there is one God, and that all are brothers on the path to experiencing God. It was founded in the recognition of human dignity and brotherhood in the faces of the regimented caste system and Islamic sharia. A Sikh is a soldier of God, emanating hope and delivering justice when all else is faltering. Injustices have occurred, but the religion should not be transformed into a reactionary movement against said atrocities.
In a world shrinking daily through instant media and McDonalds in every country, coexistence is the sole solution to disaster.
No state can exist that defines itself on exclusion.