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What to know concerning the Sikh independence motion following US accusation that activist was focused

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NEW DELHI — The U.S. has charged an Indian nationwide in what prosecutors allege was a failed plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist on the behest of an unnamed Indian authorities official.

The fees introduced Wednesday in opposition to an Indian nationwide arrested in June in Europe come two months after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned there have been credible accusations that India might have been linked to the killing of a Sikh activist close to Vancouver, straining relations between the 2 international locations.

The U.S. case is especially delicate given the excessive precedence that President Joe Biden positioned on bettering ties with India and courting it to be a significant associate within the push to counter China’s growing assertiveness.

India, which has banned the Sikh independence — or Khalistan — motion, denied having a job within the Canada killing and mentioned it was inspecting data shared by the U.S. and taking these accusations severely.

Listed below are some particulars concerning the situation:

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India’s Sikh independence motion finally grew to become a bloody armed insurgency that shook India within the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties. It was centered within the northern Punjab state, the place Sikhs are the bulk, although they make up about 1.7% of India’s general inhabitants.

The insurgency lasted greater than a decade and was suppressed by an Indian authorities crackdown by which 1000’s of individuals have been killed, together with outstanding Sikh leaders.

A whole bunch of Sikh youths have been additionally killed throughout police operations, many in detention or throughout staged gunfights, in keeping with rights teams.

In 1984, Indian forces stormed the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest shrine, in Amritsar to flush out separatists who had taken refuge there. The operation killed round 400 individuals, in keeping with official figures, however Sikh teams say 1000’s have been killed.

The {dead} included Sikh militant chief Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, whom the Indian authorities accused of main the armed insurgency.

On Oct. 31, 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who ordered the raid on the temple, was assassinated by two of her bodyguards, who have been Sikh.

Her dying triggered a sequence of anti-Sikh riots, by which Hindu mobs went from home to deal with throughout northern India, notably in New Delhi, pulling Sikhs from their properties, hacking many to dying and burning others alive.

There is no such thing as a energetic insurgency in Punjab in the present day, however the Khalistan motion nonetheless has some supporters within the state, in addition to within the sizable Sikh diaspora past India. The Indian authorities has warned repeatedly over time that Sikh separatists have been making an attempt to make a comeback.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities has additionally intensified the pursuit of Sikh separatists and arrested dozens of leaders from numerous outfits which are linked to the motion.

When farmers camped out on the sides of New Delhi to protest controversial agriculture legal guidelines in 2020, Modi’s authorities initially tried to discredit Sikh individuals by calling them “Khalistanis.” Underneath stress, the federal government later withdrew the legal guidelines.

Earlier this yr, Indian police arrested a separatist chief who had revived requires Khalistan and stirred fears of violence in Punjab. Amritpal Singh, a 30-year-old preacher, had captured nationwide consideration via his fiery speeches. He mentioned he drew inspiration from Bhindranwale.

India has been asking international locations like Canada, Australia and the U.Okay. to take authorized motion in opposition to Sikh activists, and Modi has personally raised the difficulty with the nations’ prime ministers. India has notably raised these considerations with Canada, the place Sikhs make up practically 2% of the nation’s inhabitants.

Earlier this yr, Sikh protesters pulled down the Indian flag on the nation’s excessive fee in London and smashed the constructing’s window in a present of anger in opposition to the transfer to arrest Amritpal Singh. Protesters additionally smashed home windows on the Indian consulate In San Francisco and skirmished with embassy staff.

India’s overseas ministry denounced the incidents and summoned the U.Okay.’s deputy excessive commissioner in New Delhi to protest what it known as the breach of safety on the embassy in London.

The Indian authorities additionally accused Khalistan supporters in Canada of vandalizing Hindu temples with “anti-India” graffiti and of attacking the places of work of the Indian Excessive Fee in Ottawa throughout a protest in March.

Final yr, Paramjit Singh Panjwar, a Sikh militant chief and head of the Khalistan Commando Pressure, was shot {dead} in Pakistan.

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