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In the subcontinent before the partition of India, Hindus were close to 54%, Muslims to 24% and Sikhs were only 2%. The Sikh religion originated in the Punjab where the Sikh population was approximately 14% of the total population. In connection with the partition of the subcontinent, Muslims got Pakistan, Hindus got India but what did Sikhs get? We will consider this in this article.
The problem for the Sikhs was that their population was much smaller than the population of Hindus and Muslims in pre partition India and they did not even have a majority in a single district of the entire subcontinent. Their population was scattered in different cities of Punjab. During the partition of the subcontinent, the Sikhs had three options.
1 1. Joining Pakistan-
By joining Pakistan, the whole of Punjab would have been part of Pakistan and the Sikh population would have been thirteen per cent of present day Pakistan, which would have had a significant status compared to present day India. Sikh holy places like Nankana Sahib, Hassan Abdal etc. would have been within the reach of Sikhs. Most importantly, millions of people would have survived the onslaught of riots in which a large part of the victims were Sikhs and Muslims. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in a meeting with Maharaja Yovindra Singh of Patiala State, offered the Sikhs accession to Pakistan, which would have been a semi-autonomous Sikh state from Panipat to the Ravi River with its own army and parliament. This state was to form a confederation with Pakistan. But this was rejected by the Maharaja of Patiala. Lord Mountbatten then asked MahaRaja Patiala to meet Jinnah again. Master Tara Singh and other leaders were also present at the second meeting. This time too, Jinnah's offer was rejected by Sikh leaders.
2 2. Establishment of an Independent Sikh State-
As mentioned earlier, the population of Sikhs was very small and they did not have an overwhelming majority in any one area but their population was scattered in different parts of Punjab. Nevertheless, the offer of a separate state to the Sikhs is mentioned in history. Kapoor Singh writes in his book “Some documents on the demand for Sikh-Homeland” that on May 17 1947, at the invitation of the British Cabinet, Baldev Singh, Liaquat Ali Khan and Nehru went to London to discuss ways to divide the subcontinent. When there was no mutual agreement between the Muslim League and the Congress, Nehru returned to India. Baldev Singh was told by British cabinet members that if he remained here, there could be progress towards a separate state for the Sikhs which could make history. Baldev Singh sought Nehru's advice on the secret offer, after which Baldev Singh rejected the offer in a press statement, saying, "We ask the Britain for nothing but an unconditional return from India”.
3 3. Joining India -
Most of the Sikh leaders of the time favored annexation with India because they considered themselves closer to Hinduism than to Muslims. Second, during the Mughal period and Ranjit Singh's time, Sikhs had not very good relations with Muslims. In addition, Nehru promised them a semi-autonomous Punjabi province where Sikhs would be in the majority. But after the partition of India, the promises made to the Sikhs were not fulfilled and the Hindu-majority areas of Haryana were also included in the Punjab. Which was later separated from Punjab in 1966. In addition, Chandigarh was made the joint capital of Haryana and Punjab which the Sikhs only wanted as the capital of Punjab. Due to these differences, the Indian army had to attack the Golden Temple in 1984 and after the assassination of Indira, Sikhs were massacred in Delhi. A separatist movement began in the Indian state of Punjab in which thousands of people lost their lives during the eighties and nineties. In the present era, the Sikh separatist movement was suppressed by India using force, but even today there are large numbers of Sikhs abroad who dream of establishing an independent Sikh state.