The Khalistan movement – with the demand for a separate homeland for Sikhs in the Punjab region of South Asia at its core – is a gripping part of India’s socio-political history.

This nationalist political liberation movement had its roots in the creation of Pakistan, which made some Sikhs aspire to a country of their own. What began as a peaceful demand for a Punjab province by the Akali Dalh turned into a militant operation in the next few decades, giving rise to divisive leadership.

Peace was shattered with Operation Blue Star, followed by the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, which triggered a horrific pogrom and riots against the Sikh community that gripped large parts of North India.

The history of the Khalistan movement has been nothing short of dramatic, and includes other violent incidents, such the assassination of then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995 and a wave of armed militancy.