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Socio-Political Context of Sikh Militancy in India

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This paper explores the social and political context of the recent conflict and militancy of the Sikhs in India and seeks to test Brass' theory that such (ethnic) conflicts are not "givens" but are socio-political constructions. Following a brief sketch of the history of the Sikhs as a religious minority in India, the paper brings into focus the inevitable conflict between the demand by a militant wing of the Sikh community for an independent state based on religion and the principle of secularism as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Political maneuvering by both sides of the divide and using each other for temporary advantages is seen as rampant. Random acts of terrorism by the militants in pursuit of their goal(s) and some desperate, often indecisive, governmental responses are highlighted. Additional perspectives are brought to bear by way of interpretation and specification.

Affiliations: 1: University of Illinois at Springfield, Springfield, IL 62794, U.S.A.


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