Khalistan Proposal: British Raj Pre-Partition Political Timeline

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Sikh Struggle for Independence

Khalistan Proposal
Khalistan Proposal. Photo © [Courtesy My Punjab]

The British Raj one hundred year occupation of Punjab, and other parts of India, created unrest among all subjugated native communities. Objectionable British Colonial policies resulted native outrage and backlash. Sikhs fought both for, and against, the British Raj. Sikh revolutionaries made significant contributions to the native struggle for independence and freedom from British occupation.

Negotiations began between Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu communities seeking Independence from the British Raj. Leaders proposed that territories for independent states be drawn along religious, social, linguistic, and political lines. Spurning a Unified India, the divided nation prepared for partition.The Khalistan proposal drafted in 1940 sought the restoration of United Punjab mapping out territories of the Sikh Empire confiscated during Colonial rule, sparking the Khalistan movement.

Colonial British Raj Pre - Partition Timeline:

  • 1845 - 1846: *First Sikh War
  • 1846 - 1948: British Raj Colonial period.
  • August 1, 1846: Annexation of Sikh Empire by British Raj.
  • 1849: Second Sikh War
  • 1857: *Indian Revolt - British Raj recruits Sikhs.
  • 1858:  Britain's Queen Victoria is made Empress of India when the Government of India Act dissolves British East India Company.
  • 1885: Formation of (Hindu) Indian National Congress (INC)
  • 1894 -1895: *Afghan War
  • September 12, 1897: *Battle of Saragarhi
  • 1905: INC protests a British attempt to divide Bengal based on religious influence resulting in formation of Muslim League to lookout for Muslim interests in Independence territorial negotiations.
  • 1914: Formation of Akali Dal is created to assume management of gurdwaras and historic Sikh shrines.
  • 1914 - 1915 WWI: *Sikh Regiments led by British officers fight in Europe.
  • March 10, 1919: Rowlatt Act authorizes two year imprisonment of suspected revolutionaries without trial. Over the next several weeks, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer issues orders demanding all native males to crawl on public streets.
  • April 13, 1919: Strained relations and conflicts between government officials and Akali Dal activist seeking to take charge of historic shrines in Nankana Sahib, result in the Jallianwala Bhag Massacre. The British government issues orders forbidding assembly of more than 4 persons. Without warning, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer orders troupes with armored cars and machine guns to open fire on 15,000 to 20,000 people gathered in a peaceful assembly for Sikh Vaisakhi Day celebrations in the Jallianwala gardens killing between 1,000 to 1,500 innocent souls. Outrage at the Amritsar Massacre allies the sentiments of the native population against the British Raj.
  • 1925: Sikh Gurdwara and Shrines Act is formulated by British Colonial Government to return management and control to Sikhs.
  • 1930's: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi emerges as a leadership figure in INC advocating an independent unified India. The Muslim League advocates an independent Muslim state.
  • 1940's: Redistribution negotiations commence between British, Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs to create provincial boundaries and define partitioned lands along the basis of religious majority.
  • March 1940: Dr. Vir Singh Bhatti publishes tract titled Khalistan, proposing the concept of a sovereign separate Sikh state to include territories of historic Punjab inhabited by Sikhs (areas of present day Indian and Pakistani Punjab including Lahore and Simla Hill States)
  • March 13, 1940: Shaheed-i-Azam Sardar Udham Singh Kamboj avenges the 1919 Jallianwala gardens massacre where the revolutionary had been present as a youth and had witnessed the atrocity first hand. He makes his way to London and assassinates Michael O'Dwyer who endorsed the brutality as a "correct act."
  • April 1940: The Indian National Congress Party proclaims the actions of Udham Singh to be patriotic and heroic.
  • July 31, 1940: Udham Singh is hanged at Pentonville Prison of Northern London. 
  • 1941 - 1945 WWII: *Sikh regiments fight in Burma and Middle East for the British. The anti-British Indian guerrilla National Army (INA) is formed with Sikhs representing 60% of recruits. Post war INA trials evoke sympathy for Independence.
  • July - August 1942: INC passes Quit India resolution proposing mass civil disobedience and demanding immediate Independence from British rule. British make 100,000 arrests to suppress movement and Congress.
  • 1945: British Labor Party takes power in Britain advocating immediate independence for British Colonial India. Muhammed Ali Jinnah campaigns for separate Muslim state. INC leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi advocate Unified India.
  • 1946: With the dawning of independence from British rule, INC leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohandas Gandhi encourage Sikhs to join the Union of India pledging former Sikh Empire confiscated territories of historic Punjab to be included as a separate state of sovereignty for Sikhs.
  • February 18-19, 1946: *Bombay Mutiny
  • July 10, 1946: Nehru issues a statement warning that congress may modify the federal agreement for a Unified India raising Sikh concerns about failure of negotiations for sovereignty.
  • August 16,1946: Muslim League rejects the constitution of India Congress  implementing Direct Action Day resulting in prolonged unrest, rioting and the (Calcutta) Kolkata killing of 4000, Sikhs and Hindus.
  • February 1947: British Raj promises Independence by June of 1948. Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten an advocate of Unified India is pressured to agreement of separate states. Partition of India is inevitable.

Up Next:
*Sikh Regiments of the British Raj: Timelines WW I and WW II ERA
Independence From British Raj and Partition of Sikh Homeland
Khalistan Restoration Movement: Post Partition - 1984 Timeline
Rally for Republic of Khalistan: Post 1984 Timeline

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Khalistan Defined: Movement for Independent Sovereign Sikh State
Sikh Sovereignty: Khalsa Raj Historic Timelines