The intellectual arguments for autonomy for the Panjab and the other states that came to form the central state known as India in 1947 are beyond dispute. Moreover, the current farmers revolt has given tremendous impetus to what was a seemingly lost cause following the suppression of the Khalistan movement in the 1990’s. The key challenge is how to achieve this goal?
Let us not forget the original centralised state was established as a Union of States, otherwise known as the The Dominion of India, which existed between 15 August 1947 and 26 January 1950.
It was created by the Indian Independence Act 1947 and was transformed into the Republic of India following a formal declaration, in 1950, of the new constitution of India, which was never accepted by the vast majority of Panjabis. The question now is, how can Panjabis achieve their right to autonomy from the centralised post-colonial monstrosity called India?
It is clear that an armed struggle, given the power of the Indian armed forces, would be a foolish strategy. The other and more feasible option is to organise a new political coalition in Panjab on the policy of Punjab autonomy based on the Anandpur Resolution.
If this coalition is successful in gaining a majority in the Legislative Assembly elections that will be held in February 2022 they should immediately pass a resolution￼ demanding autonomy for the Panjab. This should be followed up with a referendum which should be supervised by the United Nations (UN) observers. Different options, from partial autonomy to full statehood, could be offered in the referendum. At the same time, the new Panjab Government should establish direct diplomatic relations with foreign governments and also the UN.
This should include the development of a road map to open up the border between Pakistan and India so that the Panjabi people both sides can freely meet and trade. Such a move should also bring a peace divide by between the two super powers and could also lead to peace in Kashmir following a similar constitutional settlement for autonomy/independence BW established. Ultimately, this model could be applied across the region, thrust heralding a age of peace, cooperation and freedom for the people’s of the subcontinent. Indeed. There is no reason why a new federation of independent South Asia. states could not be established as a trading block similar to the EU.
For sure the central government will seek to use force to suppress these moves, and here, Panjabis should form alliances with other states in India that are also seeking autonomy. That way political pressure can be created on the central government, especially if they think the spirit for liberation from the centralised Indian State emanating from Panjab is spreading across the sub-continent.
Some people reading this post may think this is all ‘pie in the sky’ wishful thinking. Others will argue that there can be no solution within the confines of the Indian State. All I would say to them is, I am offering a road map which can end wherever the Panjabi people wish. But, I would love to hear from others about an alternative strategy to dealing with the Indian Hinduva Imperial project and achieve freedom from it.
[Gurnam Singh is an academic activist dedicated to human rights, liberty, equality, social and environmental justice. He is an Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Warwick, UK. He can be contacted at Gurnam.email@example.com]
* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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