Why was there a wave of Sikh immigration in the 1980s?

Punjab, the state where Sikhism was born and flourished, was partitioned in 1947 and split between India and Pakistan at the time of independence. Most Sikhs chose to remain or move to the Indian side of Punjab, since India purported its new constitution as secular, whereas Pakistan was created on religious lines. However, in the 1970s and ‘80s,government negligence of the state of Punjab led to economic struggles and much resentment in the state. In 1984, the turmoil in the state escalated in bloody proportions when the Indian Government attacked the most venerated of Sikh Gurdwaras, the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

In the same year, government-organized anti-Sikh pogroms took place on the streets of the Indian capital, Delhi and spread throughout India. Several thousands of innocent Sikhs died. A separatist struggle resulted and Sikh militants went to war against the government. The government ‘disappeared’ thousands of young Sikhs, who were tortured and killed in underground ‘police houses.’ That is when Sikhs began seeking asylum in other countries, including the United States.

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