Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 April 2014
Punjab is widely known for its rivers, fertile land, and sacred places speckled with Hindu, Sufi, Sikh, and indigenous/pagan shrines. It has also earned the distinct trademark of being a proud food-bowl-state of north India. Its engaging role in the freedom struggle of the country and the innumerable sacrifices made by its freedom fighters are well known over the world. The formation of the Ghadar Party (also known as Hindi Association of the Pacific Coast) by the Punjabi immigrants in North America in 1913 for liberating India from the British rule; the rise of the Babbar Akalis in 1920s for self rule; the emergence of the radical movement (Naxalites) in the beginning of the 1970s for furthering the cause of peasants and workers; and the rise of the Khalistan movement in the 1980s for the establishment of a separate Sikh state, all put together represent Punjab as a land of resistance against all sorts of dominations and discriminations. Punjabi resistance draws heavily on the heroic deeds of the Khalsa, primarily aimed at establishing a Halimi Raj in the name of formless God where no one would be discriminated against on primordial or ascriptive values. Another peculiarity that sharply distinguishes Punjab from the rest of the country is the bloody partition forced on it on the eve of independence. The partition of Punjab, in fact, is one among the few forced and violent mass exoduses the twentieth-century world witnessed.