Take a Punjab-wide poll about Gopal Singh Chawla with a single question for the respondents: Did you know him a year ago?
Forget the rest of Punjab, most people in the border city of Amritsar are unlikely to say "yes, we did".
From the information available on the internet, Chawla is somewhere around 45 years in age.
Gopal Chawla became the talk of the town after this image of him with Navjot Singh Sidhu started circulating on social media. (Photo: Facebook)
Yet, a vast majority of Sikhs within India never came to know about him till his images were beamed on Indian TV, seen with anti-India terrorists.
He got immense air-time in our country once again during the ground-breaking ceremony for the proposed Kartarpur Sahib corridor on the Pakistani side late last month.
Sections of our media called him a Khalistani "leader". Leader? I wondered.
A leader of what is definitely now an imaginary separate homeland movement propagated continents apart largely on social media, their rhetoric picked by some passionate members of our own journalist fraternity?
Curious, I heard Chawla's TV interviews after he was qualified as a "Khalistani leader" in our press.
I found him to be a third-rate buffoon, a caricature who shot to fame largely on the back of general ignorance about Punjab and the Sikhs within our own country.
But his turbaned and bearded face was optimally used by opponents of Sidhu and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, whom the chatterbox Punjab minister termed his "captain".
What went amiss in our national editorials was a fine analysis of how Chawla and some other Khalistani antics like him in Europe and North America serve the purpose of political powers that survive and thrive on building up a spectre against minorities in our country.
While holidaying in the US last month, I had a chance to visit some gurdwaras.
I could see that the ordinary Sikh faithful had no truck whatsoever with any Khalistani speeches.
Khalistani elements are a reduced minority within Punjab. (Photo: PTI)
For them gurdwaras, like in India and elsewhere, offer spiritual solace, hold a nostalgic significance and are a source of cultural connectivity.
Khalistani elements are not only reduced to a microscopic minority within Punjab, they enjoy no popular support from most of the diasporic Sikh faithful either, who would simply step out of the sacred halls the moment these characters grab microphones to deliver cliched rhetoric.
That makes it absolutely clear these handful of so-called Khalistani proponents are legends in their own mind.
But what they now know is that their propaganda would grab more eyeballs in India than they ever expected in their lifetime, courtesy of people who would exploit it to consolidate Hindu votes in the name of the majority versus the rest of communities.
Even as the Kartarpur corridor was being inaugurated, Khalistani elements such as Gopal Chawla were afforded air-time. (Photo: PTI)
These self-anointed champions of a separate homeland are loud enough to cite human rights as a ground for their fanciful demands.
Human rights? Really? How many of them ever stood by the side of the marginalised black population in Europe and North America? How many of them ever spoke about the rights of the aboriginal people? How many raised their voice against the then US administration for its invasion of Iraq over WMDs? How many of them supported Canadian and British referendum calls? Not anyone that I know of.
The truth is that they have always been part and parcel of the mainstream powers in the country of their residence but spell trouble for their own community living outside of Punjab within India.
They are capitalists of the first order. Their rights plea is a farce.
It would be naive to assume that they are not aware of how the Wall Street-driven international community functions.
No major country other than Sudan and Pakistan split post World War II.
For market and strategic forces, it's never been favourable to allow nations to break up, no matter who demands what and by what means, democratic or undemocratic.
This Khalistani minority is doing no good to the larger Sikh community. They are only supplying fodder to the aggressive Hindutva brigade to spread hate. Is there an undeclared understanding? I wonder again.