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Rise of Amritpal Singh and rants on ‘Clubhouse’: From getting women involved, to farmers’ protest and setting up ‘lone wolf’ cells working for Khalistan

Interestingly, Amritpal Singh categorically pointed out that at one point, these smaller groups would be responsible for managing events independently without the intervention of the main leadership. That means the smaller groups will be sort of "lone wolves".

In September 2021, Deep Sidhu laid the foundation of Waris Punjab De, intending to connect to the masses and propagate his agenda to a souvenir nation, i.e. Khalistan. Amritpal Singh and several others joined hands with him in his mission. With his death in an accident in February 2022, there was an immediate need to take control of the organisation, and this is where Amritpal Singh rose to fame.

He was announced as the new chief of Waris Punjab De soon after Deep Sidhu’s death. At that time, he was in Dubai and moved back to India in September 2022. Since then, he has been actively following the footsteps of Khalistani terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. From attire to ideology and issues to speeches, everything that Amritpal Singh is doing reminds one of Bhindranwale. Interestingly, Deep Sidhu could have walked on the same path had he not died in the accident last year.

When Bhindranwale started propagating his ideology in the late 1980s, it took him years to connect to the masses. However, compared to him, Deep Sidhu and after him, Amritpal Singh are moving at a much faster pace. One crucial aspect of Amritpal Singh’s popularity that Bhindranwale lacked in his time was social media and the internet. At that time, the media was the only way for Bhindranwale to propagate his ideas to the masses. Otherwise, his ideology was limited to those who came to listen to his speeches. His followers did propagate his ideas, but it was not as widely influential as social media can be.

If Bhindranwale wanted to have 10,000 people to come and listen to his speech, he would have needed at least a couple of weeks and tackle with the local administration to make all the arrangements. However, if Amritpal wants to connect to 10,000 people, all he has to do is go live on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Instagram or any other platform, and he can do it within hours.

During a discussion, while speaking about bringing the Sikh diaspora across the globe together, he said, “We are 800+ people here in this discussion. It would have required months of preparations if we wanted to do this a decade ago.” He emphasised using technology to bring the diaspora together and urged his followers to build local cells of Waris Punjab De. He said, “You will run those cells. We will help you initially, but you will play a major part in running the cell successfully and raising the issues of Sikhs.” He urged to open such cells across the globe. “If a Sikh is facing a problem in France, all Sikhs [linked to cells across the world] will be able to raise their voice,” he said. He also urged everyone to keep the ‘Panth’ or Sikh religion above everything and plan their lives and life decisions accordingly, including marriage.

Every leader and activist knows how important it is to connect to their followers. Amritpal Singh is no different. When Deep Sidhu was alive, he used to have Facebook live sessions, discussions on Clubhouse and maybe on Twitter spaces. Similarly, after Amritpal took over Waris Punjab De, he has been connected to the Sikh youth via social media.

Recently, OpIndia came across Clubhouse replays that shed some light on Deep Sidhu and Amritpal Singh’s discussions with their followers under the Waris Punjab De banner. We tracked four replays. One had Deep Sidhu as the speaker and Amritpal Singh as the moderator. The discussion occurred on November 19, 2021, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Three Agriculture Laws would be repealed. The other three replays were of the discussions that took place after the death of Deep Sidhu. The replays can be checked here (with Deep Sidhu as the main speaker moderated by Amritpal Singh dated November 19, 2021), and here (with Amritpal Singh as the main speaker dated March 22, 2022, April 19, 2022 and June 16, 2022). Deep Sidhu was killed in a road accident on February 15, 2022. By the first discussion in March, Amritpal Singh was declared the new chief of Waris Punjab De.

‘Hund da masla – It is a matter of the existence’

In all the conversations that we scanned, one thing that both Deep Sidhu and Amritpal Singh kept saying was that it was a matter of existence. They talked about keeping their identity and religion on the top and other issues like MSP, migration, the so-called imposition of Hindi in the state etc., as sub-issues. Hours after PM Modi repealed the Agriculture Laws, Sidhu said that crops and farmer issues were not the top priority for his ‘jathebandi’ or ‘group’. He wanted the farmer unions to combine community issues with the demands.

Sidhu pointed out that Sikhs were the frontrunner of the farmer protests. Thus, developing a plan that primarily talked about community issues was essential. Looking at the past, there was a time when farmer leaders objected to the calls for Khalistan during protests. Furthermore, Deep Sidhu and his associates were not allowed to talk from the stage. Sidhu was not pleased with how he was treated, as evident in his address at the Clubhouse discussion.

He said, “faslan da masla nahi, ae nasal da masla haiga”, which roughly translates to “it was not about the crops (farmer issues), but it was about the existence of the community”. The thought process was based on demands put forward by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his likes.

Sidhu said the demand of Khalistan was made a taboo post January 26 incident at Red Fort in Delhi. He said the Sikh leadership was with them till that date. However, Deep Sidhu and his associates were isolated after the Republic Day menace they created. Notably, after arrest warrants were issued against him, Sidhu came live on Facebook on January 28 and threatened to reveal secrets of farmer union leaders. However, he did not speak much about them till his death.

During the discussion, both Sidhu and Amritpal said there were a lot of chances during the farmer protests to achieve what they wanted. However, the leadership running the protests failed to take full advantage.

Deep particularly mentioned that during discussions with the Singhu Morcha (the farmer leaders sitting on protest at the Singhu border), his group made it clear that their fight was for the existence of the Sikh community. As the farmer protests moved forward, their ideology got more profound among the protesters. However, the leadership was not in sync with their demands. Post January 26, they sidelined Deep Sidhu and his group to keep the protests limited to farmers’ issues. “They created propaganda against me,” he claimed.

He also targeted the Left saying that Sikhs sided with them as they were against the central government. However, in that process, Sikh leaders could not adhere to the fact that though the Left was against PM Modi or the central leadership before the Modi-led government, they have always been against the dominance of religion in state matters. The ideological differences with the Left or communists are the reason Deep Sidhu and Amritpal Singh both expressed disregard towards Bhagat Singh, who allegedly followed Left ideology all his life.

Speaking about Bhagat Singh, in one of the discussions, Amritpal Singh said the life of Bhagat Singh was not as glorified as the media and Indian government have shown it. “The aim to bring a national hero is always to put your heroes behind, and making Bhagat Singh a national hero had the same aim,” he said. Singh further added people like Jinda and Sukha should be heroes for the youth, not Bhagat Singh, who talked about one nation, one language and one national community. He said, “If you believe he is your hero, you don’t have any fight with the centre as what Bhagat Singh wanted is the same the central government is aiming at.” He added the reason Sikhism was formed was to get rid of ‘Brahmanvad’, which idolising likes of Bhagat Singh cannot achieve.

The hate for Hindus was visible in the discussions now and then. At one point, Amritpal said, “If it is only about ‘roti’, wear Janeu (religious thread worn by Brahmin Hindus), and you will get ‘roti’ and ‘water’ (hinting towards the water issue between Punjab and other states)”.

‘Punjab needs a religion-oriented religion political party’

Sidhu said that the main issue with the state political parties, whether Akali Dal or any other party, was that the leadership concentrated more on getting into central politics. He emphasised forming a religion-oriented party. He said that farmers’ getting into politics would never gain momentum in politics as they do whatever their national leaders tell them to do.

‘Create an ecosystem or local cells exclusive for the state’

One of the most exciting aspects of the discussions was the format Deep Sidhu and Amritpal Singh discussed following regarding the expansion of Waris Punjab De. Many people have asked them on social media platforms how they can help spread Waris Punjab De’s presence across Punjab, India and abroad. The plan to create an expert group and local cells that Deep Sidhu discussed is being followed by Amritpal Singh.

In the discussion with Deep Sidhu and then in the discussions with Amritpal Singh, it is clear that they are getting experts in every field to increase their presence in every section of media and society. For example, both of them talked about getting experts in legal, entertainment and education onboard to reduce their dependency on the state.

Speaking about spreading the roots of Waris Punjab De, Amritpal Singh urged everyone to form small groups in their cities, towns and villages. He said, “Get at least five interested people onboard. Make a list of them with names, mobile numbers, occupations and expertise and send it to us. Our team will review it and, if suited, will give you recognition under Waris Punjab De. Remember, sending us names will not guarantee a reply from us. However, once you have joined the group, you will be contacted whenever we plan an event in your area.”

Interestingly, Amritpal Singh categorically pointed out that at one point, these smaller groups would be responsible for managing events independently without the intervention of the main leadership. That means the smaller groups will be sort of “lone wolves”.

Now, it is important to understand that these discussions were months old. They might have already formed multiple groups in villages, which will explain how easy it was for Amritpal Singh to call a large group of his followers to Ajnala Police Station. It also explains how people joined him in large numbers during his march in Punjab and how thousands reached Golden Temples only hours after the Ajnala incident.

Speaking about the ideological division between those who seek Khalistan, in a discussion, Amritpal Singh said it is hard to change the ideology of old groups. “We can ask them to join us, but we should concentrate more on developing our structure and invite [target] youth to join,” he said. Amritpal said calling everyone to work together often leads to a lack of interest towards the cause resulting in the demoralisation of the new group members. “Youth is not a property of any ideology. They should be guided to stand with the right,” he added.

Amritpal also talked about creating Hindu cells of Waris Punjab De and bringing those Punjabi Hindus under its umbrella who side with the demand of Khalistan.

Amritpal Singh hinted at a roadmap to Khalistan without revealing details

During a QA session, when Amritpal was asked about the roadmap to achieve Khalistan, he categorically denied revealing any details. He said to fight for “independence”, keeping the roadmap and plans secretive is essential. Only the ongoing activities should be in the light. Furthermore, he expressed his dismay towards the organisers of farmer protests against Agriculture Laws and said those who tried to raise their voices for Khalistan were banned from the stage. He claimed the issue with farm laws was only part of the many problems that come with “slavery”. “To achieve the dream of an independent state, we must see the problems collectively. If we see and try to solve them individually, the root cause [slavery of India] will remain intact. It is essential to look for the signs of slavery and work collectively to eliminate them,” he said.

‘State leaders are puppets of central leadership’

When asked about the revival of ‘Akali Dal, ‘ he raised two points. First, he said no matter what party comes, it will not solve the problems of Sikhs politically as whoever sits as CM of the state is only a puppet of the central government. Giving examples of the current and previous Chief Ministers, he said none could solve the problems of the Sikhs, and the state’s resources continued to get stolen. Secondly, he talked about reviving the Akali Dal that spoke about ‘Panthak Politics’. He said since the present Akali Dal has started talking about Punjabiyat and left Panth behind, it has seen a decline to a level of non-existence. He emphasised the revival of ‘Panthak politics’.

‘Capitalism is customer-oriented, not region-oriented’

Speaking about the new world order and its effect on Sikhs, he said though capitalism and the new world order affect minorities the most, but it will affect everyone to some extent. While majorities will bear the effect, Sikhs do not have any shield to protect themselves. For example, KFC Pakistan was forced to remove the post in favour of independent Kashmir, he said that corporate companies only think about the customer base. They do not care about “morals and ethics”.

He used this idea to oppose the industrialisation of Punjab. According to him, if companies establish factories in Punjab, it will adversely affect the community.

‘Migrants established in Punjab as part of conspiracy’

Speaking about the migration of Sikh youth to other countries and the so-called “conspiracy” against Punjab of migration of people from other states to Punjab, he suggested not speaking against the migration but settling them in the state. He said, “There is no harm in letting them come from Bihar, Haryana, Himachal and other states to work here. But giving them aadhaar, ration card, and voter card is an attempt to change the state’s demography, and it should be protested.” He claimed that if more Hindi-speaking people settle in Punjab, the government will get an excuse to teach Hindi and other languages, eventually harming Punjabi. “We are not against Hindi but the imposition of Hindi on our language. It can be Urdu or any other language,” he claimed.

Later during the discussion, actor Daljeet Singh Kalsi talked about his experience as a Sikh employee at a store, possibly at Elante mall, talking in Hindi at Elante Mall. When asked, Kalsi claimed there was a clause in his contract with the company that he could not speak in Punjabi. He demanded strict action against such orders in Punjab.

‘Get Sikh women involved in the movement’

Speaking about the lesser involvement of women in Sikh politics, he said Sikh women must urge other Sikh women to join the movement. “They have phones. They know how to use social media and the internet. They can at least do social media activism,” he said. Kalsi also talked about the issue and said the community needs Sikh woman leaders that would help in increasing involvement.

‘Demand reservation’

Speaking about the reservation for Sikhs, he said the community feels guilty when they talk about a reservation. “It is our right, and we should demand it in education and jobs,” he said.

‘Support everyone who demands Khalistan’

During a QA session, when asked if Sikhs should support the terrorist organisation Sikhs For Justice’s Referendum 2020, Amritpal Singh categorically said that everyone who is demanding Khalistan should be supported but with caution. He saw no problem supporting deemed terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu’s SFJ as it demands a separate nation for Sikhs.

Not to forget, SFJ primarily calls for hoisting Khalistani flags on government establishments. Its followers are infamous for defacing government buildings in India and temples in foreign nations. Even though the government of India has declared SFJ a terrorist organisation, Amritpal Singh urged his followers to support them. Furthermore, Amritpal Singh categorically called for support to Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) leaders who opened demand for Khalistan.

The issue of Bandi Sikhs

During discussions, Amritpal extended support for releasing Sikh prisoners, known as Bandi Sikhs. These prisoners were jailed for involvement in different anti-India incidents, including the assassination of former Chief Minister of Punjab Beant Singh. OpIndia will soon publish a detailed report on Bandi Sikhs.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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