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Bias & Itihaas


Introduction


It doesn't matter so much the reality of a person or event, as much as the perception matters. People who themselves write long after the events can make a good man into a monster and vice versa. Genocidal wars turn into freedom struggles and liberation movements become terrorism.

Often the truth is greyer than either polarity and the role of a true historian is to expose the nuances and complexities without judgement and as objectively as possible. But not all who communicate historic events are doing so with the intention of a true historian. In this space we also have propagandists, mythologists and “itihaasolgists”. For these, the facts of the story are secondary to the agenda, meaning or point they are trying to convey through them. This isn’t always a bad thing, this type of medium is most accessible as it speaks to people’s hearts more than their minds. It is a tool, just like any, that people can can use with either good or bad intentions.

The 2 Accounts


The following is an example of a historic event that has been interpreted in two very different ways in which the “villains and heroes” are swapped depending on the perspective.

Perspective A
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Caption
The Jathedar of the Nihang Singhs of the modern Budha Dal, Bhai Amrik Singh Jaura was born in the year of 1958, in the house of Jathedar Mukhtiar Singh and from the womb of Mata Pal Kaur in village Jaura, near Patti, district Tarn Taran. Bhai Sahib’s father provided for his family via farming. Bhai Sahib was the only brother to his 4 sisters, eldest Bibi Amarjit Kaur, Bibi Veer Kaur, Bibi Nirvair Kaur and Bibi Paramjit Kaur. Bhai Amrik Singh Jaura did not complete any worldly education. From a young age, he had joined the Baba Bidhi Chand Nihang Dal, under the command of Baba Daya Singh Sursingh. Here Bhai Sahib attained Santhaya of Sri Dasam Granth and Sri Sarbloh Granth, as well as completed reading Sri Gurpartap Suraj Granth and many other historical texts. Bhai Sahib was a renowned preacher. Bhai Sahib was always seen reciting Gurbani and doing Sewa. In June 1984, the Indian army attacked Sri Darbar Sahib Amritsar and surrounding 40 Sikh temples in an attempt to crush the Sikh spirit. Countless Sikh pilgrims were massacred in this attack by the Indian army, this whole ordeal had a deep impact on Bhai Sahib. Prior to the attack, Bhai Sahib was very close to the 14th Jathedar of Damdami Taksal, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale. Bhai Sahib had also given voluntary arrest multiple times during the Dharam Yudh Morcha. Following some speeches of Sant Ji, Bhai Sahib did Jhujaru actions in secret.
After the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib Amritsar, seeing the desecration of Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, the heart of the Sikh nation was deeply hurt and this started an armed struggle for Khalistan against the Indian state, which scared India to its core. Indira Gandhi and General Kuldip Brar spoke to many Sikh leaders to start the rebuilding of Sri Akaal Takht Sahib with the money of the Indian state, but no leader agreed to this. It is known that Baba Kharak Singh of Kar Sewa even slapped General Kuldip Brar when he was approached to spearhead this rebuilding project. Then the home minister, Buta Singh was bought forward by the Indian government. Buta Singh then involved Baba Santa Singh of Budha Dal who already had close ties to Indira Gandhi to start the rebuilding of Sri Akaal Takht Sahib under the watchful eye of Indian government. This was not accepted by the Sikh nation. Baba Santa Singh, under the protection of BSF and CRPF hired laborers from Bihar and started the building work, which was heavily opposed by the Sikh nation.
Then on 26th January 1986, Damdami Taksal and Sikh Student Federation with blessings of the Sikh nation held a Sarbat Khalsa at Sri Akaal Takht Sahib. At this Sarbat Khalsa, the Sikh nation decided to expel Budha Dal Jathedar, Baba Santa Singh from the Sikh Panth. In his place, Bhai Amrik Singh Jaura was announced the new Jathedar of Budha Dal. Sant Baba Thakur Singh Ji Bhindranwale, Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal and Bhai Gurnam Singh Bundala had great amount of respect and love for Bhai Sahib as he did for them.
At one Smagam, Baba Kahan Singh who was a leader of Nihang Dal and also visited Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale many times during the Dharam Yudh Morcha. He was also known a close associate of Indira Gandhi and had Jhujaru Singhs arrested. This is the same Baba Kahan Singh who was known as Kahana Nang. After the attack, Kahana Nang had spoken out against Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale in Khadur Sahib. One Jhujaru Singh who confronted Kahana Ning about this on the spot was Bhai Sukhdev Singh Sakheera. Kahana Nang ordered his goons to beat Bhai Sakheera and knocked Bhai Sakheera’s turban off his head. Bhai Sakheera told Kahana, “Until I don’t kill you, I will not tie a turban.” The day came, Kahana Nang was spotted with his group of goons at Sri Hazur Sahib, Nanded. Bhai Amrik Singh Jaura, Bhai Sukhdev Singh Sakheera and another 2 Jhujaru Singhs disguised themselves as Singhs from Kar Sewa and borrowed the jeep of Baba Utam Singh to go Nanded where they assassinated Kahana Nang. Some people say that Bhai Amrik Singh Jaura was not in Nanded himself during this action, and had sent Jhujaru Singhs to carry out this action. After the assassination of Kahana Nang, Ajit Phoola Nang took over his goons, who was a known ruthless killer. He had many Jhujaru Singhs martyred, eventually Jhujaru Singhs killed him also.
Bhai Sahib had preached Sikhi all over Punjab and had great relationship with Jhujaru groups, especially Khalistan Commando Force. Bhai Sahib was active in the struggle for freedom, and accommodated many Jhujaru Singhs. Bhai Amrik Singh Jaura was overseeing a construction of a Gurdwara, when he was martyred by 2 men. It is said that Bhai Sahib was martyred by black cats of the Punjab police.
Information given by the family of Shaheed Bhai Amrik Singh Jaura
TLDR
Born in 1958, Bhai Amrik Singh Jaura was raised in a farming family, with no formal education but deeply involved in Sikh religious studies and preaching.
Close to Baba Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, he was affected by the 1984 attack on Sri Darbar Sahib Amritsar by the Indian army, which led him to join the Khalistan movement.
Bhai Jaura opposed the Indian government's intervention in rebuilding Sri Akaal Takht Sahib and became the Jathedar of Budha Dal after Baba Santa Singh was expelled.
He was involved in the assassination of Baba Kahn Singh, who was seen as a traitor by some Khalistanis, and had confrontations with various other figures seen as opposing Khalistani interests.
Bhai Jaura was known for his preaching across Punjab and connections with Jhujaru groups. His life ended tragically, allegedly at the hands of the Punjab police.
Perspective B
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Caption
Jathedar Baba Kahn Singh Ji Nihang - The General Of Majha
Jathedar Baba Kahn Singh Ji and his family was always attached to Nihang Singhs. At a very young age, Baba Ji joined Budha Dal and was initiated by Jathedar Baba Sahib Singh Ji 96 Crori at Burj Akali Phula Singh. Baba Kahn Singh Ji spent most of his time in Budha Dal helping Jathedar Baba Karam Singh Ji and the Chakarvarti Dal. Because of his sewa in the Dal, Baba Ji was given a farla by Baba Karam Singh Ji. Eventually, Baba Ji decided to join Tarna Dal Misl Shaheedan (Baba Bakala) under the Jathedari of Baba Bishan Singh Ji. Baba Kahn Singh helped free the lands and gurdware that had originally belonged to Tarna Dal and because of this he was appointed as a ‘Meet Jathedar’ by Baba Bishan Singh Ji.
Whenever any sort of land dispute would happen, everyone would go to Baba Ji to get the dispute settled. During the Dharam Yudh Morcha, Baba Kahn Singh openly supported Sant Jarnail Singh Ji and would honor them and their Jatha whenever they would go to Baba Bakala. After 1984, several people began to slander Nihang Singhs. In several areas, certain groups of Kharkus would proclaim that Jhatka would not be allowed. However, Baba Ji was fearless and would do Jhatka there to show that the Nihangs will hold on to their traditions. This led to Baba Ji becoming as a target in the eyes of these groups. But, the final blow occurred when Baba Ji was giving opium (afeem) to his Nihangs at Khadur Sahib.
A famous Kharku, Sukhdev Singh Sakheera, was also present and objected and slandered Baba Ji in front of his own group. This led to a fight between Baba Ji and Sakheera’s men, leading to Sakheera’s pagh falling off. This led to Sakheera and his group of men (such as Amrik Singh Jaura) to plan Baba Kahn Singh’s assassination. Before going to Hazur Sahib for Dussehra, Baba Ji had to get his leg amputated because of his diabetes. This gave Sakheera and Jaura an idea to kill the elderly Baba at Hazur Sahib. After the Mahalla at Hazur Sahib, Baba Ji went to their room at Sarbloh Bunga, and was shot by Amrik Singh Jaura and his men.
Photograph : Jathedar Baba Kahn Singh • 1970s
TLDR
Baba Kahn Singh Ji was deeply involved with Nihang Singhs from a young age, gaining recognition and leadership roles within the community.
He supported Baba Jarnail Singh during the Dharam Yudh Morcha and was known for upholding Khalsa traditions, including Jhatka, despite opposition.
Baba Ji's conflict with Sukhdev Singh Sakheera and Amrik Singh Jaura arose from a dispute over traditional practices at Khadur Sahib.
His assassination was allegedly planned by Sakheera and Jaura, taking advantage of Baba Ji's weakened state due to diabetes and amputation.
The account portrays Baba Kahn Singh as a respected leader targeted for his adherence to traditions and his role in the community.


Here we have two sides: Perspective A and B. The reality? Who knows. So what is the natural reaction? Either you pick a side or ignore it completely.

Those who pick a side do so generally to fit their biases (more on this later). If your more Taksali and/or Khalistani oriented, then you'll likely take the side against Baba Khan Singh. Those who are sympathetic Budha Dal would take the opposite side and the rest will just ignore it all. But, since the actual facts is perhaps impossible determine now and is wholly reliant on the accounts of others, what do we do?

Turn history into Itihaas.


If That Then This, Else This


By doing so, you devalue the importance of determining what actually happened and embed the importance of determining meaning. Instead, use this as an opportunity to extract some lessons regardless. What we can do is apply some conditional logic and then do a bit of "scenario analysis".

E.g:
If X
then Y

Else If A
then B

So let's do this for this situation:

(X) In account, Baba Kahn Singh was described as a sell-out who apparently worked closely with Indira Gandhi to get Jujharus arrested.

If this is true (X), then (Y):

(Y) It shows how no one is ultimately untouchable. If you work against the Panth, you will be annihilated. This much is true no matter what Bana you wear, what group you are in, or what Seva you may have done. Each action must be assessed individually. It's the same reason why I don't care one bit about calling out Neo-Khalistanis (LINK) who may have done certain "good Seva" in other areas. For example, if someone woke up at 4AM everyday to go prepare the Langar at their Gurudwara for years, would you then keep quiet if you saw them spit in the langar one day? Just because they have been doing so much effort in a particular Seva, it doesn't excuse them from accountability.
Last point, this should be obvious, but you shouldn't sell out your brothers. Even though I suspect some Neo-Khalistanis are doing this, I personally do not believe you should bring in a foreign authority to deal with Panthic matters. If it's an issue amongst the Panth, keep it inside the Panth. Otherwise you give jurisdiction for others to come in and hijack institutions and embed themselves in matters they should have no authority over. This is something that is actually very relevant for today especially.

Else

(A) In @KshatriyaKhalsa's account, the reason for the assassination was because of ideological differences, and the Khalistani groups were trying to impose their anti-Jhatka stance on everyone else.

If A then B

If this is true (A), then what lessons do we gather? (B)

(B) Imposing arbitrary restrictions on others, particularly those that do not violate the property rights or victimize another person, is ridiculously unjust. Jhatka Maryada in particular is a tradition practiced and advocated by the Guru themselves for the Guru Khalsa Panth to do. There is a mountain of evidence for this and I too have detailed the argument as to why the Khalsa SHOULD eat meat here:


Showing defiance to such bans is wholly within the remit of the Khalsa. If those specific "Khalistanis" don't like it, then they should not do it. Just because they follow Nirmala/Sant Baba inspired traditions, doesn't mean everyone else has to. This is such a detrimental way to operate a nation, and so thank God this sort of Taliban-like thinking never got to a stage where they were making rulings for an actual nation.


Again, I'm not concerned so much with what actually happened in this exercise, only the lessons in case of each scenario. Okay, so now hopefully you can see how Azadists should be assessing historical events that are otherwise hard to determine the actual reality of. With this, you can extract value from most stories to inform stances for future scenarios. Which is the ultimate point. As Azadists our focus is the future, and so all study of the past is to extract principles that can be utilised in the present to determine desirable future outcomes.

For more on how I understand what Itihaas is, read: .

On Bias


There isn't much wrong with having a bias, as long as you recognise it and are honest about it. Everyone has biases, only the delusional believe that they don't, and it's the similarly deluded who believe them.

Biases don't come from nowhere, and the real value is in understanding why someone holds certain biases. It's not always (although it can sometimes be) due to perverse intentions. A Kharku trying to ban Jhatka is doing so because his bias has been informed from Kathavachaks from a particular school of thought. The reason why they regard those interpretations so highly is because those same Kathavachaks are at the forefront of contesting a State that may have murdered their family members. So of course they are going to mimic those stances.

A Nihang Singh who has been watching Khalsa traditions erode and replaced by distilled versions and offshoot traditions, as a result of physical extermination by another State is also going to be biased in ensuring those traditions are kept alive. So of course he is going to defy bans on Khalsa traditions. Things aren't as simple, and I would be wary of anyone trying to make it out as so.


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Bunga Azaadi — Institute for Azadist Studies

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