Baba Santa Singh & Shaheed Jarnail Singh

Picking sides vs appreciating perspectives
By Ranjit Singh




There is an incentive to pick either side depending on your own leanings towards the Khalistan ambition. Obviously, there is no Khalistan right now and there is no guarantee there ever will be. This puts proponents of the idea in a difficult position since they have to accept that despite the immense sacrifices of Sikhs and efforts of the Jujharus, this has so far has failed to achieve this specific goal. Many will get angry hearing this, and they may attempt to say that the movement hasn't died. Indeed, that might true, but there is no longer a strong insurgency aspect for sure. That is undeniable.

Most of the movement now exists on social media spaces and the odd protest. But since they seek to keep this movement alive, they have to take stances against anything that seems to go against their narrative, or at least does not openly advocate for their narrative. I, myself have experienced this because apparently I didn't mention Khalistan in the Azadist Manfiesto (which I did jaanke by the way, and explained why to them also). My strategy isn't about openly revealing intentions, it's a strategy that requires you to be quiet about certain things for the time being. I am not an activist, and we don't all have to be activists either. If we do want to see results related to Azaadi of any kind, then a multi-pronged approach is required.

lack strategic thinking, hence why this complaint was issued, as well as because it detracts from their monopoly surrounding the discourse around Azaadi at the moment (which is breaking). I don't think you can argue that the same thing is happening in reverse from the Nihang perspective. Nihang Singhs have been more varied in their stances for a seperate Sikh State, and many have indeed made their own contributions and sacrifices for it and the survival of the Sikh Panth, which unfortunately gets sidelined. And it gets ignored because they aren't as simple to decipher the motivations of. You can't say "Nihangs" support Khalistan because they are not a single monolith. The concept of , but it also isn't as well defined in terms of detail either (a gap that Azadism has sought to fill in the ).

Two worldviews, two strategies.

What I feel is a more accurate way to look at it (or at least how I understand it) is this:

Baba Santa Singh and Baba Jarnail Singh had two different approaches based on their two different understandings of the problem. Baba Santa Singh, who had witnessed the rise of corrupt ideologies and groups take over Sikh institutions and hijacked the mindset of average post-colonial Sikhs, had worked to reinvigorate Khalsa traditions and reassert the prominence of Nihangta as the original way of the Guru Khalsa Panth. As a result, his political focus was on cleansing the institutions and spreading Khalsa Matt once again in the Panth. Essentially "If you want Khalsa Raaj, be Khalsa first" approach.

Baba Jarnail Singh Ji, by virtue of coming out of Damdami Taksal (something I see as a sort of - nothing wrong with that), evidently didn't see a need to reinvigorate those original traditions such as Jhatka/Shikaar Maryada for instance (particularly because Taksal favours the Nirmala/Sant Matt inspired diets as well as other traditions that stem from that). Instead they favoured promoting a more watered-down, simplified version of Sikhi for the masses, that if pursued would lead people to adopt the Taksalis interpretations for more depth. They seemed to be a benefactor of the vacuum left by the Nihang Singhs who had been forced to exit Punjab prior due to the genocide against them during the British Raaj. So, from Jarnail Singh’s perspective, why would the institutions be such a big issue? His institution was already at the forefront by that time. Therefore, their ambition turned towards the state that was actively suppressing the population through the Socialist central planning model with a fascist ambition (something that modern Neo-Khalistanis conveniently leave out of their narrative since they too favour State-Socialism as I have ).

Whilst Santa Singh's focus was on regaining control of institutions (such as the - which I personally think was a strategic mistake, but I'll cover this elsewhere) that would have otherwise been under their purview if they hadn't suffered so atomically under the British, Jarnail Singh, who's institution was one that had filled that gap, didn't see the same problem. His focus was on contesting the state. Now for a Nihang Singh, contesting the state is most definitely not outside of their remit either, but I think they perceived themselves as lacking the strength and effectiveness to contest it and be successful. And ultimately, if you put your emotions to the side, they were right. Hence why the ambition was to first build that strength by first re-establishing Khalsa ideology with all its warrior ethos. Permeate Dassam Bani, Sarbloh Bani, tying a Kamarkassa, performing Jhatka, playing Shikaar etc. Who knows what the long-term strategy was though, but it makes sense as a first step.

Once we have that mindset, the institutions would then be a resource base to then modernise the Khalsa and then seek to reform/establish nation-states. Jarnail Singh's ambition was always (right up until the end) to reform India via mostly non-violent protest — hence the Dharam Yudh Morcha and Anandpur Sahib Resolution. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone predicted the extent and lengths the Indian State was willing to go to preserve their fascist socialist vision. Perhaps towards the end sure, but at the start when Jarnail Singh's predecessors were first calling out Indira? Not so sure.

Azadist Reconciliation

Azadism tries to draw from both approaches, promote Khalsa mentality (Baba Santa Singh influence), and then apply that to work out an alternative for a potential Khalsa state(s), or some form of embodiment of Khalsa Raaj. Either as reformation of an existing states (Jarnail Singh’s influence) or to set up new ones (Post-Jarnail Singh Sangarsh influence)*. Neo-Khalistanis being the Panthic politicians that they are, seek to sow division by spreading hatred of Mahaan Singhs (again, something I called them out for doing as well, and they then tried to censor me with threats of violence) whilst at the same time calling for Ekta 🥴.

I don’t mind division, I am not an “Ekta-first" type of person, I prefer results first. Those who organically form around you as you produce results will have a true Ekta — far stronger than the surface-level compromises wrongfully dubbed as “Ekta” these days. As for division, it is more important to have division from the those who seek not to produce any results and try to suppress others from doing so too. In the same way the Minas, Masands and those who killed their daughter were divided away from the Panth, in the same way I divide away from Neo-Khalistanis. When your body develops a cancer, do you cry Ekta? No. You cut the tumour out before it infects the healthy cells.

* There is also a third way...

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Bunga Azaadi — Institute for Azadist Studies

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