image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Bhai Amritpal Singh Phenomenon in Panjab

The organisation called Waris Punjab De led by Bhai Amritpal Singh, started the Khalsa Vahir on 23 November, 2022. It is basically an Amrit Parchaar, anti drugs and what has been called Ghar Wapsi campaign to reverse Sikh conversions to Christianity. However, that is only the start because the movement then goes on into other controversial religious and socio-political reforms.

The meteoric rise of Bhai Amritpal Singh on the Panjab scene is unfolding rapidly into a major event in the recent history of the state. Already he is being compared to Baba Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. . He has influenced hundreds of young Panjabis from Sikh and non-Sikh backgrounds to give up drug addiction and to become Amritdhari Sikhs much to the gratitude of their parents and village communities. He has attracted hundreds of Panjabi Sikh and Hindu admirers while Delhi and Panjab governments and older politicians are watching on with apprehension

Let me digress slightly to give the Sikh diaspora angle when such Panjab issues are discussed. Global Sikhs are affected by what goes on in Panjab and the rest of India. Therefore, some issues are of legitimate concern to diaspora Sikhs. Conversely, Sikh Indians should not be too selective of or critical about, legal (stress) Sikh political activism about such issues in diaspora countries. Due to environmental, economic and socio-political compulsions, Panjabi Sikhs continue to migrate abroad in large numbers.

In the same context, I am reminded of the views of S Partap Singh, the editor of the prestigious and oldest monthly publication in the Sikh diaspora, The Sikh Review, Kolkata, India. The global mission of his editorial team is the pooling together of research-based views of Gursikh scholars under various headings to inform our youth and readers. The approach should be Panthic, which takes into account political realities, albeit, without compromising Gurbani and Sikhi principles. (It was a privilege to be invited to write the Guest Editorial of the New Year 2023 issue of The Sikh Review**.)

Sikh initiatives and movements must learn from Sikh history. For example, should promises made by majority community leaders in government be accepted in the light of post-1947 Sikh experience? Here again, one is reminded of a Sikh Review article of September 1973 with the heading: In the Republic of India Sikh Case Still a Running Sore.

Returning to the topic of Waris Punjab De, it is publicly known that Bhai Amritpal Singh is 29 years old, and was born at Jallupur Khera, Tehsil Baba Bakala, Amritsar. After completing his Higher Secondary School education (12th standard) he left to work in the transport sector in Dubai in 2012. He was declared the head of the organisation Waris Punjab De set up by late Deep Singh Sidhu on 4 March, 2022 while he was still in Dubai. The formal ceremony took place on his return to Panjab on 29 September 2022. He took Amrit at Anandpur Sahib with many companions.

While little else is known about his young formative years, due to the social media publicity coverage he has received, much is known about the type of socio-political reforms in Panjab he stands for. He seems to be well informed in diverse fields.

Yet, he has taken a non-compromising stand on certain Sikh and non-Sikh, religious social and political issues about which controversy is likely to grow.


Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant Retd (UK)