INTERVIEW | An armed struggle is always the last option, if it is imposed on us: Amritpal Singh

Pro-Khalistani activist and chief of Waris Punjab De, Amritpal Singh, talks to Harpreet Bajwa at his stronghold in Jallupur Khera near Amritsar

Published: 12th March 2023 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th March 2023 04:38 PM   |  A+A-

Amritpal Singh-PTI

Pro-Khalistani activist and chief of Waris Punjab De, Amritpal Singh. (Photo | PTI)

How did it all begin?

When you are born here and live here, you develop a sentiment which is unique to Punjab. Even though I went to work in Dubai, we used to talk about the militancy here. I have not experienced it first-hand, but these things are passed down generations without anybody talking about it. You can sense it in the air and environment. You can’t avoid information about violence and genocides. The trauma is trans-generational. When we became mature, we started to understand how political system works. When the Bargari incident happened, I was in Dubai. There was huge chaos and we went to the gurdwara to attend a meeting. I think it’s the biggest disaster since the attack on the Golden Temple. Maybe people outside Punjab think it is a single incident. I’m not giving new information. I’m trying to get people to a point to decide what to do next. So I came back here on August 20, 2022.

What are your future plans?

The major issue here is the drug epidemic. Call it drug genocide. Youth who could not go abroad are into it. When I came to Punjab, my one mission was to work against drugs and motivate youth. I tell them they should become Amritdhari Sikhs. After 1984, cultural genocide happened when many Sikhs started cutting their hair maybe because of an inferiority complex. We are trying to save a generation here. It isn’t about what is happening right now, but what can happen in future. 

You are being projected as Bhindrawale 2.0.

Sant Bhindranwale has a high position among the Sikhs.  Everybody has different struggles in different eras. He addressed the issues of Punjab. He struggled for the implementation of the Anandpur Resolution. I’ll never compare myself to him. I have my own struggles.

How do you intend to achieve Khalistan? Will you take up arms for it?

I prefer dialogue and want the State to sit and talk to us. An armed struggle is always the last option, if it is imposed on us. Even if there is one, there will be negotiations afterwards. So why go through the process? Just sit at the table and let’s have discussions. 

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I don’t think about how I see myself even tomorrow. Mine is a fight for Punjab’s survival. 

Didn’t Bhindranwale also demand Khalistan?

The issue was also raised then, but at that time a full-scale war against India hadn’t started. Bhindranwale said if the army enters the Golden Temple, then Khalistan will be officially established. Militancy started after that. What we are saying is when Bhindranwale demanded Khalistan, he meant there would be consequences if the government did not comply with Sikhs and committed injustices against us. Then the only solution would be to have a separate country. Khalistan was coined in 1934. Then everybody was talking about India and Pakistan. If there is India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, why is it evil to have a discussion on Khalistan?

Do you support Dal Khalsa?
Yes, they are with us. Everybody who is working for Punjab, and not just Khalistan, will be with us.

You have said you don’t consider yourself an Indian and call a passport just a ‘travel document’.
It’s just a travel document when it comes to identity. Mahatma Gandhi had a British Indian passport, but it didn’t make him a British Indian. It was the same for Nehru. Jinnah had British Indian documents before becoming a Pakistani. So if somebody asks me if I consider myself Indian, the answer is I am a Punjabi. Punjabis are different from other north Indian religions and also language-wise.

How can you resist the might of the State?
We understand that the State is powerful, but it isn’t a sacred thing which will last for eternity. Many states don’t exist anymore. If there are movements that failed, there are many that were successful. When people are disagreeing with something, their voice must be listened to in a democratic system.

When you travel through Punjab, do you feel any ground swell for your movement?
Come with me and spend a week, and you will know. The unrest, political failures, vacuum and electoral irrelevance have prepared the ground even though I don’t instigate things. I merely filled the vacuum.

Your take on Anandpur Sahib Resolution?
It was and still is a great document. But one has seen so many changes now. The resolution asked for federal rights for every state; Kashmir had federal rights, but Article 370 was revoked overnight 
by the state. How can we think of federalism when power is centralised?

There is talk that you have been planted by vested interests or agencies.
The Central agencies will say I have been planted by Pakistan. The Punjab Government will say the agencies planted me. The Congress will say I’m planted by the Punjab government. Everyone is claiming that I’m sponsored by somebody. At least I should know who is sponsoring me. 

What is the difference between the previous movement and this?
Then it was a full-scale militancy movement. There is no militancy at this point. It will not happen again.

What is the Khalistan you are looking at? Why are you not involving Pakistani Punjab?
Pakistani Punjabi Muslims are discriminated against over their language. But they don’t have a religious conflict; it’s an identity conflict. Their solution is not to remain in Pakistan—it will be Punjab. Khalistan is not just a Sikh state. Every identity in Punjab will be secure. The jats are facing many crises in Haryana. When we talk about Punjab, we talk about protecting all identities in Punjab, not only Sikhs. Hindu Punjabis are also supporting this movement.

Tell us about Amritpal, the person.
I’m a very solitary person, I don’t have a social circle. I have a few friends from my childhood. I sit with them and talk about normal stuff. We used to run away from school and go for a swim, which my family didn’t like. I married Kirandeep Kaur a few days ago; she is a Punjabi based in the UK. I have a brother and sister, both of whom are married. My sister and I are twins.


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