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Why New India must defeat Amritpal Singh’s cause of a theocratic Khalistan

Waris Punjab De's nefarious plot marshalled by the Pakistani ISI and its international network must be resolutely stamped out without delay

In his seminal address on August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid out a clear road map for turning India into a fully developed nation in the next 25 years, timed with the century of India’s independence in 2047.

The next 25 years will mark the era of Amritkal. India’s rise as a civilizational state with global stature will, however, critically depend on national unity, fired by the imagination of millions who have decolonised their minds and shed their colonial-era slavish mentality. It is this mass social “awakening” tied with doctrines such as Atmanirbhar Bharat, infrastructure development, good governance and a slew of policy initiatives, which will power the rise of a New India.

But the attempt to revive the Khalistani movement, marked by the recent Ajnala incident, where followers of Amritpal Singh, the so-called leader of the separatist Waris Punjab de gang, stormed a police station to free an inmate, is an assault on the aspirational rise of a Viksit Bharat. The group and its nefarious plot, quite obviously marshalled by the Pakistani ISI and its international network that spreads into North America and Europe, must be resolutely stamped out without delay.

What do Waris Punjab de wish to achieve?

It is clear that Amritpal, and Deep Sidhu, the actor turned separatist, the group’s founder, now dead, wanted to form a Sikh theocracy carved out of a proud and united India. The outlines of the group’s modus operandi, relying heavily on social media, is already visible in plain sight.

A sampling of online discussions by Deep Sidhu and Amritpal on Facebook live, Clubhouse and other virtual chat forums have already revealed that the resurrected secessionist movement is the brainchild of a group, many of whose operatives function behind a virtual smokescreen.

These so-called experts will apparently percolate directions to activists on the ground, whose names and contact details will be pre-recorded in a giant database.

For instance, in one discussion about establishing a grassroots network of Waris Punjab De, Amritpal Singh urged everyone to form small groups in their cities, towns and villages, according to an article posted in the OpIndia website. Amritpal is quoted as saying: “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.”

Thus, the group is working on proliferating a large number of sleeper cells, which can be activated when required. Apart from foot soldiers, Amritpal also talks about drawing experts in legal, entertainment and educational fields to spread his divisive message.

The online discussions reveal four other aspects of the group’s mindset.

First, like Al Qaeda, the Waris de Punjab leadership encourages less visible lone-wolf attacks, signalling the possibility of terror strikes, of which the Pak ISI is a master.

Second, the connected group is “international” in its outlook. Singh in the past has praised the notorious Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) based in the United States.

During a Q and A session, when asked if Sikhs should support the terrorist organisation Sikhs For Justice’s Referendum 2020, 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, says the OpIndia article.

Third, Amritpal has made it plain that instead of older people, Waris Punjab de must target youth.In one of the discussions, he acknowledged that it is hard to change the mindset of older people. “We can ask them to join us, but we should concentrate more on developing our structure and invite [target] youth to join.” He added that, “Youth is not a property of any ideology. They should be guided to stand with the right.”

Daljeet Singh Kalsi, another luminary of the group had advocated lesser involvement of women in the secessionist movement, pointing out that women “can at least do social media activism”. “They have phones. They know how to use social media and the internet, he said.

Fourth, Waris Panjab de advocates demolishing the appeal of Punjab’s national heroes, especially Bhagat Singh. Amritpal has been quoted as saying that the media had overly glorified Bhagat Singh. “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.

Ahead of his arrival in India from Dubai, Amritpal had carefully choreographed his attire and messaging. Singh’s attire clearly resembles the clothes donned by Bhindrawale, with the obvious intent of reviving his secessionist cult.

Also Read: Ominous dark clouds hover over Punjab