Bhai Gurbaksh Singh’s Struggle and Our so-called ‘Panthik Leaders’

Following a 44 day hunger strike demanding the release of six prisoners who had already completed their jail terms after being convicted in connection with the assassination of former chief minister Beant “Singh” in 1995, former detainee, Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa from Haryana submitted himself to an edict of Akal Takht head Gurbachan Singh asking Gurbaksh Singh to end his fast. Giving personal commitments to approach the Chief Minister of Punjab, Parkash Badal, the Jathedar impressed upon Gurbaksh Singh to give panthik leaders an opportunity of secure the permanent release of the 6 political prisoners.

Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa
Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa

The six prisoners in question include Bhai Lal Singh, who was lodged in Patiala’s Nabha jail, Bhai Waryam Singh lodged in a Uttar Pardesh jail in a different case, Gurdeep Singh, lodged in a Karnataka jail in a TADA case and Gurmeet Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, and Shamsher Singh who were all are lodged in Burail jail at Chandigarh after their life conviction in the Beant assassination case.

However, the Sikh Organisation for Prisoner Welfare (SOPW), a charity supporting these and other detainees, recently announced Gurmeet Singh had been ordered to return to Burail Jail. Both Gurmeet and his family were reported as ‘being distraught’. For Gurmeet and his family the past month has ‘been something of a roller-coaster ride: from the ecstatic feeling of being reunited with his family after eighteen years, to returning home for the first time since he lost his father, to the heartbreaking moment when he had to say goodbye to the short lived freedom he had tasted’.

Given the inability of the Jathedars to keep their promise to take actions to ensure the permanent release of the six prisoners released on parole, the SOPW issued a warning.

Over the last couple of months, many promises have been made, many people have made a name for themselves, many photos have been taken and many Sikhs’ emotions have been played with. However, none of the leaders, ruling parties, religious bodies or influential people have carried out their promises. When the tv cameras and media people packed up and left Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali, our so called leaders returned to their own worlds where they neither hear, nor say, nor do. SOPW

A file photo of Bhai Gurmeet Singh with Bhai Gurbakhash Singh Khalsa
A file photo of Bhai Gurmeet Singh with Bhai Gurbakhash Singh Khalsa

Bhai Gurbaksh Singh was/is a very sincere and inspirational gurumukh. However, I have to say many of the hangers on who posed for pictures with him really have little concern for justice, political prisoners, or the Khalsa Panth.

The Sant Samaj in particular are Badal’s poodles and they will not do anything that he or the corrupt political class do not sanction. The reality is that our dharam is gulam; on the one hand we have the likes of K.P. Gill, Sumedh Saini, K. Brar, and Congress and BJP politicians who will gladly kill ordinary GurSikhs. And on the other we have the 1000’s of Masands and Babas – and I include those that claim to be Panthik – who say one thing but do another.

Their true colours were recently exposed during the clashes at Patna Sahib—go against their command or desire and the serene sant quickly turns into a gunda. Look at what happens when any big baba passes away; even before the Baba has had his antam ardass the chelas begin to square up to each other and civil war ensues, each vying for the ‘gadhi’. This is also why for every samparda, there are many factions and pretenders claiming to be the true custodians of the dynasty. And, like gangsters and criminal politicians, the baba’s have their own personal militia’s brandishing automatic weapons.

Why if they are one with waheguru do they fear death? If they have such spiritual powers (Brahm Gian) why would anybody want to attack them? Of course the reality is that they fear attacks from the other gangster Baba’s often over land and monetary disputes. Or in the case of Nihangs, they operate protection rackets.

Sant Jarnail Singh ji had very little time for these pakandhis. He was a man of ordinary people of all faiths and none. He was not interested in personal possessions or fame. His power was in his simple devotion to the pure teachings and example of our Guru’s, which was to live a spiritual, frugal life but also to fight oppression. That is why the Masands, Babas, and Corrupt Akali Politicians conspired to kill him. The same forces, had the eye of the media not been there, that would have disposed of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh. Indeed, Bhai Gurbaksh Singh in his discourses at Amb Sahib often referred to these fifth columnists in the Sangat—he would say “there are people here who have come to support me but there are also those that want to kill me!”

They have little regard for Sikhi and all they can offer is ritualised practices—smagams to fill their coffers and keep the masses from realising the true causes of their misery. Yes, most of their chelas are people suffering from various physical, mental or economic troubles. And instead of seeking out professional support, which they probably can’t afford, they go for the cheap Baba version. And as far as economic problems are concerned, rather than gamble their money on the promises of some Baba’s ardas (equivalent of a bookie), they should really be asking why they are in poverty.

And the answer is simple; it is the system and not Waheguru. It is the greed of the rulers and their resident babas. And once this is realised, then it becomes obvious, the only solution is to create a common cause with other poor people to overthrow the system. And we have many examples from the Gurus pointing us towards such a strategy. For example, read Rattan Singh Banghu who said “gareeb ka mooh, guru ki golak”. The sakhi of Guru Nanak Ji and Bhai Lalo provides another examination.

File Photo: Self proclaimed union for saints, Sant Samaj members
File Photo: Self proclaimed union for saints, Sant Samaj members

And so as doubt and pessimism seems to be replacing the euphoria and optimism surrounding the ending of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa’s hunger strike, people that have a genuine concern for justice for prisoners who made huge sacrifices to confront the fascist dictatorship in Punjab during the decade after 1984 resulting in the death of 1000’s of innocent people, Sikh and non-Sikh at the hands of state terrorism, need to think carefully.

Today, there is a need for a new leadership of which Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa in one shining example. This is a leadership whose hall mark is justice, equality and inclusivity.

It is a leadership that is opposed to sectarianism and is seeking to confront all those that do and have abused power, not least the many so called jathedars and Sants that demand loyalty of the Sikh masses without reciprocating that very same loyalty.


  1. They had people out of jail, so they ended.

    ਸ਼ਸ਼ਤਰਾਂ ਕਿ ਅਧੀਨ ਹੈ ਰਾਜ

    That is only way to change.

  2. With Gurbaksh Singh’s hunger strike ending before what supporting sangat aimed for, IHO he has created more difficulties for others fighting for the cause such as Iqbal Singh Bhatti. I don’t think sangat will trust anyone to stick with their word or ardas.


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