Rejuvenating Panthic Unity and Restructuring Sikh Leadership
Taking an important step towards revitalizing Panthic leadership structures, a collective of highly respected panth dardi and jujharoo Singhs initiated a series of public discussions in October 2022, aimed at building consensus amongst different Panthic organizations and factions.
Rather than simply announcing the formation of yet another Panthic organization or political party, the collective consciously chose to facilitate a series of open discussions amongst existing organizations and personalities to initiate a crucial consensus-building process within the Panth. The organizers identified increasing polarization and fragmentation within Sikh organizations as a significant point of vulnerability in the midst of significant geopolitical shifts in the region, and the world. Given the volatility of the political situation in Punjab and the South Asian subcontinent in particular, this is a crucial initiative to forge new processes and structures that will renew the formation of Sikh political mobilization and collective decision-making in Punjab and beyond.
Marking Bandhi Chhor Divas and Guru Granth-Panth Guriaee Divas, the group of jujharoo Singhs hosted the first deliberative forum, “Panthic Vichar Goshti” in Sri Amritsar (October 2022) as a first step to revitalizing the Guru Khalsa Panth’s tradition of gurmatta and the sovereignty of Sri Akal Takhat. The organizers have been involved in various Panthic seva, including participating in and leading the armed struggle for Khalistan–several of them having spent decades in Indian prisons as a result. All of the individuals have remained firmly committed to Khalsa jee de bol baale without claiming any formal position or title for themselves. The organizers include, Bhai Rajinder Singh Mughalvaal, Bhai Lal Singh Akalgarh, Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu, Bhai Narain Singh Chaura, Bhai Bhupinder Singh Bhalvaan, Bhai Amrik Singh Isru, Bhai Sukhdev Singh Phagwara, Bhai Hardeep Singh Mehraj, Bhai Sukhdev Singh Dodd, Bhai Satnam Singh Khandevala, and Bhai Satnam Singh Jhanjian.
Participants in the first Vichar Goshti included former Singh Sahiban, Nihang Singh jathebandis, Kar Seva sampardas, various Taksals, Panthic organizations, and other jujharoos who participated in the Sikh sangarsh. This includes a number of prominent Panthic personalities, including Baba Mann Singh Guru Nanak Dal, Singh Sahib Giani Jaswant Singh and Giani Keval Singh, Baba Harbans Singh on behalf of Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, Prof. Baljinder Singh and Bapu Gurcharan Singh of the Hawara Rihai Committee, Paramjeet Singh Mand from Dal Khalsa, Bhai Bakshish Singh from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Giani Angrez Singh from Damdami Taksal (Jatha Bhindran). The focus of the discussion was around the current conditions of Sri Akaal Takhat, the role of “Akalis'' in Sikh governance, and what our future leadership structures and processes ought to look like. The different participants emphasized the importance of freeing Sri Akal Takhat from the influence of electoral politics, restoring the sovereign power of Sri Akal Takhat, and reflecting on the role of Sikh political mobilization in the context of the current geopolitical scenario of South Asia.
Setting the tone of the discussion series, Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu took the opportunity to speak about how Punjab, the South Asian subcontinent, and the world are all currently racing towards greater instability. In this climate, Bhai Bittu pointed out how dangerous the fragmentation within Panthic organizations is today as a result of a lack of dialogue amongst Sikhs and the absence of credible central institutions.
Given the speed of geopolitical changes in the region, he pointed out how these conditions will soon present the Guru Khalsa Panth with new opportunities and challenges. Therefore, he emphasized the importance of renewing our leadership and decision-making processes in light of Panthic tradition, starting with initiating a process of internal dialogue to develop a unified platform for Panthic sewadars. In particular, he identified four priority areas that require serious attention:
Restoring the independent governance of Sri Akaal Takhat and collective decision-making;
Reorganizing our Gurdwara administration structures and processes;
Reflecting on the Khalsa’s role within the political scenario of South Asia; and
Increasing our internal coordination and cooperation to further the Sikh sangarsh for a sovereign state, Khalistan.
Since the initial gathering in October, a subsequent event was held at Sri Fatehgarh Sahib on November 14. Engaging Sikh intellectuals and thinkers, specifically, that event addressed the current condition of Sikh politics and future possibilities. The following discussion took place in Sri Anandpur Sahib over two days in January 2023, with the aim of bringing various Sikh naujawan into conversation regarding the strategic priorities of the Panth today. This gathering was followed by another discussion held in Ludhiana with Sikh prachariks on February 19 regarding the revival of collective decision-making processes within Sikh spaces.