Open main menu

Amrik Singh (1948 – June 6, 1984) was the President of the All India Sikh Students Federation and was killed in the army operation in Golden Temple, Amritsar, on June 6, 1984.[3]

Amrik Singh
Amrik Singh
Bhai Amrik Singh (left) with Harbhajan Singh Khalsa and Baba Nihal Singh, 1980
President of AISSF
Preceded byHari Singh[1]
Succeeded byManjit Singh[2]
Personal details
Born1948
DiedJune 6, 1984.
Amritsar, India
Spouse(s)Bibi Harmeet Kaur
ChildrenSatwant Kaur, Paramjit Kaur, and Tarlochan Singh
FatherGiani Kartar Singh Bhindranwale

Amrik Singh was the son of Giani Kartar Singh Bhindranwale, the 13th leader of the Damdami Taksal.[4] He was well versed in Gurbani and Sikh literature, and devoted much of his life to Sikh progressive activities. He had passed his Masters in Punjabi from Khalsa College in Amritsar after which he began research work on his Ph.D. thesis.

Amrik Singh was a prominent leader of the orthodox Sikh faction along with Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. He contested the 1979 Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) election, backed by Bhindranwale, but lost to Jiwan Singh Umranangal.[5]

On 26 April 1982, he led a campaign to get Amritsar the status of a "holy city". During the agitation, he was arrested on 19 July 1982 along with other members of the Damdami Taksal. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale began the Dharam Yudh Morcha to implement the Anandpur Resolution which primarily requested more autonomy for the Punjabi's, arguing that they were being oppressed and treated unfairly by the Indian government. As part of the Morcha, he also demanded freedom for Amrik Singh[6] and other prominent Sikhs.

Contents

BiographyEdit

Birth and familyEdit

Amrik Singh was born in 1948 as the son of Giani Kartar Singh Bhindranwale, the 13th leader of the Damdami Taksal.[7] Manjit Singh was his younger brother.[8]

EducationEdit

Amrik Singh studied at Khalsa College[9] and received his MA and was on his way to completing his PhD before pursuing promotion of Sikh teachings.

Work with AISSFEdit

Amrik Singh was made president of the AISSF on July 2, 1978 at large AISSF meeting held at Tagore Theatre, Chandigarh.[10]

Building Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj in honor of the Sikhs massacred in 1978Edit

Amrik Singh contributed significantly to opposing the Nirankaris and to the building of the Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj, in B-Block Amritsar, at the spot where the 13 Sikh protesters were murdered[11] by the Nirankaris. When no other organization came forth and the government refused to sell the land to Amrik Singh and the AISSF the AISSF Sikhs began building the Gurdwara wall at night so they could claim the land by force.[12] Sikh youth would spend the entire night building the wall and it would be knocked down by the police the next day. A stand off between the police and the AISSF began and the police threatened they would shoot anyone on site, they were met with resolve from Amrik Singh who said they would do anything to raise the memorial for the martyred Sikhs. Eventually the police acceded to the demands of the Sikhs and the Gurdwara remains there today.

Running for SPGC ElectionsEdit

In the General House Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections of 1979, the first in 13 years,[13] Amrik Singh ran and lost to Jiwan Umramangal.[14] Amrik Singh was in the Dal Khalsa and Bhindranwale's group (who fielded about 40 candidates) running against the Akali Dal and ran for the SGPC Beas constituency.[15] Notably one of The Dal Khalsa aim included establishing a independent Sikh State. Some elements of the Congress party supported and backed Dal Khalsa's and Bhindranwale's group so they could undermine the Akalis.[16]

Strikes and agitationsEdit

The AISSF held a strike on October 25, 1980 and another on November 14, 1980 to protest against the high bus fare increase and some other issues in such districts as Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Patiala, Ludhiana with trains not being able to operate then. This resulted in student-police clashes at numerous places causing the police to open fire at Dasuya and Jhabhal.[17] On the November 14, 1980 strike against the bus fare increase organized by the AISSF there was jammed traffic in the province. The residents of the province provided full support for the Sikh students.[18] Following these agitations all political parties joined the struggle against the increased bus fares. Some reports are there of police stations being attacked.[19]

The AISSF held numerous agitations, strikes, street riots against various causes and politicians.[20] During the time of the bus fare agitations the AISSF also held numerous demonstrations against various political leaders including the chief minister of Punjab, Darbara Singh. Some notable agitations including Sikh students besieging various Punjab ministers and lock themselves inside their offices or residences during early December 1980. The students responsible were arrested and tortured and more subsequent agitations was launched for the release of these students with these agitations were so forceful that the police release the students within a couple of days.[21]

The success of the AISSF, which this time numbered to a membership of 300,000 members,[22] at one point compelled the non-government political parties to join in and hold a demonstration in front of the state secretariat at Chandigarh from making a speech, on January 1981. Thousands of AISSF volunteers joined the demonstration with more than a thousand being arrested and eventually police throwing tear-gas and also lathi and cane-charged them however the AISSF were successful in delaying the Punjab governor from making a speech making the government invite all the political parties for a dialogue.

Anti Tobacco marchEdit

This issue of banning tobacco in and other improvements to Amritsar also put leeway to get the Sikh issues to mainstream politics.[23] In May 1981 The AISSF alongside Dal Khalsa put forth to pass the bill of banning tobacco in the city of Amritsar, tobacco is strictly forbidden in Sikhism, this bill was originally introduced in 1977 by the Akali Dal for the 400 years founding of Amritsar celebrations. The AISSF gave an ultimatum to the Punjab government to ban tobacco in the city by March 30 or there would be an agitation.[24] The Government of Punjab seemed to agree with the issue but they said that technically passing such a ban would be unconstitutional and therefore could not. Meanwhile AISSF members forcibly started preventing merchants from selling tobacco[25] and to add to the heat Harchand Longowal also publicly expressed his support for the ban.[26]

Opposition's pro tobacco marchEdit

On May 29, 1981 thousands of Hindus marched in Amritsar to protest against the AISSF ban for tobacco demand.[27] They carried sticks with lit cigarettes through the Amritsar bazaar, beating up Sikhs along the way and yelling provocative slogans.[28]

Bhindranwale's marchEdit

In response to the pro tobacco march, on May 31, 1981, the AISSF, Damdami Taksal, Dal Khalsa joined together led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and with over 20,000[29] supporters put out a procession. No major Akali leader participated in the march. The march went a route of about two and a half kilometres.[30] Following the march there were eruptions of Hindu-Sikh clashes in Amritsar with the government then initating new laws banning non-religious processions from taking place. These events died down once the government agreed to form a committee to discuss 'holy-city' status for Amritsar.

OutcomeEdit

Holy-city status was not given to Amritsar however on February 27, 1983 the Prime Minister passed a law making meat, alcohol and tobacco sale prohibited in the areas around the Harimander Sahib and the Hindu Durgiana temple in Amritsar.[31] On September 10, 2016 Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal promised 'holy-city' status to Amritsar as well as Anandpur Sahib[32] on his visit to the city. He declared liquor, tobacco, cigarette and meat will be completely banned in these cities, it is notable the sales of such items are currently rampant in the city.

ArrestEdit

On July 19, 1982 Amrik Singh was arrested for vehemently pleading the case of the arrested workers causing offense and attention to Chenna Reddy,[33] the Governor of Punjab, as well as a possible connection in the attack on Joginder Singh Sandhu, a senior Nirankari leader.[34][35]

Sant Jarnail Singh started a morcha (agitation) on July 19, 1982 for the immediate release of Bhai Amrik Singh and had popular support throughout Punjab, including support from Akali Dal, Darbara Singh, and the farmers of Majha's country side.[36] Harcharan Longowal, leader of the Akali Dal than announced that his morcha would also be for the release of Amrik Singh and the 45 original demands presented to Indira Gandhi. Upon news of Akali Dal's new morcha for the release of Bhai Amrik Singh Jarnail Singh agreed to discontinue his agitation and join the Akali Dal's planned Dharm Yudh Morcha which began in August 4, 1982.

Amrik Singh was released in the summer of 1983 and subsequently honoured at the Akal Takht with flowered garland saropas (robes of honour).[37]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Singh, Gurrattanpal (1979). The Illustrated History of the Sikhs, 1947-78: Containing Chapters on PEPSU, AISSF, Evolution of the Demand for Sikh Homeland, and the Princess Bamba Collection. Chandigargh. p. 65.
  2. ^ Chima, Jugdep (August 1, 2008). The Sikh Separatist Insurgency in India: Political Leadership and Ethnonationalist Movements. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India. p. 132. ISBN 9788132105381.
  3. ^ Khanna, Hans (1987). Terrorism in Punjab: Cause and Cure. Chandigarh: Panchnad Research Institute.
  4. ^ Akbar, M. J. (January 1, 1996). India: The Siege Within : Challenges to a Nation's Unity. UBSPD. p. 183. ISBN 9788174760760.
  5. ^ "Akali leader Umranangal passes away". Chandigarh: The Tribune. 1998-11-08. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  6. ^ Crenshaw, Martha (November 1, 2010). Terrorism in Context. Penn State Press. p. 383. ISBN 9780271044422.
  7. ^ Akbar, M. J. (January 1, 1996). India: The Siege Within : Challenges to a Nation's Unity. UBSPD. p. 183. ISBN 9788174760760.
  8. ^ Chima, Jugdep (August 1, 2008). The Sikh Separatist Insurgency in India: Political Leadership and Ethnonationalist Movements. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India. p. 132. ISBN 9788132105381.
  9. ^ Kumar, Ram (April 1, 1997). The Sikh unrest and the Indian state: politics, personalities, and historical retrospective. Ajanta. p. 22. ISBN 9788120204539.
  10. ^ Singh, Gurrattanpal (1979). The Illustrated History of the Sikhs, 1947-78: Containing Chapters on PEPSU, AISSF, Evolution of the Demand for Sikh Homeland, and the Princess Bamba Collection. Chandigargh. p. 65.
  11. ^ Walia, Varinder (24 Dec 2004). "Thakur Singh: Under Jarnail's Shadow". The Tribune, Amritsar.
  12. ^ Sarna, Dr. Jasbir (2012). Some Precious Pages Of The Sikh History. Unistar. p. 136. ISBN 978-93-5017-896-6.
  13. ^ Chima, Jugdep (2010). The Sikh Separatist Insurgency in India: Political Leadership and Ethnonationalist Movements. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India. ISBN 9789351509530.
  14. ^ Appleb, R. Scott; Marty, Martin E. (1996). Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance. University of Chicago Press. p. 262. ISBN 9780226508849.
  15. ^ Akbar, M. J. (1996). India: The Siege Within : Challenges to a Nation's Unity. UBSPD. p. 183. ISBN 9788174760760.
  16. ^ Grewal, J. S. (1998). The Sikhs of the Punjab, II.2 (Revised ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780521637640.
  17. ^ Singh, Dalip (1981). Dynamics of Punjab Politics. Macmillan. p. 137.
  18. ^ Sarna, Dr. Jasbir (2012). Some Precious Pages Of The Sikh History. Unistar. p. 135. ISBN 978-93-5017-896-6.
  19. ^ Gandhi, Indira (1985). Selected Thoughts of Indira Gandhi: A Book of Quotes. Mittal Publications. p. 10.
  20. ^ Kiss, Peter A. (2014). Winning Wars amongst the People: Case Studies in Asymmetric Conflict. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 89. ISBN 9781612347004.
  21. ^ Sarna, Dr. Jasbir (2012). Some Precious Pages Of The Sikh History. Unistar. p. 135. ISBN 978-93-5017-896-6.
  22. ^ Kiss, Peter A. (2014). Winning Wars amongst the People: Case Studies in Asymmetric Conflict. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 89. ISBN 9781612347004.
  23. ^ Chima, Jugdep (August 1, 2008). The Sikh Separatist Insurgency in India: Political Leadership and Ethnonationalist Movements. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India. ISBN 9788132105381.
  24. ^ Kumar, Raj. Punjab crisis: Role of Rightist and Leftist Parties. Dev Publications. p. 65. ISBN 9788187577058.
  25. ^ Chima, Jugdep (August 1, 2008). The Sikh Separatist Insurgency in India: Political Leadership and Ethnonationalist Movements. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India. ISBN 9788132105381.
  26. ^ Adiraju, Venkateswar (1991). Sikhs and India: Identity Crisis. Sri Satya Publications. p. 177.
  27. ^ Jeffrey, Robin. What’s Happening to India?: Punjab, Ethnic Conflict, and the Test for Federalism (Second ed.). p. 144.
  28. ^ Kaur, Harminder (1990). Blue Star Over Amritsar. Ajanta Publications. p. 61. ISBN 9788120202573.
  29. ^ Jeffrey, Robin. What’s Happening to India?: Punjab, Ethnic Conflict, and the Test for Federalism (Second ed.). p. 144.
  30. ^ Viswanathan,, S. (1981). "Industrial Economist". 14: 116.
  31. ^ Kamath, M.V.; Gupta, Shekhar; Kirpekar,, Subhash; Sethi,, Sunil; Singh, Tavleen; Singh,, Khushwant; Aurora, Jagjit; Kaur, Amarjit (2012). The Punjab Story. Roli Books Private Limited. ISBN 9788174369123.
  32. ^ Rana, Yudhvir (9 September 2016). "Arvind Kejriwal for holy city status to Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib". Times Of India. TNN.
  33. ^ Grewal, J. S. (October 8, 1998). The Sikhs of the Punjab, II.2 (Revised ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 222. ISBN 9780521637640.
  34. ^ Kaur, Harminder (January 1, 1990). Blue Star Over Amritsar. Ajanta Publications. p. 69.
  35. ^ Sharda, Jain (1995). Politics of terrorism in India: the case of Punjab. Deep & Deep Publications. p. 166. ISBN 9788171008070.
  36. ^ Chima, Jugdep (August 1, 2008). The Sikh Separatist Insurgency in India: Political Leadership and Ethnonationalist Movements. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India. p. 132. ISBN 9788132105381.
  37. ^ Rastogi, P. N. (1986). Ethnic Tensions in Indian Society: Explanation, Prediction, Monitoring, and Control. Delhi: Mittal Publications. p. 138.