- The Nirankari sect was formed by Sikh activists in the 19th century. Under Baba Deyal Singh, it is credited with starting the tradition of Anand Karaj, the Sikh way of getting married. A breakaway group formed by Baba Buta Singh preached largely similar customs and principles but there some differences from Sikh customs. He was followed by Avatar Singh, who registered Sant Nafinkari Mandal in 1948.
- The first clash between Sikhs and Avatar Singh took place over alleged misinterpretation of the Gurbani by Avatar Singh in Amritsar in 1956-57. It left a few persons injured. Avatar Singh’s son Gurbachan Singh wrote Granth Avtar Bani; some of its references to Sikh Gurus offended many Sikhs.
- In a clash with Sikhs opposing a Nirankari congregation in 1978, 13 Sikhs were killed. Gurbachan Singh and 64 followers were booked for murder and acquitted in 1980.
- Later that year, Gurbachan and an aide were shot dead in Delhi. Militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhundranwale was questioned and charged with murder; prime accused Ranjit Singh surrendered in 1983, was sentenced to 13 years and, after his release, went on to become Akal Takht jathedar.