Assassination of Lala Jagat Narayan
Assassination of Lala Jagat Narayan
Lala Jagat Narain the Owner and Chief Editor of Hindu Samachar Newspaper group, was hell-bent on a mission in 1980 to tarnish the reputation of Sikhs and destroy their desire for autonomous freedom. He would consistently slander Sikh leaders and their philosophy of developing a separate identity from Hinduism. Even in the 1978 Amritsar massacre, Lala was present as a witness and gave statements against the peaceful Sikh protesters of which 13 were made shaheed.
All barriers were crossed when he published a picture of Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj next to Mahatma Gandhi’s and attempted to compare them as men. He went on further to make remarks suggesting Gandhi was superior as he never lifted a sword to seek justice.
Sant Ji had warned Jagat Narain openly many times prior to this incident that his writings were a direct attack on Sikhi and that if he did not heed the warning then perhaps one day a Lion would answer his challenge. His latest slur on our Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj had lit a fire of vengeance inside Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale.
Nachhatar Singh was well known in his village, Rode, to be at hand for the needy, and was always ready to serve his local community. He had taken a keen interest in how the media was portraying the Sikhs asking for freedom, and as a result would often read the popular newspapers. When he came across Lala Jagat Narain’s articles, he became deeply upset and outraged.
Although he had frequently visited Nanak Niwas, to meet Singhs that were part of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji’s jatha, he felt ashamed to introduce himself to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale, as he was still shaving his beard and felt Sant Ji would find this disgraceful and perhaps be angered.
On 10thApril 1980 Sant Jarnail Singh Ji brought all the Singhs to attend a wedding in their village Rode. Word had got to Sant ji that a Singh called Nachhatar is very handy and had been willing to be able to participate in Sewa for the Panth. Nachhatar Singh upon hearing people say his name to Sant Ji, tried to sneak out of the wedding, but was stopped by Singhs who had been asked to bring him to be introduced to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale.
The Singhs convinced him that Sant Ji was not angry and wished to finally meet the young man he has heard so much about. Sant Ji asked Nachhatar Singh why he’d never introduced himself, despite visiting Amritsar so many times. They discussed in private how hurtful Lala Jagat Narain’s articles had become and the damage to Sikh sentiments his pen was causing. Sant Ji said his insults were a stain on Sikhi and Nachhatar Singh agreed before asking what Sewa he could be blessed with, as it was also eating away at him and making him lose sleep at night. Sant Ji gave a bachan that he should do something that will shut him up for good.
At this time in 1980 the Jatha only had 6 shotguns and 3 rifles, and hardly anyone as of yet had received specialist arms training. These firearms were also licensed, therefore would leave a trace back to the any Singh that used them. However, a few things that would work in favour of the Singh’s willing to take action was that there was no BSF or CRPF Deployed in Panjab, and the Police did not have heavy artillery. Random searches and pulling over vehicles were not a common occurrence at this point.
Sant Ji also pointed out that Nachhatar Singh was unknown to the authorities and did not have a previous criminal record, he was consistent commuter between the states for business and his knowledge of different routes and travelling throughout Panjab would work in his favour. It was decided that Lala had to be punished by being put on the one-way train to hell.
The conductor to stamp his ticket would be Nachhatar Singh who made a request to be provided with firearms to seal the fate of Lala, therefore Sant Ji arranged for 303 and 315 bore rifles to be delivered to Nachhatar Singh promptly.
The action was planned to be carried out before Sant Kartar Singh Ji’s Barsi in August 1980, as Sant Ji wanted all of Panjab to gather in high spirits for this occasion. The first time Nachhatar Singh attempted the assassination was at the Surya Grahan Mela in Kurukshetra, Haryana. He had arrived with a friend from Rode who had the same love for the Panth and wanted to help eliminate the enemy. At this gathering the task proved extremely difficult as over 100,000 Hindu’s had crowded the festival, it was hard to follow and keep track of Jagat’s movements in the Mela, as there was also a heavy Police presence. Even if he had got clear sight of the prey, it was near impossible to escape, as there was no way to get out of the crammed parking lot, where thousands of Lorries and cars had boxed in his Red Estate vehicle.
Lala had merged heavily into the rush of people and could not be seen. And as the fair came to an end Jagat had made his way back to Jalandhar in his car, Nacchatar Singh and his accomplice left the car where it was as he knew it would be of no use and caught the bus back to Rode. He arranged to go and see Sant Jarnail Singh Ji and explained the trouble of the Red Estate car being so distinct and unable to reach high speeds. He recommended the use of a Bullet Motorcycle and Sant Jarnail Singh Ji ensured a brand new Bullet Motorcycle was dropped off to Nacchatar Singh.
The second opportunity available to enforce the punishment on Lala was in Jagadhri, Yamuna Nagar, Haryana. The target was supposed to attend a Hindu Parade, however, he did not turn up. Before August the final chance to nail Lala was in Malerkotla, at a Hindu Conference, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech as the owner of Hindu Samachar Newspaper group and Community figure. Nacchatar Singh sat in the front row of the congregation, close to the stage eagerly waiting to fulfil his destiny. Sant Jarnail Singh Ji at the same time was keenly listening to the conference on the radio confident that this time Lala would not miss his train. The evening wore on and it was late at night yet still Lala had not turned up, an announcement was made that he was feeling rather ill so could not attend the function.
Nacchatar Singh left feeling disheartened, and reported back to Sant Ji with the news. Sant Ji told him that it would be best to delay the action now as it could not be carried out before the Barsi as hoped and also a lot of the Sangat was aware of Nacchatar Singh’s constant disappearance on the Motorcycle. A Tour was planned for Sant Jarnail Singh Ji to do parchar all throughout India, the last programme in Panjab was going to be in Moga on 7thDecember 1980, after this Sant Ji wanted Nacchatar Singh to accompany him on the year long tour to refresh his mind and quash rumours that he was the one who would punish Lala.
However, Nacchatar returned to Rode, as he had to provide for his family by returning to work for a while, and there was no-one else to cover. Many months passed as Sant Ji continued their Parchar in places like Bombay to Himachal Pradesh.
In the early hours of 8thSeptember 1981, a Singh from Jalandhar, who had helped Nachhatar Singh in the past to gather information on Lala Jagat Narain’s whereabouts, arrived at his residence, accompanied by Sant Ji’s nephew Swaran Singh Rode. Swaran Singh was insisting to be a part of the action, as they had fresh and reliable information that assured this Hit would be a success. The following day Lala was due to travel with his driver in a Fiat to attend a Religious Ceremony in Patiala, with no security or Police in the area.
Nachhatar Singh at first was not feeling too confident, and he expressed his concern that not only would Sant Ji be angered by the involvement of his nephew in the Hit, but also all the weapons and ammunition had gone with the Jatha Singhs on the tour, as tensions were high with the narkdharis. Swaran Singh however, was adamant and said Dalbir Singh Abhiyaasi would meet them later at night, as he was also craving to partake in bringing this Dusht to justice. Nacchatar Singh after long discussions made arrangements with a close friend to collect .32 bore and .38 bore revolvers on the same day.
At approximately 7pm Swaran Singh Rode and Nachhatar Singh got ready to leave his home on the Bullet, his little niece who was barely able to hold a cup, got 2 glasses of Milk for her uncle and Swaran Singh before they set off. When they arrived at the safehouse in Nakodar, they were greeted by Dalbir Singh Abhiyaasi, there were also other Singhs present, who revealed that they had purchased a new Motorcycle for 14,900 Rs. They ensured it was purchased under a fake name therefore could not be traced back. However, Nacchatar Singh argued that he was accustomed to riding his own Bullet given by Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale, and because of almost a year of riding it was trustworthy. He also raised concern that a Brand New bike would need time to break in without overheating when travelling at high speeds. However, the rest of the Singhs pleaded that for such a ground-breaking action, that would be covered by media around the world, it was only right to use the brand new Motorcycle. The 3 Singhs Nachhatar Singh, Swaran Singh and Dalbir Singh Abhiyaasi left in the early hours of 9thSeptember 1981 after switching the bikes.
When they arrived in Patiala they found it hard to locate the rest house where the ceremony was taking place. Eventually after finding it, the realised Lala’s car was nowhere to be seen and neither was he. They heard from the locals that he had just left not too long ago. Nacchatar Singh ripped the Motorbike at high speeds to catch up with Fiat, and in his mind had anticipated reaching the River Bank en route back to Jalandhar off GT road as the ideal place for execution.
However, just as he feared, the Bike was getting extremely hot and cutting out, due to the speed he was trying to maintain on a brand new bike. Finally, near Ludhiana they got sight of the Fiat and were thrilled to be so close to their target. Lala was alone in the back of the car, only accompanied by his driver Somnath. They approached some Road works, where the Fiat had to slow down considerably, as a New Road was being constructed, there was now a build-up of traffic and Nacchatar Singh told Swaran Singh and Dalbir Singh to pull out their revolvers and get ready to fire. He levelled with the car as the traffic had begun to move off again and the Singhs fired 3 shots each.
Both the Car and Motorcycle were moving at speed causing the bullets to smash the windows but miss the target. The Fiat slammed its brakes and Nachhatar Singh continued 10 yards further, he looked back and realised the car was manoeuvring to go the opposite way. By now many trucks, buses and tractors had pulled over at the sound of Gun shots, there was a lot of commotion.
Nachhatar Singh realised this chance could not slip having come so close, he was determined not to return having failed his task, he took the revolver off the Singh behind him, and held it high whilst chasing the Fiat. The driver was panicking and drove off-road to try and escape, as the Singhs closed in, the driver froze and came to a stop near the Amaltas Motel. The public were gathering in shock and bemusement, failing to realise what was about to take place. Nachhatar Singh parked the bike next to the car and composed himself before taking aim, Lala was crying and screaming for help, and the Driver had become as white as a ghost. Nachhatar Singh pulled the trigger on the .32 Revolver 4 times, with 2 shots piercing Lala’s skull and one in his Torso, the 4thShot went through and carved into the Driver Somnath’s face.
Nacchatar Singh let off the Khalsa War Cry of Bollleeee Soo Nihaaalll… Sat Sri Akaaallllllll. All 3 Singhs yelled Khalistan Zindabad slogans and fired shots in the air as they departed the scene revving the Motorcycle.
November 20, 1997
|Rode released after 14 years in jail |
In 1981, Narain was shot dead by three motorcycle-borne youths, while travelling in his car on the Grand Trunk road. The driver of the car, Somnath, was also seriously injured in the attack.
Rode and one of his accomplices, Swaran Singh, were arrested, while a third accused, Dalbir Singh, escaped. Swaran Singh was acquitted by the trial court giving him the benefit of doubt.