Massacre of Killi Bodla

Killing of Bhai Ajit Singh and his family

In order to suppress the Sikh movement and eradicate the Sikh freedom fighters from Punjab, the Indian government had given full authority to the police. To accomplish this mission, they were given the right to use any means necessary. Besides picking up innocent Sikhs and killing them in fake encounters, the police also targeted those who sympathized with the Sikh movement. Many of the Sikh families had no links with the movement but only provided shelter and food for the Sikh fighters. For this crime these families had to go through unbearable suffering and oppression of the government. One of such families is that of Bhai Ajit Singh from the village Killi Bodla. If we were to walk in the house of Bhai Ajit Singh today, the walls and floors will reveal the truth and show us the glimpse of Indian brutality.

Bhai Ajit Singh as an Agriculture Inspector lived a happy life with his family in village Killi Bodla. His brother, Bhai Dalbir Singh, and his family also lived with them under the same roof. They were middle class family and were blessed with everything they needed. But their happiness did not last long. When the Punjab police started hunting down the Sikh families for giving food and shelter to the Sikh freedom fighters, this family were on top of the list. In the evening of 7th October 1991, Bhai Joginder Singh Nikku and his three companions came to the house of Bhai Ajit Singh to eat dinner. Coincidentally, two police jeeps also came to the village in searching for the Sikh fighters. They grabbed the Sarpanch (head of the village) and forced him to tell Bhai Ajit Singh to open the door because they had received a tip from someone that Bhai Ajit Singh’s family sympathized with the Sikh movement and provided food and shelter to the Sikh fighters. The police had come there to threaten the family and had no knowledge of the presence of the Sikh fighters. As soon as inspector Balkar Singh and ASI Jarnail Singh along with Sarpanch entered the house, the Sikh fighters opened fired and killed both of the senior police officers. One low rank policeman was injured and the rest ran back. The Sarpanch hid behind a tree though he was never fired upon by the Sikh freedom fighters.

The Jhujaru Singhs quickly left the house shouting slogans of victory and challenged the Punjab police to follow them and fight them in the fields. The Jhujaru Singh’s intent was to turn the Punjab police’s intentions towards them so that the family of Bhai Ajit Singh could be saved. Bhai Joginder Singh Nikku did not want the police to arrest the family members so instead of hiding he started walking on the open road. Unfortunately, another police jeep showed up in front of him and the police opened fire on him with automatic machine guns. Bhai Joginder Singh Nikku became injured and fell on the ground but instead of being captured he took cyanide capsule and attained martyrdom. This did not calm the Punjab police, who had witnessed their 2 senior police officers gunned down. They wanted to avenge the death of their officers by punishing the family that had sheltered the Sikh fighters. DSP Dev Raj Sharma and SSP Satish Koshal came to the village with a large force and rounded the family members. At that time the following members of the family were present:

  • Bhai Ajit Singh – Age 65 years old
  • Bibi Iqbal Kaur – Age 90 years old, mother of Bhai Ajit Singh
  • Bibi Jaswinder Kaur – Age 39/40 years old, wife of Bhai Dalbir Singh
  • Bibi Lakhwinder Kaur – Age 50 years old, wife of Bhai Ajit Singh
  • Bibi Manjit Kaur – Age 26 years old, daughter in law of Bhai Ajit Singh
  • Bhai Sukhwinder Singh – Age 21 years old, eldest son of Bhai Dalbir Singh
  • Bhai Rajwinder Singh – Age 15 years old, youngest son of Bhai Dalbir Singh
  • Bibi Narinder Kaur – Age 3 years old, daughter of Bibi Manjit Kaur
  • Bhai Ravinderpal Singh – Age 1 year old, son of Bibi Manjit Kaur

Bhai Dalbir Singh himself was not present in the house and his daughter Jasbir Kaur had gone to Gurdwara Nanaksar Sahib along with her grandfather, Sardar Malook Singh. For this reason, all three members of this family were saved.

The Punjab police started their brutal activities under the command of DSP Dev Raj Sharma. All of the family members including women were stripped naked and tied to a tree with metal chains. In Punjabi culture, not covering head is considered a shameful act for a woman but Indian forces dropping far below the morality level stripped naked a sister in front a brother and a daughter in front of her father. This was the greatest harassment they had faced but it was only the beginning. The police officials then harassed and dishonoured the women. Then they grated the skin of all the family members. Their heart piercing screams could be heard in the entire village. The Punjab police did not stop its lunacy and kept on grating the skin from legs and arms.

Skinning this Sikhs family alive did not satisfy the police. The police warmed the tar in the kitchen and poured it on the wounds of this family. Then they poured diesel on the wounds. The screams of the victims had no effect on the police. Instead, the brutal torturous methods increased their excitement as the screams of the Sikhs increased. It was as if the police had turned in the form of a Satan. The Indian forces surpassed the Mughals when it came to torturing the innocent Sikhs. In the Mughal Empire, Sikh women were given the punishment of grinding the flour and were deprived of food and water. Their children were cut into pieces but incidents of rape and skinning women alive were very rare if not none. By skinning women alive and then pouring diesel on the wounds the Hindu forces would sure have terrified the souls of the Mughals.

Place where the family was slaughtered. Marks of hot tar are still visible in the lower right room.

The police stopped its vicious activities when the half-burnt Sikhs because unconscious and some of their fingers had separated from the body. Then the police decided to lay them on the floor after which they were fired upon and killed. One and a half years old child Ravinderpal Singh became unconscious after suffering an injury from a bullet that slightly hit his forehead. When the police were picking up the dead bodies and throwing them in the van, Dev Raj Sharma kicked the body of Ravinderpal Singh and ordered his men to throw him in the van also. Narinder Kaur, three-year-old daughter of Manjit Kaur was playing outside before the police started its game of torture. She became scared and hid in the bushes. Dev Raj Sharma had ordered not to spare anyone but a home-guard with the help of his fellow workers managed to hide her and kept her in his house. Later on, she was handed over to her family members.

To hide its criminality the Punjab police opened fire on the walls of the house and threw grenades on the roof and blew a hole in it. The police fabricated the story that the family members were caught in the crossfire of an encounter with the Sikh freedom fighters and died. When the remaining family members returned home, they could easily tell what had happened by looking at the walls and diesel and tar spills in the kitchen. Pieces of flesh were still stuck in the grater. After more than 15 years, their memories are still fresh in the minds of the remaining family members. The walls are still in the same condition. Parts of metal chains are still tied to the tree and discoloration caused by tar and diesel spills are still there. Bhai Ravinderpal Singh had survived and has now become a teenager and a scar of the bullet on his forehead reminds him of his family members that were brutally murdered by the Indian security forces.

This incident was brought to the notice of media and Human Rights Organizations. They publicized this case and demanded the justice to be served but it was all in vain. India is the only country in which brutal and cruel officers are not only protected after committing inhuman crimes but also promoted with higher ranks and pay packs. Furthermore, the Indian government does not get tired of praising them for establishing the so called “peace” in Punjab and “eradicating” terrorism. The government, however, is ignoring the fact that “peace” that cost the lives of thousands of innocent Sikhs is not peace but terror of oppression, injustice and cruelty. The day will come when Sikhs of Punjab will rise up, take arms and bring the criminals to justice because the government has yet to see the last of Sikh movement.

Vangar – Baljit Singh Khalsa