Letter by Bhai Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Bhai Nirmal Singh

2ndOctober 1992


That blessed hour which we were awaiting impatiently for such a long time, will come at 4am on 9-10-1992. God has been very merciful to us. We consider ourselves very lucky. The preparations for your brother’s weddings are complete but the world doesn’t know about it [Singhs see Shaheedi as a wedding to death]. Look at the fear of these rulers!

One day their senior doctor came and said he wanted to weigh us, etc. He measured our height, weight, and neck-span. The next day he came again. We thought perhaps he had found out by now. We said, “Doctor Sahib, what do you come to see every day? We’ll go to the gallows laughing. You’ll be there too. You’ll see, there aren’t many days left now.”

The doctor was stunned and swore he had no idea what we’re talking about. He said no one had told him yet. He then remarked that his presence was necessary at the hanging and that it was necessary for him to be told once the date of the hanging had been set, but he didn’t know why he hadn’t been told yet. We said, “Look at the power of these rulers. Even when they’re going to hang someone, they tremble that no one find out about it.”

Beloved brothers, it is very strict here now. We only have four sheets of paper with us and we got those with great difficulty after putting a lot of pressure. They don’t let us write letters to anyone. It is so bad that they haven’t even let us write to our parents about the date being set yet. The date has been finalized for three days now, but no newspaper has been allowed to carry the story.”

“Even while imprisoned by the enemy, we wanted to teach them such a lesson that even just seeing a Sikh should make them shake. Quite a while ago, their Defense Minister Sharad Pawar came to the jail. At that time he was Maharashtra’s Chief Minister. He came to our area and we said, “If you give us grief, just think about what will happen to you.” His face went pale and he replied, “No, no trouble will be given to you.” It was during Sharad Pawar’s time in office that Maharashtra’s jails had new yards built, which had iron bars even on top of them to make them like cages. No fresh air could come into them. Lots of regular Sikhs were arrested under TADA and thrown in these yards. None of them had hearings in courts. Seeing all this, it came to our mind that why not get some weapons and while sitting here, teach these dushts a lesson. Lots of other big Ministers used to also come to the jail. During our stay in jail we stayed here with pride and belligerence but the jail officials would harass the regular Sikhs a lot. They tried to commit excesses on us as well. Many times they tried to force us to wear prisoner uniforms, but we refused. We said, “We don’t accept your laws, so why should we wear prisoner’s uniforms?” We used to grab the Jail DIG and Superintendent by the neck and ripped many uniforms and slapped some other officials. We roughed them up with resolution. We humiliated them in every way. We’ve pushed them so far that they start to shake just thinking about coming into our yard.

The day the Superintendent told us about our execution date, we said that we wanted to send a telegram to our relatives but he said that he had orders from the top that forget outside people, even within the jail the date was to be kept a secret. He said that he had no choice and that we could swear at him or whatever else, he controlled nothing. He said, “One promise I will make is that I will let you see your family for a final meeting. We replied, “We don’t care about any meeting and these worldly relationships aren’t that important to us. But we’re astonished that you people have fallen from even basic humanity and your rulers are such cowards that they are afraid of even telling our families.” We said a lot of other things and embarrassed the Superintendent. We said, “you have good fortune otherwise even in your custody we would have sown you what happens when you oppress Sikhs. We didn’t have a weapon reach us and you’ve all been shaken to the core, if we got it, then you already know what would have happened.”

Brothers, on 22-9-92, our jail was turned into a police cantonment. On all four sides, commandos surrounded us. Our yard itself was surrounded by more than 100 commandos. At that time we were doing paath when suddenly they pounced. The jail DIG, IG (jail), Commissioner of Police Poona, three DSPs and many other officials came. They came to us and said that we should be handcuffed because they wanted to search our cells. We grabbed the DIG and the Superintendent by the necks and began to beat them all. We refused to be handcuffed and said they could search the place but couldn’t touch anything. We would show them ourselves. We said, “If you try to use force, until we have breath in our bodies we will not let you enter our rooms. If you have the strength to take us, come on.” But they quickly accepted our conditions and said that we could show them everything.

We knew why they had come. That police officer from whom we had asked for a weapon had been caught because of his misdeeds a couple days ago. The weapon had reached him, but for some reasons he could not get it to us. After the confirmation of the Vaidya case in the Supreme Court, the jail had become very strict and because of this, he was afraid and his intentions changed. If he wanted, despite the strictness, he could have given it to us. No one comes to our yard and if someone does come, he is searched. But when we are in front of the guard room, the person on duty doesn’t have the courage to search anyone. We used to give the prisoner that cleaned up our yard letters we wanted taken out. That officer had the job of pressing clothes and we used to send that prisoner to him [to find out about the weapon]. The prisoner knew everything and was even ready to bring it for us because we had given him some money. But we’ve found the truth now about why the police officer wasn’t giving the weapon to us. He had given the weapon to some thug who began to commit robberies with it and when he was caught, spilled everything. That police officer is now in remand. He has turned in four others from the jail who are also in remand. The newspapers were telling this story with extra zest and were saying that if Sukha and Jinda got the weapon, they would have escaped from jail. But this is not the case. We had a big dusht in our sights and we think we would have been successful. If we weren’t, the jail’s DIG, Superintendent along with the deputy and senior jailer weren’t going anywhere. We could’ve punished them any time we wanted.

The original DIG and Superintendent were alright with us but ever since these new ones have come, we humiliated them to the limit but they still wouldn’t stop trying to do lowly things. It’s because of this that we had thought about punishing them.

Nowadays, the atmosphere in the jail is very changed. Poona Police along with the MRP and other agencies have taken control of the jail. Besides the Superintendent, everyone is very badly searched. They don’t even let a bird come to our yard. All the work that prisoners used to come and do like sweeping, etc. is now done by police officers. The officers and the Hawaldars have been given fixed duties and no new police officer ever comes. Ever since the commandos searched our cells, everyone, including the Superintendent, is afraid of coming to our yard. If someone does come, it is with special arrangements and they are still very afraid. Since that day, quite a few big officers from the agencies came but they didn’t have the courage to come into the yard. They stayed behind the bars. We said that we wouldn’t harm them and they should come in, but no. Now we have said that we won’t speak to anybody. Now no one comes. One DIG said, what interrogation do you think we’re here to do? We just come to see you. We asked, “What do you think after seeing us?” He stayed quiet for a moment and then we asked, “You don’t see any fear on our faces do you?” He said no. We said, “Come see on our final day. We’ll be laughing just like this.”

Jail Chitthiyan – Sukha Jinda