Shaheed Bhai Buta Singh Sursinghwala

Khalistan Liberation Force

Within the Khalsa panth, there is no doubt that Nihang Singhs have kept their Bana (army uniform), given by Guru Gobind Singh Ji clean and never stained it with invisible dirt. Many have accused Nihang Singhs of not fulfilling their role, when needed in the Sikh Freedom Movement. But if we look at the shaheeds of the recent Sikh struggle, many of the shaheeds were from the Nihang dals, for example, Shaheed Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha, Shaheed Bhai Madha Singh Babbar, Shaheed Bhai Amarjit Singh Shahzada, Shaheed Jathedar Talwinder Singh Babbar, Shaheed Bhai Balbir Singh Fauji and also Shaheed Bhai Buta Singh Sursinghwala are some of the shaheeds from the endless list of Sikh warriors.

When we talk about Bhai Buta Singh Sursinghwala, the words of Bhai Waryam Singh Kavishri Jatha comes to mind,

# Jaskaran Singh Kala

Bahar Chukaya

Si Bahla

Buta Sursinghwala

Jo Babbar Sher Ji

Chanay Vairi Nu Chabaai

Jhinay Kai Var Ji #

Bhai Buta Singh Sursinghwala who punished many enemies of the Sikhs was born in the house of Sardar Nirvair Singh and from the womb of Mata Jaswant Kaur in the year of 1963 in the village of Sursingh. From childhood Bhai Sahib liked gatka and horse riding, for this reason Sardar Nirvair Singh had him staying with the Nihang Singhs of Bhai Bidhi Chand Dal which was also in Sursingh. Bhai Sahib had 3 brothers, Bhai Santokh Singh, Bhai Dalbir Singh, Bhai Sukhdev Singh and a sister, Bibi Sukhchain Kaur. Bhai Sahib studied up till 5th class at a local school of Sursingh, after Bhai Sahib stayed at Baba Bidhi Chand Dal.

At the Baba Bidhi Chand Dal, Bhai Sahib was good friends with Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha and Bhai Balbir Singh Fauji. As Bhai Sahib grew up, he knew Gurbani by heart and was expert in Sikh Shastar Vidiya and also a great rider of horses. Bhai Sahib would ride 2 horses at the same time and showed many tricks of battle standards. Soon the usage of horses and weapons would be outside the playing fields of the Nihang Dal and in the battle against the oppression of the Indian government.

After the permission of Jathedar of Baba Bidhi Chand Dal, Baba Daya Singh, Bhai Sahib, Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha and Bhai Balbir Singh Fauji left the Dal and jumped into the battlefield along with the singhs from the Jatha of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale. All the singhs were constantly in contact with Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale, in fact Bhai Sahib would sometimes stay over with Sant Ji for many days. In the Jatha of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale, Bhai Sahib was one of the few singhs that wore blue Bana and for this reason was a popular figure amongst the singhs.

When the Indian government realized that Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale was getting millions of Sikhs backing him, the government attacked Sri Harimandir Sahib. Bhai Sahib was in the complex at the time of the attack. For 5-6 days an intense battle took place between the singhs of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the army of a cowardly government. When the Indian army deployed tanks on to their own land, many singhs escaped from behind the Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, to take the Sikh struggle on to the streets of India. Bhai Sahib was one of the singhs that managed to escape.

After the attack on Sri Harimandir Sahib, Bhai Sahib and Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha started doing panthic sewa together. Bhai Sahib who once would ride his horses in the Majha area, was now punishing Sikh enemies on a national level. Bhai Sahib and Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha had many encounters with the Indian security forces such as the police, CRP and BSF. Many villages speak of these famous battles and also the stages sing the Kavishri of such encounters.

Duleeba Encounter

In the district of Patti, is a village Duleeba, here in 1906 then Baba Bidhi Chand Dal Jathedar, Baba Mohan Singh built gurudwara. For the locals this gurudwara is popular till today and the locals belive if children bath in the holy sarovar of this gurudwara, they will have no weaknesses. Bhai Sahib and singhs would regularly visit this gurudwara.

Once Brahma’s group were staying at a house in this village. Normally when the police will get information on Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha’s location, they would avoid going to that location. But today the police moved towards the house where Bramha’s group including Bhai Sahib was staying. Bhai Sahib told the villagers to allow the police to come to them, when the police got in the firing range of the singhs, the singhs rained bullets and in a blink of an eye 4 officers were killed. Rest of the police force ran backwards for their lives, taking the advantage of this fear of the police, the singhs got their weapons and safely got out of the area.

Manakpura Encounter

Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha and Bhai Sahib were sitting in the village of Manakpura, when all of a sudden the police surrounded the singhs. A huge encounter took place, when the bullets had stopped, the singhs told Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha to get out of the area. When Bhai Bramha did try to escape with some singhs, the police again started to fire bullets blindly towards the singhs. The firing was being done by police officers that were lying down in the fields. In this encounter Bhai Bramha’s right hand was shot, which blew one of his fingers off his hand.

Straight after this firing at Bhai Bramha, Bhai Sahib spotted where the firing was coming from. Wounded Bhai Bramha and singhs took positions and restarted the encounter, while Bhai Sahib crawled behind the police officers. When Bhai Sahib reached behind the Indian security forces, who were shooting towards Bhai Bramha, Bhai Sahib shot them dead. Then the singhs gathered all the guns and escaped from Manakpura.

Mand Encounter

In July 1986, Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha was called the ‘King of Mand’, like the historical Nihang Singh, Bhai Bramha also had taken to the jungles of Mand. The new DGP of Punjab police, Julio Francis Rebeiro wanted all Khadku Singhs of Mand area dead, especially Bhai Bramha and his group of singhs including Bhai Sahib. Punjab police, CRP and BSF combined a team to carry out Operation Mand, which aimed at stamping out Bhai Bramha and singhs. Thousands of Indian security forces personnel and 2 helicopters surrounded the Mand area and stated to hunt down Bhai Bramha and the singhs from his group. At this time Bhai Bramha and singhs were in the area, the singhs saw the helicopters circling the area and took positions with their guns. When the Indian security forces combined from different parts of India came in contact with the singhs, they were welcomed by the singhs with a shower of bullets. This installed fear into the Indian security forces and DGP Julio Francis Rebeiro now knew his team was against one of the great 20th century generals of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s army. A very intense encounter took place, Bhai Jarnail Singh Kirthoval DC, Bhai Mahinder Singh Toronto and Bhai Jagga Singh Guda attained shaheedi in the start of the encounter, but when the singhs fought back, the enemy was falling to the floor by the hundreds. High ranked police generals were getting killed by the singhs and one helicopter was bought to ground by the Bramha group also.

After bringing the helicopter down, Bhai Bramha and singhs broke the surroundings of the Indian security forces and made their escape. Bhai Sahib was an expert in using RPG launcher, for this reason the police feared him. Some singhs say that Bhai Sahib could fire two guns at the same time, as an akimbo style.

The police of Sursingh would regularly arrest Bhai Sahib’s father and brother, after taking them to the local police station, they both were tortured for the information of Bhai Sahib. Once a singh said to Bhai Sahib, “Buta, you walk freely but your elderly father has been locked up for more than a month.” Upon hearing this Bhai Sahib sent a letter to the police station, where Bhai Sahib’s family was tortured. Bhai Sahib ordered the police to release his father and brother immediately or the consequences would be damaging. The police was scared that Bhai Sahib had written to them, the same day Bhai Sahib’s father and brother were released. Bhai Sahib known for launching RPG’s into police stations and this brave skill was known by all. When Thanedar Chhiboo Ram wanted a higher rank and by capturing Bhai Bramha, he would’ve achieved that. Chhiboo Ram would make jokes on Bhai Bramha and called him Bramhi. Time came when singhs including Bhai Sahib, Bhai Kuldeep Singh Muchal and of course Bhai Bramha punished him with bullets.

Bhai Sahib was a saviour to the poor and the weak. Due to the propaganda created by Indian government and Indian media, many Hindu families started leaving Punjab to go and live in Hindu states. A saddened Hindu of Sursingh, Mohan Lal also packed his furniture and was ready to leave Punjab with his family. Mohan Lal was born and bred in Sursingh and now leaving it was the hardest thing he ever had to do. But before the tearful Mohan Lal left Sursingh, he was approached singhs with guns on horses. Seeing the armed singhs Mohan Lal was frightened but one of the singhs was Bhai Sahib. Bhai Sahib politely said, “Sat Sri Akaal?” Bhai Sahib then said to Pandit Mohan Lal, “Taaya, as long as I’m alive you should not be scared. I will not let you leave Sursingh like this. If someone harasses you, then tell me.” After hearing this, the whole family of Mohan Lal was happy and started praising the singhs. Mohan Lal moved his furniture back into the house and till today he lives in Sursingh.

Once the local DSP told the family of Bhai Sahib, “If Buta gives himself into the police, then we will not kill him in an encounter, instead we will charge him with some cases and throw him in jail.” When the family sent this message to Bhai Sahib, he said, “NO! Don’t ever say that again, we have sworn to Guru Granth Sahib Ji, not to go home alive till we achieve what we are fighting for.” Half way through 1988, when Bhai Bramha attained shaheedi at the border of Rajasthan, this felt as though the Sikh Freedom Movement was pushed back a lot. Now the police knew no one will look after the locals of Bramhpura, where Bhai Bramha was from. The police and CRP mercilessly harassed the villagers but Bhai Sahib knew this would be the case. Bhai Sahib went to Bramhpura and from a loudspeaker of the local gurudwara, Bhai Sahib said, “Waheguru Ji Ki Khalsa Waheguru JI Ki Fateh Sikho, we are the singhs from the group of Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha. If someone is harassing the families of this village then please let us know.” The police and CRP found out about the singhs being in Bramhpura but avoided going there, because of the fear installed in them from previous encounters. The singhs openly challenged the Indian security forces and after no one came to accept their challenge the singhs left.

Then the last phase of Bhai Sahib’s life came. Year 1989, 20th day of March, this was the day before the Sursingh Jor Mela. Bhai Sahib and singhs came on the horses to the neighbouring village to Sursingh by the name of Balier and secretly entered Sursingh. But the police also received the news by a panthic traitor that Bhai Sahib would be at the Jor Mela. The Indian security forces surrounded the Sursingh village on the same night. By chance another group of freedom fighters were present in Sursingh that night and the police first had an encounter with that group first. In this encounter 1 officer was killed and many wounded, on the other side 2 Khadku Singhs attained shaheedi.

The police started to pack up thinking they have got the singhs they came for, but the panthic traitor delivered the news again of Bhai Sahib and his singhs are still in Sursingh. The police then got all the locales gathered in a field, then 1000s of CRP officers started searching the houses, soon as the officers got close to Bhai Sahib’s hideout the singhs fired bullets on to the Indian security forces and an encounter started.

Bhai Sahib was equipped with a RPG as well as assault rifles and with the RPG, Bhai Sahib blew up many bunkers of the CRP. In the end the singhs of Khalistan Liberation Force installed fear into the hearts of 1000s of CRP officers, the singhs managed to get out of the houses and in to the farms of Sursingh. Soon as the police saw the singhs going into the farms, the fired a shower of bullets towards the singhs, one bullet went through Bhai Sahib’s ankle, which stopped Bhai Sahib from walking or running. Bhai Sahib told fellow singhs to get out of the area while he stays and keeps the Indian security forces busy. Bhai Balbir Singh Fauji, who was a childhood friend of Bhai Sahib from the Baba Bidhi Chand Dal did not listen to Bhai Sahib and carried on fighting with Bhai Sahib while rest of the singhs managed to escape.

After a very long encounter, Bhai Balbir Singh Fauji attained shaheed but Bhai Sahib had sworn not to come into the hands of the police alive. Bhai Sahib out the pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. On the early hours of 21st March 1989 Bhai Buta Singh Sursinghwala attained shaheedi fighting the Indian security forces.

After the bullets had stopped firing, the police and CRP were scared to go close to the singhs, to see what had happened. The scared officers ordered the weak constables to go and check up on the singhs and this was how the Indian security forces declared the shaheedi of Bhai Buta Singh Sursinghwala and Bhai Balbir Singh Fauji.

The police did not want to give the shaheedi saroops of the singhs to their families, but Bhai Sahib gifted a life to one officer in an encounter, that officer gave the families the bodies of singhs. The Shaheeds were put on to a village style single bed, and Sikhs from all over Punjab came to pay their respects. Even newlywed girls of Sursingh and surrounding villages asked their in-laws for permission to do darshan of the fallen soldiers, the in-laws did not object to this at all. Sister of Bhai Sahib, Bibi Sukhchain Kaur tied a sera (marriage ceremony done by the sister) to both singhs then with war cries the shaheeds were cremated. The Sikhs sent a clear message to the government of Delhi, that the Sikhs will not tolerate the injustice and will always keep the shaheeds alive in their hearts.

Baljit Singh Khalsa – Vangaar April 2012