Shaheed Bhai Charanjit Singh Channi Talwandi

Sikh Student Federation

Sikh soldiers that fought against the oppression of Indian government, have given their lives defending the rights and freedom of Sikhs. Within the name of 20thcentury Sikh generals is the name of Shaheed Bhai Charanjit Singh Channi from the village of Talwandi. Bhai Sahib was born on 1stOctober 1958 in the house of Master Devraj Singh and from the womb of Mata Naseeb Kaur in the village of Talwandi, district Ludhiana. Little did the family know that this diamond of the panth will shine all over the world.

Bhai Sahib was youngest of 3 children, Bhai Lakhvir Singh and Bibi Simarjit Kaur. The whole family was supporters of Akali Dal and followed the Sikh religious path. Father of Bhai Sahib, Master Devraj Singh and Chacha Jathedar Jagdev Singh had been ministers of Akali Dal in Talwandi, but Bhai Sahib himself was not a big supporter of Shromani Akali Dal. After spending some time with Sardar Kapur Singh, Bhai Sahib realised that the Akali Dal can’t do anything to strip slavery of the Sikhs.

In 1981 Bhai Sahib married Bibi Harbans Kaur, daughter of Sardar Gurdial Singh of Gurdev Nagar in Ludhiana. Then in 1982 Bhai Sahib saw the birth of his son, Bhai Tarandeep Singh and once again in 1984, Bhai Manikaran Singh. Bhai Sahib then joined the Jatha of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bindranwale in 1983.

June 1984, the government of India attacked Sri Harimandir Sahib to quieten down the voice of freedom. Bhai Sahib was one of the singhs of the Khalsa army defending the Sri Akaal Takht Sahib. Bhai Sahib was controlling the bunker near Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, along with Dr Bhagwan Singh and Principal Bhai Mahinder Singh Pehlwan. From 4thto 6thJune Bhai Sahib showed his full bravery and fought like there will be no tomorrow. The Indian army showed no respect towards the holy place of the Sikh nation. After raining bullets on to Sri Darbar Sahib, the army bought in the tanks and dismantled the Sri Akaal Takht Sahib. When the rifles of Bhai Sahib, Dr Bhagwan Singh and Principal Bhai Mahinder Singh Pehlwan caused no damage to the tanks, the singhs followed the orders of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bindranwale, to vacate the Sri Darbar Sahib and carry the Sikh struggle forward. Many singhs went into the houses behind Sri Akaal Takht Sahib and changed into trousers and shirt. When the curfew was lifted for 2hrs, the singhs blended into the crowd and managed to escape.

After surviving the June 1984 massacre, Bhai Sahib with more singhs directed the Sikh Freedom Movement on to new heights. Bhai Sahib re-ignited the Sikh Student Federation. In 1985 Bhai Sahib opened the Sikh Student Federation office in Sri Harimandir Sahib complex, right next to the Akali Dal office. This helped Bhai Sahib get into media and also express the views of the Sikh Students Federation to the wider Indian public. Using the newspapers Bhai Sahib had explained what the aims of Sikh Freedom Movement were. Because of Bhai Sahib’s progression, the Indian government started to keep a close eye on Bhai Sahib and the singhs around him, but this did not stop Bhai Sahib from doing the sewa within Sikh Student Federation. To recruit Singhs into Sikh Student Federation, Bhai Sahib travelled village to village on his cycle.

When Longowal shook hands with Rajiv Gandhi, he became a traitor of the Sikh nation. Bhai Sahib and all the Sikh youth went to Amritsar, to hold a protest against the cowardly act of Longowal. Due to this the Indian government wanted Bhai Sahib out of their way. Probably this is why, when Longowal was killed, Bhai Sahib was declared wanted by the Indian government. As the Indian government put Bhai Sahib’s name on the wanted list for the killing of Longowal, Bhai Sahib went undercover and joined the armed Sikh struggle. Some of the Singhs close to Bhai Sahib were, General Labh Singh, Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu, Bhai Mathra Singh, Bhai Ranjit Singh Kuki, Bhai Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi, Bhai Sukhwinder Singh KC Sharma, Bhai Harinder Singh Bunty, Bhai Jarnail Singh Halwara and Bhai Harjinder Singh Jinda. Bhai Sahib tried to bring all freedom fighting groups under one roof, that may not have worked but Bhai Sahib managed to bring 4 groups into 1.

Bhai Sahib was known as the brains of the Sikh Freedom Movement. Bhai Harjinder Singh Jinda once said, “When Channi had predicted something about our so called leaders, sooner or later it had come true.” Bhai Sahib was very clever and intelligent, Bhai Sahib would become good friends with police/CRP officers and easily cross the checkpoints, and no one could imagine that Bhai Sahib was one of the general of Sikh Freedom Movement.

Bhai Sahib held secret meetings at a house of family on Phagwara. The family that owned the house gave into the police and told the police about the next meeting that would take place of Khadku Singhs at the house. On the day of the meeting, Bhai Darshan Singh Dala had reached the house early and waited for other singhs to come. Bhai Sahib, Bhai Avtar Singh Daumazara and one more singh had turned up top the house later. When Bhai Sahib saw the faces of the family, Bhai Sahib knew that something was wrong but did not let the family know of this. Soon the police and CRP had surrounded the house. What Bhai Sahib did now was an act of bravery and intelligence. When Bhai Sahib saw the police and CRP, Bhai Sahib ready for an encounter but that was plan B. Bhai Sahib walked up to the Police officers with a big smile on the face and shook hands with the police sergeant and introduced the Singhs that were with him. Bhai Sahib told the police the singhs have not turned up yet and if the singhs see the Indian security forces then they surely won’t come. So Bhai Sahib asked the police and CRP to hide behind the house and when the Khadku Singhs come the Indian security forces will be notified. The police took the advice and hid behind the house while all the Khadku Singhs including Bhai Sahib escaped safely. When the police realised that they had been fooled by the Khadku Singhs, it was too late.

Even though Jathedar Jagdev Singh was the blood brother of Bhai Sahib’s father, when Jathedar Jagdev Singh was killed the police stated Bhai Sahib’s involvement in this. Now the police started harassing the family of Bhai Sahib. Bibi Harbans Kaur, wife of Bhai Sahib had to go underground to avoid the harassment of the police. Bhai Sahib carried on doing Panthic actions and punished many anti-Sikh elements. Bhai Sahib’s children and Bibi Harbans Kaur were staying separately. Bhai Sahib always recited Gurbani and knew Sukhmani Sahib by heart.

Finally the day came, a day which every Khadku Singh is guaranteed and are always ready for this day. 1stJune 1989 an informant gave information on Bhai Sahib to the police. Bhai Sahib was unarmed and was travelling in a car through Mohali, Sector 7. The police stopped the car and Bhai Sahib was arrested, this arrest was believed to be one of the biggest successes of the police. The police tortured Bhai Sahib for more information but Bhai Sahib did not say single word. Bhai Sahib sent and tortured in many police stations of Chandigarh, but the Bhai Sahib remained quiet.

On 2ndJune 1989, the police had enough and killed Bhai Sahib in a fake encounter, then the police prepared a report to be released in the newspapers. Instead of the police giving the shaheedi saroop of Bhai Sahib to his family, the police cremated Bhai Sahib themselves. The police was scared that if the body was given to the family, then that would generate more Khadku Singhs, but whenever a singh is shaheed, his thoughts remain alive. The Sikh nation will always remember such warriors like Shaheed Bhai Charanjit Singh Channi.

Purja Purja Kat Maray – Baljit Singh Khalsa