Shaheed Bhai Durga Singh Arifke
Shaheed Bhai Gurcharan Singh alias Bhai Durga Singh Arifke
When talking about the Sikh armed movement for freedom, the name Bhai Durga Singh is mentioned with great pride. In 1945, Bhai Sahib was born in the house of Sardar Bahadur Singh, from the womb of Mata Niranjan Kaur in village Buraj, district Lahore (modern day Pakistan). At birth Bhai Sahib was given the name, Bhai Gurcharan Singh. It is said that Bhai Sahib’s grandfather, Sardar Bahaal Singh was the cousin of the “Jagga Daku” alias Jagga Singh Daku who was also from the same village. Following partition in 1947, Sardar Bahadur Singh settled in the village of Arifke, district Ferozepur. As a child, Bhai Sahib once fell very ill and no medicine was fully curing him. Bhai Sahib’s Massi told Mata Niranjan Kaur, “We are taking Gurcharan to a Pujaran at a Mandir, she can cure him.” But Mata Niranjan Kaur replied, “Our Guru, gave us Gurcharan and Guru will look after him too.” Bhai Sahib’s Massi was being stubborn and ended up taking Bhai Sahib to the Mandir. Here the Pujaran did a prayer in front of a stone statue and asked the child to be named Devidas. Mata Niranjan Kaur refused saying, “No, our son is a Sikh and we have already named him Gurcharan Singh.” The Pujaran insisted, “If you want to keep the name Singh, at least name him Durga Singh.” Following this, Bhai Sahib’s sister, Bibi Tar Kaur alias Taro and Bhai Sahib’s parents continued to call Bhai Sahib by the name Gurcharan Singh, whereas everyone else called Bhai Sahib, Durga Singh.
Bhai Sahib was only two and a half years old when Mata Niranjan Kaur passed away. From here on Bibi Taro looked after him. Bibi Taro was married to Bhai Jaswant Singh Fauji, from the village of Noorpur, near Machiwara. Bhai Sahib studied in Noorpur up till fifth class. In 1958, at the age of thirteen, Bhai Sahib was married to Bibi Sukhchain Kaur, daughter of Sardar Santokh Singh of village Vatu, district Muktsar. Bhai Sahib had six children, Bibi Paramjit Kaur, Bibi Mehmajeet Kaur, Bibi Parseen Kaur, Bibi Gurjeet Kaur, Bhai Jhirmal Singh and Bhai Kulbir Singh.
Meeting Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale
One of Bhai Sahib’s massi was called Bibi Gulab Kaur, whose son was Shaheed Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke. Bhai Rasal Singh would regularly arrange a Katha Kirtan Smagam at the local Gurudwara of the village along with other Singhs from Damdami Taksal. Bhai Durga Singh did not attend the first smagam and instead told his family members not to attend such programmes. Little did Bhai Sahib know that one day he would also be a part of this Jatha. One day Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale and the jatha of Singhs were walking through an alleyway in village Arifke. When Bhai Sahib saw Sant Ji, he moved to one side and put his head down as if he was ashamed of something. Bhai Sahib had remembered the incident a few years previously when Sant Ji had been passing the village of Arifke to attend the wedding of Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwala. On that day Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke spoke to Sant Ji in a rude manner whilst he was drunk, but Bhai Sahib stopped his cousin and said, “We shouldn’t talk to God’s men like that.” But instead of punishing Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke, Sant Ji made the previously alcoholic Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke into a Gursikh by giving him Amrit and the real appearance of a Singh. On this day, Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke was in the Jatha of Singhs that were walking with Sant Ji through this alley as the Gunman of Sant Ji. Bhai Sahib thought to himself, “My sister calls me Gur-Charan (Guru’s Feet), but I have no right to be called that as I’m always drinking alcohol and avoiding the feet of Guru Maharaj.” For this reason Bhai Sahib felt ashamed of facing the Singhs from Damdami Taksal. Sant Ji noticed Bhai Sahib and said, “Bhai Gurmukha, be a warrior. Nothing will happen if you keep on moving to one side. Satguru Dasmesh Pita, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji has lined up sewa for you to do.” Bhai Sahib had put his hands together and replied, “Baba Ji, I am a sinful man. Please bless me and make me like Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke.” Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale tightly hugged Bhai Sahib and asked him his name, Bhai Sahib answered, “Baba Ji, I’m called Durga Singh.” Sant Ji said, “Durga Singh, take Amrit from the Panj Pyare and become Jathedar Durga Singh, become a Singh of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Take Amrit and follow the Sikhi lifestyle. Only blessed people get to take Amrit.” Bhai Sahib said, “Baba Ji, I don’t have that much strength, only you can bless me with such gift.”
Bhai Sahib and Singhs from the Jatha of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale made their way to Gurudwara Baba Ram Lal Ji of Arifke. Bhai Sahib felt as though Sant Ji had taken the weight of his sins off his shoulders. The Singhs from Damdami Taksal began the Gurmat Smagam at the Gurudwara, where Bhai Sahib listened to the kirtan and katha till late. When Bhai Sahib went home, his Singhni had prepared a meal for him, but Bhai Sahib said, “I had langar at the Gurudwara.” Bhai Sahib’s Singhni was shocked and told Bibi Taro everything. Then Bibi Taro asked Bhai Sahib to eat also but Bhai Sahib answered, “Sister, I went to the Gurudwara to Matha Tekh. I listened to the Katha of Sant Ji and now I feel so calm. I also had langar there and from today, I will stop drinking alcohol. Sister, now you won’t need to beat me up.” Bibi Taro thanked Waheguru and said, “Thank you Waheguru, today my brother went to the Gurudwara. Waheguru give my brother the strength to live according to his name, Gurcharan Singh.” Bibi Taro kissed the forehead of Bhai Sahib and blessed him. All of the family went to sleep.
Early the following morning, Bhai Sahib woke and started to bath. Sardar Bahadur Singh said, “Gurcharan Singh, you’ll catch cold having bathed this early.” Bhai Sahib replied,” Father, I don’t feel cold now. I’m going to the Gurudwara Sahib to Matha Tekh.” Bhai Sahib went to the Gurudwara and came back with Degh Parshad which he distributed to his family. That day, Bhai Sahib helped his father in the dairy and after milking the cows, Bhai Sahib took a bucket of milk to the Gurudwara for the langar. Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale arranged an Amrit Sanchar on this day. Panj Pyare from Damdami Taksal held the Amrit Sanchar from which many Sikhs including Bhai Sahib became Gursikhs. In the evening, Bhai Sahib came home in a Chola and adorning five Kakkars. Bhai Sahib told his family, “Sant Ji told me that I will punish the enemies of the Sikh panth.” Upon hearing this Bibi Taro said, “Brother Gurcharan Singh, first get out of the circle of your friends, only then can you fulfil your Amrit. Or else they will pull you back into your past bad habits.” Bhai Sahib answered, “Sister, don’t worry, I have found saintly friends. Then why would I go to the alcoholic friends? Now whatever my friend, Sant Ji says, I will listen to that.” Bhai Sahib’s sister, Bibi Taro was happy and she did not stop thanking Waheguru.
On 13th April 1978, the unarmed Sikhs peacefully protested against the beadbi of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, by the Narakhdhari cult. The leader of the cult, Gurbachana hid behind the security forces and ordered his goons to shoot at the protesting Sikhs. Bhai Fauja Singh and twelve other Singhs attained shaheedi, while more than 150 Sikhs were wounded. The Sikhs were not given justice and the Narakhdhari Gurbachana along with his 64 goons were set free by the Indian courts. Upon being set free, Narakhdhari Gurbachana mocked the Sikhs by saying, “Your 6th Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib freed only 52 kings, but today I have freed 64 .” The Narakhdhari cult followers continued mocking the Sikhs on regular basis.
Bhai Sahib had departed from his previous bad company and had started Gurbani Santhiya with the Singhs of Damdami Taksal. Bhai Sahib had always been hot tempered, but now Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale had made Bhai Sahib a fearless and a brave warrior. Bhai Sahib had been given the sewa of gathering information on the Narakhdharis and their daily routines. Under the command of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji, Bhai Sahib made a group of Jhujaru Singhs ready to serve the justice that the Indian government had failed to do so. The group was named Tat Khalsa and their main aim was to punish the Narakhdharis and Police officers that were killing the Sikh youth in fake encounters. Due to Bhai Sahib’s big actions, the Punjab police started raiding the family house and harassing his family. Amongst the Singhs of Tat Khalsa, Bhai Sahib was called Jathedar Bijla Singh. Bhai Sahib had decided to face the cruel Indian security forces, but before that Bhai Sahib had his teenage daughters married with the help of his sister Bibi Taro. Bhai Sahib said, “Sister, I’m not going to turn myself in to the Police, instead I might be killed by the bullet of Police either today or tomorrow.” Once Bhai Sahib’s daughters were married, Bhai Sahib started getting fully involved in the panthic sewa. Bhai Sahib was always ready to take the necessary steps or sacrifice his life to protect Sikhi and Sikh values. Other Singhs from the Ferozpur area were Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwala, Bhai Gurjit Singh Harihar Jhok, Bhai Gurnam Singh Bandala, Bhai Harbhajan Singh Mand, Bhai Harjeet Singh Halwai Ferozpur, Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke and Bhai Mahinder Singh Saiyanwala.
One day Bhai Sahib and Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke added their names to the list of Sikhs that were going to give their arrests at the Dharam Yudh Morcha. When Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale found out about this, he instantly sent a Singh to bring them both to him. When Bhai Sahib and Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke came in front of Sant Ji, they put their hands together and said their Fateh. Bhai Sahib asked for what orders Sant Ji had for them. Sant Ji said, “Singho, who asked you to put your names down for the arrests of Dharam Yudh Morcha?” Bhai Sahib answered, “We thought we might as well do our sewa within the Dharam Yudh Morcha also.” Sant Ji then said, “The sewa you Singhs are doing, isn’t that sewa? If you get arrested and get put inside the jails, whose going to do the sewa on the outside, that is also important sewa. You dare give your arrests without my permission.” Both Singhs lowered their heads in front of Sant Ji’s words. Bibi Taro had also gathered more than 150 Sikh women from the surrounding villages to give their arrests at the Dharam Yudh Morcha. The Jatha of Sikh women reached Manji Sahib where Sant Ji honoured Bibi Taro with a Saropa and sent the Jatha of Sikh women of to give their arrests. Bibi Taro along with her Jatha were kept at the Ludhiana jail for seven days and released after. Then again Bibi Taro gave their arrests at Amritsar jail where they were kept for seven days before being released.
Beating the Shiv Sena in Ferozpur
In the Ferozpur area the Hindu extremist group, Shiv Sena were causing trouble almost every day for the Sikhs. A Hindu sweet shop owner from Ferozepur had taken Amrit from the Panj Pyare and had become a Sikh. He was named Bhai Ajit Singh by the Panj Pyare but was also known as Bhai Harjit Singh. He was from village Rattayana, Ferozepur. His family were Hindus who has become Sikhs and his father was a granthi Singh at Biblok Gurdwara. When his father would return home at night from his duty at the Gurdwara he would tell his children stories of the sacrifices of the Sikhs. These stories greatly touched Bhai Sahib and brought him even closer to Sikhi. He thought that the Sikhs had sacrificed so much for everyone that it was time to do something in return.
Bhai Ajit Singh loved listening to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and would regularly go and visit Sant Ji to listen to the speeches and Manji Sahib. Bhai Ajit Singh prepared a basket of fruit with love to give to Sant Ji and took it to Sri Harmandir Sahib. Sant Ji was a Mahapurakh and knew what was in the hearts of the Gursikhs. After finishing his speech, Sant Ji headed towards the Divan Hall and went straight to Bhai Ajit Singh saying, “Bhai Ajit Singh Ji, why are you hiding the gift you bought for me?” Bhai Ajit Singh was shocked and instantly knew that Sant Ji was no ordinary man, he gave the basket of fruit to Sant Ji and from that day in on in 1978, Bhai Ajit Singh became closely attached to Sant Ji. Upon taking permission from Sant Ji to leave, Bhai Ajit Singh did Ishnan and then the darshan of Sri Harmandir Sahib and returned back to Ferozpur to his sweet shop.
The Shiv Sena members were not happy about Bhai Ajit Singh’s decision to become a Sikh and had hatred for Bhai Ajit Singh in their hearts. The Shiv Sena had threatened Bhai Ajit Singh many times to give up his Sikhi, but Bhai Ajit Singh never gave into these threats. Bhai Ajit Singh told the Shiv Sena, “Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale is the sun of truth, owls like you avoid the sun. You hate Sant Ji without any reason. One Singh from the Jatha of Sant Ji can take on thousands of you Shiv Sena cowards.” The Shiv Sena were not happy upon hearing this and announced to burn an effigy outside Bhai Ajit Singh’s shop on the given date and time. The Shiv Sena challenged Bhai Ajit Singh to get the Singhs of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale to stop them from burning the effigy. Bhai Ajit Singh met Bhai Mahinder Singh Saiyanwala and said, “Chacha Ji, the Hindu Shiv Sena have announced to burn the effigy of Sant Ji outside my shop and challenged the Singhs to stop them. How are we going to stop them?” Bhai Mahinder Singh Saiyanwala gave Bhai Ajit Singh courage and said, “Your duty was to give us the message, don’t worry. Now the singhs of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji will do the rest.” Bhai Mahinder Singh Saiyanwala explained everything to his son, Bhai Gurpreet Singh, and said “Son leave everything you are doing, go to these locations now and give the Singhs my message.”
Listening to the order of his father, Bhai Gurpreet Singh first met Bhai Harbhajan Singh Mand, then Bhai Durga Singh Arifke who that day was in his village visiting his family. Bhai Sahib then sent a message back to Bhai Mahinder Singh Saiyanwala, “Chacha Ji, if we allow this Shiv Sena monkeys to burn the effigy of Sant Ji, then we might as well be good as dead.” Bhai Sahib was to have his food when Bhai Gurpreet Singh gave him the message, Bhai Sahib said, “Young man, it was your duty to give the message to the Singhs, which you have fulfilled. Now I will eat only when we have punished the Shiv Sena monkeys for even thinking about burning Sant Ji’s effigy.”
Bhai Sahib borrowed someone’s tractor from the village and along with Bhai Gurpreet Singh, they drove the tractor to collect rest of the Sikhs. Once all Singhs were together, they were given their duties. Some singhs were dropped at Gurudwara near the shop of Bhai Ajit Singh, Sri Singh Sabha Khalsa Gurudwara of Ferozepur. Other Singhs were dropped off at the Bhai Ajit Singh’s shop and the rest of the Singhs were deployed around the area and told to remain ready. The Shiv Sena members could be seen marching down to Bhai Ajit Singh’s shop with an effigy of Sant Ji and shouting anti-Sikh slogans. Once the Shiv Sena group reached the shop, they posed with the effigy for the newspaper reporters but all of sudden the Shiv Sena heard war cries of Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akaal and saw the Singhs with naked swords coming out of the shop. As the Shiv Sena looked back, they saw more Singhs running towards them from the Gurudwara. Shiv Sena were completely surrounded by the Singhs with swords, hockey sticks and iron rods. The Shiv Sena did not know what to do and after getting a good beating from the Singhs, they ran off into different directions. As the Shiv Sena ran from the Singhs, they would bang into each other and fall to the floor. The Singhs chased the Shiv Sena yobs all over the Ferozepur market. The Shiv Sena members ran into houses to save their lives and some ran into a nearby Mandir, upon seeing this, the Singhs did not attack them.
Sant Jarnail Singh Ji knew the possibility of Sri Harmandir Sahib being attacked by the Indian army. Towards the end May 1984, Sant Ji sent many Singhs away from Sri Harimandir Sahib on Gurmat duties elsewhere. Sant Ji had told these Singhs that when they are needed, Sant Ji will send them a message. Sant Ji sent Bhai Manbir Singh Chaheru, Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, Baba Ranjit Singh Dyalgarh, Giani Aroor Singh Dhala, Bhai Tarsem Singh Kohar, Bhai Gurmej Singh Dilwan, Bhai Gurusahib Singh Mandiala, Bhai Kuldeep Singh Muchal, Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha, Bhai Amrik Singh Jaurra and Bhai Durga Singh outside of Sri Harimandir Sahib to do sewa elsewhere.
On 1st June 1984 the Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi sent the Indian army to attack the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, Sri Harimandir Sahib. The innocent Sikh pilgrims that had come to do darshan on the Shaheedi Purab of 5th Nanak, Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji were mercilessly killed by the machine guns and tanks of the Indian army. Under the command of Sant Ji, Bhai Amrik Singh and General Subeg Singh, the Singhs slayed hoards of the invading Indian army that had come the Sri Darbar Sahib complex thinking they could capture Sant Ji so easily. In this battle, the Singhs had repeated the history of Battle of Chamkaur and faught the heavily numbered army till their last breath and last bullet. The Singhs attained shaheedi and became immortal.
Searching for Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma
From June 1984, the whole Punjab was in the hands of the Indian army. Curfews and checkpoints could be seen all over Punjab with Indian soldiers patrolling them. At these times, even a bull-cart was not seen on the roads of Punjab. As well as Sri Harmandir Sahib being attacked, the Indian army also stormed and killed Sikhs in another 37 historical Gurudwaras. Amritdhari Sikh youths were snatched from their villages by the army and illegally detained or even killed. The Indian army also came to the village of Arifke and tried to get more information on Bhai Sahib and Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke. On that day, Bhai Sahib was staying at the house of Bhai Naranjan Singh, who was the local Tehsildhar. The army went to Bhai Naranjan Singh’s and had tea there. Due to the hospitality of the Bhai Naranjan Singh, the army did not search his house and like this Bhai Sahib survived the army operations in June 1984.
After the attack on Sri Harmandir Sahib, the Jhujaru Singhs started searching for fellow Singhs to take the struggle to the next stage, and fight for Khalistan. Bhai Sahib was given the sewa of gathering Singhs from the Majha area, while Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwala gathered the singhs of the Malwa area. Bhai Sahib would disguise himself as a Nihang Singh, a farmer and at times wear ripped clothes to go to different villages to find the fellow Singhs but not arouse any suspicions.
One day, Bhai Sahib grabbed a bicycle and disguised himself as a wandering merchant selling bracelets, bangles and artificial jewellery. He entered the village of Brahmpura, and asked the locals if they knew a young Nihang Singh from the Bidhi Chand Dal who does sewa for Baba Daya Singh. A local told Bhai Sahib that the person he is looking for is called Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma. Upon getting the directions, Bhai Sahib went to the house. Here Bhai Sahib met the two elder brothers of Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha, Bhai Sadha Singh and Bhai Balkar Singh. Not knowing who they were, Bhai Sahib asked to meet the Nihang Singh. Bhai Sadha Singh answered Bhai Sahib, “Bhai Avtar Singh Nihang is my brother. The Singhs at the Dal call him Brahm Singh. He came home before the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib and since then for the last two months he has been quiet, he doesn’t talk to anyone. He just sits at the farmhouse and does Paath all day long.” Bhai Sahib asked to be taken to Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma, Bhai Balkar Singh asked, “Are you Jathedar Durga Singh, right?” Bhai Sahib was amazed and said, “How do you know I’m Durga Singh?” Bhai Balkar Singh answered, “Bhai Avtar Singh told me that when he is needed Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale would send Jathedar Durga Singh to get him.” Bhai Sahib said, “Yes, I am that Durga Singh that has come to get Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma.” Bhai Sadha Singh and Bhai Balkar Singh fed Bhai Sahib and did his sewa, after which both brothers took Bhai Sahib far into the farms where they saw a young man sitting down with his legs crossed and reciting the shabad from Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Sri Dasam Granth:
mithr piaarae noo(n) haal mureedhaa dhaa kehinaa ||
Please tell the dear friend – the Lord – the plight of his disciples.
thudhh bin rog rajaaeeaa dhaa oudtan naag nivaasaa dhae hehinaa ||
Without you the use of rich blankets is like a disease for us and the comfort of the house is like living with snakes.
sool suraahee kha(n)jar piaalaa bi(n)g kasaaeeaaa(n) dhaa sehinaa ||
Our water pitchers are like stakes of torture and our cups have edges like daggers. Your neglect is like the suffering of animals at the hands of butchers.
yaararrae dhaa saanoo(n) saathhar cha(n)gaa bhat(h) khaerriaa dhaa rehinaa ||
Our Beloved Lord’s straw bed is more pleasing to us than living in costly furnace-like mansions.
Bhai Balkar Singh said, “Oh Brahm Singh, you’re always reciting Mithr Pyare Nu Mithr Pyare Nu, here is your dear friend, Jathedar Durga Singh.” Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma completed the shabad and said his Fateh to Bhai Sahib. Bhai Sahib also answered with a Fateh and hugged Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha. Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma asked his brothers, “Brothers, have you even fed the Jathedar Sahib, or have you straight away bought him here?” Bhai Sadha Singh replied, “Nihang Singh, we are men with families, we do know how to look after our guests.” The brothers of Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma knew that the Singhs had important things to talk about, Bhai Balkar Singh said, “Nihang Singh, we have bought your Jathedar Durga Singh to you, now we are going to head back to the village. We’ll come back later with hot drinks for you Singhs.” After saying this Bhai Balkar Singh and Bhai Sadha Singh started to walk towards the village.
Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma and the Nihang Singhs of Bidhi Chand Dal had gone to Sri Harmandir Sahib to join the Singhs in defending the complex against the Indian army but Sant Jarnail Singh Ji’s wisdom had foreseen the armed struggle that would start after the attack and sent Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma home instructing him to wait till Jathedar Durga Singh comes for him. At the farmhouse of Bhai Brahma, both Singhs spoke of what had to be done to break the chains of slavery from the necks of the Sikhs. Bhai Sahib and Bhai Brahma both tied their Kamarkasay to take on the Indian security forces and establish Khalistan. After meeting Bhai Brahma, Bhai Sahib started moving around again to gather other Singhs with them. Bhai Sahib met Bhai Kuldeep Singh Muchal, Bhai Buta Singh Sursinghwala, Bhai Satnam Singh Satta alias Chhota Bramha, Bhai Nishan Singh Makhu, Baba Ranjit Singh Dyalgarh, Baba Nishan Singh Kalanoor, Bhai Anaar Singh Parha, Bhai Pipal Singh Kalian Sakatran and many more from the Majha area. Now all these Singhs were ready to take the next step.
Restarting the armed struggle
The Singhs had gathered but the next hurdle for the Singhs was to get weapons. For this they needed money. Without weapons, banks could not be looted nor the greedy money lenders, who gave loans out to the farmers high interests. Bhai Sahib sold his share of the family farms and used the proceeds to purchase weapons. Now the Singhs started showing stars in the daylight to the killers of the Sikhs. The next hurdle was to start training the Singhs in armed combat. To fulfil this, Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma set up a camp in a jungle between the rivers of Beas and Satluj, in the area known as Mand. This was ideal place because the locals never dared enter this deserted jungle, nor did the Indian security forces. The Singhs cut some trees and built themselves a base, which provided a shelter in rain and cold. The Singhs would call such bases their Sheesh Mahals (Palaces). A water pump was also installed at the base for clean water. The Singhs always wore clothes that would blend into the colours of the jungle, so if a helicopter flew over the base it would not notice any movements. All the new recruits would be picked up from Bhai Brahma’s farmhouse for further training. At night the recruits were moved to through the jungles of Mand to the training base. Small groups of Singhs were formed such as Khalistan Liberation Armed Force, Dasmesh Regiment, Tat Khalsa, Khalistan Unite, Saffron Tigers Force, Khalistan Army etc. These groups would attack the Indian security forces camps and take their weapons.
After the five members Panthic Committee was formed, Giani Aroor Singh Dhala who was one of the members organised a meeting with all these Jathebandis at Bhai Brahma’s farmhouse. In the meeting Giani Aroor Singh Dhala made a humble request to all freedom fighting groups to merge into one very strong and unbeatable group. Every Jathebandi agreed and a new Jathebandi was created under the name of Khalistan Liberation Force. Giani Aroor Singh Dhala was made the first Jathedar of this group. Khalistan Liberation Force reached Pakistan and arranged a big bulk of weapons to be delivered to the Singhs in India giving them the choice of reliable and powerful armoury.
Julio Francis Rebeiro was killing innocent Sikh youth in fake encounters, but the Khalistan Liberation Force was answering these Government organised crimes by attacking the CRPF and BSF headquarters. Realising that actions were stemming from Singh based in the Mand, in July 1986, the Indian security forces such as the CRPF, BSF, Punjab Police and the National Guard police carried out Operation Mand under the command of Julio Francis Rebeiro to capture or eliminate the Singhs of Khalistan Liberation Force based there.
Two helicopters were deployed to hover over the Mand area to locate the training base of the Singhs. These helicopters were carrying high ranking soldiers and the helicopters were kept really low so they could see through the trees of the jungle. At this time Bhai Sahib was having bath at the water pump when the helicopters spotted him. Bhai Sahib quickly put on his clothes and made other Singhs aware of the military presence. Bhai Sahib quickly went to Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma and said, “Brahm Singh, these helicopters are going to drop bombs on us, we must quickly think about what we are going to do.” Bhai Brahma Said, “Jathedar Kharak Singh (Bhai Sahib was also known as Jathedar Kharak Singh) let’s do some Kharaka Dharaka (Bang Bang).” Bhai Sahib replied, “Keep Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji in your mind and shoot towards the helicopter.”
On the orders of Bhai Sahib, Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma alias the King of Mand and fellow Singhs such as Bhai Pipal Singh, Bhai Bohar Singh Dholewal, Bhai Satnam Singh Satta alias Chhota Brahma, Bhai Kuldeep Singh Muchal, Bhai Surinder Singh Shinda alias Lamba Jatt, Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwala and Bhai Jarnail Singh DC fired bullets towards the helicopters. Thousands of bullets hit one of the helicopters which sent it tumbling down to the ground, as the helicopter hit the ground it exploded killing all the soldiers that were aboard. The second helicopter hovered away from the scene of firing in fear of the bullets from the Singhs. When the night came, the Singhs took advantage of the darkness and managed to escape from the jungles of Mand. After realising the Singhs had escaped from under their noses, the Indian security forces arrested the local farmers and Sikh youth. The media was told to report that through Operation Mand many Sikh militants who are fellow Singhs of Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma were arrested and only two Singhs managed to escape. Julio Francis Ribeiro also confirmed that more than six thousand personnel were used in this operation.
Wedding of Bhai Sukhwinder Singh Muchal
On 7th February 1987, it was the wedding of Bhai Sukhwinder Singh Muchal, the brother of Bhai Kuldeep Singh Muchal. Many of the top Khadku Singhs had come to this wedding which was held at the bride’s house in the village of Ratoke. The tradition of Anand Karaj was completed and the relatives were giving their blessings to the newly married couple. Meanwhile the CRPF and BSF surrounded the village. The Singhs received the news of the presence of the Indian security forces, and were prepared to battle however but they also knew that if they started a battle, many innocent people that attended the wedding would also be killed by the Indian security forces.
Bhai Sahib ordered the Singhs to ready themselves to take Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji to the Gurudwara and to remain calm. Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma did Ardas in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and asked for the Singhs to be protected. The Punjab Police gave permission to five Singhs to take Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji to the Gurudwara. Bhai Kuldeep Singh Muchal place Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji on his head and started to walk towards the Gurudwara, Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma did the sewa of the Chor Sahib, Bhai Sahib was doing the sewa of ringing the bell, Bhai Gurdeep Singh Vakeel did the sewa of Jal (water) in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Bhai Satnam Singh Satta alias Chhota Brahma did the sewa of holding the Thali (plate) of Karah Parshad and the Chandoya Sahib. The Singhs vacated the house with most of their faces covered. The Police checked who was leaving the house to go to Gurudwara and told the Singhs to come straight back or else the bride and the groom would be arrested. The Singhs reached the Gurudwara and sent the son of the Granthi Singh to bring some men from the village to the Gurudwara. Quiet a few men from the village came to the Gurudwara where Bhai Sahib chose five men that looked alike them. After changing clothes, these men were sent to the house were the wedding had took place and the Police were present. These five men presented themselves to the Police, whilst Bhai Sahib and the fellow Singhs hid within the village.
A local informant has disclosed to the Punjab Police that top Khadku Singhs would attend the wedding of Bhai Sukhwinder Singh Muchal. Under the orders of the DIG of Jalandhar PC Dogra, the village of Ratoke was surrounded by the Indian security forces. Helicopters were deployed to keep an eye on movement of the villagers. The Police arrested Bhai Sher Singh Sher and Bhai Kamaljit Singh Kanba. The SP D Rajinder told Bhai Sher Singh Sher to name the rest of the Singhs that had attended the wedding. Bhai Sher Singh Sher responded, “I’m not going to stain my name by turning against my fellow Singhs.” SP D Rajinder said, “I will shoot you if you don’t tell us the names.” Bhai Sher Singh Sher said, “Yes, you can shoot me, I’m not scared from your bullets.” Upon hearing this SP D Rajinder shot Bhai Sher Singh Sher and made him a shaheed. In the evening when the Police were unable to find any more Singhs, they started to leave the village in their gypsies. Bhai Sahib and his fellow Singhs finally gave the Indian security forces their darshan by firing bullets at the convoy. The Police, CRPF and the BSF didn’t know what had hit them. After attacking the convoy, the five Singhs managed to escape but Bhai Kamaljit Singh Kanba, Giani Aroor Singh Dhala, Bhai Satinder Singh Bhola and Bhai Harpreet Singh Saiyanwala were arrested and taken to staff centres.
After the arrest of Giani Aroor Singh Dhala, the Jathedar of Khalistan Liberation Force, a meeting was held amongst Singhs regarding appointing the next Jathedar of Khalistan Liberation Force at the farmhouse of Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma. Bhai Sahib had nominated Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma to be the next Jathedar and rest of the Singhs agreed by shouting slogans of “Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akaal, Khalistan Liberation Force Zindabaad, Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha Zindabaad.”
Arrest and shaheedi
On 17th February 1987, Bhai Sahib and Baba Surjit Singh Kar Sewa Wale went to Gurudwara Baba Deep Singh Shaheed and after doing Matha Tekh, the Singhs came out and started to put on their shoes. The information of Bhai Sahib’s visit to the Gurudwara was passed on to the Police by an informant and Bhai Sahib was surrounded. Bhai Sahib and Baba Surjit Singh Kar Sewa Wale were arrested Police officer said, “We have been looking for you for a long time, you’re Jathedar Durga Singh Arifke of Tat Khalsa!” Bhai Sahib replied, “Which Durga Singh are you talking about? My name is Gurcharan Singh.” Bhai Sahib fooled the Police with his talk and both the Singhs where let free. When Bhai Sahib and Baba Surjit Singh Kar Sewa Wala got onto the road, the informant that had led the Police to Bhai Sahib in the first place shouted, “Sir, that is Durga Singh the terrorist. He is from my village, I know what he looks like and that’s him.” The name of the informant was Dharmu and upon hearing him shout, the Police once again grabbed the Singhs and threw them into their gypsies. The Police took both Singhs to Kotwali police station. Thousands of onlookers saw Bhai Sahib being arrested and thrown into a Police jeep outside Gurudwara Baba Deep Singh Shaheed. Soon the news of Bhai Sahib’s arrest spread throughout Punjab like wild fire.
The Punjab Police was so happy because they had finally caught the top Khadku Singh of Tat Khalsa, General Durga Singh. The Police thought they would get information of other top Khadku Singhs and get to know all the secrets of the Sikh freedom movement. The Police could not control their excitement, as they thought now they would capture Bhai Avtar Singh and Bhai Kuldeep Singh Muchal as well as obataining the big rewards on their heads. Baba Surjit Singh Kar Sewa Wala was later released and told that a Police officer asked Bhai Sahib, “Give us the information which will lead to Bhai Brahma’s arrest and the information of where all the weaponry is kept. If you work with us, then we will not hurt you.” Bhai Sahib answered, “When I was outside, I did what I could. Now I am inside, you do what you can do.”
The Punjab Police started to torture Bhai Sahib in inhuman ways to get information out of him. The Police took pride in their torture tactics, but Bhai Sahib had faith in Waheguru. He had prepared himself to attain shaheedi and to rest in the laps of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. All day long the Punjab Police tortured Bhai Sahib and as a result of the immense torture, Bhai Sahib attained shaheedi. On the morning of 18th February 1987, the Punjab Police took the body of Bhai Sahib to the village of Dyalpura, near Bhikhiwind. Here the evil Police played the drama of an encounter and the following day on 19th February 1987, the newspapers reported the so called bravery of the cowardly Police.
19th February 1987, Daily Newspaper Ajit – Main headline:
TOP KHADKU SINGH OF TAT KHALSA, DURGA SINGH KILLED IN A POLICE ENCOUNTER
ONE NIHANG SINGH ALSO KILLED AND ANOTHER FOUR ARRESTED
Amritsar, today in the early hours of the morning in the village of Dyalpura, which comes under the Bhikhiwind Police Station, an encounter took place between the Indian security forces and Sikh militants. The 2nd commander of Tat Khalsa, Durga Singh was killed, while other militants managed to escape. The Police found a 315 Barrel rifle next to the body of Durga Singh.
The militants arose suspicion to the Police that monitoring a checkpoint. When the Police tried to stop the militants, they opened fire on the Police to which the Police also returned fire. One man was killed in this encounter, the Police later named him Durga Singh, he had 50,000Rs reward on his head. The militants were constantly attacking Indian security camps under the command of Durga Singh. He was also one of the main militants from Operation Mand in which militants shot down a helicopter.
The Punjab Police did not give the shaheedi saroop to the family. The family only found out about Bhai Sahib’s shaheedi after hearing the news on the radio. The Police cremated Bhai Sahib at the cremation ground of Patti. Bhai Sahib’s sister, Bibi Taro and brother in law, Bhai Jaswant Singh Fauji were given the permission to collect the ashes of Bhai Sahib from Patti. The family immersed the ashes at Sri Kiratpur Sahib.
A Sri Akhand Paath Sahib was held at Bhai Sahib’s home in Arifke and the Ardas for the Bhog was done on 27th February 1987. To stop people attending the Bhog, the Punjab Police and CRPF had surrounded the village. If anyone wanted to enter the village of Arifke, they were attacked with batons by the Police. By the evening thousands of people broke the curfew and entered Arifke to pay their respects to Bhai Sahib. According to the newspapers 20,000 people had attended the Bhog of Bhai Sahib. The Singhs from Damdami Taksal did kirtan in Bir Ras. Bhai Jagir Singh sparked the stage with his Kavishri, praising the shaheed Singhs. Baba Thakur Singh Ji of Damdami Taksal, Baba Charan Singh of Bir Baba Budha Sahib and Baba Daya Singh of Bidhi Chand Nihang Dal had also attended this smagam and tied the dastar on Bhai Sahib’s son, Bhai Jhirmal Singh. In the langar, twenty containers of Desi butter was used, Saadh sangat was served jalebian, rice, kheer, parshad and milk. Bhai Mahinder Singh Raja had removed all water taps and provided milk for the sangat. Bhai Mahinder Singh Raja wanted to make sure that the people who had gone through so much to attend the smagam in memory of Bhai Sahib were served with milk.
The Police called Bhai Sahib an extremist, but do people show this much love and respect to a dead extremist? Only history will prove who is the extremist and who is not, it is not for the Government to decide. Baba Charan Singh did the sewa of putting up a Nishan Sahib at the Gurudwara in memory of Shaheed Bhai Gurcharan Singh alias Bhai Durga Singh Arifke alias Jathedar Kharak Singh. The Nishan Sahib was put up within fifteen days from Bhai Sahib’s shaheedi. Today Gurudwara Ram Lal Ji has two Nishan Sahibs.
Khadku Yodhe 2 – Maninder Singh Baja