Shaheed Bhai Gurmukh Singh Garvai

In the Patti area of Tarn Taran district, Khemkaran a border area is very well known. 3 kilometres from Khemkaran is the village of Bhura Kohna. A Gursikh from this village is Jathedar Harnam Singh who was very well known in the Damdami Taksal Jatha Bhindran. Jathedar Harnam Singh took part in the protest against the Narakhdharis on 13th April 1978 in which 13 Singhs attained martyrdom, he was seriously injured and he was counted amongst the martyrs but he had a heartbeat and was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for his bullet wounds and recovered. Jathedar Harnam Singh was given the title of ‘Jinda Shaheed’ (living martyr) by the leader of Damdami Taksal, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale. Bhai Gurmukh Singh Garvai’s parents were the living martyr, Jathedar Harnam Singh and Mata Kartar Kaur.

Bhai Gurmukh Singh was born in the year of 1951, in the village of Bhura Kohna. Bhai Garvai’s grandfather, Sardar Pal Singh was closely associated to the 12th leader of Damdami Taksal, Sant Gurbachan Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale. The 13th leader of Damdami Taksal, Sant Kartar Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale was the Chacha of Bhai Garvai. Bhai Hari Singh, Bhai Tarlok Singh were Bhai Garvai’s brothers and Bibi Harjinder Kaur was the sister. The first letter was taken from the Hukamnama of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj and after doing Ardas, they family named Bhai Garvai, Gurmukh Singh and he was bought up according to the Sikh code of conduct. The whole family were deeply attached to the Gurughar and Bani, Bana of the Guru. Bhai Garvai did not study at a school. Bhai Garvai had taken Amrit at a very young age from the Panj Pyare of Damdami Taksal, after Sant Gurbachan Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale came to his village and held a Katha Smagam.

After taking Amrit, Bhai Garvai at the age of 12 years started staying at Damdami Taksal under the leadership of Sant Gurbachan Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale. Here Bhai Garvai completed the Santhaya of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj and Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji. From start Bhai Garvai had an interest in around saints and holy men, looking at Bhai Garvai’s dedication he soon was given the Sewa of being the Garvai to Sant Gurbachan Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale. Bhai Garvai along with Baba Thakur Singh Ji Bhindranwale and Bhai Gurmukh Singh Orissa all did the Sewa of a Garvai and fulfilled important responsibilities.

Bhai Garvai’s Anand Karaj was done with Bibi Inderjit Kaur in Amritsar, his father in-law was Sant Karam Singh Ji of Gurdwara Akhand Jaap, near Sri Anandpur Sahib. Bhai Garvai had 2 daughters, Bibi Daljit Kaur and Bibi Rajwant Kaur. Bhai Garvai’s life was always revolved around meditation and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj had showered him with many blessings. Bhai Garvai never missed his Amrit Vela (early morning) prayers, he didn’t sleep much and he knew the 5 Granthi as well the 7 Nitnem prayers by heart. Bhai Garvai only spoke when he needed and mainly kept busy in doing Sewa of the saints.

After Sant Gurbachan Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale, Sant Kartar Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale was made the leader of Damdami Taksal, Bhai Garvai continued to do the Sewa of Garvai from him too. Sant Kartar Singh Ji Khalsa was also from the same village as Bhai Garvai, Bhura Kohna. Wherever Sant Kartar Singh Ji Khalsa went to preach, he would always keep Bhai Garvai with him. It was Bhai Garvai’s responsibility to give Sant Kartar Singh Ji Khalsa food and water, and he never gave a chance of a complaint. In 1977, Sant Kartar Singh Ji Khalsa passes away after a car accident. Bhai Garvai, Baba Thakur Singh Ji Khalsa, Jathedar Harnam Singh, Bhagat Jaswant Singh, Giani Paramjit Singh, Bhai Amrik Singh, Bhai Didar Singha and other senior Singhs of Damdami Taksal gave the Turban of Damdami Taksal to it’s 14th leader, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale. Bhai Garvai from that day had taken the Sewa of being a Garvai to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa. Sant Ji had great deal of trust in Bhai Garvai.

Bhai Swaran Singh Rode and Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode also remained in the same group of Singhs, and were of similar age. Bhai Garvai and Bhai Swaran Singh Rode would learn Gurbani and Sikh history together and regularly had discussions on such topics and the state of the Sikh nation. When on 19th July 1982 Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa did the Ardas to break the chains of slavery from the necks of the Sikhs, he moved to Nanak Niwas within the Sri Darbar Sahib complex from Mehta Chownk. Sant Ji had given the responsibility of running Damdami Taksal to Bhai Garvai and Baba Thakur Singh Ji Khalsa, while Sant Ji continued his struggle for equal rights from Amritsar. As well as staying with Sant Ji like a shadow, Bhai Garvai also handled the responsibilities of Damdami Taksal. Soon after moving to Nanak Niwas, Sant Ji called Bhai Garvai there to and now was given the responsibility of the Sikh contributions towards Dharam Yudh Morcha. Whenever Singhs wanted pistol or rifles, Bhai Garvai was the Singh they saw and he would make a record of this in his register. During this Sewa, Bhai Garvai not once gave any money to his family.

During these days, Bhai Garvai’s brother Bhai Tarlok Singh did the duty of a Granthi Singh at Sri Darbar Sahib. End of each month when Bhai Tarlok Singh received his wages, Bhai Garvai would call him along with other Singhs and ask them to put their Dasvandh into the Dharam Yudh Morcha. Bhai Garvai was a very calm person and never got angry about anything, he would deal with all situations with calmness. Jhujaru Singhs of Babbar Khalsa also had great respect and love for Bhai Garvai, and whenever Singhs of Akhand Kirtani Jatha had any differences with the Singhs of Damdami Taksal it was Bhai Garvai who would resolve the situation under the guidance of Sant Ji and Bhai Amrik Singh.

The PA of Sant Ji Bhai Rashpal Singh, the president of All India Sikh Student Federation Bhai Amrik Singh (son of Sant Kartar Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale), Baba Thara Singh, Bhai Dalbir Singh Abhyassi, Bhai Surinder Singh Sodhi, Bhai Harminder Singh Sandhu, Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, General Shabeg Singh, Bhai Kabal Singh, Bhai Swaran Singh Rode, Bhai Surjit Singh, Bhai Dara Singh Driver, Bhai Charan Singh, Bhai Ranjit Singh, Giani Mohar Singh, Bhai Amarjit Singh Khemkaran, Giani Joginder Singh, Bhai Ram Singh, Bhai Major Singh Nagoke, Bhai Sahib Singh Sanghva, Bhai Surjan Singh Sarbala, Bhai Jagir Singh Rode, Bhai Santokh Singh Tapa Wala, Bhai Sukhdev Singh Bathal, Bhai Pritam Singh Fattu Dhinga and other Singhs had great respect for Bhai Garvai and they all remained in contact with each other.

The Dharam Yudh Morcha was running at its peak, daily new groups of Sikhs were attending Amritsar to give their voluntary arrests. Indian government’s attitude towards the Sikhs was very foul. The electronic and print media were all talking the Indian government’s language. Daily there would be queues of journalists to interview Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale, and the following day the media would break and fit the quotes of Sant Ji to match the propaganda of Indian government against the Sikh struggle. Sant Ji would regularly expose the Indian media from the stage of Manjhi Sahib Hall by saying, “The newspapers don’t print many of my views and the ones they do print are broken and edited to fit their narrative against the Sikhs. They presented as hate speeches towards the Hindu brotherhood.”

Day by day the injustice upon Sikhs by the hands of Indian government was growing. Anything violent that took place in the state of Punjab, the authorities would directly or indirectly link it to Dharam Yudh Morcha to demonise the Sikh struggle. Dharam Yudh Mocha wasn’t only a mission of Sant Ji or Akali Dal, but every Sikh in India wanted to be a part of this peaceful protest for the equal rights for all. As the Dharam Yudh Morcha picked up support from the masses across India, Akali Dal wanted to resolve this uprising by coming to some type of agreement with the Indian government, but Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale had made it clear that the Dharam Yudh Morcha will not stop until all the demands were met, as that is what the Ardas was done for.

In the end, in the first week of June 1984 the Indian army implemented a curfew around Punjab and attacked Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. To protect the purity of Sri Darbar Sahib and Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, brave Singhs and Singhnia prepared themselves to battle the invading army. The Singhs of Damdami Taksal and All India Sikh Student Federation were laced with weapons and fought the Indian army with great courage. Bhai Mehal Singh and Bhai Davinder Singh of Babbar Khalsa came to Sri Akaal Takht Sahib for ammunition and Sant Ji, Bhai Amrik Singh ordered Bhai Garvai to arrange ammunition for the Jhujaru Singhs of Babbar Khalsa who were fighting from the Langar Hall.

On the morning of 6th June, the Indian army had started using tanks, cannons and lethal gas on the positions of the Singhs and many Sikhs had attained martyrdom. Bhai Garvai had continued to supply the fighting Jhujaru Singhs with weapons and ammunition. By the end of this battle, Indian artillery had positioned outside Sri Akaal Takht Sahib. It was roughly 7:30am on 6th June, Bhai Garvai along with other Jhujaru Singhs did Ardas in the basement of Sri Akaal Takht Sahib to defend the throne of the Sikhs or attained martyrdom trying.

At roughly 8/9am, Bhai Amrik Singh, Bhai Dalbir Singh Abhyassi, Bhai Gurmukh Singh Garvai and remaining Jhujaru Singhs completed their Ardas under the guidance of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale. Then all the Singhs came out of Sri Akaal Takht Sahib firing their weapons directly at the Indian army and their artillery. The bodies of the Indian soldiers were falling like dominoes. War cries of ‘Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akaal’ were shouted by these Singhs, which installed fear in the hearts of the Indian soldiers. Just past 9am on the morning of 6th June, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale, Bhai Amrik Singh, Bhai Gurmukh Singh Garvai and other Jhujaru Singhs attained martyrdom under the Miri Piri Nishan Sahibs. General Shabeg Singh had attained martyrdom the night before in the basement of Sri Akaal Takht Sahib.

Tavareekh Shaheed-e-Khalistan – Bhai Ranjit Singh Damdami Taksal