Shaheed Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu

Sikh Student Federation/ Babbar Khalsa

Whenever the Sikhs of Sultanwind, district Amritsar get together and talk about the shaheeds of Sikh Freedom Movement, the name of Shaheed Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu is said with great respect. Sardar Boorh Singh, a residence of village Sultanwind and his wife, Bibi Savinder Kaur had five sons Bhai Harpal Singh, Bhai Inderjit Singh, Bhai Tejbir Singh, Bhai Mahanvir Singh and Bhai Sukhraj Singh.

Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu studied at the local school of his village, Dasmesh Model School and after passed his metric from Sri Guru Ram Das Senior Secondary School of Amritsar. Bhai Sahib would also work with his father in the farms. From start, Bhai Sahib was into the Sikh values and had an honest thinking. Bhai Sahib was very close to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and Bhai Amrik Singh, the president of All India Sikh Student Federation. Bhai Sahib started doing sewa with the singhs of Sikh Student Federation. In 1978, when the Narakhdharis killed 13 singhs including Bhai Fauja Singh and wounding another 150 plus Sikhs, this was the start the Sikh Freedom Movement. From here on, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and the singhs of Babbar Khalsa decided that the Narakhdharis will have to pay for their crimes.

The Sikhs told the government to make the city of Amritsar, an Holy City and have the tobacco, cigarettes and alcohol shops removed. The Sikhs made it clear that if these demands of the Sikhs are not met than the tobacco, cigarettes and alcohol shops will be burnt down. But the Indian government ignored the Sikhs as usual. The 31 Sikh organisations announced that Amritsar is the pure land of the Sikh gurus and that all the intoxication shops should be burnt down. Bhai Sahib and fellow singhs burnt many tobacco, cigarettes and alcohol booths, the singhs of also attacked a Narakhdhari representative, Joginder Shaant, who survived the attack but was extremely injured.

Many singhs were arrested due to this, Bhai Sahib, Bhai Amrik Singh, Baba Thara Singh, Bhai Swarn Singh Rode and Bhai Rup Singh were arrested along with other singhs. Bhai Sahib was brutally tortured at different interrogation centres. Bhai Sahib also spent time in various jails of Punjab, such as Amritsar’s Gumtala Jail, Ludhiana, Nabha, Ferozpur and others. Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale started a campaign for these singhs to be freed, the campaign came under the name of Dharam Yudh Morcha later. Bhai Sahib was later released. On 21st June 1982, Bhai Sahib, Bhai Amrik Singh and Baba Thara Singh attended a court hearing regarding the murder of Joginder Shaant. Bhai Swarn Singh Rode and Bhai Rup Singh could not make it to this hearing. The Additional Session Judge, GL Chopra dropped all charges against the singhs.

During Dharam Yudh Morcha, Bhai Sahib gave his arrest numerous times and spent time in various jails. Most of Bhai Sahib’s life was spent as a revolutionary man. Soon Bhai Sahib came in contact with the singhs of Babbar Khalsa. Bhai Sahib was close to Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar, Bhai Talwinder Singh Babbar, Bhai Anokh Singh Babbar, Bhai Mehal Singh Babbar, Bhai Kulwant Singh Cashier, Bhai Avtar Singh Pehlwan, Bhai Avtar Singh Para, Bhai Gurnam Singh Makhi, Bhai Kuldeep Singh Fauji and many more singhs of Babbar Khalsa did actions with Bhai Sahib.

In 1986, the police team under the command of SHO Ram Baagh raided Bhai Sahib’s house in the morning at 3-4am. Bhai Sahib received the information about the raid before the police could reach his house, Bhai Sahib managed to escape and did not come into the hands of the police. When the police reached the home, they arrested Sardar Boorh Singh as they didn’t find Bhai Sahib. Sardar Boorh Singh was blindly tortured at the police stations, when the local panchayat approached the police to have Sardar Boorh Singh released, but the police told the panchayat to produce Bhai Sahib first and only then they will free Sardar Boorh Singh. After great deal of running around by the family, Sardar Boorh Singh was finally released. The police started regularly raiding the house of Bhai Sahib, the police had consificated the scooter that the family owned and the family never got that back. DGP Julio Francis Rebeiro held a press conference in which he ordered his police forces to arrest Bhai Sahib and his fellow singhs as soon as possible. At this time the police once again arrested Bhai Sahib’s father and kept him at the Sultanwind police station for almost 5-6 months. Rest of the family started staying away from their home to avoid the police harassment. If anyone met the senior police officer regarding Sardar Boorh Singh, the police would tell them to produce Bhai Sahib and only then they would release Sardar Boorh Singh. At this time Narindh Malhi was in-charge of the Sultanwind police station. Narindh Malhi told Sardar Boorh Singh, “Boorh Singh, I respect you but tell your son if he does any actions in my area, then I will have to start harassing the family again. My superiors will pressurize me to harass you to find the Harpal.” After 5-6 months, Sardar Boorh Singh was released after the family paid a big sum of money.

When the Shiv Sena memebers started harassing the Sikh residents and making jokes of the Amritdhari women in the Krishna Nagar of Amritsar, the singhs of Babbar Khalsa attacked the Shiv Sena leader of that area, Surinder Billay, who survived due to wearing a bullet proof jacket but the singhs killed his bodyguard. The Shiv Sena wanted to lay down a solid foundation in Amritsar and had attacked many Sikhs. Once in Ram Baagh of Amritsar, a gathering of many Shiv Sena members threw acid on to the face of a Sikh police officer, which burnt the officers face but he survived. This attack was done only because the police officer was a Sikh. The Khadku Singhs also started answered to the attacks of the Shiv Sena by punishing the Shiv Sena members that were responsible for the attacks on the Sikhs, but the Punjab police did not arrest the Shiv Sena members and instead started harassing singhs and their families.

There was one police officer by the name of Dalbira Hawaldar, who was the resident of Kot Karnail Singh village. As Dalbira’s placement was in Sultanwind, he knew what Bhai Sahib looked like. Dalbira told the SSP of Amritsar that he can catch Bhai Sahib, as he knows what Bhai Sahib looks like. Dalbira promised the SSP to bring Bhai Sahib into custody dead or alive.

Now Dalbira Hawaldar started doing CID work on Bhai Sahib. Soon Dalbira reached the farms of Bhai Sahib. Here Dalbira and a colleague in civil clothes met Bhai Sahib’s brother, Bhai Mahanvir Singh, who was alone. Dalbira said Fateh to Bhai Mahanvir Singh and started asking about the family’s health. Dalbira said, “We are singhs also, you don’t need to be scared. We want to meet Bhai Harpal Singh, we were together in Mand. We were with Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma, and then we got separated. Bhai Harpal Singh told me that if we ever separated, then to come meet him at his farm and here i could meet him.” Bhai Mahanvir Singh became suspicious on these black cats and answered, “Bhai Harpal Singh has left home ages ago and has not returned since. We are farming and making ends meet. You are more than welcome here, but we can only give you water or tea.” The black cats had tea and when Bhai Mahanvir Singh asked them if they wanted food, they replied, “We are in a hurry as the sewa at Sri Akaal Takht Sahib is going on, we are going to eat at Paras Hotel along with other singhs, so please try and arrange a meeting between us and your brother.” Upon hearing this, Bhai Mahanvir Singh once again made it clear that Bhai Sahib has left home and has not returned. But Dalbira was not stopping, so Bhai Mahanvir Singh said, “If you are singhs then you might as well tell me your name. If someone comes to me then I will give your name to them.” Immediately Dalbira answered, “My name is Doctor and my fellow singh is called Jaggi, we are from the village of Rataul. When you tell them this, they will know who I am.” After saying this, Dalbira and colleague left, but Bhai Mahanvir Singh pulled out his dairy and wrote the name and the details of the scooter that Dalbira had come on.

After Dalbira left the youngest brother of Bhai Sahib, Bhai Inderjit Singh came to the farm also, as he had gone to the city to get some stuff from the market. Bhai Mahanvir Singh told Bhai Inderjit Singh everything and said that the two men were very suspicious and seemed like black cats. Bhai Inderjit Singh stayed at the farms while Bhai Mahanvir Singh went to Amritsar. That same night, at about 2am Dalbira and the SSP of Amritsar surrounded the farm along with 40-45 Indian security force vehicles. Bhai Inderjit Singh was sleeping, when Dalbira and fellow police officers started beating him on his bed. The police had taken Bhai Inderjit Singh for Bhai Sahib. Bhai Inderjit Singh shouted that he is not Bhai Sahib, but the police did not listen. The police said, “If you’re not Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu, then tell us where is he?” The police tied the arms of Bhai Inderjit Singh and took him to Amritsar’s Sadhar police station, here he was blindly tortured. At this time Bhai Sahib was also in the Amritsar area. When Bhai Sahib got the news of the harassment his younger brother went through, Bhai Sahib sent a message home and told the family to bail Bhai Inderjit Singh out and that Dalbira Hawaldar has crossed the line of tolerance. After many days of struggle the family and the panchayat managed to free Bhai Inderjit Singh from the police. Some days after Bhai Inderjit Singh was released Bhai Sahib and a cousin brother, Bhai Kuldeep Singh who also was a Khadku Singh surrounded Dalbira Hawaldar as he was on his way home. Bhai Sahib said, “Dalbiraya, if you want to run then run now. Today your death stands in front of you.” Dalbira dropped his scooter and started running. It wasn’t long when the revolver of singhs blasted bullets towards Dalbira. Dalbira had dropped to the ground as he ran through the bazaar. The public were scared and went into their homes. The singhs kicked Dalbira and said, “Get up you evil man, today we will not let you go alive.” When the singhs moved Dalbira, they saw that he was not breathing. Dalbira was dead and the singhs made their escape.

Soon as the SSP of Amritsar found out about the killing of Dalbira Hawaldar, he raided the house of Bhai Sahib, but none of the family members were at home. After searching the house, the police returned to the police station. The family already knew that Dalbira has been punished by Bhai Sahib and the police would come and for this reason the family of Bhai Sahib were not at home. The police had upped their harassment on the family but the family had started living away from home and passing time like that.

After this, Bhai Mahanvir Singh and a relative went to Baba Budha Sahib to Matha Tekh on Sangraand. Here one man started shouting their name, the relative pointed Bhai Mahanvir Singh towards the man who was shouting his name. When Bhai Mahanvir Singh looked, he saw Bhai Sahib and another Khadku Singh by the name of Bhai Avtar Singh Parha. Both singhs were in a different disguise and said, “Oh brother, don’t you recognise us?” When Bhai Mahanvir Singh went close, the singhs hugged and Bhai Sahib joked about while asking about the health of his family. Bhai Mahanvir Singh told his brother, “Everything is okay, but the police are regularly visiting the village and asking about you. The day you killed Dalbira Hawaldar, the police came that same night to raid our house. The family were not at home and we managed to avoid the harassment of the police. It is very hard to do any work at home of at the farms. Brother, you should get out of this area as the police are out to arrest you, informants are at every corner.” Bhai Sahib answered, “We have come to Matha Tekh here due to Sangraand and will go away as soon as we do that.” After saying this, Bhai Sahib said his final Fateh to Bhai Mahanvir Singh and went.

Some days later, one night a news came on a TV that in Ferozpur two singhs of Babbar Khalsa have been arrested. The police had set up a checkpoint when a sky blue Fiat car was stopped and when the singhs tried to speed their car up but got stuck in the side of the road. The following morning, the newspapers printed the main headline, “Two dangerous Khadku Singhs of Babbar Khalsa, Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu Sultanwind and Bhai Avtar Singh Parha have been arrested as they travelled to Ferozpur. From the Fiat car, a big quantity of ammunition was found in the possession of the Khadku Singhs. The police have said that these Khadku Singhs were wanted by the Punjab police for 50-60 murders. The police had put a reward of 50,000Rs on the head each of these Khadku Singhs.

The Punjab police brutally tortured the singhs. The police charged the singhs with many cases and sent them to Ferozpur jail, this happened due to pressure being put on the police from outside circle of Babbar Khalsa. Bhai Avtar Singh Parha was from the village of Devidaspur, district Jandiala. The SHO of this area was the evil Harcharan Suri, who had the reputation of killing singhs in fake encounters. The Jandiala-Amritsar police wanted both singhs in relation to the Krishna Nagar action, the attack on the Shiv Sena leader, Surinder Billay and for the murder of Dalbira Hawaldar. Bhai Avtar Singh Parha did not have a good relation with his Chacha and Taya in his village, as they thought of Bhai Avtar Singh Parha as their enemy. They wanted to finish off Bhai Avtar Singh Parha. For this reason, SHO Harcharan Suri bought both singhs into his remand. Harcharan Suri also wanted a higher rank, he thought he will get two targets with one arrow, one two take big sum of money from the relatives of Bhai Avtar Singh Parha and second getting a higher rank with the police force.

On 11th October 1986, as Suri was bringing the singhs from Ferozpur, he stopped the jeep near the Harike area, at this time Suri was heavily drunk from alcohol. Suri took the singhs out of the police gipsy and said, “If you want to run then you can run, you have my permission.” Bhai Sahib knew that Suri wanted to kill them and replied, “Suri, we are not going to run away from you, only to be shot in the back. If you want to kill us the shoot us in the chest.” The locals heard the shouting of the police and the singhs, it is said that Bhai Sahib shouted that he will not let the police shoot him in the back to make the headlines of a Khadku Singh being shot in the back while he tried to run away. The locals also say that they heard sounds of some bullets being fired and all the shouting stopped.

Following morning the newspapers wrote headlines in big letters saying, “Two dangerous Khadku Singhs of Babbar Khalsa, Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu have been killed in intense encounter when the their fellow singhs from Babbar Khalsa attacked the police near the Harike village as the police was transporting the two Khadku Singhs. In this encounter Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu has been killed while Bhai Avtar Singh Parha escaped with fellow singhs.”

The locals said that it was the police that killed Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu and there was no one that attacked the police that night. It is said that the police either killed Bhai Avtar Singh Parha and the police has lobbed his body in the river of Harike or they still have him in their custody. It is also said that the police had tied the body of Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu to a tree and blasted his body with bullets. As the police read these headlines on the newspapers, the police force also came to the family house. The police told the family, “Your son, Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu has been killed in an encounter against the police. You can go and get his body, his post mortem will happen in Patti.” The family had Bhai Sahib’s post mortem done in Patti and after bought the shaheedi saroop home. As the locals knew that this was fake encounter, when the shaheedi saroop of Bhai Sahib came home the locals shouted slogans against the Punjab police, “Punjab Police Murdabaad”, “Harcharan Suri Murdabaad”. The police were shocked at this and had sealed off the area, all the roads that went to Bhai Sahib’s village were sealed off.

Sometime later Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival and group punished Harcharan Suri for his crimes by blowing him up into pieces with a bomb at the police training camp in Phillaur. Shaheed Bhai Harpal Singh Pappu attained shaheedi on 11th October 1986, the family holds a Sri Akhand Paath Sahib every year on 11th October and the bhog is done on 13th October.

Khalsa Fatehnama – October 2010