Shaheed Bhai Jagwinder Singh Bittu
Shaheed Bhai Jagwinder Singh Bittu
“Mother the situation in Punjab isn’t good, the Punjab police are killing Sikh Youths in fake encounters, and it would be safe if I leave the country and go then I can complete all the debts of our family.” This is what Bhai Sahib used to say to his mother some days before leaving home. The family didn’t know what Bhai Sahib was hiding in his heart. One day Bhai Sahib tightly hugged his family and touched the feet of his parents to say his final fateh and grabbed his stuff to go abroad. The family thought Bhai Sahib had gone abroad to earn money but the family only found out when Bhai Jagwinder Singh Bittu Ragba Babbar alias Bhai Gurmail Romania was wounded and arrested by Romanian police for trying to kill Julio Francis Rebiero. Bhai Sahib was a diamond of the panth, who went to Romania to lighten the debt of the Sikh panth.
Bhai Jagwinder Singh Bittu Babbar was born in the house of Sardar Dalip Singh and from the womb of Mata Charanjit Kaur in the village of Raqba, district Ludhiana. Mata Charanjit Kaur believes that the shahadat of her son “Bittu” is what Waheguru wanted. Bhai Sahib was not an average person, Bhai Sahib would laugh when he faced difficulties, Bhai Sahib was one fearless warrior. Bhai Sahib would do what he said. Bhai Sahib brave soldier of Babbar Khalsa. When the news of Bhai Sahib being shot by someone in Belgium’s Sint-Truiden came to his village of Raqba, district Ludhiana, the locals were shaken and upset.
When government of Indian gave open orders to Julio Francis Rebiero to kill the Sikh Youth, he killed children and elders, Rebeiro played the festival of colours with the blood of the Sikhs. Soon the Sikhs decided to take on the mission to teach Rebeiro a lesson. In 1986, the singhs of Khalistan Liberation Force tried to finish Rebeiro off but he survived, his wife was wounded with the bullets shot by her bodyguard plus another three police were killed. Singhs of Khalistan Commando Force took the responsibility later.
1986 assassination attempt
In the early morning of 3 October 1986, 6 men in police disguise, identified in the press as Sikh militants attacked Rebeiro inside the headquarters of Punjab Police in the city of Jalandhar, Punjab, India. One guard was killed. Rebeiro, his wife, and four other police and paramilitary officers were injured. Reberio’s wound was minor, but his wife was hospitalized. All six attackers escaped in a waiting truck. The Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) later claimed responsibility of this attack. KCF leader Labh Singh allegedly led the assassination attempt.
1991 assassination attempt
In August 1991, Rebeiro, then Indian Ambassador to Romania was attacked and wounded in a Bucharest assassination attempt by gunmen identified as Punjabi Sikhs.
The Indian government then got Julio Francis Rebiero out of Punjab safely after the attack and sent him to Romania as the Indian ambassador in 1989. Singhs of Babbar Khalsa and Khalistan Commando Force made the decision to try once again to kill this butcher. This mission was given to Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar alias Bhai Surjit Singh, Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher alias Ramesh Kumar and Bhai Jagwinder Singh Bittu Babbar. The 3 singhs made their own way to Switzerland illegally. In June 1991, all 3 singhs applied for stay in the country even though they were short of money, they did not step back from the mission.
Bhai Sahib and Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher entered Romania illegally and stayed locked in one room for 20 days with no food. After this both rented a flat near the train station of Norte. Here the singhs started learning the Romanian language. The Romanian people loved the brown coloured things, that’s why the singhs coloured their hair brown. July 1991 Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher bought a Citroen car, PB7398, and later in this car Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher and Bhai Sahib went to Timisoara. All 3 singhs had tested their weapons 10 miles outside Bucharest. Singhs had got the full information on Julio Francis Rebiero, when he comes out of his house, where he goes etc. Daily at 5.20pm Rebeiro used to go for a walk with his wife Melba. One day Bhai Sahib slowly followed them in the Citroen car with fellow singhs. The singhs were going to carry out the mission they had done ardas for. As Rebeiro and his wife Melba reached Aeviatarlar Avenue, Bhai Sahib slowed his car. First Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar got out of the car with his 7.62mm shotgun, soon as Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar got out of the car, he shouted at Rebeiro then fired a shot. Now Rebeiro had been shot in his thigh and fell to the floor, Rebiero quickly got up and tried to run. Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher also got out of the car with his gun and started chasing Rebeiro as he ran into an open number 31 house in the avenue and shot him again. By now Reberio’s bodyguards had come onto the scene and shot Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar twice and he attained shaheedi. Bhai Sahib’s car was forcefully stopped after the Romanian police shot him twice. As Bhai Sahib was seriously wounded he fell unconscious on the steering wheel. Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher was arrested alive by commandoes. If the singhs wanted they could’ve easily killed Reberio’s wife, but as she was a women, in that respect the singhs did not attack her. Neither did the singhs shoot Rebiero in the back. When the singhs first shouted at Rebeiro, he tried to run but Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar shot him in the thigh, due to this Rebeiro fell on the floor. But the second attempt Rebeiro made to escape from the singhs of Babbar Khalsa he succeeded.
In this encounter Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar attained shaheedi on the avenue, Bhai Sahib was seriously wounded and Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher was arrested. Now the Romanian police were searching for more singhs as they thought these three singhs were helped by more singhs. The military hospital, in which Rebeiro was being treated, Bhai Sahib also was in the same hospital being treated for his bullet wounds. The first news that had spread was that two singhs were killed and the third singh had been arrested who was being questioned by the Romanian army. The court of Romania prepared a separate action plan to deal with this case, this case was given to a military general to take charge of.
Bhai Sahib was at this army hospital from 20th August 1991 to January 1992. Bhai Sahib’s body had weakened so much that he was not able to walk and depended on a wheel chair. On the shoulder which Bhai Sahib was shot on had been operated on and bullets had been taken out, even after 5 months Bhai Sahib had not recovered. Until the court hearing, Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher and Bhai Sahib were detained at army barracks in which Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher remained quite ill. The singhs were kept with 50-60 inmates. The army barracks in which the singhs were detained in was 35m square and the life here was awful. The only meals the inmates got here was meat and dry bread. As the singhs didn’t eat meat they would give their meat to other inmates and eat the bread with water. The singhs believed they were given wrong medicine by the army hospital on purpose which resulted in them vomiting blood. The singhs had no warm cloths but after some time a shop keeper from Southall, England sent the singhs turbans and warm clothes.
All of a sudden, an honest lady, Dr Tirah came to the army barracks to check the inmates, she was shocked to see the state of the singhs. Dr Tirah spoke to the jail guards and said, “The singhs will die in this jail, they should be transferred to a better jail.” Soon the singhs had been transferred to a better jail, if Dr Tirah didn’t transfer the singhs, they would have died in the jail. Due to illness Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher’s weight increased to 90kg and due to Bhai Sahib’s weakness his weight went down to 50kg. The Indian agencies were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to finish these singhs off.
When Bhai Sahib started recovering from his bullet wounds, the military court started the hearing on 5th Feb 1992. The walls of the court were very high and barbed wire was mounted on top of each wall. Armed police officers were also guarding the court from the inside as well as the out with armed vehicles. Everyone was being searched before going into the court. When the singhs were produced in front of the judge, their health was really bad and Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher was bare foot. Major Basil Penti represented the Romanian government and put the case forward in the courts of Judge General Neister. First case was of Bhai Sahib and the second was of Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher’s, which started 12th Feb 1992, where the singhs openly said “Rebeiro is a murder, he had killed 1000’s of innocent singhs, he hates the Khalsa, that’s why he should be killed. We have done nothing wrong, nor will we apologise for our actions. Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar has become a martyr of the Sikh nation and we salute him.”
His lawyer was Mr Alexandru Vaarg. Bhai Pargat Singh Nisher’s lawyer was Mr Ptarscue Adien both these lawyers were supported by barrister Harjit Singh. The Sikhs of London (IHRO) funded the case and its enquires for all of the singhs. The human rights group of Punjab was also helping the singhs. IHRO Euro Co-ordinator based in London acted as an interpreter between the court and the two Sikh activists. The singhs requested Nitnem Gutka and some newspapers but the court denied this request of the singhs. The local newspapers of Romania had continuously exposed the butcher, Julio Francis Rebeiro and printed about the bravery of the singhs. One of the newspapers reported, “Mr Rebeiro is a uniformed terrorist. His hands are coloured with the blood of innocent people. Mr Rebeiro must be sent back.” The singhs also requested to see the body of their fellow singh, Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar and to cremate him according to the Sikh code of conduct. Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar’s body was being kept in a fridge for months, as the Romanian government were struggling recognizing him. Later Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar was buried in one of the graveyards of Bucharest, but after many Sikh groups of Europe stressed the Romanian officials, 5 singhs were allowed to cremate the body of Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar according to Sikh code of conduct. Some of the 5 singhs were Bhai Surinder Singh Bhinde, Bhai Karnail Singh who were both from Germany and Bhai Santokh Singh Khela of Canada. The ashes of Bhai Jugraj Singh Smalsar were flawed in a nearby flowing river of Romania.
The Indian government wanted to take both of the singhs back to India, but Judge General Neister denied this. Romania charged both singhs for illegally entering the country, possession of unlicensed gun, displaying fraudulent diplomatic number plates of the car, so the police would think the people in the car are the employees of the embassy and for attempted murder of Rebeiro. Just before sentencing Judge General Neister asked the singhs if they wanted to say anything, the singhs said, “The Sikh faith does not allow us to raise our hands on women, nor to attack an enemy from the back and whoever does this is a coward. Rebeiro had shot thousands of innocent Sikhs in the back and killed them in fake encounter.” Judge General Neister had water in his eyes before giving the sentence, he had to leave the court room to control his emotions and came back to give the sentence. The military court on February 19, 1992 sentenced Pargat Singh and Jagwinder Singh for 10 and 8 1/2 years of imprisonment respectively, on their confessional statements before the court. No appeals were made by the singhs after the sentencing.
Reberio’s outburst against IHRO
On the other hand, J F Rebeiro sharply reacted calling for a closer look into credentials of the UK-based IHRO chapter whom he described it as “bunch of misguided lawyers, misleading terrorists”. Speaking to UNI at Bucharest, Rebeiro asked why these lawyers, if they were genuinely concerned about human rights, were interceding on behalf of those who were thirsty for his blood. The ambassador was all praise for the Romanian surgeon who operated on him with promptness, repairing a chipped pelvic bone with a skill that saved his life.
Indian Express, March 2, 1992
After being released Bhai Sahib moved and settled in Belgium with his wife and daughter, but the Indian agencies we still trying to kill Bhai Sahib. Then on 17th April 2007, Bhai Sahib was assassinated under mysterious circumstances. According to witnesses, a lone masked gunman entered the STD business of Bhai Jagwinder Singh, as he was conversing on the telephone and preparing to close for the day. The assassin fired two shots into the head of Jagwinder Singh and promptly fled the scene. Jagwinder Singh succumbed to the gunshot wounds instantaneously. The customer who witnessed this incident narrated the shocking events to the local police. However, what is interesting is that the police are calling this assassination a robbery even though nothing was stolen from Bhai Jagwinder Singh or from his business.
For many, including the police, this murder may seem like a normal everyday crime but to see the reality one would need to look deeper into these events and know the history of Bhai Jagwinder Singh. Bhai Sahib was not just an owner of a STD business and the father of a three year old girl and one year old boy, Bhai Sahib was in fact a freedom fighter of the Sikh independence movement.
Interestingly this was not the first attempt on the life of Bhai Jagwinder Singh. In fact, it is alleged that there has been at least two other attempts on his life that have been narrated by his friends, family members, and acquaintances. One incident is that of men in a police vehicle watching his home and following him whenever he left his home. When this came to the attention of Bhai Sahib, he instructed his taxi driver to drive to the nearest police station. As Bhai Sahib’s taxi entered the police station, the police vehicle that was following him for quite some time turned around and went in the opposite direction. Bhai Jagwinder Singh proceeded to ask the police officials whether they had a police car with the number that the car following him displayed. The police responded that they did not have any such vehicle with that number in their fleet. Bhai Sahib was convinced that those following him were out to take his life.
Being concerned that there was an organized effort to finish him, Bhai Sahib began making arrangements to leave Belgium. Through a travel agent Bhai Sahib was preparing to find the legal means of leaving the country. The travel agent would always find some excuse to give Bhai Sahib whenever he called.
One day unexpectedly, Bhai Sahib received a call from the travel agent instructing him to immediately come to a small airport in a different town as his paperwork to leave the country for another place had been completed. Bhai Sahib left for the airport along with a non-Sikh friend. In route to the airport it crossed Bhai Sahib’s mind that there were no outbound international flights from such a small airport. Bhai Sahib became suspicious that this was yet another scheme in the process of taking his life, but decided to go on ahead and find out for himself.
Bhai Sahib was told that a certain individual would receive him at the airport. Upon reaching the airport Bhai Sahib’s non-Sikh friend ran into the man who was going to receive Bhai Sahib. It turned out that his friend and the receiver had known each other in the past. Bhai Sahib’s friend upon questioning the receiver came to know that he was there to eliminate Bhai Sahib and had received the amount of $50,000 from an official of a certain country.
After they parted ways, Bhai Sahib met the man who was there to receive him. There he began questioning Bhai Sahib whether or not he had all his paperwork in his bag and what else that bag contained. Bhai Sahib was one step ahead of those who were out to get him, and told the man that his bag also contained weapons. As they parted Bhai Sahib and his friend returned to the car instead of fully entering the airport, which they then noticed that yet again they were being followed by a car. As they came to an isolated section of the town, the occupants of the pursuing car opened fire on Bhai Sahib’s vehicle. With Akal Purakh’s kirpa, Bhai Sahib was not hurt or injured in the firing and the other car sped off.
Although previous attempts suspected to be the handiwork of a certain government agency failed, unfortunately they finally managed to take the life of this great individual. They have just added one more name to the long list of Sikh freedom fighters that continues to grow and as a result bringing the Khalsa Panth towards its righteous goal of self-determination.
Tavareekh Babbar Khalsa – Karamjit Singh Sikhanwala