Shaheed Bhai Karaj Singh Thande
Shaheed Bhai Karaj Singh Thande
Lieutenant General Bhindranwale Tigers Force
In the struggle to establish Khalsa Rule many young brave warriors sacrificed their lives and one of them was Shaheed Bhai Karaj Singh Thande, who had a huge contribution, but due to bad circumstances the historians have turned a blind eye to this. During Operation Black Thunder on the 15th may 1988 when the brave warriors were fighting against the Indian forces at Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji, they quoted a line from Gurbani which they followed and attained Shaheedi:
‘Kabir Mohe Marne Ka Chao Hai Ta Har Ke Duar’
‘I long to die; Let me die at the Lord’s Door’
The great warrior Shaheed Bhai Karaj Singh Thande was born in the family of Sardar Makhan Singh and from the womb of Mata Balbir Kaur in 1959 in a village called Thande district Amritsar. The village Thande is situated towards the west of Amritsar about 4 kilometres away. Bhai Sahib had 3 brothers and one sister – the eldest was Bhai Harbhajan Singh, Joginder Singh, Balwinder Singh and Harbhajan Kaur. Bhai Sahib completed his primary education at the local school in his village Thande, for his secondary education Bhai Sahib went to Fatehpur Government High School. As a kid Bhai Sahib had a built a broad physic. Bhai Sahib was a good wrestler and a kabaddi player and due to this everyone used to call by Sahib by the name of Pehlwan (wrestler). In 1978 Bhai Sahib joined the army in which he would normally part take in sports. Bhai Sahib was considered the best weight fighter and boxer and had won many awards. Bhai Sahib’s marriage took place at a nearby village called Guru Ki Vadhali, in a Gursikh family to Bibi Baljit Kaur. Bhai Sahib had two sons name Bhai Daler Singh and Bhai Surinder Singh, Bhai Sahib’s younger son was named in loving memory of a Jhujaru Singh Shaheed Surinder Singh Sodhi.
Sri Darbar Sahib Harmandir Sahib, Sri Akal Takhat Sahib and another 37 Gurudwaras were attacked by the Indian Army due to the orders of the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Sri Akal Takhat was destroyed by tanks and cannons, on the day of the 5th Guru Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s Shaheedi Purab, where thousands of innocent people were massacred. The events of 1984 shook Bhai Sahib and he left the Army like many other Dharmi Fauji’s. After two months Bhai Sahib was arrested and taken to the military camp in Madhrapradesh where Bhai Sahib was given the opportunity to re-join the army, but after a few days Bhai Sahib ran away and returned to Punjab where he joined hands with the Khalistan Commando Force Lieutenant, General Bhai Ranjit Singh Rana (Taru) to fight in the struggle to establish Khalsa Rule. After Bhai Ranjit Singh Rana (Taru) attained Shaheedi Bhai Sahib met the leader of Bhindranwale Tigers Force, Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal. Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal played a huge part in the Sikh struggle, he would train up the young Singh’s who joined the Bindranwale Tigers Force and would supply them with weapons. Alongside training Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal eliminated the fear out of the young Singh’s and inspired them to sacrifice their lives for the cause.
Shaheed Bhai Karaj Singh Thande targeted the police officers who would make up fake police encounters and kill innocent Singh’s, the security officers and the police informers to get eliminated. After these events the Government was terrified. On the 24th of February 1987, undercover police offers arrived at the village of Thande to Bhai Sahibs house were his mother was alone. They said to her that, ‘We are here to pass on a message from your son Karaj Singh’. When Bhai Sahibs mother came near she seen that there was 3 killers who were government officials who had come on a scooter, and they had kept their scooter running, they brought their gun out and shot Bhai Sahibs mother and then quickly drove away. If there happened to be anyone else in the house they too would have been killed Bhai Sahibs mother, it shows that this was an act of cowardice, her only crime was that she gave birth to a brave warrior for which she was killed for. Even after Mata Ji’s Shaheedi Bhai Sahib remained strong and said, ‘Even if the government officials kill my two sons even then am not going to give in, I’ll continue fighting for the freedom of Khalistan’. ‘Fateh Ja Shihadat Mera Nishana Hai’ – My goal is to either succeed and win or to attain Shaheedi’. ‘The will take revenge from the people who killed Mata Ji and they will be eliminated’.
The C.R.P would go into villages and hunt down young Sikh boys, the Singh’s eliminated many of the C.R.P and police officers, and in the villages of Bandala, Cheecha, Sangana Pulh, Fatehpur Bagh the C.R.P were attacked and their cars were blown up. When the C.R.P officials used to chat between themselves and say, ‘Wassan Singh always manages to escape before we manage to surround him. This Karaj Singh Fauji, Bharam Singh Jathedar (Avtar Singh Bhrama), Durga Singh Mota, these Babe come by foot to attack us, these Babe enjoy creating riots’
In January 1988, the Khadku Singh’s struggle took a new turn. The Khadku Singhs started to camp out at the Sri Darbar Sahib complex. The Panthic committee leader Bhai Jagir Singh Jazbati was a true Khadku by nature. The AK-47’s and the assault rifles sparked the revolution in the Khadku Singhs. Bhai Jagbir Singh had that will in him to sacrifice himself for the Panth. Just like Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale, Bhai Sahib made a plan to make Sri Darbar Sahib Amritsar the headquarters for the Sikh revolution. Bhai Nirvair Singh was a true companion of Bhai Sahib. In the Parikrama’s room number 14 the Khalistan office was opened. When Bhai Jasvir Singh Rode, the Jathedar Sri Akal Takhat Sahib another 4 Singh’s were released from prison, they were taken to Sri Darbar Sahib. This was the very first time that the Khadku Singh’s in the Parikrama lifted their Ak-47’s and assault rifles and shot up in the air to pay their salute.
The Khadku leaders had a lot more power since the Sikh youth had AK-47’s, but the Singhs lacked leadership skills that Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale had, which is still felt even today. It was during that time that Bhai Surjeet Singh Penta, Bhai Nishan Singh Kalanur, Bhai Malkit Singh Ajnala’s courage was at an all-time high. The Singhs at Sri Darbar Sahib would receive threatening letters. The Khadku Singh’s that were in Sri Darbar Sahib had Ak-47’s and assault rifles and the Khadku Singhs outside in the parikrama were well equipped. The Khadku’s thought that the Indian Government won’t make the same mistake that they did in June 1984. The Khadku Singh’s in 1988 were inspired by Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and were aware of General Subeg Singh’s war tactics.
In order to keep the situation under control and to in order to fight against any dangers Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal and General Labh Singh decided that Bhai Karaj Singh Thande will be given the duty to stay inside Sri Darbar Sahib. The Khadku Singhs knew that there was no one better than Bhai Karaj Singh Thande Fauji to safe guard Sri Darbar Sahib, and if it did come under attack Bhai Sahib would retaliate and fight until his final breath and would happily attain Shaheedi rather than surrendering himself.
Bhai Karaj Singh Thande set up bunkers in the Sri Darbar Sahib Complex because he said that the weapons that the Khadku Singhs have only kill at a nearby distance. If the Singhs in June 1984 had better weapons then they could have easily took on and eliminated the Indian Army. DIG SS Virk was outside the Sri Darbar Sahib Complex assessing the preparations of the Khadku Singhs, when the Khadku Singhs spotted him they opened fire at him, and shot his jaw, CRP just about managed to save him. The Singh’s shouted war cries thinking they killed DIG SS Virk, but he was only injured. This gave the Indian Government a reason to attack Sri Darbar Sahib again. The CRP and special commando’s surrounded Sri Darbar Sahib they took their positions around the high surrounding buildings. They had weapons that had a telescopic view so they opened fire at the Khadku Singhs from a far distance. Suddenly the Khadku Singhs were surrounded, they weren’t fully prepared. The Government appealed to the Khadku Singhs to surrender themselves, and with the Sangat that came to pay their respects at the holy shrine when they were going out of the complex, a few Khadku Singhs tried to sneak out but the CID recognised them. One of the Khadku Singh was Bhai Surjit Singh Penta who took a Sy-Nyde capsule and attained Shaheedi. The curfew of the army was stretched to another 10 days. The Government got Baba Uttam Singh Khadur Sahib Kar Sewa Wale to appeal to the Khadku Singhs to surrender, at which the Khadku Singhs agreed to do so. Bhai Jagir Singh Bulara the Panthic committee head was in the room 14 which was the Khalistan Office when he was made target and killed. Under Bhai Nirvair Singh’s (he was considered the second leader) orders the Khadku Singhs agreed to surrender. Khadku Bhai Joga Singh done Ardas at Sachkhand Sri Harmandir Sahib to attain Shaheedi, he said that rather than surrendering myself to the enemies I’d rather attain Shaheedi, he asked God to bless him a place by his feet, Bhai Sahib took a Sy-Nyde capsule and attained Shaheedi at Harmandir Sahib in front of Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
Bhai Karaj Singh Thande and along with his companions went to the west of te complex where Baba Deep Singh’s Shaheed bunga is, and said to his fellow companions that I’m not going to surrender myself to the enemy and I think the best option is to attain Shaheedi in Sachkhand Sri Harmandir Sahib. Bhai Sahib then took a Sy-Nyde capsule. They say that once you swallow a Sy-Nyde capsule a person can’t even write his signature, because he is immediately killed, but after Bhai Sahib swallowed the capsule it didn’t immediately react. Bhai Karaj Singh asked his fellow companions to shoot and kill him, all the Khadku Singhs that were standing nearby Bhai Sahib were awestruck that even poison can’t even manage to kill Bhai Sahib, then some Singhs said that we should follow Bhai Sahibs orders and kill him, but then Jathedar Balwant Singh Nagoke stopped them and said that history will say that Bhai Sahibs fellow companions shot and killed him. Bhai Karaj Singh Thande while suffering uttered a line of Gurbani – Kabir Mohe Marne Ka Chao Ta Har Ke Duar – Kabir I long to die; Let me die at the Lord’s Door’. Bhai Sahib attained Shaheedi on the 15th of May 1988, but while being alive never surrendered to the enemy. With the Khadku Singhs surrendering themselves in Operation Black Thunder in 1988, made the situation worse for the Sikh Kaum.
Bhai Gurmukh Singh Nagoke eliminated one of the main people who forced the Khadku Singhs into surrendering he was from the village Sanghar, which resulted in Bhai Jagir Singh Bulara Panthic committee, Bhai Joga Singh, Bhai Surjit Singh Penta and Bhai Karaj Singh Thande’s Shaheedi to be suppressed under the dust.
Shaheed Bhai Karaj Singh had one brother in law Bhai Gurmit Singh Guru who was travelling in a bus from Fatehgarh going to Amritsar, when he was taken off the bus by the police and was killed in a fake police encounter in a village Chauk Sakandar, near Ramdas. The Majeeta police SSP told the press that Bhai Gurmit Singh Guru was a terrorist who was killed in a police encounter.
Khadku Yodhe – Maninder Singh Baja