Shaheed Bhai Madha Singh Babbar

Babbar Khalsa

Nihang Singhs are the beloved army of Dhan Dhan Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji and mostly recongnised as true Khadku Singhs. Many say, Nihangs have not lived up to their expectations as the soldiers of the Sikh nation, but if we look at the history of 20th century Sikh armed struggle, countless Nihang Singhs have given their lives fighting the injustice of Indian government. Within these Nihang Singhs is Shaheed Bhai Madha Singh Babbar.

In Amritsar, the Tarn Taran area, a Gursikh family of Sardar Swarn Singh Mahakal was a Nihang of village Velipuhi. Nihang Sardar Swarn Singh Mahakal was married to Mata Isher Kaur and had total of 7 children. Bibi Balwinder Kaur, Bibi Joginder Kaur, Bhai Mohan Singh, Bhai Madha Singh, Bhai Harjinder Kaur, Bhai Tehel Singh and Bibi Jaswant Kaur. The family had 15 acres of land and the family would regularly call the Nihangs to their house and do Langar di sewa. Nihangs of Baba Bidhi Chand Dal, Baba Bakala Dal and Harian Velan regularly visited the family house and at the Anandpur Sahib and Mukhatsar Sahib Jor Mela the family would do the Langar di sewa, giving Langar to passers. Doing Langar di sewa was like a family job, where Guru Maharaj paid them with love.

After the attack on Sri Harimandir Sahib, many Singhs and Singhnia took up arms and started the armed struggle. Now these Khadku Singhs would also come to Bhai Madha Singhs house for Langar, Khadku Singhs such as, Bhai Sukhdev Singh Sakheera and Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha, some Khadku Singhs would stay at the family house for more than 10 days.

When the police found out about this, they started raiding the family house. Bhai Madha Singh and his brothers would not be at home when the police came. Then one day the police took Sardar Swarn Singh Mahakal to Khalra police station. When the police tried to threaten Bhai Sahib’s father, Sardar Swarn Singh Mahakal fearlessly said, “To give food and water to singhs is our duty from start. I can’t change that, even if you behead me.”

For 12 days Sardar Swarn Singh kept his rehat by not eating the food or even drinking the water of the police station. After 12 days Mata Isher Kaur was allowed to see her husband, but the police officer took her to one side with respect and asked Mata Ji, “Mata Ji, how many times have Bhai Sukhdev Singh Sakheera and Bhai Avtar Singh Bramha come to your house?” But Mata Ji replied, “For 25 years our job has been to serve langar to the singhs of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. We will never stop doing this great sewa.”

The police released Sardar Swarn Singh Mahakal but started monitoring the family house. The police would all of a sudden come to the family house but when the brave mother of Bhai Sahib saw the gypsies of the police came into the village, she would get all the male members of the family to leave the house from the back door. By the time police came into the house, the singhs would have gone and their beds would have been put away. When the police asked where are the singhs of the house, Mata Isher Kaur said that the singhs have gone to the house of their relatives.

Bhai Sahib became frustrated of everyday raids at his house by the police. Bhai Sahib said to his family, “Instead of living like this, I might as well join the Sikh Freedom Movement.” The family did not stop Bhai Sahib from the sewa. Bhai Sahib later joined the Babbar Khalsa under Bhai Sukhjinder Singh Brar Jabhowal. Bhai Sahib was already good at riding horses and usage of historical weapons. Bhai Sahib also learnt how to use the new weapons and with Bhai Sukhjinder Singh Brar Jabhowal did many actions.

14th June 1989, Bhai Sahib, Bhai Sukhjinder Singh Brar, Dr Lalli Ghuman and a Khadku Singh of village Bhutari were making timer explosives in the house of Bhai Sahib’s Bhua Ji in village Bhorshi. When Bhai Sahib took a break to get a glass of water, all of a sudden one of the timer explosives detonated. The blast destroyed the whole house and killed all the singh besides Bhai Sahib. Bhai Sahib was upset and had tears coming from his eyes over the loss of his brothers. Bhai Sahib didn’t want to leave the scene, but his Bhua Ji had to push him out of the village before the police came. Bhai Sahib managed to get out of the village before the police came. Within the movement many singhs started to suspect Bhai Sahib of being a traitor, for many reasons. Firstable, where the bomb detonated was the house of Bhai Sahib’s Bhua Ji and secondly the question regularly was getting raised, that in the blast how comes only Bhai Sahib survived? Where ever Bhai Sahib went, no one would speak to him properly, in fact many singhs started monitoring him to see what he was doing. In these bad times, Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival stood beside Bhai Sahib. Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival heard the full story of Bhai Sahib’s side and believed Bhai Sahib along with many more singhs of Babbar Khalsa.

After the trust was restored Bhai Sahib assembled his own team of singhs under Babbar Khalsa and started doing actions in the Malwa area. Bhai Sahib had encounters with the Indian security forces many times but managed to escape unharmed. Once Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival was arrested in Sangrur, Bhai Sahib negotiated the release of Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival in return for the kidnapped children of the SSP of Sangrur. Until Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival got to a safe place, Bhai Sahib had recited gurbani for the chardikala of Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival.

Bhai Sahib was married twice before 1991. Bhai Sahib was divorced to the first wife and the second wife had passed away. Bhai Sahib’s mother was trying to get Bhai Sahib married again but Bhai Sahib said, “I’m not to have a family in this life, because if I was then the first 2 marriages would have worked out.” Bhai Sahib respected Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival and always listened to him. Mata Isher Kaur spoke to Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival who got Bhai Sahib to agree on getting married. In February 1991 Bhai Sahib was married to Bibi Sarabjit Kaur. Bibi Sarabjit Kaur’s sister, Bibi Paramjit Kaur was also married to a Khadku Singh, Bhai Inderjit Singh Sakheera.

Shortly after Bhai Sahib was married, Bhai Sahib along with Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival made a plan on kidnapping the family of a minister and in return asking for 2 singhs from each freedom fighting group to be released from the Indian jails. Bhai Sahib with his wife, Bibi Paramjit Kaur and Bhai Inderjit Singh Sakheera left Punjab to go Maharashtra, Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib. In Maharashtra Bhai Sahib met Bhai Amarjit Singh, Bhai Mahinder Singh, Bhai Keval Singh, Bhai Baldev Singh, Bhai Harjit Singh and Bhai Darshan Singh, together the group started planning the mission.

In Punjab the police was torturing Bhai Sahib’s family to get information which would lead the police to Bhai Sahib’s arrest. The police wrecked the family house and dug the Nishan sahib out of the ground and took it back to the police station. The police also took Bhai Sahib’s nephew, Bhai Lakhwinder Singh and killed him in fake encounter. Bhai Sahib’s father was regularly tortured along with many family members. Some of Bhai Sahib’s relatives were killed by the police in Punjab, while the Bhai Sahib and the group were in Maharashtra going towards the city of Banbiee to kidnap the daughter and son in law of the chief minister, SB Chavan. Bhai Sahib along with the group got to the house of SB Chavan’s house which was guarded by handful of armed police officers who were no match to the singhs. The singhs overpowered the guards and locked them in a room of the house, then the singhs searched the house for the chief minister’s daughter and her husband but they were not at home. The singhs left empty handed.

Later Bhai Sahib and the group had kidnapped Nirmal Singh from Nasik, who was the brother of an IG of Delhi police, now the aim was to free as many Sikh freedom fighters from Indian jails, especially Tihar jail in Delhi. The singhs kept Nirmal Singh in a tanker until the negotiations were completed. But one day Nirmal Singh managed to escape and ran to the local police station and told the police the location of where the Babbars had kept him. At the locations the Babbars were unarmed and had kept their weapons at another place. The police of Nasik and Indore had surrounded the unarmed Babbars, even in these conditions Bhai Inderjit Singh Sakheera managed to escape but rest of the singhs including Bhai Sahib were all arrested. Bhai Sahib along with rest of the singhs were brutally tortured. At this time Bhai Sahib’s wife was pregnant and the police still harassed her in these conditions and also jailed her. After being charged with kidnapping plus many more cases, Bhai Sahib was sent to Nasik jail.

When the news of Bhai Sahib’s arrest came to Punjab, Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival started planning on how to free Bhai Sahib. Altogether Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival kidnapped about 15 relatives of ministers and police officers and told the Indian government to release the Babbars from Nasik jail. But SB Chavan did not want to release Bhai Sahib at any cost, even the hostages were asking the government to free Bhai Sahib and his group. One of the minsters whose relatives were arrested went to see Bhai Sahib in jail but there was no positive outcome. 3 months after Bhai Sahib’s wife gave birth to his child in jail. The Punjab police came to Nasik jail and took Bhai Sahib back to Punjab. All the inmates of Nasik jail who learnt Gurbani of Bhai Sahib had tears in their eyes while saying the farewell to Bhai Sahib. After this Bhai Sahib was once seen in Bhavangarh police station, district Sangrur, but after this Bhai Sahib was never seen again.

Till today Bhai Sahib’s family awaits Bhai Sahib to return and are not ready to belive he is shaheed.

Purja Purja Kat Maray – Baljit Singh Khalsa