Shaheed Bhai Nachattar Singh Bhalwan

Jathedar Nachattar Singh was born from the womb of Mata Narain Kaur and in the house of Sardar Harnek Singh in 1939 in the village of Bhalwan, district Sangrur. Bhai Sahib studied 10th class. Bhai Sahib was a religious man and wanted a positive change for the Sikh panth, for which he joined the SGPC at the age of 26. Bhai Sahib would participate in protests done by Akali Dal and also spent time in Patiala jail during the Dharam Yudh Morcha. In 1980 Bhai Sahib was elected the leader of Shromani Akali Dal in Sangrur. On 3rd June 1984, Bhai Sahib took the locals from his village to Amritsar to take part in the Dharam Yudh Morcha. Jaswant Singh Kanwal writes in his novel, “Khoon Ke Sohile Gavai Nanak” what happened during this journey of Bhai Sahib on pages 148-150.

In the Dharam Yudh Morcha the Jatha that were going to give their arrest on 3rd June 1984 came from the villages of Sangrur district, their Jathedar was from the village of Bhalwan, Bhai Nachattar Singh. The women of Bhalwan and Kanjhalay had outnumbered the men of this Jatha. All together there were roughly 250 Sikh protestors in the Jatha. People had first travelled on tractor trollies to the village of Dhuri, then the Jatha caught the train to Ludhiana and from here jumped on to another train to Sri Amritsar. At the Amritsar train station, the platform was full of police officers. Bhai Sahib knew that the situation at Sri Darbar Sahib was extremely intense. Soon as the Jatha got off the train they were confronted by the police, Bhai Sahib knew he and his Jatha had to give their arrest on this day for the Dharam Yudh Morcha. All of the Jatha of Bhai Sahib was surrounded by police and the whole Jatha was made to walk to Kotwali police station. From Kotwali, Bhai Sahib contacted Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale via telephone and said, “Mahapursho, tell us what are your orders for us? We are at Kotwali.” Sant Ji answered, “Keep calm. Speak to the SSP there and I hope he will allow you and your Jatha to come to the Guru Ramdas Sran.”

Bhai Sahib spoke to the SSP of Kotwali and the whole Jatha was given the permission to go to Sri Darbar Sahib at 5pm that evening. Firstable the Jatha did darshan of Sachkhand Sri Darbar Sahib and then the Jatha had Langar, as they had not eaten all day. The women of the Jatha were worried hearing the gunfire and the presence of Indian army around the complex. Bhai Sahib gave his Jatha the courage and relaxed them. When the Jatha heard the news of shots being fired and 11 singhs attaining shaheedi, the Jatha started panicking. Bhai Sahib said, “If we attain shaheedi on the holy ground of Sri Guru Ram Das Ji, then I will be thankful to Waheguru for giving me this shaheedi.”

Harchand Longowal was informed the Jatha had reached Guru Ramdas Sran, on the night of 3rd June the Jatha stayed at the Sran. The Jatha was woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of gun fire. The remaining night was spent by the Jatha hearing the sound of the battle between the Indian army and the Jhujaru Singhs. In the morning at 8am Bhai Sahib arranged the tea for the Jatha, but no food was available. The Jatha was staying on the top floor of the Sran. At 5pm in the evening of 4th June, Bhai Sahib took his Jatha to Harchand Longowal in Teja Singh Samundri Hall. With the help of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale, Bhai Sahib managed to arrange food for the Jatha on the night of 4th June. Bhai Sahib constantly spoke to Jatha and delivered speeches of bravery to keep the Jatha relaxed and fearless. Bhai Sahib said, “Do not be afraid, we are in the house of Dhan Guru Ram Das Ji. In the morning we will give our arrests.” The Jatha spent the night in Teja Singh Samundri Hall. At night more gunshots were heard, the women were concerned of the safety and for the children too. No one could sleep in these conditions. The whole Jatha started reciting Waheguru and passed their time by reading Gurbani.

On the night of 4th June, the Jatha heard the tanks and missiles being fired. The Indian army had gained control of Langar Hall, the Srans and the road in front of them. The singhs from the bunker of General Subeg Singh were answering the Indian army bravely. Soon the Teja Singh Samundri Hall and Guru Nanak Niwas also fell under the Indian army. The army was clearing out Teja Singh Samundri Hall, they made the Jatha panic even more when they used gas canisters to complete their task. During this time Gurcharan Tohra and Harchand Longowal ran and hid in a room. The Jatha was taken outside the Sran and made to sit on the floor. When Gurcharan Tohra and Harchand Longowal were bought downstairs, they were given chairs to sit on by the Indian army.

On the night of 5th June, the Indian army bombarded the water tanker of the complex. Now there was no water supply on the complex. The heat of June was making everyone very thirsty and due to no water the throats of the children were in pain. The Indian army demolished a wall of the Sran, it was night time Bhai Sahib and another 13 singhs were picked by the army from the Jatha and taken to the other side of the demolished wall. These 14 singhs were made to lay on the ground. The Indian army took of the Kirpans of these singhs and few seconds after that all 14 unarmed singhs including Bhai Sahib were gunned down and made shaheed by the Indian army.

Mata Harnek Kaur who was also in the Jatha tried to find out where the singhs were taken, it was really dark and smoky but the army officers guarding the Jatha did not allow here to go anywhere. The feet of the Jatha were drenched in blood, a relative of Bhai Sahib, Bhai Jang Singh was also in the Jatha and he told Mata Harnek Kaur that Bhai Sahib had been made shaheed and shot in the chest. Mata Harnek Kaur did not care about the army guard and ran to her son’s body and mourned. At that time the 9 year old grand-daughter of Mata Harnek Kaur was also with her. Mata Ji asked the army, “O Faujia, let me take my sons body to his village, I will give you 60,000 rupees (as that was all Mata Ji had on her)”  The army officer was Punjabi and said, “Mata, do you want me to get killed. Can’t you see how the death has been dancing all over the complex.”

Mata Harnek Kaur begged many army officers but no one heard this mother. Mata Ji gathered the loose hair of her murdered son and tied it neatly. The Kirpan that was taken away from Bhai Sahib was put back on to his body by Mata Ji. She cleaned the beard of Bhai Sahib and put the turban back on his head. Bhai Sahib attained shaheedi on the holy ground of Sri Harimandir Sahib and left his two sons, Bhai Bhupinder Singh and Bhai Harjinder Singh behind. The family are all Gursikhs and hold an annual shaheedi smagam in the home village of Bhai Sahib to mark his shaheedi.

Vangaar – June 2014