Shaheed Bhai Nishan Singh Chitarkar
Shaheed Bhai Nishan Singh Chitarkar
Sikh Student Federation
Movement started by Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale to gain Sikh rights, many singhs and singhnia gave their lives but are sadly not remembered. One of those shaheeds is Shaheed Bhai Nishan Singh Chitarkar.
Sardar Karam Singh Pehlwan and his wife Mata Kashmir Kaur came live in Amritsar in 1966, at this moment the couple only had one son, Bhai Sahib Singh. At the family house on Majha Road, Amritsar the family saw the birth of 6 more children, Bhai Nishan Singh, Bhai Angrej Singh, Bibi Ramandeep Kaur, Bhai Surinder Singh and Bhai Rajinder Singh. Sardar Karam Singh Pehlwan did farming and milked his cows to feed the family, but he sent his children to top schools to study hard.
Bhai Sahib did his primary education at BS Modern School, Amritsar. Bhai Sahib was studying at this school when 1978 Visakhi massacre happened. Due to this massacre Bhai Sahib felt the pain and the slavery of the Sikh nation with his heart. In Amritsar the police enforced section 144 curfew when the sangat was to gather at Sri Harimandir Sahib for the funeral of the 13 singhs shaheed. The family of Bhai Sahib found out and tried to stop Bhai Sahib from attending Sri Harimandir Sahib. Bhai Sahib didn’t argue with his mother instead Bhai Sahib covered his face and started crying. Mata Kashmir Kaur stayed stubborn for a while, but later thought to herself, “Why am I worried? If a snake bites Nishan or if he has an accident on his way to school, I will still face problems. But now Nishan wants to do something for the respect of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.”After this, Mata Kashmir Kaur allowed Bhai Sahib to go to Sri Harimandir Sahib for the cremation of the shaheeds but only as long as Bhai Sahib comes straight back home after. As soon as Bhai Sahib heard the agreeing of his mother, he ran out of the house in the direction of Sri Darbar Sahib. It is unknown how Bhai Sahib crossed the checkpoints but he was present at the cremation of the 13 singhs. Mata Kashmir Kaur only had food went Bhai Sahib returned home later that evening.
Bhai Sahib would travel on his little feet and attend the speeches of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale. After passing 8th class at BS School, Bhai Sahib went to the DAV School in High Gate and studied here till 10th class. By now Bhai Sahib was constantly visiting Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale. Bhai Sahib created a group of Sikh youth and started planning on targeting anti-Sikh elements. There weren’t many Sikhs in the area where Bhai Sahib lived, Bhavan Nagar which was off Majhita Road, the Hindus had started showing hatred towards the family of Bhai Sahib.
When Harbans Lal Khanna, the man who shouted slogans such as, “Kachera, Kara and Kirpan go to Pakistan” was shot dead by the bullets of the singhs, the extreme Hindu gangs announced that his dead body would be paraded past the Medical College on Majhita Road and through parts of Amritsar. Bhai Sahib knew when the Hindu extremists pass Majhita Road they would attack the Gurudwara Sri Har Rai Ji. The very young Nishan Singh along with 4 other Sikh youth went to the gurudwara and stayed there to protect it.
More than 2000 Hindu extremists attended this parade of the dead Harbans Lal Khanna, as they passed the gurudwara, they attacked the gurudwara. The 5 singhs protected the gurudwara by throwing bricks at the Hindu attackers. The singhs did not let any attacker come on to the premises of the gurudwara. Watching the 5 young singhs defend the gurudwara, the Sikh students of the Medical College also came to help the singhs defend the gurudwara. Now the Shiv Sena attackers started firing towards the gurudwara, one of the students from the college was shot in the leg. Soon as this student was shot, 2 more singhs picked the shot student up and took him to the hospital while others stayed behind and defended the gurudwara. The Hindu extremists were losing and so moved on with the parade, but these cowardly extremists attacked the Sikhs on the road and the Sikh shops. Bhai Sahib had witnessed the success of the Sikh youth in defending the gurudwara.
Bhai Sahib was a great painter and made great paintings of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale. When Bhai Sahib would draw someone’s face, he would only need to see the face once to draw the exact face on paper. This talent of Bhai Sahib was a great tool for the Sikh Freedom Movement. Bhai Sahib also wrote many poems on Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and the Sikh struggle, some of these poems are with the family till today. Bhai Sahib had continued his studies after DAV School at Khalsa College, when the government of India attacked the Sri Harimandir Sahib.
When the attack took place in Sri Harimandir Sahib, Bhai Sahib was at home and due to the curfew Bhai Sahib could not go anywhere. When the curfew was lifted for a while, Bhai Sahib alongside Sikh sangat made their way towards Sri Darbar Sahib. The army was all over Punjab trying to keep Sikhs away from Sri Harimandir Sahib but when Bhai Sahib approached a army checkpoint, Bhai Sahib and other Sikhs were stopped and told to go back home. Bhai Sahib didn’t accept this and started a protest and stopped the traffic on one of the main road of Amritsar. The Indian army arrested Bhai Sahib and other Sikh youths and jailed them for 2 months at Amritsar central jail. This case was on going to keep an eye on Bhai Sahib. After coming out Bhai Sahib went straight to Sri Darbar Sahib and upon seeing the destruction of Sri Akaal Takht and bullets holes in the Parikarma, Bhai Sahib had no second thoughts and joined the armed Sikh struggle. Bhai Sahib went undercover and started doing actions. Bhai Sahib joined the army of singhs and punished the people responsible for the massacre of Sikhs.
Bhai Sahib was in contact with Bhai Gurjit Singh of Sikh Student Federation from the start but now Bhai Sahib met Bhai Kanwarjit Singh Sultanwind, Bhai Jinda Singh Goldy and many more Khadku Singhs. Bhai Sahib’s family understood Bhai Sahibs decision but was worried on how Bhai Sahib will attend his hearings of the case that was still pending. Bhai Sahib’s close friends attended the hearings as Nishan Singh and saved Bhai Sahib from being wanted on the police records. The family told the locals that Bhai Sahib had gone to stay at his auntie’s home in another village.
In the Sikh Freedom Movement, Bhai Sahib kept his identity secret, even the close singhs didn’t know who the family of Bhai Sahib was or where they lived. There was another Nishan Singh in the within his group, who lived in another village. Bhai Sahib would use the details of that Nishan Singh to give his information. When Bhai Sahib met his friends, he was told to meet his mother as she was ill. Many times Bhai Sahib met his family with the help of his friends. When Mata Kashmir Kaur saw her son living in jungles and in rough conditions, from a life of wealth and health, she would get upset. But Bhai Sahib would tell her stories of the Sikh history and told to remain positive and in chardikala. Bhai Sahib recited Gurbani all the time and would sit down with his mother to recite Gurbani also whenever they met. Bhai Sahib’s mother would get tired of sitting down but Bhai Sahib would carry on reciting Gurbani.
Once Mata Kashmir Kaur told her son, “Son, we want to get you married.” Bhai Sahib replied, “Oh mother, I’ve been engaged for a while now, I just got to get on the horse.” After hearing these words Bhai Sahib’s mother would get emotional and seeing the tears of his mother, Bhai Sahib would say, “My mother, is this how weak you have become? Be a mother that supports her son to follow the path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.” Later his mother would calm down and go back to the family home.
Bhai Sahib would wash his hair daily while having ishnan at amritvela. Bhai Sahib’s nitnem would be for many hours and only once completing his nitnem Bhai Sahib would eat. Bhai Sahib did sewa and actions in secret and remained unnamed. Mata Kashmir Kaur told us, whenever his Mata Ji wanted to meet her son, Bhai Sahib would come in her dreams and after lengthy chat, Bhai Sahib would go back. Mata Ji also told us that on 27th January 1987 she was feeling really sad and knew something bad was to happen. On 28th January 1987 the police raided the family house to find Bhai Sahib, but after no luck the police arrested his brother, Bhai Sahib Singh. A black cat was amongst the group of Bhai Sahib, who named Bhai Sahib and his family. Bhai Sahib was also arrested, but before being arrested Bhai Sahib sent a message home, “Mother please forgive me for my mistakes. I have given you so much stress.” Bhai Sahib had recited so much Gurbani, that he knew when the time came for his shaheedi.
Police inspector of Batala, Brahm Dev’s son, Arun Kumar was killed by the Khadku Singhs for the innocent killings of Sikhs by Bram Dev. Brahm Dev was taking his revenge on Bhai Sahib by brutally torturing Bhai Sahib but Bhai Sahib did not stop reciting Gurbani. The police wanted to get information of other Khadku Singhs but Bhai Sahib did not say a single word against the Sikh Freedom Movement. The police burnt Bhai Sahib’s body with electric shocks and his nails were pulled out with pliers. Bhai Sahib’s legs were crushed but the lion of Khalistan did not open his mouth to the police. Brahm Dev was now angry as none of his gruesome tactics worked. After 4 days of cruel torture, on 31stJanuary 1987 Brahm Dev put red hot iron rods through Bhai Sahib’s torso. Bhai Sahib recited Gurbani and attained shaheedi. The police as usual told the press that Bhai Sahib was killed in an encounter.
After Bhai Sahib’s shaheedi, the police tried to label his body orphan and cremated Bhai Sahib but the Sikhs protested to which police gave in and gave his shaheedi saroop to the family. The state of Bhai Sahib’s body would even melt stones, SSP Mohammed Izhar Alam put out a curfew in Amritsar to stop Sikhs attending the Bhai Sahib last Ardas. Bhai Sahib’s family did the cremation according to the Sikh code of conduct.
After Bhai Sahib’s shaheedi the police inspector, Brahm Dev did not stop harassing the family. The family of Bhai Sahib had bad blood with one of the gangsters of the area, Brahm Dev used this gangster to through blood all over the family house and also leave his clothes and shoes at family house. The next day the gangster went undercover and Brahm Dev along with police force went to the family house and accused them of murdering the gangster. Brahm Dev arrested Bhai Sahib’s father and brother, for 13 days the family was brutally tortured. Bhai Sahib Singh attained shaheedi due to the cruel torture tactics of the Punjab police. Sardar Karam Singh Pehlwan was later released to cremate his second son. The gangster on the other hand was rewarded for his cowardly act by having all of his cases against him closed.
Shaheed Bhai Nishan Singh Chitarkar stayed in secret and unnamed, Bhai Sahib left the life of wealth and contributed it to Sikh cause. Bhai Sahib attained shaheedi fighting the oppression of the Indian government, his shaheedi is a wakeup call for the Sikh nation.
Purja Purja Kat Maray – Baljit Singh Khalsa