Shaheed Bhai Rachpal Singh Bhola
Shaheed Bhai Rachpal Singh Bhola
Khalistan Commando Force
A lieutenant-general in the Khalistan Commando Force, at one time described as the best guerrilla they had found so far. Ancestral village, Turr, District Amritsar. Background: born 1968. They are a family of three brothers, of which he is the youngest. He has three sisters, two of whom are married. One brother is in Germany, and one is farming. He attended five classes at the village school.
What were the effects of the 1984 invasion of Darbar Sahib on you?
When one’s brothers and sisters [he means fellow Sikhs] are killed, it does affect one! One becomes restless and can no longer sit at home in peace. It was such a sad thing that happened. My chacha [father’s younger brother] had been with Bhindranwale’s people. He was twenty-five when he was martyred. Hindus celebrated the attack on Darbar Sahib and were distributing sweets. Chacha attacked them and he in turn was attacked by the CRPF. He became a martyr. I had learnt much about the struggle from him, so shortly after his death I started getting involved in border activities. While Chacha had been alive, I had been feeding and sheltering his friends. After his death, the police visited our house many times, as they do in all such other cases, insulting our daughters and sisters many times and dragging us to police stations. After such insults I could not just sit around. I left home. When ‘our House’ was attacked [a reference to Darbar Sahib] it had made all of us very sad. I went to see it. I was overwhelmed by grief. Since I left my home the police have incessantly troubled my family. I went to my sister’s. She is married near Khem Karan (District Amritsar). Her husband’s brother would often accompany the Singhs on their exploits, when he was on leave from the army. On one of these trips he was killed. He had been giving much secret help, carrying weapons from the border to the villages, then burying them. Someone informed on him, me and his brother, and we were all on the run. They were both killed. They were martyred. Now we cannot sit at home, ever.
After their killing I came to see Zaffarwal. Then I myself started taking goods across. I have been a lieutenant-general for the past four months and have twelve area commanders beneath me. I have selected them. Usually they have come to join us after repeatedly being in prison and tortured. There is nowhere else for them to go. I started working in Faridkot because of family links there. My recruits are from nearby villages in Amritsar. They have their own networks of reliable people on whom they can depend for food. Otherwise if we are not near homes we know, we simply ask the people for food. They feed us voluntarily. The local people who feed us give us quite a bit of information on the police and police pickets. We never take anything from anyone in the villages. No rich person stays in a village. We pick one of these big wealthy Lalas [traders] or rob the banks. Sometimes we pick them up from their shops during daytime. We get our money from them very quickly.
Very few police help us in gathering information. The Sikh police are only concerned with killing us. However, we have close links with some in the Home Guard. We give them some money from time to time. When they’re on guard they’ll help us by stealing weapons. Some join us. There are also some sympathetic soldiers. However, at the moment there is not much active support coming from the army, though they say they’ll join the struggle when there is a war. We are not close to urbanite Sikhs. Nevertheless they’ll give us information as to who has what, or tell us when large sums of money are going to be deposited in the bank. They are sympathetic to the cause. We’ve got certain homes in towns that we go to. When we are injured we usually receive treatment at village level. If we cannot get better there, we approach some city doctors. Some are happy to treat us and others do it out of fear.
Information given by family of Shaheed Bhai Rashpal Singh Bhola