Shaheed Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke
Shaheed Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke
Bhai Sahib was born in the house of Sardar Teja Singh and from the womb of Mata Iqbal Kaur in 1949 in village Arifke, district Ferozpur. Bhai Sahib had 2 older brothers Bhai Nishan Singh, Bhai Kartar Singh and 2 sisters Bibi Jeet Kaur, Bibi Joginder Kaur. Bhai Sahib got married in 1975 to Bibi Jasbir Kaur daughter of Sardar Joginder Singh resident of village Mallianwalan, district Ferozpur. Bhai Sahib had 4 children Bibi Raj Kaur, Bhai Nirmal Singh, Bhai Anoop Singh and Bhai Gurmukh Singh. At first Bhai Sahib was an atheist, alcoholic and did not like the sight of Gursikhs.
Village of Usmanwala was near the village Arifke, here it was the wedding of Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwala. All the wedding responsibilities were given to Bhai Gurdial Singh of Damdami Taksal by Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale. Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale himself had to go Patiala to do an Amrit Sanchar, but he told Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode (Sant Ji) to take the Damdami Taksal bus with the Jatha and be at Gurdev Singh Usmanwala’s wedding. As the Jatha approached the village of Arifke, it had started to rain very heavily. The driver of the bus could not see ahead, so he stopped the bus at Arifke and the whole Jatha started to walk towards Usmanwala. Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode saw a man drinking alcohol under a shelter within the farms, this man was Bhai Rasal Singh himself. Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode asked “Hey Gurmukha, can you tell us the way to Bhai Gurdev Singh’s or Bhai Gurdial Singh’s house?” Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode had roughly about 40 more singhs of Damdami Taksal with him. Bhai Sahib answered, “In which ever house you 40 singhs would go to, that household will have their hands full. Plus it’s raining.” Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode replied, “Who knows you might be the 41stsingh of the Jatha.”
Bhai Durga Singh also from the same village of Arifke was with Bhai Sahib as well and said, “Rasal brother, you should not talk to Mahapurakhs like that. They can curse you.” Bhai Sahib replied, “Durga Singh, what curse can he give me. My wife has left home, my cow doesn’t give milk, I don’t have fire to cook food, what other curse can I get.” Bhai Durga Singh answered, “Rasal, if you weren’t my brother I would’ve lobbed you in the river, you should not mock the Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.”
Bhai Sahib said, “Look, stop your sympathy crap for these singhs of Damdami Taksal.” One of the Taksal Singhs said to Bhai Durga Singh, “Don’t worry Gurmukha, he (Bhai Sahib) wouldn’t understand, Waheguru will sort him out himself.” Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode and singhs started walking towards Usmanwala. Bhai Durga Singh got upset with Bhai Sahib and started walking towards his home. Bhai Sahib shouted, “Brother Durga, brother Durga why are you upset? I haven’t said anything wrong to you.” Bhai Sahib kept on calling Bhai Durga Singh but Bhai Durga Singh kept on walking towards his home. Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode and singhs reached the house of Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwala and after meeting and greeting, Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode went to rest at Bhai Gurdial Singh’s house.
Bhai Sahib also finished drinking and went home, that night he did not eat and tried to go sleep. When Bhai Sahib would close his eyes he would see Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode and singhs, but what shocked him the most was that he also saw himself in a Bana and with a dastar. All night Bhai Sahib kept on doing darshan of singhs in his sleep.
In the morning Bhai Sahib had a bath and changed his clothes. Bhai Sahib wanted to apologise to Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode and singhs for his rudeness and went to village Usmanwala. Bhai Sahib went outside Bhai Gurdial Singh’s house and called him. Bhai Gurdial Singh came out and said, “Yes brother, what brings you here?” Bhai Sahib answered, “Jathedar Ji, the singhs that came last night, can I meet them. I made a mistake last night as I was drunk. I want to apologise to the singhs. The singh did not let me sleep all night, they kept taking me within them.”
Bhai Gurdial Singh took Bhai Sahib inside his house to Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode and the singhs. Bhai Sahib took his shoes off and stood in front of Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode with is hands together and said, “Mahapurakho, please forgive me I was drunk, I didn’t know what I was saying.” Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode said, “Bhai Gurmukha, stop drinking alcohol. You didn’t say anything wrong, it was the alcohol within you that was talking.” Bhai Sahib then said, “Mahapurakho, I can’t quit drinking if I stay here, take me with you , then I can quit.” Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode got up and hugged Bhai Sahib. This hug of Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode had washed all the sins of Bhai Sahib from the past life to the present life. The singhs of Damdami Taksal gave Bhai Sahib a Chola and a Kachera and after tying a round dastar on Bhai Sahib, they took Bhai Sahib with them in the Bharat of Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwala.
The following day Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode and the singhs got ready to go back to Chownk Mehta, Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode called Bhai Sahib and said, “Bhai Rasal Singh, do you want to go home and let your family know that you are coming with us?” Bhai Sahib replied, “Mahapurakho, I have seen the real home through you, I don’t want to go to my fake home.” Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode said, “Once you join us, we won’t let you come home?” Bhai Sahib answered, “Mahapurakho, even if you send me home I will not go home.” For an ex-alcoholic, Bhai Sahib became one of the brave warriors of the Sikh panth, Bhai Sahib had decided to dedicate his whole life to Sikhi, that Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode had shown him. Bhai Sahib reached Chownk Mehta along with Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode and the Jatha of singhs. Bhai Sahib took Amrit form the Panj Pyare and became a son of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
After the car accident of Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale, which Sant Ji passed away, a meeting was held under Baba Thakur Singh Ji at the Damdami Taksal headquarters, Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash Chownk Mehta. The meeting was to elect the next Jathedar of Damdami Taksal and amongst the 45 singhs, Bhai Sahib was also in this meeting. Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode was chosen to lead the Damdami Taksal. On 13thApril 1978, the Narakhdharis killed 13 singhs, who protested peacefully against the disrespect of Guru Granth Sahib Ji and wounded more than 150 Sikhs. Bhai Sahib was amongst the wounded. When the government of India failed to deliver justice and punish the Narakhdharis for the merciless killing of 13 singhs, Bhai Sahib sold his 2 acre farm to buy weapons to play a part in punishing the killers himself.
These days another brutal attack on an innocent Sikh, Lehar Singh took place, police inspector of Ferozpur, Bichu Ram arrested Lehar Singh for peacefully protesting and cut his beard. Bichu Ram had tied the hands of the Lehar Singh and then Bichu Ram asked him, “Where did you take amrit from?” Lehar Singh replied, “From the Jatha of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bindranwale!” Bichu Ram did not like the answer of Lehar Singh and with scissors Bichu Ram cut the beard of the helpless Lehar Singh. Bichu Ra told Lehar Singh, “go tell your Bindranwale I did this, he can do whatever he wants to do.” Bichu Ram let the Lehar Singh go, Lehar Singh went straight to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bindranwale and explained what had happened. Upon hearing about the cowardly act of Bichu Ram, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bindranwale was furious. Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bindranwale told the Sikh sangat about this attack in a speech at Manji Sahib on 29th April 1983, which could be heard all over internet today.
Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bindranwale stated in his speech:
A few days back, Sant Ji (Harchand Singh Longowal) spoke from this stage. That Singh had gone there. I was unwell and could not attend. Lehar Singh is the Singh’s name, Lehar Singh. He is from Jattanwali alias Ramnagar village in District Ferozpur, Tehsil Fazilka. One Bichu Ram of that place, this name I have heard for the first time, maybe it’s new to you too (the word literally means ‘scorpion’). This Bichhu Ram, Thanedar (Station House Officer at a Police Station) arrested this Amritdhari (formally initiated into the Sikh Faith) Sikh. What sin had he committed? The same that all of us have committed. Longowal has committed it, Jarnail Singh has committed it, and these stage secretaries have committed it. What was the sin? It was the Rasta Roko (stop the traffic) agitation. He participated in this crime (of peaceful protest). He has contributed his share to the struggle. Khalsa Ji: with his five daughters and his wife, the seven of them including himself, stopped the traffic for two and a half hours. No other man was with him. They arrested and took him away to the police station. He was asked from whom did he take Amrit. I have humbly said this on several occasions that if anyone asks such a question, you should not name any person. You should merely say: “I took Amrit from the Five Beloved Ones (of the Guru).” But many people have got into this habit. They will say: “I took Amrit from the Akalis.” Others say: “I took Amrit from Bhindranwale.” I do not know why they have started to treat these persons as different. Someone might say: “I took Amrit from Kleranwale (a group of Sikhs owing allegiance to Sant Kleranwale), or from someone else.” Amrit is taken from the Five Beloved Ones (of the Guru), not from any man. If anyone takes it from a man, it is not Amrit. Khalsa Ji: when he (Lehar Singh) mentioned the name of the Jatha (Sant Bindranwale’s group), this Amritdhari Singh’s beard was forcibly shaved off. His beard was cut and he was sent to Amritsar. They also told him: “Go and tell Bhindranwale that we have cut off your beard. He can use whatever force he can against us.” He came and told me. The matter was taken up on this stage. If, from this stage, I say something naming someone they say: “Bhindranwale has given out the name of such person, now this name has come on the ‘List’.”
When the CID sent a message to Bichu Ram which said “Bichu you have messed with Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale, the singhs will have no mercy on you.” Bichu Ram then sent his wife and daughters to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale to beg for his life as he knew that singhs do not raise their hands on women. Bichu Ram knew if he went the singhs would kill him as they had killed DIG Atwal. Bichu Ram’s wife and daughters went to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and said “Sant Ji, our daughters are yet to be married please forgive my husband this one time, we will never make a mistake like that ever again.” Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale replied “He should have killed the singh (Jathedar Lehar Singh) but instead he cut his beard off and sent him to me. Why commit these horrendous acts if you are going be afraid after? Go Bibi, I can only promise you this, go get your daughters married. The singhs don’t wreck the marriages of their sisters or daughters.”
Thanedar Bichu Ram had his daughter married off, he thought the singhs had forgot about him, what does he know about the Sikh warriors that punished Gen O’Dyer who was responsible for Jallianwala Bhag massacre 21 years after the actual massacre. Bichu Ram returned back on to duty and once again started harassing Sikh families. It was on the 4thApril 1983, Bichu Ram had tortured and cut the beard of Jathedar Lehar Singh, time passed.
One day Bhai Durga Singh Arifke sent a message to Bhai Ajaib Singh Mahakal, Bhai Jarnail Singh Bhoo and Bhai Sahib that Bichu Ram is on his way home from the police station. The 3 sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji made the full preparations and jumped on the motorcycle on the 18thDecember 1983 and made their way to punish Thanedar Bichu Ram. Due to it being winter the 3 singhs had wrapped themselves into shawls and beneath there shawls were their weapon. Bhai Jarnail Singh Bhoo was riding the Enfield Bullet motor cycle, Bhai Sahib was sitting at the back and Bhai Ajaib Singh Mahakal was sitting in the middle. The motor cycle of the singhs reached the main crossing in Ferozpur, they saw that DCP Kapoor had set up a checkpoint, the police stopped the singhs. Police constable said “Get off your motorcycle, the police will search you.” But Bhai Jarnail Singh Bhoo looked at Bhai Ajaib Singh and told the police constable, “This singhs is very ill, we are taking him to the hospital.” The police constable replied, “We will make him better, hurry up and demount”. Bhai Sahib said, “Brother Mahakal, you might as well get a check-up from this police constable, and after I will let them search me.” When Bhai Ajaib Singh Mahakal removed the shawl and showed the constable the Stengun, the constable shouted, “Oh my god please spare me, I’m sorry.” and fell to the ground as he moved back, another police officer behind the constable said, “Singh, I can see the singh in the middle has a fever, please go and take him to the hospital.” The singhs got on the move again, heading towards their target. The motorcycle of the singhs reached the Dhana Mandi of Guru Har Rai Sahai. Bhai Sahib and Bhai Ajaib Singh Mahakal demounted the motorcycle and started waiting for their target. Bhai Jarnail Singh Bhoo moved the motor cycle to the side and waited as he curled this moustache.
Finally Bichu Ram came into the Dhana Mandi, walking as though he was untouchable, but little did he know that singhs were also here to read him his Kirtan Sohila. Bhai Sahib and Bhai Ajaib Singh Mahakal in the disguise of farmers got close to the target and shouted, “Oi Bichua, you’re the one who cut off the beard of a singh, aren’t you?” Bichu started to look around him to see how he can escape and started begging singhs not to kill him, but the singhs pulled out their weapons and fired bullets into the chest of Bichu Ram the bloodied Bichu Ram fell on to a pile of cotton that was being sold at the market. Bhai Sahib put his foot on to Bichu’s waist and pulled out Bichu’s service revolver. Bhai Ajaib Singh Mahakal said “That’s all we had to do Bichu, now save your answers for the Dharamraj. Our duty was to send you to him.” Singhs mounted the motorcycle which was kept ready by Bhai Jarnail Singh Bhoo and all singhs escaped. When the police force got to the scene, they tried to take Bichu Ram to the hospital but it was too late he had died on the way. On 18thDecember 1983, a news came on Jalandhar radio at 6pm, “Today in Dhana Mandi, police inspector Bichu Ram was gunned down by three militants, who left the scene on a motor cycle and also took the service revolver of the inspector.”
After punishing Thanedar Bichu Ram, the singhs came to Khalsa Gurudwara in Ferozpur. On the other hand the singhs punished the Shiv Sena president, Bhupinder Dohan also before coming to the Gurudwara. The Gurudwara Sahib was now surrounded by the Indian security forces. When Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale got the news, he immediately rang the governor of Punjab, BD Pandey and warned him, “Either you remove your security forces from the Gurudwara Sahib or I will send the singhs of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who will remove your security forces themselves.” After hearing this, the legs of BD Pandey started to shake in the fear. Governor BD Pandey told the Punjab police and CRP to remove their curfews form Khalsa Gurudwara Sahib. The singhs escaped form here and went to Gurdwara Bajidpur Sahib. The Punjab police and CRP now surrounded this Gurughar. When singhs tried to waver from here the Indian security forces tried their best to arrest the singhs, but the singhs welcomed the Indian security forces with grenade, which killed two CRPF personnel. It was a scene full of smoke and fire. After changing their appearance, the singh vacated the premises of the Gurudwara with the sangat. Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale sent a message to all singhs, such as Bhai Sahib, Bhai Durga Singh Arifke, Bhai Ajaib Singh Mahakal, Bhai Jarnail Singh Bhoo, Bhai Gurnam Singh Bandala, Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwala and Bhai Gurjit Singh Jhok Harihar to come to Sri Harimandir Sahib.
June 1984, when the Indian army attacked Si Harimandir Sahib with tanks and cannons, Bhai Sahib, Bhai Ajaib Singh Mahakal, Bhai Jeet Singh Ferozpur and Bhai Jarnail Singh Bhoo had their bunkers near Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Bunga. There is a famous photo of Bhai Sahib holding his rifle looking towards the enemy from his bunker along with Bhai Jeet Singh Ferozpur who is holding a wireless in his hands. Such photo’s give us an idea of the atmosphere within the Sri Harimandir Sahib complex at the time of the attack. Defending Sri Harimandir Sahib and staying loyal to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale till their last breath and their last bullet, Bhai Sahib, Bhai Ajaib Singh Mahakal and Bhai Jeet Singh Ferozpur attained shaheedi on the holy ground of Sri Harimandir Sahib. Bhai Jarnail Singh Bhoo managed to escape somehow and continued the struggle outside for a long time until he attained shaheedi in an encounter against the Indian security forces in the village of Khojkipur, in the Majha area. In Bhai Sahib’s first sudden meeting with Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale (Bhai Jarnail Singh Rode), he asked for forgiveness for his rudeness and said, “I can’t get off alcohol if I stay at home, please let me join you.” When Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale said “Gurmukha, if you join us then we won’t let you come home.” Then Bhai Sahib answered, “From today I will stay with you, till the day I stop breathing.” Bhai Sahib remained true to his word. Shaheed Bhai Rasal Singh is a true role model to such people who are drinking themselves away from the Sikhi of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, even though when Bhai Sahib thought he could not be cursed anymore, he came into Sikhi and to be known as one of the bravest warriors of the Sikh panth. The whole Khalsa panth salutes Shaheed Bhai Rasal Singh Arifke.
Khadku Yodhe 2 – Maninder Singh Baja