Shaheed Bhai Sahib Singh Keshtival

Babbar Khalsa


When the Indian government attacked Sir Harimandir Sahib and stepped on to the honour of the Sikhs with their dirty feet, the Singhs of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, rained bullets onto the Indian troops. Many Sikhs teenagers attained shaheedi not only inside Sri Harimandir Sahib but also in the Sikh armed struggle outside the Sri Darbar Sahib complex.  Shaheed Bhai Sahib Singh Keshtival was one of the very young shaheeds of Khalistan.

Shaheed Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival’s younger brother, Bhai Sahib Singh Keshtival was born from the womb of Mata Surjit Kaur in the house of Sardar Piara Singh in village of Keshtival, district Gurdaspur. Bhai Sahib was the youngest out 3 brothers and one sister. Bhai Sahib from childhood was into Sikhi and its history.

Bhai Sahib was studying in 6th class in a school of Guzarpura, when he started helping out with Kar Sewa at Guru Ka Bagh. Bhai Sahib would go with the Kar Sewa Jatha every Wednesday to do sewa at Guru Ka Bagh Gurudwara. Then once Bhai Sahib did not return home one day after the sewa, the family thought that Bhai Sahib would be back next week. Bhai Sahib did not return next week either, and then Bhai Sahib’s eldest brother, Bhai Joginder Singh went to Guru Ka Bagh to see where Bhai Sahib was. When the 12 year old Bhai Sahib saw his older brother coming he hid himself behind a door, but his friends told Bhai Joginder Singh where Bhai Sahib was. When both of the brothers stood face to face, Bhai Sahib told his brother that he doesn’t want to go back home in a threatening way, “If you touch me then Baba Ji would put you in a sack of red chillies and beat you.” Bhai Sahib refused every condition to go home in and Bhai Joginder Singh admitted defeat against his 12 year old brother and returned back home. Staying at Guru Ka Bagh, Bhai Sahib asked the Kar Sewa Baba Ji to him the santhaya of Gurbani, but Baba Ji said, “We only do Kar Sewa here, if you want to do Gurbani santhaya then go to Sri Darbar Sahib or to Chownk Mehta.” Bhai Sahib went both of the holy places but Bhai Sahib was denied admission as Bhai Sahib did not have the consent of his parents. Now Bhai Sahib wet home and someone asked Bhai Sahib, “Why have you come now?” Bhai Sahib answered, “I haven’t come to live here, I want you to come with me. They won’t accept my admission at Chownk Mehta without your consent.”

The family once again stressed Bhai Sahib to stay at home but Bhai Sahib did not want to stay at home and soon the whole family had to agree to Bhai Sahib’s stubbornness. At the end Sardar Piara Singh took Bhai Sahib to Dam Dami Taksal’s headquarters at Chowk Mehta and had Bhai Sahib enrolled here. In short time Bhai Sahib did his santhaya and knew many Sikh prayers by heart. Bhai Sahib also had dairies but during the police harassment, the family was not able to keep them.

When Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival was doing the top actions the Punjab police got onto their cowardly acts by harassing the family of Bhai Sahib. As Bhai Sahib studied at Dam Dami Taksal, the police was bound to harass him to, soon Bhai Sahib was also being arrested and tortured. Bhai Sahib had asked his older brother, Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival if he could also join the Babbar Khalsa and do panthic sewa, but due to Bhai Sahib being very young, Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival told him to stay calm. The police was harassing Bhai Sahib so much that Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival had no choice but to get Bhai Sahib doing actions with Babbar Khalsa in secret.

SSP Gobind Ram of Batala had tortured Bhai Sahib many times, but once SSP Gobind Ram had arrested Bhai Sahib for planning to kill him (Gobind Ram) along with his group. This time Bhai Sahib was blindly tortured. SSP Gobind Ram would mercilessly torture the very young Bhai Sahib and then say, “Oi lift your head up Babbar, you’re supposed to kill me.” When Bhai Sahib could not walk due to the torture the police would put him in the cell, but when Bhai Sahib was able walk, he would walk happily in front of SSP Gobind Ram. Then Gobind Ram would take Bhai Sahib out the cell and torture him again. These days SSP Gobind Ram had planned to kill Bhai Sahib in a fake encounter, but a sympathising police officer hid the keys for the cell that Bhai Sahib was in and told Gobind Ram that the keys can’t be found. In a hurry SSP Gobind Ram took rest of the Sikh youth and killed them in a fake encounter. Then once when the police had an encounter with the singhs of Babbar Khalsa, the cowardly police used Bhai Sahib as a shield. This was one of the cowardly tactics of the police, to use the family memebers of the Khadku Singhs as shields in encounters. Bhai Sahib saw an escape route in this encounter of the police and the Babbar Khalsa and when the opportunity came, Bhai Sahib managed to escape. Now Bhai Sahib had promised himself never to be caught alive by the police.

Now Bhai Sahib was in the group of his older brother, Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival and started doing actions fearlessly. Soon the big numbers of police had surrounded Bhai Sahib and his group in the village of Tarpai, district Batala. At this time the police also had bullet proof tractors. It was said amongst locals that where the police had used bullet proof tractors, there were many singhs that attained shaheedi. Within the singhs that were surrounded were Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival, his wife Bibi Sandeep Kaur and their year old baby boy, Bhai Kanwardeep Singh. In this encounter the all of the Singhs and Singhnia managed to escape unharmed.

After this encounter the singhs told Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival, “Bhai Sahib, if we didn’t get out of that encounter then all for members of your family would have been killed. You should at least get one family member out of the group.” This touched Bibi Sandeep Kaur’s heart and from here onwards started stress Bhai Sahib to go out of India. But Bhai Sahib was not going to leave the battlefield. Bhai Sahib said, “I can’t leave the battlefield and turn my back on my Guru. The Sikhs of Guru do not run away from battlefield.” But when Bibi Sandeep Kaur said that Bhai Sahib is the only that’ll look after his nephew, Bhai Kanwardeep Singh in case something happened to her and Bhai Dharam Singh Keshtival, then Bhai Sahib understood and agreed but the following morning Bhai Sahib had tears in his eyes and told Bibi Sandeep Kaur, “I had a dream last night, Guru Gobind Singh Ji was telling me off for leaving the battlefield. Now I am not going anywhere.” Many attempts were made to get Bhai Sahib to leave but Bhai Sahib stuck to his word. The group sent Bhai Sahib out of Punjab but after making up excuses Bhai Sahib came back in to the burning fire to continue his sewa.

16th May 1992, Bhai Sahib and friend were staying at house, but an informant had told the police of the location. Both of the singhs were arrested at this house and the police started brutally torturing the singhs at the same house. Bhai Sahib took the torture of the butcher government in chardikala. The blood thirsty police hammered nails in to Bhai Sahib’s head but the police could not get any information on Babbar Khalsa from Bhai Sahib. Bhai Sahib attained shaheedi due to the inhumane torture of the police.

We should learn from such panthic shaheeds, that even after jumping in to the burning fire they did not give up faith in Waheguru. When we attend the shaheedi programmes of these shaheeds we should inside ourselves and ask a question, that even after having freedom in the four walls of our home, why do we still forget Waheguru?

Purja Purja Kat Maray – Baljit Singh Khalsa