Shaheed Bhai Gurdev Singh Debu, Dheerpur

By Balpreet Singh

Satguru Arjan Dev ji showed his Sikhs by his example to endure the most horrific of tortures but not compromise on principles. In the scorching months of May and June, Guru Arjan Dev ji was boiled alive and made to sit on burning plates with hot sand being poured on his head. Even then he kept repeating "qyrw kIAw mITw lwgY ]hir nwmu pdwrQu nwnku mWgY "

After Guru Arjan Dev, countless Sikhs have given their lives but not given up their faith. Sikhs like Bhai Dayala ji followed Guru Arjan Dev jiís example and were boiled alive. But for so many of us, even the thought of being boiled alive is too distant to understand. But it is a fact that many Gursikhs in recent years have been tortured in this brutal way but taking their inspiration from Guru Arjan, did not give up their cause. One such Gursikh is Shaheed Bhai Gurdev Singh Debu.

Early Life

Bhai Gurdev Singh Debu was born on July 15, 1961 in village Dheerpur, Jallandhar. His parents were Mata Gian Kaur and father Sardar Gurbachan Singh Sekhon. Bhai Gurbachan Singh was a farmer.

Bhai Gurdev Singh completed his primary education in Dheerpur and finished high school in nearby Dialpur. After this, Bhai Sahib began to work on motors and became known as an expert.

Change In Nature

In 1978, the Narakdhari cult with the connivance of the Government began to attack the Sikh faith and shot dead 13 Gursikhs in Amritsar on the day of Vaisakhi. The perpetrators were never brought to justice and were in fact protected by the Government. Bhai Gurdev Singh was deeply hurt by what had happened and after this began to remain very sad. He would talk to his friends about how much of an injustice had happened and expressed his desire for revenge on the enemies of the Panth.

Bhai Sahibís parents were alarmed at this change in nature and thought that perhaps marriage would help settle him down. Bhai Gurdev Singh was married to Bibi Balvinder Kaur and they would have one daughter and one son together. But Bhai Sahibís pain at the state of the Panth did not lessen. Along with the local Sangat, Bhai Gurdev Singh went to Sri Darbar Sahib and heard the lectures of Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindravale. He was so impressed that he decided to remain there with Sant jee to serve in the Dharam Yudh Morcha. After some time, Bhai Gurdev Singh became very close to Bhai Amrik Singh and Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa.

Seva For The Panth

From December 26 to 31, 1984, Bhai Gurdev Singh participated in a camp organized by Sant Jarnail Singh and Bhai Amrik Singh were Gurbani, Sikh history and philosophy were taught. The goal of the camp was to create Sikh preachers who could transform the Punjab countryside. He was given a certificate at the end of the course. Bhai Sahib used this knowledge to travel to schools and colleges to establish units of the All India Sikh Student Federation.

On March 2, 1984, in a conference organized by the AISSF, Damdami Taksal and others, Bhai Gurdev Singh was made the president of the Kartarpur area. After this, the police made Bhai Gurdev Singh and his family one of their main targets. His parents along with his brothers were arrested and tortured and later even his sister and wife were taken away. But Bhai Sahib did not return home after that and refused to leave his seva.

Bhai Gurdev Singh travelled from village to village organizing Gurmat conferences and amrit sinchaars. Sant Jarnail Singh also gave Bhai Gurdev Singh the seva of doing saskaar of old birs of Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Goindval Sahib. Bhai Sahib was busy doing this seva when the Government of India attacked Sri Harmander Sahib Amritsar and slaughtered countless men, women and children.

After 1984

The attack on Sri Amritsar was unbearable for Bhai Gurdev Singh. He gathered together with his few remaining companions and decided to show the government that not all the Singhs had been finished. They burnt down government rail stations and became a persistent nuisance for the Security Forces.

The police began to hound Bhai Gurdev Singh and he decided it would be best to travel to Pakistan for training and some quiet time. When Bhai Sahib returned to India, the government broadcast his picture along with the pictures of the other Singhs on television advising citizens to be on the look out. Bhai Sahib remained in Chardi Kala and did not care who could recognise him.

Khalistan Commando Force

Bhai Sahib joined with Bhai Manbir Singh Chaheru, Bhai Mathra Singh, Bhai Tarsem Singh Kuhaar and others to form the original Khalistan Commando Force. Bhai Gurdev Singh became the Area Commander for Doaba and participated in many actions. He was respected not only by the Singhs in the KCF, but by all Jathebandis. The police began to dread the very name of Bhai Gurdev Singh.

Bhai Sahib took part in many battles with the police and always inflicted heavy damage. He was terror incarnate for the Indian Government. Soon if the police knew Bhai Gurdev Singh was in a certain area, they would evacuate and leave so that they would not run into him.

Under the command of Bhai Gurdev Singh, Doaba did not see any looters commit crimes. They were too terrified to act. The Hindus of the area also loved Bhai Gurdev Singh since he would help poor Hindu families by giving money and not let anyone harass them. Even today, the Hindus remember Bhai Sahib and attend his yearly Shaheedi Memorial event.

Bhai Gurdev Singh built links with many prominent Singhs like Bhai Harjinder Singh Jinda, Bhai Satbachan Singh Sakruli, etc. and worked on punishing the police touts, Narakdharis, and informers.


The police made many tries to capture Bhai Sahib but each time were unsuccessful. But they say that when one patriot is born, thousands of traitors are born with him.

Following a major bank robbery (many government funded banks were robbed and the money to Gurudwaras or to poor), Bhai Sahib and the other Singh's decided to give all the money to Harmandir Sahib. One of the Singh's was given all the money, and was told by Bhai Sahib to meet him at a given place and time with the receipt. This Singh turned out to be a traitor and when he came to meet Bhai Sahib he had brought the police with him and thus Bhai Sahib was captured.

Bhai Sahib was considered one of the top Singh's in Movement and the police were ecstatic at having made this catch. Bhai Sahib was questioned about his fellow Singh's and where he had hidden the weapons of the Commando Force. Bhai Sahib refused to speak a word. It was the hot month of July and Bhai Sahib was kept in a small cell with no food or water. Like all Sikh fighters, Bhai Gurdev Singh was first beaten but he did not say a word. His bones were broken and twisted. Next, his legs were cut open and hot chillies were thrust in but again, he gave no information. Bhai Gurdev Sighís body was then pierced by red hot iron rods but the reaction was still silence. The frustrated police then went so far as to cut out Bhai Sahibís eye. Not one hideout was revealed and Bhai Gurdev Singh was lost in Gurbani. Like his master, he kept repeating ďqyrw kIAw mITw lwgY ]hir nwmu pdwrQu nwnku mWgY Ē.


The police then reached the limit of brutality. They boiled a tub of water and put Bhai Gurdev Singh in. The scene of Bhai Dayala in the boiling cauldron was repeated again and this Singh too did not falter.

Bhai Gurdev Singh refused to speak a word and seeing his final moments before him, only cared about Gurbani. Bhai Gurdev Singh was boiled to death but did not reveal a single companionís name, hideout or weaponsí cache.

On Friday July 3, 1987, the police attempted to show a fake encounter and claim Bhai Sahib had been killed. The news spread like jungle fire and the entire area was stricken with grief.

Bhai Sahibís brother asked the villagers the go with him to claim the body, but they were too afraid for the own lives, only a relative went with him to get the body. Only when the body was at home, did the villagers arrive.

The villagers saw the remains of Bhai Gurdev Singh and even hearts of stone melted. The unspeakable torture he faced was clear to all. All wondered how any human could possibly do this to another?

News of this brutal death spread across Punjab. Thousands of Sangat arrived for Bhai Sahibs Bhog. The police had sealed the area to prevent a large gathering, but the Sangat broke through all barriers to honour their Shaheed. Bhai Sahib had shown that Khalsa Spirit is alive today and Sikhs can still bear the same tortures and not lose their faith.


This was not the end for Bhai Gurdev Singhís family. The police had been unable to take even a single piece of information from Bhai Sahib and his Shaheedi had inspired thousands of Sikh youth. The Indian Security Forces were shocked at the horror they could inflict and still not be successful and humiliated by the public reaction.

Bhai Sahibís family including Bhai Gurdev Singhís mother, father, brothers, sister and wife were arrested and tortured. They wanted to know where Bhai Sahib had hidden his weapons. Bhai Sahibís mother and brothers were hung from the roof to get information but spoke nothing.

After Bhai Sahib shaheedi, the Singh's began to investigate what had happened. It turned out that the person who had betrayed Bhai Sahib did not give the money that was taken from the bank to Harmandir Sahib. Their suspicions were right and the traitor had he purchased 3-4 buses, with the money.

One night they boarded one of the buses. At this time, the traitor's brother was driving. The Singh's started to hint that they were after the traitor and thus gave the brother the opportunity to get away. The Singh's took control of the bus and went to the home of the traitor. They knocked on the door and the mother opened the door. At this point the traitor was eating roti, as soon as he saw the Singh's he dropped his roti and knew that his life would not be spared.

The Singh's took the traitor onto the bus and told him to drive to some deserted area. On the way there they asked him to tell them everything. After confessing, he begged for forgiveness and asked them to let him go. The Singh's said that they will let him go on one condition, and that was to give them Gurdev Singh back. The Singh's then took petrol from the bus and used it to set the bus on fire, with the traitor inside.

After this the Singh's set their sights on the police officers who tortured Bhai Sahib. Firstly, they kidnapped their children. In return for the children they demanded very large sums of money from each officer. This money earned by the these officers earned was from the Indian government, and was consider blood money, for committing sins on the Sikh nation, one of them being killing of Gurdev Singh. After receiving this money, they gave it all to the Gurdwara's and gave the children back to the families. They then went on to kill the officers that were involved in the incident.

After the bhog of Bhai Gurdev Singh, the Singh's stayed with the family of Bhai Gurdev Singh. One night as everyone was sleeping the Singh's had a dream. In this dream Bhai Gurdev Singh came and told the Singh's to all wake up and go outside as some people were trying to break in. The Singh's got up, picked up their guns and went outside. They saw people approaching the house, the Singh's fired some bullets in the air which caused these people to run off.

With so much blood filling the foundations of Khalsa Raj, is there any doubt that it will be a reality? What will we do to bring this reality about?

Today there stands a beautiful Nishan Sahib at the home of Bhai Sahib's, at the spot where he was cremated.

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