Bhindranwala Tiger Force Of Khalistan (BTFK)
Based On "Khaet Jo Mandio Soorma" By Amardeep Singh Amar &
Fatehnama Magazine, Feb 2005
Translated By Balpreet Singh
"We seek freedom of worship, Freedom of Movement, Freedom of speech,
and most of all , freedom to determine our own destiny"
Baba Gurbachan Singh was the last
major Sikh Resistance leader to fall. The Indian Government had put a RS
25 lakh reward on his head and was searching the entire Tarn Taran area
for him, conducting 45 raids at one time to trap him. Baba jee escaped
each time and continued to be a painful thorn in India's side. When all
the other Singh's had been martyred and the entire Indian Security Force
was on his trail, he refused the order to go and hide in Pakistan and
spit on the offer to surrender. He simply could not be caught. Even in
the end, he was martyred not by police bullets, but by the betrayal of
those he considered his own.
Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal was born on June 6, 1954 at village
Manochahal in Amritsar district. His parents were Bapoo Atma Singh and
Mata Gurmej Kaur. His parents were simple farmers but their family had a
heritage of struggle against injustice. Bapoo Atma Singh's uncle had
become shaheed in the Jaito Morcha, marching against the British Raj.
Baba Gurbachan Singh was from childhood a very strong and muscular boy.
He enjoyed wrestling and other sports. The family moved from village
Manochahal to Nausherae Panooaa(n) when Baba jee was still young because
his mother's brothers had left for Singapore and left behind a large
farm that had to be maintained.
Becoming A Baba
Baba jee was in the tenth grade when once he saw a boy inappropriately
teasing and harassing a group of girls. Baba jee grabbed the
troublemaker and beat him badly. The teacher found out and in front of
the entire class asked the young Gurbachan Singh to explain why he had
beaten the other boy. Baba jee explained, “Sir, he was harassing the
bibis and after all, all women should be like our sisters. So, I
couldn’t help myself and I did what I had to.”
entire class began to laugh at Gurbachan Singh’s use of the word “bibis”
for the schoolgirls. The teacher laughed and said, “I see! These girls
are “bibis” and you would be the “Baba jee. All students! From now on,
everyone will call Gurbachan Singh, Baba jee!”
that day, the nickname “Baba” stuck and everyone began to call him Baba
Gurbachan Singh. In the entire area, people began to know him as “Baba
Days In The Army
Gurbachan Singh completed his education and at his father’s wishes,
decided to join the army. Baba jee was 6”1 and over 200 pounds. The army
happily enlisted him as an “A level” recruit.
the army, the name “Baba” Gurbachan Singh stuck. He was known for doing
paath and being a devoted Sikh, even though he was not yet amritdhari.
Every day he dedicatedly did his nitnem. One day, as Baba jee was doing
nitnem, he fell into deep samadhi (meditation). The time for the daily
military parade came and went and Baba jee had no awareness of it. The
officer in charge of the parade demanded to know where Baba Gurbachan
Singh was. The other soldier tried to explain that he was meditating but
the Hindu Officer had a bias against Sikhs and refused to understand.
The officer went to Baba jee and shook him into awareness. Baba jee
apologized for missing the parade and explained he was reciting Gurbani.
The officer responded by making fun of the Sikh faith and insulting the
Gurus. Baba jee’s anger couldn’t be controlled and he tackled the
officer. His fists flew and the officer shrieked for someone to help
him. The other Sikh soldiers watching did nothing as they knew how much
the officer hated Sikhs. The beating continued for some time when
finally other officers came and stopped Baba jee. Baba jee had broken
the Hindu officer’s arm and his nose.
Singh was arrested and court marshalled. After a year of prison, Baba
jee left the army and returned home with a desire to dedicate his life
Meeting Sant Kartar Singh Bhindranvale
Although Baba Gurbachan Singh did nitnem and had a love for Sikhi, he
was still not amritdhari. Baba jee always attended programs by various
Sants and one day he found out that Sant Kartar Singh Bhindranvale would
be coming to his village for a program. Baba jee was very moved by the
katha and wanted to speak with Sant Kartar Singh. Sant ji encouraged him
to become amritdhari and so Baba jee did so within just a few days.
After receiving the gift of amrit, Baba Gurbachan Singh decided to
travel with Jatha Bhindra(n). He became very close to Sant Kartar Singh
and also learned Gurbani Santhiya and Katha. Baba jee had memorized many
banis and had a very long daily nitnem which he began very early at
After the passing of Sant Kartar Singh, Sant Jarnail Singh became the
next jathedar of the Jatha and Baba jee was also very close to him.
1978 And After
In the 1970s, the Indian government sponsored Nirankari cult began to
come to the forefront and publicly derided the Sikh faith and insulted
the Sikh Gurus. The cult chief, Gurbachana was known to have said
insulting thinks like “Guru Gobind Singh made the punj pyaray, I’ll make
the sat sitaray”. He also insulted Guru Granth Sahib.
On April 13, 1978, the Nirankaris had a march through Amritsar in which
slogans against the Sikh religion were shouted. Singhs from the Akhand
Kirtani Jatha and Jatha Bhindra(n) marched peacefully against the
Nirankaris but were brutally attacked. 13 Singhs were martyred and many
more were injured. Baba Gurbachan Singh had also taken part in this
march and was shot in the arm.
When the Nirankaris continued with their insulting parchaar and were
protected by the Indian Government, the Singhs began to punish the
Nirankaris themselves and Baba Gurbachan Singh also wanted to join this
movement. When he asked Sant Jarnail Singh for permission, Sant ji kept
saying that Guru Sahib was to take a very big seva from him yet. Sant
Jarnail Singh asked Baba Gurbachan Singh to return to his village of
Naushera Panooaa(n) and direct the building of Gurdwara Baba Dhanna
Singh Kaviraj there. Baba jee accepted this hukam and returned to his
village, but visited Sant ji regularly even after.
Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranvale & Baba Ji
Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal’s relationship with Sant Jarnail Singh
was very close. Once, someone in Naushera Panooaa(n) made the accusation
that Baba Gurbachan Singh didn’t even know Sant Jarnail Singh and was
using his name for his own purposes. Baba Jee gathered the Sangat and
travelled to Amritsar to disprove this allegation. Baba jee and the
Sangat went to the roof of Guru Ram Das Langar and when Baba jee told
Sant Jarnail Singh about what had been said, Sant jee replied,
“Gurbachan Singh is so near to me that he can cut off my head and take
it away if he wants…”
When in 1982, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranvale had gone to Bombay, the
Indian Government thought it was the perfect time to capture him. The
police surrounded the area and when Sant jee received word of this he
thought of a clever ruse. Baba Gurbachan Singh, who had been travelling
with the Jatha, was about the same height as Sant jee and wore the same
style of clothes. He covered his face and lay down in Sant jee’s bed so
those watching would be fooled. Until Sant jee had made his escape, Baba
Gurbachan Singh continued to lie in bed and when he finally got up, the
government agents were shocked and disappointed that their opportunity
to arrest Sant jee had passed.
Later when Baba Gurbachan Singh would volunteer for different missions
to punish the enemies of the Panth like Bhajan Lal and various police
officers, Sant Jarnail Singh would always say, “these are all small jobs
for you. I am going to take a very big seva from you eventually…”
The Gurdwara in Naushera Panooa(n) where Baba jee did seva was regularly
visited by Singhs serving in the Movement.
As the days of the attack seemed to be drawing nearer, Sant Jarnail
Singh Bhindranvale sent a message to Baba Gurbachan Singh for him to
come meet him at Sree Darbar Sahib. Baba Gurbachan Singh was waiting for
the opportunity. Sant jee met Baba jee very warmly and told him that an
attack on Sree Darbar Sahib was imminent. Baba jee requested that
finally this time his seva should be accepted and he would join Singhs
in defending the Complex and become Shaheed. But Sant jee knew that this
Singh would one day be a General that would shake all of India. Sant jee
said that not all the Singhs should be Shaheed in the attack. That after
the attack the struggle must continue and it would no longer be a
struggle for greater water rights or concessions from the Centre, it
would only be for independence. For Khalsa Raj. Baba Jee vowed to give
his all in the fight for the Panth and for sovereignty. Sant Jarnail
Singh gave Baba Gurbachan Singh a siropa and lovingly ordered him to
return to his village and not return until summoned. Baba jee knew this
would be their final meeting.
The attack took place
and the Singhs defending Darbar Sahib became Shaheed after wreaking
havoc on the Indian Army. Baba Gurbachan Singh knew that the “big seva”
Sant jee had spoken of was now at hand.
The Struggle Begins
the 1984 attack, Baba Gurbachan Singh was a wanted man. The security
forces knew he was close to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranvale and
committed to the Sikh nation. As early as 1980 the police had once
surrounded Gurdwara Baba Dhanna Singh in Naushera Panooaa(n) where Baba
jee was doing seva and ordered Baba jee to surrender. Baba jee told the
police party that he would change his clothes first. He went inside his
room and came out with a big kirpaan. Taking it out of its sheath, Baba
jee bellowed, “Whoever has got the courage can come and arrest me…” The
police party was terrified and no one approached. By this time the
village Sangat had also assembled and the Police were forced to return
to their stations empty-handed.
In 1981 Baba jee had begun to carry a revolver and knew that the Sikh
struggle would have to resort to arms.
June 1984 & After
Baba jee’s heart was breaking when news of the attack on Darbar Sahib
arrived. He was wishing that he too could join his fellow Singhs in
defence but he was bound by Sant Jarnail Singh jee’s orders. He knew
Sant jee wanted him to organize the Sikh Freedom movement after the
When villagers began to march towards Sree Darbar Sahib Baba jee
understood their pain, but knew this would be fruitless. Thousands of
Sikhs had risen up from the villages and had been mowed down by the
army. Baba jee sent messages everywhere that marching on Amritsar
without any weapons was useless. They should wait for weapons and then
together, with a set strategy, they would fight the government. In this
way Baba Gurbachan Singh saved many lives and laid the foundation for
the future movement.
After the attack, those Singhs who were close to Sant Jarnail Singh and
were ready to take on the government began to have secret meetings.
Reporter Dalbir Singh was a well-educated journalist who knew Sant
Jarnail Singh very well. He gathered with the remaining Singhs like
Manbeer Singh Chaheru (General, Khalistan Commando Force) and others and
told them that a fight for Khalistan would not be useful. He said that
there were not enough Singhs to fight and the Indian government had a
security force that could not be defeated so easily. The other Singhs
began to discuss with Dalbir Singh about what could be done. When Baba
Manochahal was asked for his opinion, he said plainly, “Bhaji, the
government and its agents have oppressed the Sikhs. They’ve dishonored
our mothers and sisters. We are going to take justice for that.
Regarding all these political issues you’re talking about, you can deal
with them as you see fit.” There was no discussion left. Baba jee was
determined to keep his promise of fighting for Sikh freedom.
Through 1985, Baba Gurbachan Singh began to organize the Singhs to fight
against Indian oppression. He made speeches and created popular support
for an armed movement.
The police were on Baba jee’s trail and once even managed to capture
him. The CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) had sideswiped Baba jee’s
motorcycle one night and then after tying him, threw him in their jeep.
Baba jee managed to untie himself and after pushing his captors, jumped
from the moving jeep. He ran through the fields and managed to escape.
This was just the beginning. Baba jee’s true life as an outlaw would
begin after a battle in his own home village Manochahal. Baba jee had
gone to meet his family and was to spend the night in a small hut in the
fields when someone informed the police. Baba jee and his brother Bhai
Mohinder Singh were asleep when the police party surrounded the hut. The
head of the police party knocked on the door and shouted for Baba
Manochahal to surrender. Baba Manochahal knew that the situation was
dire and decided to buy some time. He demanded that the village head (sarpanch)
be summoned and only then would he come out.
The police brought the sarpanch and when the sarpanch went to speak with
Baba Gurbachan Singh, he tried to explain that the hut was completely
surrounded. The Police again demanded that Baba jee open the door. The
sarpanch was asked to stand aside. Baba jee then yelled from inside,
“Give me a flashlight!” The police were confused and asked “Why do you
need it?” Baba jee replied, “We’ve locked the door from the inside and
need it so we can see the lock!” The police passed a torch through the
space under the door. Baba jee and his brother armed their assault
rifles and set them on “burst”. Baba jee threw open the door and began
to fire. The CRPF officer at the door fell immediately and the others
also came under fire. The Bihari officers began to run in all
directions, screaming “Run ! They’re going to kill us!”
Baba jee and his brother jumped over the officers who were still lying
in position. A Punjab Police officer tried to tackle Baba jee as he was
running but also failed. Baba jee had wreaked havoc on the police and
escaped. One officer thought Baba jee was chasing him and for kilometres
ran in front of Baba jee. Baba Gurbachan Singh did not harm the poor
police officer and let him go.
Panthic Committee & The Tiger Force
By 1986, the Sikh Freedom movement had begun and a five member Panthic
Committee was formed to give the movement direction. The Singhs choosing
the Committee were all affiliated with Damdami Taksal and had chosen
five Singhs also affiliated with Taksal. Baba Gurbachan Singh requested
that at least one Singh from Babbar Khalsa be chosen and he would give
up his own spot if needed. The other Singhs did not agree and the
Committee was announced. Baba Gurbachan Singh felt that without
including all members of the struggle, regardless of their Jathedbandi,
the Committee would not accomplish all it would have, but he continued
on as a member.
L to R: Bhai Dhanna Singh, Bhai Gurdev Singh, Bhai Aroor Singh,
Zaffarwal, Baba Gurbachan Singh. Notice their disguises hanging on the
wall above them.
A Sarbat Khalsa was called on January 26, 1986 in which the Panthic
Committee was announced to the Sikh Panth. The five members were Baba
Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, Bhai Dhanna Singh,
Bhai Aroor Singh (Shahid) and Bhai Gurdev Singh Usman (Shahid). Bhai
Gurdev Singh Kaunke was appointed acting Jathedar of Sree Akal Takhat
Sahib.. The Sarkar Takhat that was built by the Indian Government to
stand in place of the destroyed Sree Akaal Takhat Sahib was also ordered
to be destroyed. The kar seva of the new Akal Takhat building began that
On April 29, 1986 the Panthic Committee called a press conference at
Sree Darbar Sahib and made the declaration of an independent Sikh
Baba Gurbachan Singh along with the other Singhs had gone into Darbar
Sahib undercover. Baba jee tied his beard and took on the appearance of
a lawyer, complete with briefcase.
On April 30, Bhai Gurdev Singh was arrested and Baba Gurbachan Singh was
appointed acting Jathedar of Sree Akal Takhat Sahib. In the period that
followed it was always confusing who was Jathedar as this position
changed quite frequently. Baba jee was once again appointed Jathedar on
October 23, 1987.
It was at this time that Baba Gurbachan Singh emerged as head of a new
organization: The Bhindranvala Tiger Force for Khalistan (BTFK). Some
top lieutenants who worked with Baba jee were Bhai Sukhwinder Singh
Sangha, Bhai Satnam Singh Chheena and Bhai Surjeet Singh Behla. Baba
jee’s brother Bhai Mohinder Singh also was a close associate.
Trip To Pakistan & Tragedy
Baba Manochahal decided to make a trip to Pakistan to secure arms for
the Singhs. In his absence, he appointed Bhai Mohinder Singh to
supervise operations. When arms arrived, Bhai Mohinder Singh and Bhai
Sukhwinder Singh had a disagreement about the distribution and both
Bhai Mohinder Singh
The touts of the Indian Government decided to make use of this
disagreement. They tricked some Singhs working under Bhai Sangha into
shooting Bhai Mohinder Singh. They were told he was a goon and
terrorizing the common people. Without checking on who they were
attacking, the foolish recruits ended up shooting Bhai Mohinder Singh.
Baba Gurbachan Singh returned to Punjab to find out what had happened
and many Singhs blamed Bhai Sangha for the death and asked that Baba jee
take revenge. Baba jee asked for an explanation from Bhai Sukhwinder
Singh and then after hearing the story simply said, “What’s done is
done. In the future be sure about who it is you’re going to shoot.” The
Singhs in the jathebandi were shocked that Baba jee would let his
brother’s death go unpunished but Baba jee insisted that the mission was
Khalistan and to get caught in small personal battles was
self-defeating. Bhai Sangha eventually left the Majha area and operated
out of Malwa independent of Baba jee. When eventually Bhai Sangha was
martyred, Baba Gurbachan Singh expressed his sadness and when others
Singhs pointed out that Sangha had left the Jathebandi, Baba jee said,
“our goal was the same. Everyone makes mistakes and we should over look
Daily Routine And Rehit
In the early days of the movement, Baba Gurbachan Singh kept a hideout
in the swamps of the Mand area. Here he set up some huts and also a
separate hut for Guru Granth Sahib. Baba jee would sleep on the floor
and every day wake up at amrit vela and do two hours of naam abhyaas.
After, he would complete his very long nitnem and do sehaj paath from
Guru Granth Sahib. Baba jee daily completed five Sukhmani Sahibs even in
the thick of battle.
After his morning paath Baba jee would read up to seven different
newspapers to keep aware of events and government propaganda. He would
plan strategic strikes that would weaken India’s hold on Punjab and
break the occupier’s confidence.
During this time, Baba jee even had amrit sinchaars at this small dera
for those who wanted to become Khalsa.
Baba Jee & the Pirs
If anyone has been to Punjab they will see that at every half
there is the grave of a Muslim Pir (saint). These graves are often not
even real and made just to make money. Ignorant Hindus and Sikhs even
worship these graves and when going past them, villagers are very
Once Baba Gurbachan Singh and another Singh were passing the grave of
“Gainda Shah”. The Singh with Baba jee stopped at the grave and because
of fear, offered his respects. Baba jee stood afar and watched all this.
When the Singh was finished, Baba jee took off his shoe, walked to the
grave and began to hit it. The other Singh was terrified and shocked.
But when nothing happened, and Baba jee walked away without a word, that
Singh and other villagers watching understood that the graves had no
People gathered around a Pir's grave
In Naushera Panooaa(n), there is a grave of a Pir that is considered
holy by mothers with sons. They give their sons first pay to those
looking after the grave. Baba jee’s mother also once went to the grave
and offered prayers for Baba jee’s protection and gave Rs. 500. Baba jee
found out about this. When he went home to visit his family one night
after his return from Pakistan, his sister-in-law asked, “Do Muslims
also come to matha tek at Nankana Sahib?” Baba jee angrily replied,
“Muslims aren’t idiots like you who leave their own places of worship
and wander about elsewhere.” The family understood what Baba jee was
Baba jee used to also speak against fake Sants. One such Sant was
thought to have magical powers. A Singh asked Baba jee, “Don’t you feel
afraid talking badly about that Sant? Aren’t you afraid of being
cursed?” Baba jee replied, “If Guru Gobind Singh’s Singhs start getting
effected by the curses of these Sadhs, then what point is there in being
a Singh? If these curses did effect us, I’d take my kirpan and give it
back to Guru Sahib and ask him what was the point of being his Singh if
we still have to fear fake Sadhs like that…”
Baba Gurbachan Singh was becoming the head of a very powerful force and
the people of Punjab were giving them all possible support. In the
plains of Punjab, a guerrilla movement is almost impossible unless the
people are willing to hide and shelter the fighters. Rural Punjab was
almost completely under the control of the Singhs and the Indian
Security Forces were afraid to even go near them.
For Human Life
Baba Manochahal was respected as being one of the most wise Generals in
the movement. Baba Manochahal was very opposed to waste. When in an
encounter, he would stay very calm and only fire when he was sure the
bullet would be effective. He once said to Bhai Surjit Singh Behla, “In
an eight hour encounter I fired a total of 150 rounds. You Singhs fire
so many rounds for no reason at all.”
When once some Singhs of a different group killed a police informant and
his entire family, Baba Manochahal met the leader of the group and said,
“If he was an informant then you should have eliminated just him. Why
did you kill his children..?”
Baba jee never killed a Hindu for just being a Hindu. He was completely
opposed to pointless killing. In a meeting of Singhs Baba jee explained,
“A child is born and then it takes at least 18 years for him to become a
man. It cannot be called humanity to mow him down based on a decision
made in just a few seconds. It’s important to give people at least three
chances to correct themselves.
The government was becoming afraid that Punjab was slipping from their
grasp. They decided to change the way in which the battle was being
fought. New groups were formed under the direction of various police
officers. These groups dressed like Singhs but went into villages to
loot, rape and kill. After performing their disgusting deeds, they would
shout Khalistan slogans and leave. The government also began to spread
falsehood about Baba Manochahal that he was involved in rapes and
looting and even that he had links to the government.
But all these stories were false. Baba jee always tread all women as
sisters. Once the Singhs kidnapped a police officer and his wife in
order to secure the release of some captured Singhs. When the police
kidnapped or arrested Singhs’ women family members, they were abused
with filthy language and often even raped. Baba Manochahal treated the
police officer’s wife like a sister and when they couple was released,
just like a brother sends away his real sister, Baba jee gave her a new
Buta Singh’s Mansion
Baba jee in the "Mansion"
The government itself had spread the
rumour that Baba Manochahal had
links with Buta Singh, a Congress Minister. It said that Baba jee was
not being caught because he was staying in Buta Singh’s mansion and
receiving shelter there. There was of course no truth to this. Baba
Gurbachan Singh used to spend his nights in fields or families’ houses.
He travelled by bicycle or by foot most often and lived a very simple
life. Once it was raining and Baba jee was sitting in a sugar cane
field. He had spread a plastic sheet over top, but it was beginning to
leak. A Singh came to meet him and Baba jee laughed, “Welcome! Come and
see Buta Singh’s mansion. Wipe your feet outside or you’ll muddy the
Satwant Singh & Kehar Singh’s Bhog
Bhai Satwant Singh and Bhai Kehar Singh were hung for the assassination
of Indira Gandhi on January 6, 1989. All Sikh Resistance Movement
fighters organized a common Akhand Paath Sahib in their memory. Bhai
Vadhava Singh Babbar sang the shabad “Sajan meray ranglay…” in a very
moving way and all the Singhs became emotional. All the Movement leaders
were present: Bhai Vadhava Singh, Bhai Gurjant Singh Budhsinghvala, Bhai
Parmjeet Singh Panjvar, Bhai Charanjit Singh Channi and others.
Some attempts were being made at having unity between the different
groups. But as is the case with all Sikhs, there were serious
differences and the Indian government too had succeeded in some ways at
creating distrust. There were whispers that perhaps Baba Manochahal
really was a government agent and maybe he really did allow raping and
looting. As the discussions were continuing, Baba Manochahal stood up
and declared, “I, Manochahal, have been accused of a lot things. I’m a
government agent, I’m a looter, I’m also friends with Buta Singh.
Apparently I’ve bought a lot of land in UP (using the Panth’s money)…But
I want to say that wherever you find this land, you can distribute it in
the Panth. My fight is dedicated to Sant ji’s words and I won’t back
down from that, regardless of whether my family is finished and my
children are cut to pieces in front of me. If Banda Singh Bahadur could
have his child’s heart put in his mouth, why can’t I? I also tasted the
same Guru’s amrit. I could be accused of anything and I wouldn’t care.
All I care is that my Kalgeeaa(n) vala is not disappointed with me…and
then for all I care, the entire world can be angry.
Battle of Rataul
One of the most famous battles in the history of the modern Sikh
Movement took place in village Rataul. Baba Manochahal and some
companions were staying in this village when it was cordoned off by the
police. One Singh was resting a house, different than the one being used
by Baba Manochahal, when the police entered. The Singh entered an
underground bunker. The police became suspicious since a set of muddy
foot prints could be seen leading to a corner and then mysteriously
disappeared. When they went to the corner and moved a drum of flour, the
entrance to the bunker became visible. Right away, the Singh inside
opened fire and dropped the entire group. The cowardly Indians began to
run in different directions and the Singh managed to escape from that
house. Word was sent to Baba Manochahal that the village was surrounded
and he should escape. Baba jee along with his body guard broke the
cordon and escaped.
Inside the village, 5 Singhs gathered at a house where they had made a
concrete bunker. They had decided to show the police what a real
encounter was like. The army along with police divisions from Amritsar,
Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Batala surrounded the area. The Singhs were
well armed and had sniper rifles as well.
Place in Rataul where the DIG was shot down
A DIG of the police was trying to lead his men and give them courage to
fight when the Singhs shot him dead. The loss of such a high ranking
officer demoralized the already scared troops. The Singhs continued to
bellow jaikarey from inside the bunker as they fought. Police officers
attempted to pick up the body, but each time were forced to retreat
under fire. The body lying there continued to demoralize them.
The Singhs fought for a total of 72 hours. The Security forces had lost
so many men that it could no longer stand to fight anymore. They ordered
a helicopter and had the bunker bombed. The five Singhs inside were all
Shaheed but showed they showed the world that Guru Gobind Singh’s words
“Sava lakh say aek laRaaoo(n)” are still true.
Shaheed Singh of Rataul Battle
The Indian Centre ordered elections for Punjab on February 19, 1992. A
group of Sikh fighters under the Panthic Committee headed by Dr. Sohan
Singh ordered the Sikhs to boycott the elections. Baba Gurbachan Singh
on the other hand wanted the Sikhs to take part in the elections and by
electing Panthic Singhs, show that the will of the people was Khalistan.
Once a Panthic government was formed in Punjab, it could pass a motion
for independence and show that Khalistan was the will of the people.
Even if such a government were dismissed by the Centre, the will of the
people would have been expressed as being in favour of independence.
Baba Manochahl’s stand was criticized by many and Dr. Sohan Singh called
him an agent of the government. Baba jee replied, “The time will come
when the Panth will know who is a government agent and who is not. But
that time is unfortunately not going to come any time soon.” Dr. Sohan
Singh is still alive today, walking a free man on the streets of
Some misguided fighters went so far as to attack Baba jee’s family in
their home. Baba jee’s companions asked him to reply to this attack in
kind but Baba jee simply said, “If they are making a mistake, should I
make a mistake just like them too? The government already wants that we
should fight and kill each other. Should we help the government by
fighting each other?”
Baba jee kept encouraging the Sikh Movement leaders to not boycott the
election saying that if they participated they would clearly win but if
they did not, Baba jee said, “it’s like taking off our shoe and handing
it over to our enemy to beat us over the head with. Singhs! Please don’t
make this mistake…”
But short sightedness resulted in a boycott of the Punjab elections.
Baba jee lamented, “The election boycott is going to have a deadly
effect on us. It’s going to throw the Sikh Movement decades behind. Just
watch, those people who today are considering it an honour to invite us
to their houses are not even going to give us food when we ask them for
it nor even open their doors when we knock. We’re going to be
slaughtered, the Akali leaders are going to be thrown in prison and the
entire struggle will be setback decades. We’re going to boycott the
elections and then we’re going to see the big pillars of our movement
drop, one by one.” Baba jee’s words were nothing less than a prophecy of
the bleak future.
The Congress and KP Gill
The Congress government won the election with a voter turnout of less
than 25%. The Hindu voters elected the Congress government on their
promise to finish the Sikh Movement.
After the election, the new Chief Minister of Punjab, Beanta and the
Punjab Police Chief, KP Gill had a meeting. Beanta made clear that the
Movement should be finished at all costs. KP Gill said he could do the
job, but he would need complete control over the police with no
interference from anyone. No one should object to anything he did based
on human rights or anything else. He could do the job, but it would be a
bloody mess. Beanta agreed.
And so began the beginning of the end…
jee and his sons
KPS Gill was given a free hand by the new Chief Minister of Punjab,
Beanta. And so began a wave of terror in Punjab that had not even been
seen in the reign of the Mughals or Afghans. Entire families of Sikh
fighters were murdered in barbaric ways. Families that gave shelter to
the Singhs were publicly tortured to death. Villagers no longer knew who
the real fighters were and who were the gangs put out by the Indian
Security Forces. They became reluctant to open their doors at night.
Baba Manochahal’s Family
Baba Gurbachan Singh was married and had three sons. When he began his
life underground, Baba jee wrote a poem for those who were waiting for
him. In a part, he wrote:
Why are you sad friend?
Don’t bite your lip
Try and understand my thoughts.
We have left with a hope in our minds.
Without fulfilling it, we will not return.
Baba jee left, knowing that he was sacrificing his family, but he had
given his word to sacrifice his all for the cause of Sikh independence.
The police first seized Baba jee’s home in Naushera Panooaa(n) and made
his family homeless. They made the home a police station.
Baba jee's house in Nausheraa(n) Panooaa(n)
When the family returned to village Manochahal, the police would harass
them every day and take them for interrogation. The police even arrested
Baba jee’s eight year old son.
Baba Gurbachan Singh jee’s 70 year old father Bapoo Atma Singh was
arrested many times and was then martyred in police custody. His body
was never returned. Baba jee’s younger brother, Nirvair Singh was
abducted by the police in August 1992 and after a month of unspeakable
torture was killed on September 9, 1992 in a fake encounter.
Bhai Nirvair Singh
Baba jee’s 12 year old son, Harbrinder Singh was staying with a woman
Baba jee considered his sister, Bibi Parmjeet Kaur. Harbrinder Singh had
gone to school one day when, Bibi Parmjeet Kaur was arrested along with
her husband and younger son. Bibi Parmjeet Kaur was tortured with
electric shocks and the police demanded she tell them where Harbrinder
Singh was, but she did not falter and refused to speak. Harbrinder Singh
was met at school by Bibi Parmjeet Kaur’s brother who took him to a
secure place. After that, he spent his childhood going alone from one
Dera to another, doing seva and wondering where his family was or if
they were even alive.
Baba jee’s mother, 62 year old Mata Gurmej Kaur was also abducted by the
police and killed in the fall of 1992. The rest of Baba jee’s family
survived by living in hiding.
In total, 43 of Baba Gurbachan Singh’s family members were arrested and
tortured. They were forced by the police to do an ardaas for Baba jee’s
speedy death or capture. The families were kept in illegal custody for
nine months. Five of them never returned home. The police wanted that
the families of the Sikh fighters would themselves turn in the Singhs or
wish for their death so they would be spared further torture.
Shaheedi Of Other Singhs
Just as Baba Gurbachan Singh had predicted, the leaders of the Sikh
Resistance Movement began to fall one by one. With human rights no
longer a factor, KP Gill ordered his men to slaughter families and
torture those who might have information. Bhai Rachhpal Singh Chandran,
head of the Malwa Bhindranvala Tiger Force was martyred on June 18,
1992. Bhai Gurjant Singh Budhsinghvala of the Khalistan Liberation Force
was martyred on July 31 1992 and then 10 days later, Bhai Sukhdev Singh
Babbar, Jathedar of Babbar Khalsa became a Shaheed.
When Baba jee heard about the
Shaheedi of Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar, he
was staying with his sister. Baba jee read the news and tears began to
flow from his eyes. His sister had not seen this happen before and
asked, “But you used to say that Sukhdev Singh Babbar was opposed to
your political stands [The Babbars had supported the election boycott]
and now you are crying? What is going on?”
Baba jee replied, “Yes, I had a strong disagreement with him, but we had
the same mission. And he was after all just like my brother…”
Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar
Baba jee continued to be very depressed and would not eat. His sister
couldn’t bear this anymore and brought Baba jee’s mother to check on
him. But by the time Mata Gurmej Kaur arrived, Baba jee had recovered
and told her to return home.
The police said many filthy things about Bhai Sukhdev Singh’s character.
The newspapers were completely in control of the government. No
statements from Sikh Organizations were allowed to be printed and any
success by Sikh fighters was also not reported. Baba jee decided that
something must be said to defend the memory of his brother, so he
released a tape defending Bhai Sukhdev Singh’s character.
Baba Gurbachan Singh was now the last Sikh Resistance leader left in
Punjab. The others had crossed over to Pakistan and requested that he
too should join them. Baba jee refused. He said that he would never
leave the battlefield. How could he ask Singhs to continue the fight if
he himself ran away?
Baba jee was now beginning to run out of hideouts. The police had
arrested all those even suspected of knowing him and tortured them all
severely. Many hideouts were revealed and Baba Gurbachan Singh’s weapons
and ammunition seized. Out of the group of people arrested, one Singh,
Bhai Harpal Singh, had refused to reveal any information on Baba jee.
The police ripped his body apart with severe torture. There was another
man in the group named Didar Singh who even before being hit once
revealed everything. The police treated him very well. Now, whenever the
police arrested someone with connections to Baba Gurbachan Singh, they
brought out both Bhai Harpal Singh and Didar Singh. Bhai Harpal Singh
could not stand and his clothes were ripped and bloodied. Didar Singh
was dressed in clean fresh clothes and would sit comfortably. The police
would say, “Look at both of them. One talked and the other didn’t. We
found the hideout and arms anyways so it didn’t matter. Now it’s up to
you, what you want to do.” Many people who saw this were scared into
Raids were conducted everywhere to find Baba Gurbachan Singh.
Coordinated raids took place at the same time at between 40 and 60
different places but still Baba jee could not be found.
Baba Manochahal was now almost completely alone. The Singhs with him,
like Bhai Surjeet Singh Behla were either Shaheed or could not be
contacted. No one was willing to keep Baba jee in their home anymore. So
Baba jee began to spend the cold fall and winter nights in the fields. A
Singh that sometimes accompanied Baba jee in these days tells that even
when there were Security Forces patrolling the roads, and Baba jee was
hiding in a nearby field, he would begin to sing, “Sir Ditiaa(n) baajh
nahee(n) rehNaa dharm, sir ditiaa(n) baajh nahee(n) rehNaa…” [The faith
won’t survive without sacrificing our heads]. The Singh would fearfully
say, “Baba jee…there’re police jeeps parked on the road and your voice
is so loud that it’s carrying across all the fields…”
Baba jee would jokingly reply, “So I should sing louder then..?”
was a poet and even in these dark days continued to write poetry.
My friends will be waiting
For my new year greetings wishing them happiness
friend! How can I wish happy new Year to you
As yet I still have to guard my heritage under constant threat of
The turban of my Father is rolling somewhere in the dust
It might be waste in the dark corner of some police station.
After the murders of our mothers and sisters, tears have been unceasing.
Our innocent boys who are soft as flowers lie beneath the bridges, below
the trees murdered in false encounters.
Our sister's honour remains unavenged since the Delhi massacre
I am in great and constant grief like the tender butterfly that flutters
and turns white with fear,
Whose wings have turned grey with the
passing of time.
In this struggle I may not be recognised and may get lost
And in this dreadful situation in what way can I then convey my New year
greetings to you. We will wait for better times.
Then shall I send such greetings When Spring visits our garden.
Even in the thick of battle Baba jee would write in his diary.
Baba jee and his diary
Call to Surrender
In the final days of 1992 KP Gill issued a call for Baba Gurbachan Singh
to surrender. He had no where left to hide and all his companions had
been killed. Baba jee replied, “I don’t consider it appropriate to be
talking to the pet dogs of Delhi. The Prime Minister and his guards can
pick a time and place and then we’ll see which side makes the other
surrender. I would prefer death to surrender.”
In the last week of
February 1993, Baba Gurbachan Singh was staying at
the house of Bhai Jasbir Singh Kala. On a tip, the police raided the
home and Baba jee quickly slipped into an underground bunker. Jasbir
Singh was stripped naked and tortured in the house. The entire family
could hear his screams, as could Baba jee underground. Jasbir Singh did
not reveal anything. The police began to search for a bunker and at the
spot where the bunker was located, even dug a hole to investigate. After
digging a bit, they gave up. Little did they know that Baba jee was five
feet underneath. The police arrested Jasbir Singh and took him away.
Later that night, Baba jee escaped and left for village BaagReeaa(n).
One of Baba jee’s final remaining companions was Sukhvant VanchiRee. In
front of Baba jee, Sukhvant would be very brave, but behind his back, he
would whine that his family would be killed. Baba jee’s sympathizers had
told Baba jee all this and asked that he not trust Sukhvant. Baba
Gurbachan Singh could not believe however that such a close companion
could ever betray him.
In these final days, Sukhvant asked Baba jee for a short leave, but
February 27, 1993
At 8AM, the police raided village BaaReeaa(n) and headed straight for
the home where Baba jee was staying. Baba jee quickly ran into the
bunker that was made in the barn. In the house at the time, there was an
older Bibi and her two sons. The Bibi called on her son to cover the
bunker . He came and layed the floorboards down and put grass over top.
The police entered the home and immediately grabbed the son’s wrist and
dragged him to the waiting jeep. The Bibi did not understand whether the
police had coincidentally raided their home or someone had tipped them
The police officer returned and walked over to the barn and began to
check the floor. The Bibi understood now that someone had betrayed Baba
jee. She was terrified for her sons and so she screamed at the officer,
“Veera! Watch out and save us as well! There’s someone hiding inside!”
She had thought that by doing this, her life and the lives of her sons
might be saved.
The police officer froze and asked in a quivering voice, “How many…?”
The Bibi replied, “Just one!” The rest of the police party gathered at
the barn and began to move forward. All of a sudden, the floorboards of
the barn flew up and Baba Gurbachan Singh appeared. He threw a hand
grenade and scattered the security men. Baba jee had a GPM (General
Purpose Machine Gun), an AK 47 and a bag of ammunition swung around his
back. He bellowed jaikaray and ran through the police spraying bullets.
Baba jee sprinted through the fields and tossed his shawl on top of the
wheat to throw the police off his trail. The police thought that Baba
jee was hiding in the fields. Jeep after Jeep of Security Forces was
arriving and searching every inch of the field, while Baba jee, who had
wrapped a rug around himself to keep warm, made his escape.
Baba jee borrowed a bicycle and a shawl from some Singhs he met on the
way. The Singhs he met say that Baba jee was completely serene and told
them “I just had a gunfight at BaagReeaa(n). All my equipment and
supplies were left behind…” Baba jee said this in such a calm manner
that the Singhs thought he was kidding. Among the supplies Baba jee had
left behind was a wireless set that he used to monitor the army and
The police soon followed on Baba jee’s trail. They were using search
dogs who led them to the home of the Singh that had lent Baba jee his
bike. The police slapped the Singh’s wife and asked where Baba Gurbachan
Singh had gone. She said that she did not know who it was but someone
had stolen their bicycle. The farmers in the area were gathered and
asked which way Baba jee had gone. They all were supporters of the Sikh
cause and sent Officer Khubi Ram and his party in the wrong direction.
All the while, Baba jee was sitting in a nearby field.
All night, Baba jee sat alone in the cold field. Late into the night, he
left for Sukhvant VanchiRee’s in-law’s house at village Rataul.
Baba jee arrived cold and hungry in Rataul. He headed for what he
thought was a secure hideout, where he might meet his companion. At
Sukhvant’s in-law’s home, he found only women. Sukhvant had gone out
somewhere. Baba jee was anxious to leave but the women assured Baba jee
that Sukhvant would meet him in the morning.
Sukhvant had been working for the police. The police had given the
family a white powder that was to be given to Baba jee when he came. The
police had warned them that if Baba Manochahal came to their house and
got away, the entire family would be killed. The women warmed some milk
and mixed the powder in it. They gave Baba jee the glass of milk and he
quickly drank it. Baba jee drank poison from the hands of those he
considered his own. The entire Indian Security Force could not do what
Baba jee’s own had now done. Baba jee fell unconscious and then left for
his place at the Guru’s feet.
The women went to the police station where a jeep filled with families
suspected of helping Baba Manochahal was ready to leave for CIA Staff
Tarn Taran. The women told the DSP of Police that they had done their
work. The jeep was emptied and the families put into cells. The entire
Police Party rushed to Ratual.
First they recorded the death of their most dreaded “terrorist” by
taking pictures. They ripped Baba jee’s dastaar off his head and dragged
him into the grass.
No sign of blood anywhere
Shaheedee Saroop (before the bullets)
After taking the initial pictures, they pumped bullets into Baba jee’s
body so they could report a spectacular “encounter”. They then took
pictures with Baba jee’s body.
Baba jee's blood soaked body
The cowards who had trembled at the name of “Manochahal” were now
grabbing Baba jee by his kesh and laughing. Sukhvant too had arrived to
join in the celebration. They fired shots into the air. The dreaded
tiger had fallen.
The dogs around a lion
KP Gill flew in from Chandigarh and told reporters an exciting story of
how Baba Gurbachan Singh had been surrounded and after a long encounter,
was found in a pool of blood. Perhaps he didn’t know that the pictures
taken by his own police officers would show his tale to be a complete
KP Gill declared, “Today the Khalistan movement has been finished in
The police cremated Baba jee’s body themselves and had a distant
relative immerse the ashes at Kiratpur Sahib. Only police officers were
present for this Sikh Hero’s final Ardaas.
Baba Jee's Final Ardaas
For good measure, the police picked up Baba jee’s brother Balwinder
Singh on March 16, 1993 and then killed him on March 29. The rest of
Baba jee’s family was scattered and in hiding. Years later they would
slowly come back together again. Their house in Naushera Panooaa(n) is
still in police hands.
The Sikh movement slowly died away. The opponents of the Sikhs had
always said that the Sikhs were tigers who could never be tamed. They
would never accept slavery. It was either freedom or death. And 10 years
have passed now, without a sound. Some say that perhaps the time has
finally come when the enemy has shattered the Sikhs’ unconquerable
Baba jee had limitless faith in the Sikhs though. In his final letter he
wrote, "This Movement can not be suppressed by anyone. So much blood has
been spilt for it that no bargaining can be done now. There are only two
paths for us: Takhat (throne) or Takhta (gallows). The ardaas done at
Akal Takhat Sahib, and the Declaration of Khalistan are our promises
before Guru Sahib and we will solemnly keep them. The Sikh Sangat should
be assured that the Khalsa will be victorious."
Only Guru Sahib knows when the Khalsa will rise again...
Judicial Probe Sought In Manochal's Case
Indian Express News, December 15, 2000
AMRITSAR, "Judicial enquiry should be held into the disappearance of 14
members of family of Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, the known activist
leader", said Khalra Mission Committee here."
According to the enquiry report of the "Facts Exploring Committee,"
established by the Khalra Mission Committee (KMC), Gurbachan Singh
Manochahal was killed by security forces in an encounter on February 28,
1993 and the police forces had flauted all human values and rights for
his arrest," alleged Satnam Singh Amishah, spokesman, KMC. Amishah
further said Surinder Singh Ghariala and Balwinder Singh Chabal were the
members of this committee. It has been alleged in the committee report
that 43 members from Manochal's family and relatives had been arrested
and the figure included 16 women and 27 men.
Amishah said according to KMC report, Nirvair, Manochal's brother was
brought to CIA staff, Tarn Taran on August 2, 1992. He was tortured for
a week and later sent to Naushehra Pannuan. On September 9, he was
killed in a fake encounter, he alleged.
The KMC report said, on August 10, 1992, Atma Singh, Manochal's father;
Gurmej Kaur, mother; and one sister-in-law were kidnapped from
Brahampura and brought to police-station Varonwal. Atma Singh was killed
and his body thrown into river, he alleged.
"All these 43 members had to bear police torture for nine months and not
even a single person was shown to be arrested in police records", said
Amishah further said the enquiry report found that Kewal Singh, an
ex-serviceman of Sangatpura, died of extreme percecution and Surjit
Singh of Malmohri was arrested and shown to have died in an encounter
near Jagraon. He further alleged that Nirmal Singh of Pandori and Gulzar
Singh and Aroor Singh had been killed after kidnapping them form their
"The report says that Manochal's brother was tortured after he was
abducted from Nakodar on March 16, 1993, and later killed on March 29 in
a fake encounter. His mother was arrested by the then DSP Gurmit
Singh.," said Amishah.
He further said that KMC demanded a judicial enquiry in this regard. He
also said that KMS has send its report to the Supreme Court, High Court,
Amnesty International, NHRS and Punjab Chief-Minister.