By Zorawar Singh
Bhai Sukhdev Singh Sakheera was the son of Sardar Budh Singh and
Mata Surjit Kaur. Bhai Sahib had one elder brother, Balbir Singh who became
shaheed in police custody, and an elder
sister, Dalbir Kaur, who was married to the elder brother of the
Bhai Anokh Singh Babbar. He had a younger brother, Waryam Singh who farmed
the family's land, and a younger sister, Sukhbir Kaur.
Bhai Sukhdev Singh was educated to Level 8. In 1980, Bhai Sahib met Sant Jarnail
Singh Bhindrawale, and later took Amrit from Damdami Taksal. He became a
close companion of Sant Jarnail
Singh Ji, and spent time learning Santhia
from the Taksal, he also took part in seva in the Punj Pyares during Amrit Sanchaars.
Whatever he said, he made sure he did. Bhai Sahib would give is head for
Sikhi and when necessary would also take heads for Sikhi.
He was very close to Bhai Anokh Singh Babbar. After the horrific events of
Amritsar 1978, when Bhai Fauja Singh and 12 Gursikhs were Shaheed, the
Babbar Khalsa began a process of elimination of the Nirankari leadership.
Bhai Sahib's name is also mentioned in some of these plans. His elder
sister, being the sister-in-law of Bhai Anokh Singh Babbar led to them being
related, and developing a great love for each other and always staying
together. Elder bibian who witnessed the two together, one Bhai Sukhdev
Singh in Taksali bana, and the other Bhai Anokh Singh from Akhand Kirtani
Jatha, wearing nihang bana, and a dumalla with khanda, and many shasters in
his arms. These elder mothers would bow before them and bless them stating,
"never let anyone's bad sight (maree nazzar) fall upon the two".
Shaheed Bhai Anokh Singh Babbar
When the issue of marriage arose, Bhai sahib would state he is already
engaged, death is my marriage, the Government has already arranged my
wedding day, when the day comes, I will accept the marriage.
After the horrific events of Operation Blue Star, nobody imagined that Sikhs
would again be a force and capable of standing up to the Indian Government.
However Bhai Sahib in his heart was determined. After 1984, he tried to
gather the Singh's still alive to create a movement. He worked tirelessly day
and night, and wanted to show the world that Singh's are never intimidated
and even if death stands in their way, they will never back down. Singh's can
be Shaheed, but they will never give up.
Bhai Sahib worked intimately within the Sikh Resistance Movement. When Bhai
Sahib did Katha his charisma shone, and he influenced many people to take
Amrit and share the burden of the Sikh Resistance Movement. After Operation
Blue Star, Bhai Sahib was the first to
openly speak on stage asking youth to take Amrit and fight the Government,
as such he became very dangerous to the authorities, who made his
elimination a high priority.
The Punjab Police put a reward up for the head of Bhai Sukhdev Singh Ji. So
Bhai Sahib went underground and joined the ranks of Baba Manochal, Jathedar
Sukhdev Singh Babbar, Bhai Anokh Singh Babbar, Bhai Manbir Singh Chaheru,
Bhai Tarsem Singh Kuhar, Bhai Dhaana Singh, Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma, Bhai
Durga Singh Arfuke, Bhai Kuldip Singh Moshal, Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwale
and many other Singhs who now operated underground, working for the
establishment of the Free Sikh Raj.
The Politics of the time were dominated by Longowal, Badal, Tohra, Talwandi,
and Barnala. They all were all of a very dubious nature, and only played
self-interest politics. The youth desperate to get rid of these characters
set up a new Akali Dal. Simranjit Singh Mann was selected as its first
President, and its acting Presidentship was given to Bapu Joginder Singh,
father of Baba Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale. Senior Sikh leaders pledged support
for this new party including Jathedar Ujjagar Singh Sekwon, Ranjit Singh
Brahmpura, Jathedar Soorat Singh, Charanjit Singh Walia, Jagjit Singh Rode,
Jathedar Jagdev Singh Koodian (Shaheed MP) and Sikh Students President
Manjit Singh and General Secretary Harmander Singh Sandhu, who was in
Jodhpur Jail at that time. Parcharaks such as Amrik Singh Mukhtsar joined
them and Bapu Joginder Singh started doing large conferences in Punjab with
Amrit Sanchaars, and speeches about the Sikh Movement. The person who
brought all of these people together and organised it was Sukhdev Singh
Kar Seva of Siri Akal Thakht Sahib
After Operation Blue Star, a Shaheedi smagam was held at Chowk Mehta, where
the families of Shaheeds were honoured. After listening to the speeches, a
five-member Panthik committee was selected. The vision of Sardar Dalbir
Singh, the wisdom of Sirdar Kapur Singh, and influence of Dr Sohan Singh led
to this happening. Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochal was announced as Jathedar
of Akal Thakht Sahib. This led to old traditions being brought forward such
as the Sarbat Khalsa. Bhai Sahib was staying with Baba Manochal in village
Manochal, where both escaped after being surrounded by Police. To attend the
Sarbat Khalsa both had to escape from many Police encounters.
Sikhs started to get confidence again and awareness spread. At this time, a
controversial subject in the Panth became the erection of the Siri Akal
Thakht Sahib, which was devastated by tanks and a helicopter gunship in
1984. Indira Gandhi and her stooge Santa Singh Nihang, using cheap labour
from Bihar, and government money erected the building. However the Sikh
sangat wished to tear it down and rebuild it by Sikh hands, paid for by Sikh
money. The SGPC were not giving them permission to do this. The Sikh
Students Federation, Damdami Taksal, Babbar Khalsa, KLF and other
jathebandies were all in favour of even giving sacrifices to ensure that
Indira Gandhi and Santa Nihang`s building is rejected and Sikh sponsored Kar
Seva is began.
Bhai Sukhdev Singh was also in favour of this and wanted to resolve the
issue in the proper manner. The Damdami Taksal and Sikh Student Federation
announced they had received letters from the Worldwide Sangat on this
matter, and on 26th January 1986 a Sarbat Khalsa was held to start the Kar
Seva for a new Siri Akal Thakht Sahib. Masses of Guru Nanak Dev jis
followers attended the event. The SGPC were stuck, on one side was slapped
down by Delhi Government, and on the other side Sikh youth were determined
to get their way.
Seeing the enthusiasm in the Sikh Sangat for demolishing the Indira
Gandhi/Santa Nihang erection, the Head Granthi of Harmandar Sahib arranged a
secret meeting between the SGPC and the Damdami Taksal and other Jujarhroo
youth at Gurdwara Bir Baba Buddha Sahib. Baba Kharak Singh Kar Seva wale
also attended with Bhai Sukhdev Singh Sakheera and his companions. Both
sides gave their viewpoints, and Baba Kharak Singh sided with Bhai Sukhdev
Singh. Bhai Sahib`s voice was highly influential and the Kar Seva began
demolishing the Indian Government erected building with the Resolution
passed in the 26th January 1986 Sarbat Khalsa.
Love for Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
At that time, there was a Nihang called Kahn Singh Baggi, who had taken over
Gurdwara Khadur Sahib. He was associated with the Tarna dal group of Baba
Bishan Singh from Baba Bakala. He treated Sikhs very arrogantly, and many
Sikh sangat were very unhappy with his anti-Sikh activities at the historic
Gurdwara. As a result, the attendance at the Gurdwara dropped, resulting in
less churava (golak money) for him. At a large meeting of Sikhs, Nihang Kahn
Singh vehemently and abusively spoke against Sant Jarnail Singh
Bhindranwale. Bhai Sukhdev Singh could not tolerate this, and said "your men
are gangsters and doing wrong, and you have the nerve to blame Mahapursh
Sant Jarnail Singh for you dwindling sangat. You should think before you
speak" However Kahn Singh was influenced by no-one, and said whatever
came to his mouth without thinking. Bhai Sahib knew now was not the time,
and he could not do anything. However some time later, outside Punjab at Hola Mohalla celebrations, Nihang Kahn Singh was shot dead, by a Singh who
escaped shouting "Sant Jarnail Singh Jindabad" Bhai Sukhdev Singh
Sakheera is credited with this action.
In May 1986, a meeting happened between Bhai Sukhdev Singh and Baba Amrik
Singh at Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh, Amritsar. After the meeting, as
they left the Gurdwara, two men in Sikhi disguise approached. As one bowed
to say fateh to Bhai sahib, the other shot Bhai Sahib at point blank
range, then both jumped in a jeep and sped off.
The news of Bhai Sahibs Shaheedi spread throughout the Panth like wild-fire.
Every Sikh felt that their son Sakheera had passed away before his time.
Another talented young Sikh had been lost in the typhoon of the Sikh
Movement. When Bapu Joginder Singh, father of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji, heard
the news, he went silent, and then said my General Sakheera has left us.
Then tears dropped from his eyes. Bapu Joginder Singh had lost 6 sons and
grandsons in Operation Bluestar, but never cried. But when Bhai Sukhdev
Singh was Shaheed, he cried.
Bapu Joginder Singh was doing a series of Amrit Sanchaars smagams, but
straight away left with his Singhs for Amritsar. Baba Thakur Singh, head of
Damdami Taksal also reached Amritsar after hearing the news. So did Bhai
sahibs father, Bapu Budh Singh and many of his village folk. Plus many
Jujarhroo Singhs who were underground also attended Amritsar.
Bhai sahibs body was taken to village Sakheera. The village Sarpanch Sardar
Karaj Singh, said Bhai Sukhdev Singh met me a few days ago. He said I
will be a Shaheed soon. Take my body for cremation to Gurdwara Maae Dass. Sit
in the Gurdwara and enjoy the bliss of Gurbani. Bhai Sahib`s cremation
happened at Gurdwara Maae Dass. As well as Bapu Joginder Singh, Baba Thakur
Singh, thousands of Sikhs attended the cremation in 1986, and shared the
loss of a diamond of the Sikh Nation.