Babbar Khalsa (BK)
Shaheed Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Babbar was the iconic leader of the Khalistan
movement between 1978 to 1992. He ranked among senior Generals like Bhai
Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwale, Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma and Baba Manochahal.
However his impact was legendary, and was considered the backbone of the
struggle. Such was the calibre of this Gursikh, that everyone referred to
him as “The Jathedar…”. (one and only).
Shaheed Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar was born on 9th August 1955 in the house
of Sardar Jind Singh and Mata Harnam Kaur, in the village Dhassuwal. This is
in the Amritsar area of Punjab. Bhai Sahib had three brothers, Angrej Singh,
Rashal Singh, Mehal Singh, and three sisters, Swaran Kaur, Charan Kaur, and
Bhai Sahib studied till level 8 in Punjab. He worked on his own land as a
farmer with his brothers. From an early age, Bhai Sahib had a religious
mind, and a warrior spirit. Bhai Sahib met Jathedar Bhai Fauja Singh
(Shaheed). He was highly impressed by Jathedar Fauja Singh, and with his
guidance took Amrit at an Akhand Kirtani Jatha Smagam in 1977. Both became
Jathedar Fauja Singh Ji
Many youth were highly influenced by Jathedar Bhai Fauja Singh. Not only
Bhai Sukhdev Singh, but Bhai Anokh Singh, Bhai Wadhawa Singh, Bhai Sulakhan
Singh, and countless others Great Sikhs were students at Bhai Fauja Singhs
Khalsa Farm, where they undertook Spiritual education and Gathka education
in a camp-like atmosphere. It was at this camp, that the ideologue by which
all these Singh lived their lives was instilled. Bhai Fauja Singh taught the
Gursikhs that doing Naam Simran, Paath, Kirtan was just as important as
becoming fearless Sons of Sahib Siri Guru Gobind Singh.
Bhai Sahib wed Bibi Sukhwant Kaur in an Anand Karaj Ceremony on Vaisakhi,
13th April 1978. After the wedding, the couple arrived back at their house
to receive distressing news. On the sacred land of Amritsar, a new-age sect
called Nakli Nirankaris had mercilessly killed 13 Sikhs protesting against
their anti-Sikh activities. A further 150 Sikhs had been injured. From the
13, many close companions of Bhai Sahib had been Shaheed, including Jathedar
Fauja Singh. Bhai Sahib was greatly shaken by this event. Early the next
morning, he caught a bus for Amritsar, and after the Saskar (funeral) of the
13 Gursikhs, he returned a changed person.
Shaheeds of 1978
The Punjab Government brought a murder case against the leader of the
Nirankaris called “Gurbachana”. However this case was intentionally moved
from Punjab to Karnal, in Haryana. This sect called Nirankaris enjoyed the
patronage of Indira Gandhi, who wished to use it to destroy the strange hold
of Akali party control in Punjab. She viewed Sikhs as the biggest threat to
her ambitions of power. They were the only group who would be prepared to
raise their voice against her. Hence she devised many strategies to weaken
Sikhs internally and externally. The Nirankaris were part of this plan.
Prakash Badal, the leader of the Akali Dal in Punjab, was also secretly
helping “Gurbachana”. Prakash Badal`s role in the History of Punjab has been
very dubious, and it can be stated he has been the Sikh version of Gangu
Brahmin, who sent many Khalsa youth to their deaths. Parkash Badal further
ensured that “Gurbachana” walked free from the courts. Previously it had
been Parkash Badal who had smuggled “Gurbachana” out of Punjab on the night
of the murders on Vaisakhi 1978.
Youth Get Organised
The charismatic leader of the Damdami Taksal, Baba Jarnail Bhindranwale was
infuriated by this. He also held Jathedar Fauja Singh in high esteem. He
called for Sikhs nationwide to oppose all Nirankari activities.
Bhai Sukhdev Singh was by nature very quiet, and very spiritually inclined.
But at the same time he was also a man of action. He had realised while
these Nirankaris enjoyed the patronage of Indira Gandhi, Sikhs would never
get justice for the murder of Gursikhs. By now a further 13 Gursikhs had
been killed in Kanpur by Nirankaris, and also two in Delhi. Another close
associate of Bhai Sahib, and very spiritual Gursikh, Bhai Jagjit Singh was
one of those Shaheed in Kanpur.
Shaheed Bhai Jagjit Singh
In a quiet manner, with the help of Bhai Anokh Singh, Bhai Sulakhan Singh
and Bhai Amarjit Singh Daheru, they began plotting and assassinating the
leadership of the Nirankaris. “Gurbachana” had held himself up as a modern
“Guru Gobind Singh ji”, to infuriate Sikhs. As Sikhism had “Panj Pyares” (5
beloveds) , the Nirankaris set up their “Sat Sitares” (7 stars). Bhai
Sukhdev Singh began with them, and completely annihilated the Nirankari
leadership. The main target was always “Gurbachana”, but he eluded them yet.
Bhai Sukhdev Singh always lead from the front. He was involved in every
action, and always behaved to highest ideals of the Khalsa.
However the Indian Security Forces, and right-wing Hindu groups were
providing protection to the Nirankaris, and also helping them hunt young
Sikhs who were standing up to the Nirankaris.
Shaheed Bhai Amarjit Singh Daheru Babbar
The trail led them to the house of Bhai Amarjit Singh Daheru. He was a very
Chardi Kala Gursikh, who was providing all the Sikh youth with weapons
training. His house was surrounded by the Punjab Police and Security Forces.
Bhai Sahib was very skilled in fighting. He wanted to make sure he was not
caught, because he did not want the youth he had trained to be exposed. So
he fought with great courage. When he was eventually Shaheed, his Singhni
demonstrated how miraculous Guru Ji`s daughters are….. She single-handedly
fought the Police and Security Forces for 48 hours. Only when all her
ammunition finished did she also attain Shaheedi.
Forming of the Jathebandi
The Shaheedi of Bhai Amarjit Singh Daheru led the Indian Security Services
to realise that many of the actions against the Nakli Nirankaris, had not
been done by Sant Jarnail Singh, as they had widely began to demonise him in
the national press. Instead they had been done by a small group of organised
underground youth from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. Therefore they began
rounding up Sikhs at Akhand Kirtani Jatha smagams.
Bhai Sukhdev Singh greatly felt this. He did not want elderly highly
spiritual Sikhs to be harassed in police cells. They went to smagams for
Gurbani Rass, and they should not be treated wrongly.
At this time, Bhai Sahib read a book by Giani Tarlok Singh. It was called
“Babbar de Vithaya, Golee Chalde Rahe”, (Legend of the Babbar – keep the
bullets firing). It was a novel about Babbar Akali movement against the
British Raj in India. It had stories about the Great Sikh, Shaheed Bhai
Kishan Singh Babbar and his companions. During the Indian Independence
movement, they fought against the British Raj, their cruel officers, their
touts, spies, Jagirdars, etc, in a guerrilla campaign with amazing feats.
Bhai Sukhdev Singh saw this as a model which could be used effectively to
organise modern youth.
In 1981, a meeting of active Sikh youth warriors was called. It was
announced that the Sikh Youth fighting the Nirankaries was not the Akhand
Kirtani Jatha. This was to ensure harassment of elders stopped. Instead this
was a new separate organisation called “Babbar Khalsa”.
Early Babbar Khalsa picture
The Babbar Khalsa was a gupt underground organisation. The Singhs in India
felt the Jathedar needs to be active on a front-line level. Someone who
knows the workings of India and could affect things on the front-line, and
inspire the youth to be better Gursikhs.
There was no-one more front-line than Bhai Sukhdev Singh. It was unanimously
decided by the youth that the Jathedar would be Bhai Sukhdev Singh. Other
deputy Jathedars were also chosen. They were Bhai Anokh Singh, Bhai Sulakhan
Singh, and Bhai Wadhawa Singh.
Every member of this Jathebandi must be Amritdhari, and strict in Amrit
vela and Sikh code of conduct. They must be knowledge and practicing in
Gurbani recitation. They must have memorised all the Nitnem, to ensure it is
not missed, even in the heart of battle. They must be regular in Sangatee
Seva, like cleaning shoes, so they always remain humble. Anyone who tries to
destroy the Sikh religion or Nation would be opposed and eliminated by
Babbars. To ensure they are capable of doing this seva, they must be abyassi,
humble and always lead a Pure Gurmat lifestyle. Communications by Babbar
Khalsa would be via a magazine called “Vangaar”, which would have their
missions documented and current news.
False Encounters Begin
When Babbar Khalsa became announced, its enemies in the form of Indian
Security Services, Right-wing Hindus and the Nakli Nirankaris, now had a
visible enemy to track down. No longer was it a case of a handful of Sikh
youth among thousands, but specifically hunting Babbars, as well as the
Gursikhs with Sant Jarnail Singh ji.
A key Babbar Khalsa activist who was very active in the universities of
Punjab was Bhai Kulwant Singh Nagoke. He was a very strict Sarbloh Bebeki
Singh, a fearless fighter, and someone who did a lot of “Parchaar” to take
young Punjabis away from intoxicants, and make them Khalsas.
After a successful action against anti-Panthic forces, the trail followed by
Police led to his arrest. He was severely tortured by the Security Services
desperate for information on Babbar Khalsa. Bhai Kulwant Singh revealed
nothing, and became the first Sikh youth to be Shaheed in police cells from
torture. The dawn of the false encounter had arrived.
Sant Jarnail Singh ji had by now become a pivotal figure in India. The
murder of Bhai Kulwant Singh Nagoke, and many other injustices, false cases
against Sikhs, rape of Sikh girls, etc, led him to now openly speak on
stages against the Indira Gandhi Government. His Dharam Yudh Morcha had
gained a lot of momentum, and he was inspiring youth throughout Punjab to
take Amrit. However his speeches documenting human rights abuses against
Sikhs were by now seen to be shaking the foundations at Delhi.
Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
By now, the Babbar Khalsa had hatched a successful plan to assassinate “Gurbachana”.
A young Sikh carpenter called Ranjit Singh gained a job in his house in
Delhi doing general building work. At the most opportune time, Bhai Ranjit
Singh with some associates killed “Gurbachana” as he got out of his car,
which had returned home from a rally. They then escaped by jumping a very
high wall, when hunted by Police. Bhai Ranjit Singh was later arrested and
sentenced to long term imprisonment, then released as the Jathedar of Akal
Bhai Sukhdev Singh's Relationship With Sant Jarnail Singh
Since 1980, the Indian Security Forces had come to know of a youth called
Sukhdev Singh, and had began to hunt him. So Bhai Sahib permanently shifted
all command operations to Siri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. It was here that
stayed from 1980 till 1984. Babbar Khalsa had come into existence here.
Sant Jarnail Singh had established the Dharam Yudh Morcha. Bhai Sahib fully
supported this movement. He also wished all the youth of Punjab to leave
intoxicants and become Sikhs of the Guru.
Sant Jarnail Singh ji was also a highly spiritual and visionary Gursikh. He
knew since the Shaheedi of Jathedar Fauja Singh, that hard times would fall
on Sikhs and they needed to become Shasterdhari (armed). He also knew anti-Panthic
forces would do everything to divide the Sikh Youth to ensure that Sikh
demands are not met. The Sikh youth who were brave and full of spirit were
in two Jathebandi's; - Damdami Taksal and Akhand Kirtani Jatha. During the
early 1980s, a meeting occurred between Sant Jarnail Singh ji and Bhai
Joginder Singh Talwara. Bhai Amolak Singh was also sent to represent the
youth as no organisation had formed at the time of this meeting. In this
meeting it was agreed that no issues that divided these two groups would
ever be allowed stop the common cause of the Sikh Nation.
Later as Babbar Khalsa came into existence, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
held them in high respect, and they are often mentioned in his lectures.
Names like Bhai Kulwant Singh Nagoke, Bhai Manjit Singh Babbar are mentioned
Sant Bhindranwale Before Courting Arrest
Meeting In Jail
When Sant Jarnail Singh ji was in prison after being arrested in Chowk Metha,
it was national news. Bhai Sukhdev Singh and Bhai Wadhava Singh walked into
the police station armed with guns. The police realising who had just walked
in, ran for their lives. Bhai Sukhdev Singh asked Sant ji to come with them
and continue his Parchaar. Sant Jarnail Singh ji said he appreciated their
courage, but has no need to go underground. Sant ji said his release had
already been arranged legitimately.
Sant Ji respected the way Bhai Sukhdev Singh had quickly dealt with the
Nirankaris "7 Sitarees" (their equivalent to our Punj Pyares). Also how he
had planned how Bhai Ranjit Singh would infiltrate Nirankari Baba Gurbachana
house, and numerous other high profile actions.
Sacha Sukha (Truthful Sukha)
During 1983-84, the security services tried to divided the Singhs. It had
been the wish of the security services that Sikh youth fight amongst
themselves, creating enemies, and opportunities which could be used to
gather information from rivals, and start them eliminating each other.
Some infiltrators dressed up as Singhs and robbed a Hindu mans store in
Amritsar. They told him to leave Punjab or he will be killed. They pretended
to be Sant Bhindranwales men. The distraught Hindu shop keeper went to
Darbar sahib, and was told by sangat to see Bhai Sukhdev Singh, who was
based at Baba Atal Sahib Gurdwara. Bhai Sukhdev Singh was upset that people
are doing this is Gursikhi Baana (clothes), as it gives Gursikhs a bad name.
When the Babbar Khalsa Singhs located these infiltrators, Bhai Sukhdev Singh
got a laathi, (a long Danda- wooden stick), tied them upside down from a
tree and beat them with it. He made them give all the money back, and told
them never to threaten any innocent again.
Other infiltrators tried to stoke up the Taksali Singhs against Babbars
saying Sukhdev Singh had beat up these Singhs. Many rumours were circulated
to get one group against another. Some of these rumours later even got
published in books, to ferment differences between the groups. But Sant Ji
knew this was not correct, and instead started referring to Jathedar Sukhdev
Singh ji as "Sacha Sukha", (The Truthful Sukha).
Both Sant Ji and Bhai Sahib knew their fight was not against innocents. Sant
ji, too was called in press as a Hindu hater, but facts show he was highly
respected by many Hindus. The fight was only against those who choose to
Even today, in books written about the Operation Bluestar refer to
differences between the two leaders, which are baseless. Sant Longowal and
Gurcharan Singh Tohra, both key Akali leaders at that time also sought to
divide Sukhdev Singh and Sant ji. They were afraid of the growing prominence
of Sant ji and the amount of youth with him. The only person capable of
standing against him, who also had a lot of youth with him was Bhai Sahib.
So these leaders also indulged in rumour mongering to divide the two
Gurmukhs, and associated themselves with the Babbars.
Bhai Sahib realised these forces that were at work and so did Sant ji. Both
shared a mutual respect and their common cause. However no differences
directly arose between the two Gursikhs, despite the attempts of many. Both
fought together at Operation Blue Star, as the story continues
From L to R: Shaheed Bhai Manmohan Singh, Shaheed Bhai Mengha Singh, Shaheed Bhai Sukhdev Singh & Shaheed
Bhai Sulakhan Singh
Bhai Sahib's Family
During this period of 1980-84, Bhai Sahibs family was blessed with children.
Bhai sahib had one daughter, Amrit Kaur, and two sons called Tejinder Singh
and Gurvinder Singh.
Bhai Sahib elder brother, Bhai Mehal Singh also joined the ranks of the
Babbar Khalsa. He is an exceptional individual, especially capable with
electronics. These skills became very valuable to the Movement.
Rainsbai Kirtan in Amritsar, just before the 1984 attack on Darbar Sahib by the Indian
Government. If you look towards the bottom left hand corner, you'll see
Singhs from Babbar Khalsa International in full Bana (all are wearing Kesri
Dumallai). Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar and Bhai Anokh Singh Babbar were sat
there too. Just a few days later, many of these Singhs gave their lives to
protect the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib.
Another Shot From Opposite Angle
Bhai Sahib had been based in Siri Darbar Sahib for some year now. All the
Singhs based in Siri Darbar Sahib knew that the Government were sending
troops and a conflict would soon happen. General Subheg Singh ji commanded
all the Singhs during Operation Blue Star.
Bhai Sahib was accompanied by 90 Babbar Khalsa Singhs during the Operation.
General Subheg Singh had asked the Babbar Khalsa Singhs to position
themselves at the Guru Nanak Niwas, Guru Ram Das Niwas, and Baba Atal Sahib.
Bhai Sukhdev Singh and Bhai Mehal Singh were positioned at Baba Atal Sahib
Gurdwara. Bhai Mehal Singh ji, is a genius with electronics, and had created
an elaborate communication system around the whole complex, so all Singhs
knew what was happening all the time. When the Operation Blue Star began,
the first Singh to be Shaheed was Bhai Mengha Singh ji Babbar.
He was a very high jeevan wale Gursikh, who spent most of his time doing
joorian de seva (seva of shoes). He had been shot in the skull, however
just sat down, ignored the blood from his head. He started singing Sukhmani
Sahib very loud. Only when he had completed the whole Sukhmani Sahib did he
leave this world. When the initial firing ceased, all the Singhs including
Sant ji, and Bhai Sukhdev Singh were together at his funeral.
The Singhs all fought together for the next two days. They fiercely held the
Battalions of the Indian Army. They were expertly directed by and under the
guidance of General Subheg Singh ji. Every time the army thought they had
made some advance, the Singhs would go into the sewer systems, come up
behind the army and attack them from both sides.
Another Babbar, Bhai Avtar Singh was the one who did keertan in Sir
Harmandar sahib as part of a jatha. He continued keertan during the fighting
for many hours, and never stopped, giving strength to the Gursikhs fighting,
and also wishing the maryada of continuous keertan in Darbar Sahib to
remain. He was shot in the chest and attained shaheedi on the second day of
Operation Blue Star.
Bhai Anokh Singh Babbar was given the seva of ferrying innocent sangat out
of the complex during the 3 days of fighting. He and his unit saved hundreds
of sangat from the inevitable slaughter. For 3 days, they kept coming in and
out of the complex saving sangat, and passing vital ammunitions.
After fighting for 3 days, the Battalions of the Indian Army had suffered
many losses. Frustrated they brought in tanks, and a helicopter gunship to
attack the Singhs at Siri Akal Takht Sahib. Jathedar Sukhdev Singh saw from
his position at Baba Atal Sahib, that the Siri Akal Takht sahib was totally
desecrated, and the only Singhs left were the ones fighting around the well
underneath Siri Akal Takht Sahib. Bhai Mehal Singh sent a message to Sant Ji
on the communication system stating, that we can send 2 Singhs down the
sewage systems, to the well and get you out. But you have to tell us now,
otherwise it will be too late. Sant Ji sent a message back, stating, "He had
done Ardas never to leave, and will stay until Shaheedi". A few hours later,
Sant Ji accepted Shaheedi.
Much of the focus of the army was also on Baba Atal sahib and Guru Nanak
Niwas, but now with Siri Akal Takht Sahib subdued, the Army shifted the
tanks to their direction. The Singhs had now seen what had happened at Siri
Akal Takht Sahib. The Singhs told Jathedar Sukhdev Singh, we must leave now,
and continue the fight. Bhai sahib did not want to leave, and said he would
cover their escape. But they insisted, and Panj Gursikhs did a hukam on
Jathedar Sukhdev Singh. They were totally surrounded. A signal was sent out
to all Singhs still fighting at Baba Atal Sahib, Guru Nanak Niwas and Guru
Ram Das Niwas. They got suitcases from the Niwas (hotel), and tied one on
the front, and one on the back, with ropes. All the Singhs came running out
together fighting under a hail of bullets at the same time. Many Singhs were
shaheed, but many also managed to get to the side streets of Amritsar.
The whole area was under curfew. But many Singhs were given sanctuary by the
local residents. The same Hindu shop keeper, that Jathedar Sukhdev Singh had
helped before, helped Bhai Sahib escape. The Army was going from house to
house and flat to flat, gathering all Sikh men, as part of Operation
Woodrose to massacre them either inside Darbar Sahib, or in surrounding
areas. Hundreds of Sikhs were being killed. When the Army came to check the
building in which Bhai Sahib had gone to, they did not search the flat. The
Hindu shop keeper opened the door, and because he was a Hindu, he convinced
them to ignore the flat.
Time to Regroup
Bhai Sahib realised that many valuable Gursikhs had been lost during the
Operation Blue Star and Operation Woodrose. The Government had also attacked
40 other Gurdwaras, aswell as Siri Darbar Sahib complex, and in total many
thousands of Sikhs had died.
L to R: Unknown, Balwant Singh, Shaheed Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar, Shaheed
Master Sukhwinder Singh Babbar, Shaheed Bhai Sulakhan Singh Babbar
The Babbars had to regroup a mount a long term sustainable guerrilla
movement to establish Khalistan. The Babbars were instructed to cross the
border into Pakistan. In Pakistan and other foreign countries, the Babbars
started buying better quality weapons, and set up training camps. They
created a plan to re-integrate into Punjab, under numerous disguises and set
up an elaborate communication procedures.
The Indian Intelligence Services were always of the opinion that Jathedar
Sukhdev Singh lived in Pakistan. They stuck to this theory for many years.
However Bhai Sahib never went to Pakistan. He just sent a cell of Gursikhs
there to organise activities. Instead he continued his practice of leading
from the front, and took part in actions in Punjab.
Day by day as more and more missions were accomplished by the Singh's, daily
reports came out in Press. Bhai Sahib was always quiet, but when he said
something it had a lot of impact. People knew that everything he said
happened, or Panthic dushts he targeted did get eliminated. Slowly his name
from the press reports, came unto the lips of every person in Punjab. Young
boys in schools, when arguing in the playground, would say to each to other,
“Who do you think you are? Are you Sukhdev Singh Babbar?” The name and the
icon became born……
Bhai Sahib very cleverly became active under the disguise of a building
contractor. He posed as a rich man, which allowed him to rub shoulder with
those in power in Punjab. This way he kept in touch with all those, who made
decisions to that affect Punjab everyday. It is also allowed him to keep
faxes, and other elaborate communication devices, by which he communicated
with Gursikhs on a world wide level, without raising suspicion.
As a building contractor, he was also in touch with those controlling the
construction of the canals which led Punjab river waters to other states. He
subtly ensured that the contracts would not be completed, and the projects
are continuously delayed. Plus being a rich man, he made politic contacts
which gave him access to information about which police officers were active
against the Singh's, and who was torturing and killing the Singh's.
Further he began creating links with other Sikh Youth Jathebandi's with like
minded aims and objectives. This way he created a network called the “5
Member Committee”. This joined the forces of Babbar Khalsa, Khalistan
Liberation Force, (Avtar Singh Brahma, then Gurjant Singh Budsinghwale),
Khalistan Commando Force (Parmjit Singh Panjwar), Bhindrawale Tiger Force
(Rashpal Singh Chandra), Sikh Students Federation (Daljeet Singh Bittu).
Later after losing all confidence in the leaders of the Akali Dal like Badal
and Tohra. Bhai Sahib set up the Babbar Akali Dal to give a political voice
in Punjab, and a voice for the widows of Delhi. However many of its leaders
were given life imprisonment under TADA with no trial or charges.
L to R: Shaheed Bhai Gurdeep Singh Vakeel (KLF), Shaheed Bhai Piara
Singh, Shaheed Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar, Shaheed Bhai Amarjeet Singh
Jathedar Sukhdev Singh's Jeevan
Bhai Sahib had a very high Jeevan. His eyes shone, and his stature was like
Purataan Gursikhs. He was very quiet, but was highly intelligent. He never
raised his voice, and always spoke with a sweet voice. Jathedar jee was very
close to Bhai Anokh Singh. Both Singh's would live for days on sholay de
daane (chick peas) and Naam. Even during great hardship, moving by the night
and living undercover they managed to keep there Bibekta and amrit vela.
His daily prayers would last many hours, as he meditated peacefully on God.
He was a very humble and caring man, soft-spoken, yet very determined and
strong of character. He was a perfect example of a Gursikh.
The Punjab Police and Indian Intelligence Services made capturing and
eliminating Bhai Sahib their top priority. They realised he was the backbone
of the movement. As other Generals were being Shaheed, they were being
replaced, however Bhai Sahib was so iconic and organisationally effective,
he would be irreplaceable. Many Singh's were tortured in the cruellest of
manner to find out the whereabouts of Bhai sahib. However such was their
love and respect for him, that they never uttered a word.
Both Bhai Anokh Singh and Bhai Sulakhan Singh had amazing spiritual Jeevans.
Both when captured were severely tortured. Bhai Anokh Singh jis was tortured
for many days, his eyes were removed, his tongue was cut off, and his
insides were exposed and hot peppers pushed in. Bhai Sulakhan Singh was
Shaheed just as Bhai Mani Singh ji was, as he was cut joint from joint.
Shaheed Vice Jathedar Sulakhan Singh at Right
Bhai Manmohan Singh just stated to his torturers that his name was Manmohan
Singh. He said ask me anthing else you want, that is all I will tell you.
After many days torture, the only words the police heard from his mouth were
“Waheguru”, until he also was ultimately Shaheed. Another Singh, close to
Bhai Sahib had his legs tied between two jeeps, which drove off, ripping him
For 14 years Bhai Sukhdev Singh led the Khalistan movement in Punjab. He
ensured many responsible for the genocide against sikhs, met there suitable
ends. During the late 80`s and early 90`s, the Singhs were so strong, that
they virtually ran a parallel government in Punjab.
Even international magazines, such as article in India Today had reported
that Bhai Sukhdev Singh Jee was the "most prominent militant leader since
1978, who had, over the years, acquired an aura of Invincibility". With Bhai
Sukhdev Singh at its helm "Babbar Khalsa had acquired a reputation as the
most puritanical, austere, and ideologically committed militant
organisation". Most Indian journalists regarded the organisation as above
the other groups as it owned up to its assassinations and condemned the
killings of innocent civilians. There was another report in India Today
where an un-named Police officer told the paper that when they tortured
Gursikhs by cutting there muscles and pouring chilli powder into the cuts
and also using hot poke into the eyes and muscles and ripping the muscles of
the bones he used to hear Naam-Simran and also Paath. In one such case was
when he witnessed the death of Bhai Anokh Singh Jee Babbar. He left the
police shortly afterwards due to stress and mental problems.
To really understand what Bhai sahib was you have to consider one thing. If
we youth today, most of whom are the same age as these Singh's were when they
did all this Seva, had intelligence services, police, black cats, Sikh
informers after us. How long do you think we would last? Probably a few
days. Bhai sahib lasted 14 years. Virtually hundreds of Singh's were shaheed
under torture in efforts by Punjab police to find Bhai sahib. They had there
families annihilated. But such was the love and respect for Bhai sahib,
no-one ever spoke. How much love does someone have for someone to do that?
They saw their families killed, and were tortured limb by limb themselves,
but never told where Jathedar Sukhdev Singh was. Then you understand what he
was, and how highly he was held by so many. To become a singh with him,
meant death, not only of you, but your whole family. There was no culture of
fear around him, it was a culture of Love and Respect.
Another mark of Jathedar ji, was after his Shaheedi, no group was for many
years capable doing any major operation in India, until Bhai Dilavaar Singh
Babbar blew up the genocidal Beant Singh, Congress Chief Minister of Punjab.
Even after that, the movement has never been the same. So many Dushts
against Sikhi are still alive and active today. The Panth needs Gursikhs of
the Calibre of Jathedar Ji.
Never was there a better example of a Gursikh worthy of the title "Jathedar
Ji". This was the mark of his Jeevan, the mark of the man and the Legend.
Discipline Amongst The Ranks
It is essential in any successful organisation to have discipline amongst
the ranks. Bhai Sahib would initially only allow Spiritual and Rehitvaan
Gursikhs into the ranks of Babbar Khalsa. However over the years, many of
the diamonds of the Movement became Shaheed such as Bhai Anokh Singh, Bhai
Sulakhan Singh, etc. Some say joining forces with other Jujahroo groups led
to Babbar Khalsa losing its Rehit. It is easy to sit back and criticise and
hard to do Seva.
When the first generation of Singh's became Shaheed, the new recruits that
were coming in, were not fighting as much because they Khalsa, and wanted to
establish a homeland Khalistan on high ideals. They were coming in because
of Police excesses, rape & torture in villages. As a result all Jujarhoo
groups lost Singh's who had full faith in Gurmat, and never compromised their
ideals. Many of the new recruits were mere kids, and the experienced
Jujarhoo's, themselves such as Jathedar were just in their late twenties,
Shaheed Bhai Gurdev Singh Debu - Singh's were boiled alive
So in this new atmosphere maintaining discipline was very important. It was
difficult to do, because without exposing who you are, how can you directly
communicate with the ranks? You never know which youth will succumb to
torture in the future, or maybe a spy infiltrating the group.
The way Bhai Sahib would keep an eye on the ranks, was to sometimes pretend
to be a simple Singh fighting with some cells. He would go on missions with
grass roots Singh's. But these Singh's never knew that this six foot, well
built Singh was the Jathedar. This way he kept an eye on the ranks, without
Punjab Police And The Movement
Between 1978 till the late 1980`s, many Punjab police officers actually
helped the Singh's, or ignored their activities. The government was aware of
this, which is why during the early days they relied more on the army. When
the 5 Jujahroo groups joined forces, one of the first statements was made by
Jathedar ji. In this statement, he asked all freedom fighting Singh's to not
kill innocent Police Officers, and no one was to harm any families of Police
Officers. This was a visionary statement, and went along way to reducing
tensions between them. Jathedar ji knew the fight was not against other
Punjabis, but it was against the Brahmins who used the Indian Government
machinery to destroy Sikhi.
Security Services realising the impact of this statement, and also realising
that the Singh's were now during the period of 1986-1989, completely
controlling Punjab, they changed their tactics. The Security services via
Police Commander Ribero created groups called “Black cats”. These were
security services personnel, cruel police officers, some Nihangs, and
criminals. They would dress up as Singh's, and commit heinous crimes against
innocents in Punjab. This would include kidnapping, murder, rape, torture,
looting, etc. They did this dressed as Singh's in Bana, and after their crimes
drop names of leading freedom fighters to give them a bad name in the Punjab
villages which sympathised and protected the Singh's. This policy was used
very effectively against Baba Manochahal group, and others. The policy worked
in many ways, it stopped villagers sympathising with groups, it caused
problems within groups, who were not sure if the tales of woe were true.
Plus the victims were those who need most protection, and the “black cats”
were always richly rewarded. Many times, it was the same police officers who
dressed as Singh's at night to pare and loot, then in the morning they would
go and investigate, only to get recognised by the victims.
Police Wipe Out Whole Families
When the Congress leader Beant Singh came to power he created a policy of
“Shoot to Kill” any Sikhs, without any reason. To ensure the Punjab police
do not lose their hunger for genocide. He took the “black cat” policy to
another level. KPS Gill is able and highly violent Commander of Police, even
went as far, as sending “black cats” to kill innocent Police Officers and
their families. The horror of this motivated all police officers to wipe
Punjab's earth of any Sikh youth. It kept them motivated to mass murder,
pillage, loot, and annihilate any family linked to any freedom fighter.
Fake Police encounters became everyday practice, and were treated as a
points scoring game. Every evening for years, KPS Gill would phone each of
his main officers in each district, and they would have to report numbers of
Sikh youth they had killed that day. So one would say 25, another 30,
another 45. Whoever was the lowest would be frowned upon, or told he was not
patriotic enough. These were the genocidal days of 1989 -1992.
Jathedar Jee's Capture and Shaheedi
Punjab had by now become a state with Police, black cats, army positioned
in every corner, road, village, etc. It was becoming very difficult for
Singh's to move from place to place.
Bhai Sahib was actually arrested a few days before he was declared Shaheed.
The police had traced him to his house in Patiala. When he was arrested,
Bhai Sahib said, "The Sukhdev Singh you are looking for has left, all that
is left now is this body. You may do with it as you please."
He was tortured severely, but never revealed a word about his fellow Singh's,
who after his Shaheedi took 6 months before they could regroup again in
Shaheed Saroop Of Jathedar Ji
KPS Gill Makes The Announcement
In the end, on 9th August 1992, it was announced that Bhai Sahib was shaheed
in a police encounter. Incidentally Bhai Sahib's birthday and Shaheedi day
were on the same date. On the 10th August newspaper front pages were
headlines that Babbar Khalsa Chief has been killed. The notorious KPS Gill
made a statement, “The leader of Babbar Khalsa, Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar
has been killed near Ludhiana in a Police encounter. Babbar was responsible
for the murder of Nirankari Gurbachan and a 1000 others.”
While using his fingers to twist his moustache, on national TV, KPS Gill,
further stated that now “Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, Parmjit Singh Panjwar and
Wassan Singh Zaffarwal should now surrender, otherwise they would meet the
same fate as Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Babbar and Khalistan Liberation Force
Leader Bhai Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala.” (who was Shaheed just months
earlier). He further stated “Sukhdev Singh Babbar not only supplied Babbar
Khalsa with weapons, but all the other groups aswell. He was responsible for
firstly, the liquidation of most of the Nirankari leadership, the Nirankari
Baba Gurbachan, Niranjan Singh I.S.S in Chandigarh. Further major operations
in Punjab, Delhi and Haryana, and was an expert in precise bombs explosions
to kill targets. He also killed Agriculture Minister D.S. Tyagi, Ex-Cabinet
Minister Joginderpal Painde in Ludhiana at Bhai Bala Chowk, Manjit Singh SHO,
and many other dignitaries & politicians.
A more accurate list of Bhai Sahib missions can be researched from “Vangaar”
magazine copies. Many notorious names such as Radhe Shaam (Congress Leader),
Khishi Raam Sharma (BJP Leader), and murderous police officers - Hargeet
Singh S.H.O, Ghabar Singh S.H.O. of Ludhiana can be added to the list.
The Babbar Khalsa unit of Bhai Anokh Singh was sent to Delhi after the riots
of 1984, under a plan drawn by Jathedar ji. They were credited with
assassinations and explosions which killed many leading Congress politicians
and planners of the riots.
Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar, Killed In A Fake Encounter - An IHRO Report
Bhai Sukhdev Singh 'Babbar', the chief of Babbar Khalsa International was
announced by the police to have been killed in an encounter with the police
on the Sahnewal-Dehlon Road in Ludhiana district at 5am on 9.8.92, but
contrary to the police claim all other reports indicated that Sukhdev Singh
was already in police custody. It was in these circumstances that IHRO
appointed a four-member team comprising of its General Secretary Mohinder
Singh Grewal and Secretaries Gurbhajan Singh Gill, Bhupinder Singh Somal and
Harchand Singh Gill to investigate the incident.
The Fabricated Police Version
According to FIR Number: 63 dated 9.8.92 u/s 307/34 IPC, 25/27 Indian Arms
Act and 3/4/5 TADA (P) Act of Police Station Sahnewal:
"SSP Sidharath Chattopadhya instructed that various militant organisations,
especially the Babbar Khalsa International are likely to execute a big
action in connection with the Bhog ceremony of the Khalistan Liberation
Force Chief, General Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala, so nakabandis were done
around Ludhiana. I along with Shiv Kumar-DSP (D), Narinder Pal Singh-DSP, PP
Sabharwal-SP (O), Ganesh- SI (CRPF) and their parties was present at the
Dharaur Culvert in the revenue estate of village Nandpur when at 5 AM, a
Maruti Car No: CH-01-F/1607 arrived from Dehlon side. Two Sikhs were sitting
on the front seats. We signalled them through torchlight to stop but they
left the car and after taking positions on the canal distributary bank,
started firing in order to kill the police party but we, in self-defence
replied the firing and I informed the police control room through wireless.
From the nearby check-post, the SSP along with this party came to our help.
The firing ensued from both sides with automatic weapons. The militants made
me a special target. I used my SLR but the firing from their side was very
heavy. Not afraid of losing my life I continued to fire. When the firing
ceased, we found a dead body there. The other man had escaped. One AK-47
rifle with six live rounds was found on the body, while 32 empties were
lying nearby. A small dairy bearing the name of Sukhdev Singh, Head Sewadar,
Babbar Khalsa International was recovered from his person. The escapee had
left seven empties of .30 mossier behind. The police fired a total of 203
rounds during the hour long encounter whereas, the militants fired 39
Balwant Singh Gill SP (D)
9.8.92 at 7:30am
The IHRO Findings
According to the findings of the IHRO team, Bhai Sukhdev Singh was living at
house number 20, Urban Estate, Patiala in the garb of a contractor as Jasmer
Singh Sandhu. On the night of August 8, 1992, the Ludhiana SP(D) , Balwant
Singh Gill, on receiving cue from Chandigarh went to Patiala with a selected
police force and rang the call bell of the said house and also gave the
'code word' which was known to a top notch of the Babbar Khalsa and a very
few other associates.
When the Babbar Khalsa chief descended from the upper storey of the house
and opened the gate, the police immediately pounced upon him. After a short
scuffle, the Babbar fell down and was over-powered. He was then taken to
Ludhiana along with his Maruti Car (CH-01-F/1607). At Ludhiana, he was
interrogated and tortured in the CIA staff and the Focal Point police
In the early hours of August 9 when he was almost dead due to severe
torture, he was put in his car and taken to the Dharaur village culvert on
the Sahnewal-Dehlon road. At about 5 am, while he was still seated in the
car, he was shot dead and his body was thrown out of the car. Later the
police made up the story that the Babbar was shot dead in an armed encounter
in order to project the 'bravery' of certain police officials like SSP
Chattopadhya, SP(D), B. S. Gill, DSP(D), Shiv Kumar, DSP, Narinder Pal
Singh, SP(O), P. P. Shabharwal and Inspector Gurjit Singh in anticipation of
rewards and promotions.
Points To Ponder
The police story has many holes in its armour. These are some very
noteworthy points which make the police story look like reality ridiculous:
While showing the blood stained rear seat of the car, its broken glasses and
Sukhdev Singh's turban lying in the car to the newsmen, the
over-enthusiastic police officials forgot that they themselves, in their
made-up story had alleged that the two Sikhs had left the car and taken
positions along the distributary bank before the "encounter" started. Then
how did the blood and the turban come into the car, which had already been
The police says that the Babbar was identified from a small diary bearing
the name of Sukhdev Singh Babbar, Head, Sevadar, Babbar Khalsa
International, which was allegedly recovered from his body. Will an
underground militant, who was living in the guise of a contractor Jasmer
Singh Sandhu for long time, carry along with him a diary with his full real
name and particulars written on it?
Bhai Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala, the Chief of the Khalistan Liberation
Force, who was killed by mainly the same police party a week earlier, was
also alleged to have been identified in an identical manner. Do the
militants who encounter this very police party, bring the diaries containing
their full identity in their pockets to help these police officials in their
The people of the area heard only seven or eight shots being fired at the
time of the "encounter" whereas, according to the police report 342 rounds
were fired. How do we account for such a large difference?
According to the police version, two SP's and two DSP’s were present on a
single check-post, that too on a comparatively unimportant road, whereas the
SSP himself was also near at hand. Do such high-ranking officers normally
cluster at check-posts on unimportant roads?
The SSP and the SP (D) who were both present at the time of the “encounter
of Sukhdev Singh were also present during Gurjant Singh’s “encounter”. But
when most of the other fake or sometimes genuine encounters involving
militants of lesser importance are reported, these senior officers are not
present there. How is it, that these officers are present at the time and
place of only those encounters in which the top ranking Sikh militants are
about to involve themselves?
Baba Manochahal On Jathedar Jee
Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal released a tape praising the character of Bhai
Sahib. Politically their views differed. Bhai Sahib was in favour of
boycotting elections, while Baba Manochahal was in favour of standing in them.
Bhai Sahib saw this as accepting Indian supremacy and against the 1986
Declaration of Khalistan. However despite this difference the Pyaar between
the two Great Generals was clear to see.
When Police raided his Bhai Sahib house, where he had lived in disguise,
they found numerous. There books which detailed the Russian and French
Revolutions. Other books on American Independence and its constitution, and
books on English History and the workings of its Parliament. This showed how
far Bhai sahib has studied into how nations are built and structured.
Days After Shaheedi
The day after Bhai Sahibs shaheedi was announced, his body was taken to
Ludhiana Civil Hospital under tight army security. A post mortem was done,
then quickly the body was taken to a commemoration ground and cremated. The
authorities knew the popularity of Bhai Sahib in Punjab, and wanted to make
sure no huge funeral could take place.
Worldwide numerous Akhand Paths & Rainsbhais were held in Bhai Sahib memory.
The genocidal Chief Minister Beant Singh put a state wide curfew on the 20th
August to ensure no Akhand Path bhogs are held. This curfew was enforced
with a “shoot to kill” policy on anyone seen walking the streets.
A day before, in the village Dhassuwal, Amritsar, an Akhand Path bhog was
held for the longest serving leader of the Khalistan Movement. Realising the
impact on this, roadblocks were set on a 35km radius. All the villages
within the radius were evacuated. Anyone trying to get to the bhog ceremony
was arrested or shot on sight. Thousands of Police and Army personnel were
sent to the area to enforce this.
So the 37 year old leader of the Sikh Freedom Movement, who was six foot
tall, with a good build, hawkish eyes, brave warrior, and creator of the
Babbar Khalsa had no Shaheedi smagam in his home village, but all of the
world it was commemorated.
In his house, surrounded by Police, 5 young Singhs, his father, Bapu Jind
Singh, his wife Bibi Sukhwant Kaur, Bibi Gurmeet Kaur - his sister-in-law
and wife of Bhai Mehal Singh, brothers Rushal Singh and Angrej Singh, and
sisters Swaran Kaur, Charan Kaur, Jeet Kaur, and cousins Harbans Singh,
Daljeet Singh and Sukha Singh were allowed to stand in ardas at the Akhand
Path Bhog. They were all surrounded by Police.
Outside the Police had arrested and taken to prison everyone who tried to
attend or was already present at the bhog. This included over 100 men, over
200 bibian, Bhai Sahib`s relatives, his children:- Tejinder Singh (13 years
old), Gurvinder Singh (9 years old) and Amrit kaur (11 years old). Bhai
sahib nephews:- Balraj Singh (19 years old) and Pargat Singh (17 years old),
and other relatives Baghel Singh, Rashpal Singh, Baljit Singh, Baldev Singh,
Dalbir Singh were also arrested and put in cells. Eve those Gursikhs making
langar were not spared police arrest.
The Indian Security Services and especially RAW (Research and analysis Wing)
knew the Babbar Khalsa group were a puritan group who's fight was based on
high ideals. Jathedar Sukhdev Singh was an iconic figure in Punjab and the
backbone of the movement. They knew they had to discredit him to make sure
no new Sukhdev Singh should rise from his ashes. This policy had already
been used effectively on Deepa Heeran wale who was hugely popular in his
So a detailed propaganda campaign was launched by the security forces, and
spread via the press, and even via other agents amongst the Sikh leadership.
In hindsight now it is easy to see who is who. In them days it was more
difficult. Just compare the sacrifices of Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Babbar,
Anokh Singh Babbar, Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala, Avtar Singh Brahma, and
Gurbachan Singh Manochal, with those who spoke against them such as Badal,
Wassan Zaffarwal, Dr Jagjit Chohan and other Panthik traitors.
Jathedar Sukhdev Singh was attacked on two points which is important to be
cleared, as the propaganda was done over a number of years to the Sikh
masses and some many still question Bhai Sahib.
Firstly, comments were made on his lifestyle mainly due to the house in
which he lived. The house was very large and well decorated. We have to
understand for Bhai Sahib to live for 14 years and take guerrilla warfare to
the level that he did, plus also co-ordinate efforts world wide, he could
not have done this living in a field, a ditch, or a shack. The house and
lifestyle were part of his disguise as the rich building contractor, which
gave him access to numerous telephone lines, faxes, and powerful contacts.
This was essential to run a parallel government like he between 1986 -1989.
Secondly propaganda was spread that he remarried and had children. This is
also not true. Bhai Sahib was only married once to Bibi Sukhwant Kaur in
1978, and he had children with her. To maintain his disguise, he could not
have his actual wife living with him. She was constantly under surveillance,
and it would blow his disguise straight away. As part of the disguise, it
was made to look like he had a family. This was with a Bibi Parcharak who
was sympathetic to the cause, and the child was adopted from a Shaheed
Bhai Sahib was a Gursikh of high calibre, with amazing qualities and a
Jeevan full of Seva , Simran and Sacrifice……Today the Panth desperately
needs more like him…
Movement Slows Down
This period between mid 1992 to 1993 saw the capture of many of the
Leadership of the movement. Within months, Bhai Rashpal Singh Chandra, Bhai
Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala, Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Babbar and Baba
Gurbachan Singh Manochahal were Shaheed. Other key figures shifted operations
to Pakistan and other countries. Later Wassan Zaffarwal, Dr Sohan Singh and
Dr Jagjit Chohan showed their true colours. Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu was
arrested and held in prison for many years under TADA.
In the run up to the next election, Congress Chief Minister Beant Singh made
a statement that he was higher the Sahib Siri Guru Gobind Singh, because he
has killed all his Singhs. By now a new generation had joined this path.
Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara had set up a unit, which decided to show Congress
leader Beanta that Singhs had not been finished yet. A young Singh called
Bhai Dilawar Singh Babbar sacrificed himself to assassinate Beant Singh and
many of his aides.
KPS Gill still walks free today…….