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TRUTH   JUSTICE   FREEDOM

TODAY, BABA GURBACHAN SINGH IS COMMEMORATED IN VILLAGE MANOCHAHAL 

Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal was born on 6 June 1954, in the Amritsar district. His parents Atma Singh and Gurmej Kaur were simple farmers but his family had a history of fighting injustice, as Atma Singh’s uncle had sacrificed his life in the Jaito Morcha, when he marched against the British Raj.

The family moved from village Manochahal to Naushera Pannuan when he was still young because his mother’s brothers had left for Singapore and left behind a large farm which his family then maintained. In his childhood, Baba Gurbachan Singh was a very strong and muscular boy, who enjoyed wrestling and sports. He completed his education and as per his father’s wishes, he joined the Indian Army. At 6’1” and weighing over 200 pounds, the Army happily enlisted him as an “A level” recruit.

After becoming a baptised Sikh, Baba Gurbachan Singh became very close to Sant Kartar Singh Bhindranwale and decided to travel round India with his Jatha. On 13 April 1978, the Nirankari cult, widely believed to be sponsored by the Indian Government, held a march through the holy city of Amritsar, in which slogans against the Sikh religion were shouted. Representatives from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and Jatha Bhindran, marched peacefully to protest against the Nirankari’s but they were brutally attacked by cult members and the Police. Thirteen Singhs lost their lives to the Police brutality and many more were injured. Baba Gurbachan Singh who also took part in this march, was shot in the arm.

It didn’t take long before Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochal became a wanted man by the Indian Government who put a RS 25 lakh reward on his head. His capture proved unsuccessful so the police turned their attention to his family. His father Atma Singh and his brother Tarlochan Singh, who had deserted the army after the 1984 attack on Harmandar Sahib, were arrested. After spending six years in jail they were released. Baba Manochahal's wife and son along with his other brothers - Nirvair Singh who was a farmer and Ninder Singh who worked for the electricity board, were arrested. Both Atma Singh and Nirvair Singh were later killed in a fake encounter by the Police.

Finally, on 28 February 1993, the police surrounded the village outside Rotal where Baba Manochahal was staying. Baba Manochahal was shot by police who were entrenched behind a tubewell.

Please read the translation below of an excerpt from Baba Manochahal’s diary which shows the pain he felt for the injustices suffered by the Sikhs:

“My friends will be waiting for my New Year greetings, wishing them happiness. Oh my friend! How can I wish you Happy New Year. As yet, I still have to guard my heritage which is under constant threat of humiliation. The turban of my Father is rolling somewhere in the dust. It may lay wasted in the dark corner of some police station. After the murder of our mothers and sisters, our tears have been unceasing. Our innocent boys who are soft as flowers, lie beneath bridges, below the trees, murdered in false encounters. Our sisters’ honour remains unavenged since the Delhi massacre. I am in great and constant grief, like the tender butterfly that flutters, whose wings have turned grey with the passing of time. In this struggle I may not be recognised and may get lost. In this dreadful situation, how can I then convey my New Year greetings to you. We will wait for better times. Then I shall send such greetings - when Spring visits our garden....”

© The Sikh Organisation for Prisoners Welfare 2018