’’Baba Gurbachan Singh’’

’’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 Ji escaped each time and continued to be a painful thorn in India’s side. When all the other Singhs 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 Ji was a Saint-Soldier and a farsighted General.

Baba Gurbachan Singh completed his education and at his father’s wishes, decided to join the army. Baba Ji was 6”1 and over 200 pounds. The army happily enlisted him as an “A level” recruit.

Even in 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 Ji was doing nitnem, he fell into deep meditation. The time for the daily military parade came and went and Baba Ji 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 Ji and shook him into awareness. Baba Ji 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 Ji’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 Ji. Baba Ji had broken the Hindu officer’s arm and his nose.

Baba Gurbachan Singh was arrested and court marshaled. After a year of prison, Baba Ji left the army and returned home with a desire to dedicate his life to Sikhi.

As the days of the attack seemed to be drawing nearer, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale 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 Ji met Baba Ji very warmly and told him that an attack on Sree Darbar Sahib was imminent. Baba Ji requested that finally this time his seva should be accepted and he would join Singhs in defending the Complex and become Shaheed. But Sant Ji knew that this Singh would one day be a General that would shake all of India. Sant Ji 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 Center, it would only be for independence. For Khalsa Raj. Baba Ji vowed to give his all in the fight for the Panth and for sovereignty. Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale gave Baba Gurbachan Singh a siropa and lovingly ordered him to return to his village and not return until summoned. Baba Ji 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 Ji had spoken of was now at hand.

Even before the 1984 attack, Baba Gurbachan Singh was a wanted man. The security forces knew he was close to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and committed to the Sikh nation. As early as 1980 the police had once surrounded Gurdwara Baba Dhanna Singh in Naushera Panoan where Baba Ji was doing seva and ordered Baba Ji to surrender. Baba Ji 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 Ji 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 assempled and the Police were forced to return to their stations empty-handed.

In 1981 Baba Ji had begun to carry a revolver and knew that the Sikh struggle would have to resort to arms.
Baba Ji’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 Bhindranwale Ji’s orders. He knew Sant Ji wanted him to organize the Sikh Freedom movement after the attack.

When villagers began to march towards Darbar Sahib, Baba Ji 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 Ji 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.

No Compromise
After the attack, those Singhs who were close to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale 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 Bhindranwale 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 Ji was determined to keep his promise of fighting for Sikh freedom.

Early Battles
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 Ji’s trail and once even managed to capture him. The CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) had sideswiped Baba Ji’s motorcycle one night and then after tying him, threw him in their Jeep. Baba Ji 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 Ji’s true life as an outlaw would begin after a battle in his own home village Manochahal. Baba Ji 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 Ji 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 Ji open the door. The sarpanch was asked to stand aside. Baba Ji then yelled from inside, “Give me a flashlight!” The police were confused and asked “Why do you need it?” Baba Ji 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 Ji and his brother armed their assault rifles and set them on “burst”. Baba Ji 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 Ji and his brother jumped over the officers who were still lying in position. A Punjab Police officer tried to tackle Baba Ji as he was running but also failed. Baba Ji had wreaked havoc on the police and escaped. One officer thought Baba Ji was chasing him and for kilometers ran in front of Baba Ji. 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.

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 day.

On April 29, 1986 the Panthic Committee called a press conference at Sree Darbar Sahib and made the declaration of an independent Sikh nation, Khalistan.

Baba Gurbachan Singh along with the other Singhs had gone into Darbar Sahib undercover. Baba Ji 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 Ji 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 Ji were Bhai Sukhwinder Singh Sangha, Bhai Satnam Singh Chheena and Bhai SurJit Singh Behla. Baba Ji’s brother Bhai Mohinder Singh also was a close associate.