‘He was an Angel’ ( Oh ta Farishta si),
These words describe the deep feelings of love and respect people of Punjab have for Baba Manochahal. As Buzurg Sikhs sit in groups in village centres and talk about the age gone, this one name still arouses feelings of Love and faith in hearts of many.
The policemen who saw him, who met him, who had a word with him, till today bear witness to his bravery, his simplicity and his determination to fight till end. In words of one such policeman ‘’when he was escaping after an encounter, he passed by me. He was holding his GPM in his hand and bag of ammunition was on his shoulder. Looking at him, my gun fell. If he had been any other Kharkoo, I would be dead by now, but he just looked at me, smiled and said ‘ Sikh hai,Baani padya kar, tera bhala ho jooga’ (you are a Sikh, read Baani, you will be blessed) and just vanished.
Baba Gurbachan Singh ji Manochahal joined Damdami Taksal in 1974 at age of 20 during Sant Kartar Singh ji’s time. After completing his Vidya, he started going out with Jatha on parchar missions. After Sant Kartar Singh ji, Sant Jarnail Singh ji became Jathedar of Taksal in 1977. Babaji was very close to Santji and had great respect for Santji. He was one of the few Singhs assigned by Sant Kartar Singh ji to always remain with and assist Sant Jarnail Singh ji. When Sant Jarnail Singh ji was surrounded by Punjab Police to be arrested and killed in Mumbai, Santji left secretly in a white ambassador car, while Babaji lay on Santji’s bed with a bed sheet on his face (he had height same as Santji). All the time, police and spies thought that it was Sant Jarnail Singh who was sleeping on bed, but after 8 hours Babaji removed sheet from his face, policemen were left empty handed as it was not Santji, who had gone too far to be caught by now.
He had a highly spiritual Jeevan and a long nitnem at Amritvela. Many a times, he went in Samadhi, sitting one with Akaal Purakh for days at length. This made Sant Jarnail Singh ji respect Babaji further and Santji assigned Babaji with Kar sewa of Gurudwara Bhai Dhanna Singh ji at village Naushera Pannua. Interestingly, Baba Manochahal was the one who arranged for arms and ammunitions for Babbar Khalsa Singhs (Bhai Talwinder Singh, Bhai Anokh Singh and Bhai Kulwant Singh Nagoke) and did ardas for them when they went on their first mission to punish Narkdharis.
Baba Manochahal had a very magnetic personality, a peaceful shine in his eyes and firmness on face, and at same time, he had Heart and humility of a Sant, which made him a complete Sant- Sipahi.
Santji asked Babaji on 1st June 1984 to leave Darbar Sahib Parkarma and carry on the struggle. Baba Gurbachan Singh ji formed ‘ Bhindranwala Tigers Force of Khalistan’ in 1985 to carry on mission of Santji. He was Jathedar of 5-member Panthic committee which was formed on 26th Jan 1986 to lead Khalsa Panth and carry on struggle of Khalistan. Baba Gurbachan Singh ji was respected for his vision, his farsightedness, his Panthic Piaar , his dedication and his deep faith for Mission given by Santji. He took each and every word of Santji by his heart and worked entire life to fulfill bachans of Santji.
Baba Gurbachan Singh ji had qualities which many other leaders of Sikh Resistance Movement lacked. He was not only a soldier, but also a scholar, a poet, a visionary, a statesman, an ideologue of Movement. He had all the qualities which were needed in an able General, and He WAS the one. This was the reason that all Government Agencies, Traitors, agents and touts worked with all their might to bring him down someway.
There was Four million Rupee reward on his head, raids were carried out at 40-60 places at same time, with more than 60,000 Government troops involved, but the Great Warrior, Baba Manochahal always escaped the net and cordon of Military forces.
He was labeled ‘Agent of Congress’ by some so-called Panthic Leaders of those times, like Dr. Sohan Singh, who with help of government agencies had established themselves as leaders and ideologues of Kharkoo Jathebandis. But that didn’t stop Babaji from his mission. He didn’t care what people talked about him, who stood with him or against him, what danger he had to face due to his actions. He was a Sant, someone who had gone beyond filth, impurity and corruption of world and its distractions. He was working as a soldier of Dasmesh Pita, with his inner self imbued in Naam and Baani. He walked as a companion of 18th century Sikhs, without caring for the thorns cutting his feet and body. Burning heat of Punjab’s summers or chilling cold of winters, which he spent in fields of Punjab didn’t break his confidence. One by one, all his companions, all loyal soldiers fell in battlefield. His father, mother, brothers, nephews sacrificed their lives at altar of truth. Left alone in battlefield, he was asked by well-wishers to leave the battlefield and enemies called upon him to surrender, but this brave heart son of Guru Gobind Singh ji, soldier of Khalsa Panth, the true ‘Taksali Nihang’, the care-less Sant-Sipahi roamed in streets of villages singing ‘Sir dittea baajh nahi rehna Dharam Sir ditteaa baajh nahi rehna’ ( Dharam will not survive without sacrificing our heads).
And the day came, when he quietly drank the poison given by friends,to whom he had gone for food and shelter. As he understood what had happened, he quietly left the place where he drank the poison and started walking to an unknown destination, knowing very well that journey would end very soon and he will be in his Father’s feet.The enemies were following him, quietly watching his steps, waiting for him to fall. They didn’t carry enough courage to challenge poisoned Son of Guru Gobind Singh ji, whose name itself used to send shivers down their spine. As the ‘albela’ Baba kept walking, poison showed its effects and this ‘Tiger of Bhindranwala’ fell in a field outside the village of Rataul. As he fell and his Holy Soul flew away to Immortal Palace of Guru Gobind Singh ji, cowards of Punjab police appeared and pumped numerous bullets in his life-less body.
Baba Manochahal kept his promise, which he had made to Sant Kartar Singh ji and Sant Jarnail Singh ji Khalsa, to always remain a loyal and humble soldier of Khalsa Panth, to fight for Panth and Dharam till last breath and sacrifice his life for Charhdi Kala of Khalsa Panth.
Baba Manochahal ji used to say ‘’ When a Shaheed sacrifices his life, don’t pray for his soul to ‘rest in peace’, instead pray to Maharaj and Shaheed Singhs to send that holy soul again to serve the Panth as Panth needs brave and pure Souls. Only those blessed souls can take Panth to Charhdi kala’’.
Following Babaji’s bachans, I ask him and other brave Shaheeds not to Rest in Peace ( R.I.P.) but ‘’ Rise Again’’ (R.A.)
Baba Gurbachan Singh ji had some very unique and inspiring qualities which made him greatest General of Sikh Resistance Movement after Sant Jarnail Singh ji Khalsa.
Here I would like to share some incidents, words and actions of Babaji’s life which show his bravery, courage, determination, honesty, purity, spiritual prowess and ability to rise above worldly divisions and distractions.
Babaji and Taksal –
After Operation Bluestar, some people tried to target Baba Manochahal and his intentions and alleged that He was trying to be next Mukhi of Damdami Taksal. Babaji gave out a statement to press and media which was
‘’ I am living life of an outlaw, how can I work as Mukhi of Damdami Taksal? I joined Taksal as a vidyarthi in 1974 during Sant Kartar Singh ji’s time and after him, Sant Jarnail Singh ji Khalsa became Jathedar. I have always been a loyal and humble vidyarthi of Taksal and will remain so forever. The Mission which Santji gave me, I will carry it forward with all the power Maharaj has given me, till my last breath. I will not run away from my responsibilities and bachans of Mahapurakh Sant Jarnail Singh ji Khalsa. Those who are trying to create frictions between me and Baba Thakur Singh ji should stop these antics. I have always respected Babaji from the day I joined Taksal and shall continue to do it forever. The amount of Love and respect I have for Babaji, will never decrease and no one can decrease it. Yes, I will appeal to all the Singhs to remain calm and raise above all divisions and work for Charhdi kala of Panth. Only time will tell who served Taksal with all the heart and Soul. ‘’
Babaji and Movement –
After Operation Bluestar, Baba Thakur Singh ji and Damdami Taksal called Sarbat Khalsa at Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib to decide future course of action. On 26th January 1986, millions of Sikhs gathered at Sri Darbar Sahib Complex and Panthic committee was formed under Babaji’s guidance. Baba Manochahal was One of Singhs of Panthic Committee. Babaji gave an emotional speech that day in front of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib wherein he outlined the future course of action, which included Sewa of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib, Justice for victims of June and November 84 Massacres and armed struggle to attain Freedom for Sikh Panth. Babaji formed ‘Bhindranwala Tigers Force’ to fight for Freedom. When Bhai Satwant Singh and Bhai Kehar Singh ji were hanged on 6th January 1989, all the Mukhi Kharkoos gathered and did samagam for Shaheeds, where Bhai Wadhawa Singh Babbar did Kirtan and Baba Manochahal ji did ardas for Shaheeds. Baba Manochahal served as a uniting factor on many issues between Jathebandis and always stressed on unity of all the Jathebandis in One fighting force to attain freedom, an attempt which was torpedoed many a times by people like Dr.Sohan Singh and Jagjeet Singh Chohan. Babaji was part of Jatha which faced enemy bullets on 13th April 1978, and he was the Last general to fall on 28th Feb 1993, and after his Shaheedi, Movement came to a virtual standstill, which it is till today.
Babaji’s Vision and Far-sightedness.
Baba Manochahal’s younger brother, Bhai Mohinder Singh , who was also a top Kharkoo of BTFK, was shot dead by Bhai Sukhwinder Singh Sangha of same Jathebandi. Babaji was in Pakistan at that time, when he returned, his close aides reported the matter to Babaji and asked him to punish Sangha. Babaji called Sangha and asked calmly about the matter. Sangha replied to Babaji that he was ashamed and sorry for what had happened, and it was a case of wrong information, wherein he was told that Bhai Mohinder Singh had become a police agent. Babaji placed his hand on Sangha’s shoulder and said ‘’ Sangha, next time be careful about information and verify it before you shoot someone. Each and every Singh is precious in this struggle’’. Ashamed of what had happened; Bhai Sangha left Majha and started his operations in Malwa area. Singhs were surprised and amazed at restraint showed by Babaji in dealing with killer of his brother.
In 1991-92, Babaji alongwith Baba Thakur Singh ji called upon all Panthic parties and Jathebandis to fight elections as boycotting them would prove a historic blunder for Movement. But Akali factions who were sell-outs of Indian Government insisted on boycotting elections. People like Dr. Sohan Singh, Chief of Panthic committee cleverly took Babbars on his side to boycott elections and anyone who called upon Panthic parties to fight elections was labelled ‘’Government Agent’’. Baba Thakur Singh ji asked Simranjeet Singh Maan to fight elections but he also refused. Baba Manochahal sent Bhai Manjeet Singh, son of Sant Kartar Singh and brother of Bhai Amrik Singh ji Shaheed to Panthic meeting where it was to be decided whether or not to fight elections. Bhai Manjeet Singh, who was President of AISSF that time was asked by Babaji to somehow make all Singhs understand importance of elections. But Bhai Manjeet Singh couldn’t resist the pressure of other Jathebandis and signed the declaration boycotting elections. When he returned and met Baba Manochahal, he told Babaji about his failure to stop boycott of elections. Babaji took out his Gun, placed it on Bhai Manjeet Singh’s head and said ‘’ If you were not Son of Sant Kartar Singh ji, I would have shot you by now. You don’t know what you all did today. You have signed on death warrant of thousands of Sikhs today’’.
That day Babaji said his famous bachans ‘’ Big trees will fall, river of blood of innocents will flow, people who fold hands today in front of us and ask us to visit their houses will close their doors on us, they will even refuse us water, movement will fall back by decades. Panth will understand its loss only after the loss has been made’’.
Babbars and some other Jathebandis sided with Dr.Sohan Singh that time and labelled Baba Manochahal as Congress Agent. Babaji refused to give any statement against Babbars but clearly said about Dr. Sohan Singh that ‘’ this man has talked till today, he will just talk and live on. And it’s not hard for a person like him to change his words. Those who have chosen to follow him will understand later who was right and who was wrong ‘’.
Today Babaji’s words have come true. Baba Manochahal ji sacrificed his Life for Panth, but same Dr. Sohan Singh today lives in his Bungalow in Chandigarh and attends RSS functions. Recently he gave out a statement that ‘’ I never had any relationship with Khalistan movement or Khalistanis’’.
When some Singhs praised Wassan Singh Jaffarwal in front of Baba Manochahal in 1991, Babaji smiled and said ‘’ He is not Singh, He is wassu, wassu, and with time, you will see his Truth’’. And we all saw the great surrender drama of Wassan Jaffarwal!!
Babaji and Panthic Unity.
After election boycott decision and Babaji;s support for elections, some young Babbars started looking for Babaji, to shoot him. Navroop Singh was their Jathedar. After regular instigations, Singhs asked Babaji permission to teach Navroop Singh a lesson. Babaji quietly refused and politely said ‘’ If I too start acting like them, what will be the difference between me and him’’? Bhai Behla, who was right hand man of Babaji, got irritated and said ‘’ Jathedar ji, you will get killed one day and get us killed from hands of these stupid boys, without a reason. I can’t be peaceful like you’’. Babaji stood up, folded his hands and said ‘’ Singho, if you want, you can cut my head, but I will not let you fire on fellow brothers who are fighting for Panth. Yes they are on wrong path, lets do ardas to Maharaj to bless them with Bibek-Budh and understanding ‘’. After few days, Rataul encounter happened and BTFK Singhs fought for 56 hours in this encounter, killing scores of enemy forces. This sent shock waves in Kharkoos who were against Babaji. Navroop Singh confronted Sohan Singh and said ‘’ you say Manochahal is a Congress agent, if he is congress agent, how and why are his Singhs fighting for 56 hours in encounters’’? Sohan Singh head his hung in shame and left the place. After few days, Navroop Singh went to Babaji and apologized for his stupidity.
When Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Babbar attained Shaheedi, Babaji’s sister saw Babaji crying. She said you and Sukhdev Singh had so big ideological and strategic differences between you, then why are you crying for him? Babaji said ‘’ sister, whatever our differences, still he was my brother, we were walking on same path, we had same dream, I have lost a brave brother today’’.
This was Babaji’s love and respect for fellow Singhs and Jathedars.He had the ability to rise above partisan politics and work and think for entire Panth. When whole Indian Media started a slanderous campaign against Jathedar Sukhdev Singh, to malign his image and character, it was one and only Baba Manochahal who gave out a recorded statement to defend Jathedar Sukhdev Singh, his second marriage, his lifestyle and actions. He proved it through Baani and history that Jathedar Sukhdev Singh was not wrong in having a second wife while first was alive, as he had Anand Karaj with that Bibi, Jawahar Kaur, and it was necessary for him to live in Bungalow to carry out his Kharkoo activities. It was due to Babaji’s statement that honour of Bhai Sukhdev Singh was saved , else even Singhs close to Jathedar Sukhdev Singh and various other jathedars had started pointing fingers at character of Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar.
When Singhs asked Babaji why he was defending Sukhdev Singh, who had bitter differences with him, Babaji simply said ‘’ I’m defending honour of a Shaheed who fought and died for Panth. I just can’t let his blood go waste due to all this maligning attempts’’.
Babaji and New-age thinking
Once Babaji was having Langar with some Singhs during afternoon at one of his hideouts. Some young Singhs of village were standing near Babaji. While discussing various issues, some singhs reported to Babaji about a boy and girl of village who ‘met secretly and were having a love affair’. They asked Babaji to punish them or shoot them. Babaji said ‘ Singho, if they are in love with each other, we don’t have a right to interfere, yes, if some guy abuses, molests or dishonours a Bibi, then don’t think twice before shooting him, lets not get into personal matters of people, we have a war to fight’’. Singhs became quiet after listening to Babaji. On other hand, Babaji called that boy and girl outside village Gurudwara and asked them about their relation. Shivering with fear while looking at Babaji’s face, they accepted that they loved each other. Babaji said ‘’ Ok, if you love each other, then you have to marry each other, and if any one of you backed off, I will shoot that person with my hands. Now it’s not just about love, it’s about honour of your families, our culture and religion ‘’.
This showed how much Babaji valued personal freedom, culture and traditions. Small divisive issues were unable to distract him or divert his attention. One such incident happened when Babaji was having langar at one of his shelters (called Behak in Punjabi). Babaji asked the owner of the house if he wanted anything from him. Owner said Babaji, just shoot my neighbour and I’ll be free of stress. I don’t see him face to face and I just hate him. Babaji stopped eating langar, got up and started walking. Singh ran behind Babaji and stopped him and asked reason of Babaji’s leaving. Babaji angrily said ‘Singha, if I come to you for food and shelter, don’t expect me to shoot any innocent for you. This is not what Guru Gobind Singh ji or Santji taught us. I’ll find some other place, but this is a big price to pay, killing an innocent ‘’. The Singh was ashamed of his words and apologized to Babaji.
Till today, people talk with love, passion and respect about Baba Manochahal. He was a Sant-Sipahi-Poet-Scholar. Words fail to describe him and his personality. There are hundreds of other beautiful and inspiring incidents of Babaji’s life which are to be shared and will be shared with Sangat. Babaji was gem of Panth, a loyal soldier of Santji’s Army, a dedicated student of Damdami Taksal. In countryside of Majha, he is a legend who will live on forever. I have seen people unable to stop their tears while talking about him. His legend is Immortal, being kept alive in hearts of thousands and thousands of Sikhs, passed from generation to generation. He will be remembered forever and as the time will pass, his glory, his greatness; his light will spread through whole world, inspiring millions to walk on path of freedom and truth. Some call him Robinhood of Majha, some see in him Che Guvera, but comparisons are not good enough for him.
He was just ‘Baba Manochahal – The Braveheart’.
Parnaam Shaheedan Nu
Shaheeda de charna di Dhoor-
Kamaljeet Singh Khalsa ShaheedSar