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Gateway to Sikhism

 

28th February

 

1712 Bahadur Shah died. A cicil war broke out among his sons. Baba Gurbakhash Singh, alias Banda Bahadur, took advantage of the situation and appeared once again in the plains. His first victory was against Islam Khan, the Governor of Lahore. The next to fall was the zone of Sirhind. But this victory was again, short lived.
1921 Gurudwara Rori Sahib was forcibly taken over and brought under the control of SGPC.

-Ref. "Babbar Akali Movement, A historical Survey," by Dr. Gurcharan Singh, Aman Publications, 1993.

1924a 2nd Shahidi Jatha of 500 valiant Akali Satyagrahies, led by Sardar Inder Singh Mirja (Sialkot), started their march for Gangsar, Jaito from Sri Akal Takhat, Amritsar.
1924b All India Congress passed resolution, condeming the killings of Sikhs devotees at Gangsar, Jaito.

==> WHERE IS JAITO? A village under Nabha, which falls on the Bathinda-Ferozpur railway line. It is 96 miles from Lahore and 17 miles from Bathinda. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JAITO? On this place situated near a fort, is a historical Gurudwara of Guru Gobind Singh Patshah. Maharaja Hira Singh constructed the beautiful buildings of this Gurudwara. The sarowar is popularly known as "Gangsar". About a mile and a half north of Jaito is "Tibhi Sahib" Gurudwara, where Guru Gobind Singh Patshah used to organize and participate in the evening recitation of Rehras. Both Gurudwaras have extensive land sanctioned to it by the Nabha rulers. Additionally, extensive financial resources are made available on an annual basis from the Nabha rulers and the surrounding villages. A maela celebration is held every 7th of Pooh month (Dec.-Jan.) and Katak (Oct.-Nov.) Puranmashi. Jaito's markets are well renowned. People come from far distances to buy and sell their herds.

WHY AKALIS COURTED ARREST? The key issue involved was resoration of Maharaja Ripudaman Singh of Nabha. Maharaja of Nabha, well-known for his pro-Tat Khalsa Proclivities, had a dispute with Maharaja of Patiala, known for this pro-government role. Although Maharaja of Nabha had absolutely no dispute with the government, as a result of mediation, he was forced to abdicate in July 1923. Col. Michin, with the help of troops and armoured cars, took the Maharaja by surprise on July 8, 1923 and taunted him with the query, "Where is that Akali?" The news of deposition by the government raised a strom of protest against the Government's interefernce in Nabha and was decsribed as a challenge to the Akali movement. As a result tensions mounted. The Akalis, in defiance of state orders, continued to hold diwan indefinitely. The Nabha police in order to arrest all the Akalis, including the one reading the holy Granth Sahib, was said to have disrupted the Akhand Path on Sept. 14, 1923. This dispute took such a tragic shape and got so inflames by Feb. 21, 1924 that several people lost their lives. After sixteen shaheedi jathas apart from one from Bengal and another from Canada, the agitation process was completed two years later, on August 6, 1925, after the concurrent bhog of 101 Akand Paaths.

Ref.
- Mahan Kosh
- "The Sikhs in History," by Sangat Singh, 1995

1925 Judgement of Babbar Akali Case, closely related to the Akali movement was passed. 5 Babbar Akalis were sentenced to death.
1926 7 Babbars are sentenced to death in the Babbar conspiracy case, supplementary II.
1975 Sikhs congregation from all corners of IK, gathered at the Sikh Temple, Birmigham, protested against the Anti-Sikhs Policy and passed the following resolution :

Attention of the Indian Government, the Defence Minister in particular, and the Chief of Staff Air/Naval/Army, is drawn to the direct interderence in the Sikh religion, by court martialing and terminating the services of persons working in Armed Forces for not tying their beards. The Sikhs with united beard and leading a sacred and true life according to their Sikh faith, have a great respect in our society. The Sikhs never tolerated such discrimination under the Mughal and British rulers even.

The Indian Government is requested to stop interference in the religious matters of the Sikh people in particular, and meet the Sikh demand that ther services personnel so discharged be re-instated forthwith.

Such likle resolutions were passed at several Sikh congregations, Sensing the widespread Sikh resentment, ultimately Government of India agreed to change its policy to some extent and issed orders directing Sikh recruits to pledge maintaining unshorn hairs.

-Source. History of Sikh Struggles, Vol. 1, By Gurmit Singh, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 1989. pp. 62-63

1982 A very strong police force sieged the border village of Daonke, near Pakistan, in order to arrest a young Sikh boy. When the boy could not be found, the sister of the boy was stripped naked and paraded through the streets of the village. The police threatened that the whole village would be dealt with in the same way if the boy was not produced the next day. The next day, before the arrival of the police, all the villagers crossed the border and entered Pakistan in order to escape the fury of the brutal policemen of Gharinda police station of the Punjab. This action was approved by the Punjab Police Chief as well as the Government of the Punjab. The issue was raised in Parliament. The villagers returned one week after the incident.
1983 More Killings: At the end of February, 1983, two young Sikhs, Bhajan Singh and Harpal Singh, were killed by the police in fake encounters.
1993 Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal died fighting for Sikh indepedendence. Surrounded by Indian security forces, this legendary hero preferred death to surrender.

==> Baba GURBACHAN SINGH MANOCHAHAL: Born on June 6, 1954 at Manochahal village in Amritsar district, he joined the Indian Army but left it to join the ranks of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. After operation Bluestar he organized an underground Sikh movement for Khalsitan in the villages around Amritsar and Gurdaspur. In 1986, he was made the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat and in April 1986 he made a formal anouncement of "Khalistan" from the Darbar Sahib complex.

baba Manochahal was responsible for the formation of the first Panthic Committee which guided the underground movement for many years. In 1987, he formed the "Bhindrawale Tiger Force" with the cooperation of Bhai Wasson Singh Jaffarwal. However the two parted ways later and formed separate groups. He had become a source of terror to the security forces and a refuge to the hopeless rural folks who suffered atrocities at the hand of police and Government agencies. He was very popular among the people of Amritsar district and admired for his humilty and simple living. He lived a stoic life, always on the move, hounded by India's security forces. The Government had placed an award of Rs. 25,00,000 on his head.

He scorned Government's offer of surrender saying, "I would prefer death over surrender." On Feb. 28, 1993, he had his tryst with destiny on the battlefield - the wish of all warriors.

-Source "World Sikh News," Feb. 28-Mar. 5, 1996.

 

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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