Dalip Singh, Bhai
One of the Nankana Sahib martyrs (1894-1921)
Dalip Singh, Bhai ,Who fell a martyr at Nankana Sahib on the morning of 20 February 1921, was born to Karam Singh and Har Kaur in January 1894 at the village of Sahoval, in Sialkot district, now in Pakistan. Two of his three brothers having died young, Dalip Singh was brought up by his parents with extra attention and care. He was educated at Sangla, Daska and Gujranwala. While at school, he developed a keen interest in Sikh history and gurbani, utterances of the Gurus, i.e. Sikh religious texts. He received the rites of Khalsa initiation, and lived a strict life.
His fellow students called him ‘Nihang’ for his orthodox ways. He passed the matriculation examination in 1908, and was married the same year. Instead of seeking government service, he took to farming combining with it social work in the district. At a divan in October 1920, when Punjab was seething with anti-British feeling following the passage of the Rowlatt Act and the jallianvala Bagh firing, Dalip Singh was much affected by the political temper of the speeches delivered. He discarded his old garments and wore khadi or homespun cotton never touching again dress made of imported cloth. This was in protest against the British rulers.
Dalip Singh was among those who fully endorsed the resolution of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to convene a divan at Nankana Sahib on 4-6 March 1921 to enter a protest against the control of the holy shrine by its mahant or chief priest, Narain Das, who was charged with corruption and dissolute ways.
On 18 February, while on his way to Amritsar to attend a meeting of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, he learnt from Teja Singh Samundri and Master Tara Singh, that jathedar Lachhman Singh and Kartar Singh Jhabbar, leaders of the Bar Khalsa Diwan, had made a plan to occupy Gurdwara Janam Asthan by surprise on 19-20 February when Narain Das was scheduled to attend a Sanatan Sikh conference at Lahore. All of them disapproved of the plan and Dalip Singh, who was held in high, esteem, was sent back to dissuade Lachhman Singh, and his companions from marching towards Nankana Sahib. Dalip Singh met Kartar Singh Jhabbar and his associates at Gurdwara Khara Sauda at Chuharkana and pleaded with them not to take any precipitate action. They yielded to his argument and it was decided that Lachhman Singh, who at that time should have been on his way to Nankana Sahib, be stopped as well. A hukamnama or command on behalf of the Panth was drafted, ordering Lachhman Singh to proceed no further. Six leading Sikhs, including Dalip Singh and Kartar Singh Jhabbar, signed it, Dalip Singh undertaking to deliver it to Lachhman Singh. He, along with a few companions, left Khara Sauda at 9 p.m. The night was pitch dark and they were riding through uneven fields.
At about midnight they reached Chandarkot canal waterfall, the point where Lachhman Singh’s jatha was to meet Kartar Singh jhabbar’s. No jatha came. Deploying Varyam Singh to comb the surroundings, Dalip Singh, tired and worn out, came over to the factory of Uttam Singh, near Nankana Sahib railway station, to rest for a while before resuming the search. In the meantime Varyam Singh had succeeded in intercepting Lachhman Singh and his jatha, who were taking a shorter route. He delivered the hukamnama to them, but failed to persuade them to stop. They argued that they had said their ardas and could not go back on their pledged word. They went forward singing the sacred hymns, and entered the precincts of the main shrine. Narain Das and his men carrying firearms suddenly fell upon them and started an indiscriminate carnage.
Dalip Singh heard the sound of gunfire and ran towards Gurdwara Janam Asthan, with Varyam Singh following him. They found the main entrance gates bolted from inside. On the southern end they saw Mahant Narain Das directing the bloody operations. Dalip Singh shouted and begged of him to stop the massacre of the innocents. But the Mahant, intent on murder, pressed the trigger of his pistol killing him and Varyam Singh on the spot.
The Mahant’s men hacked their dead bodies with hatchets and hurled the pieces into a burning potter’s kiln near by. Bhai Dalip Singh met with his martyr’s end on 20 February 1921.