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Sikh History Timeline

Today in Sikh History :10th June


10th June


1716 Remaining Sikhs captured with Baba Banda Singh Bahadur were beheaded.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, along with his infant son and a few select followers, was mercilessly tortured to death in Delhi, on June 9, 1716, by the order of Emporer Farukh Siyar (successor to Bahadhur Shah). The remaining Sikhs were beheaded on this day.

The sacrifice of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was not in vain. To quote Hari Ram Gupta: "This tragic event changed the course, not only of Sikh history, but also of the history of Punjab. Banda (singh) had shown to the Sikhs the difference between those who were in power and those who were out of ot. The lesson of power once practically taught could not be forgotten by a military community."

1746 Lakhpat Rai killed more than 10,000 Sikhs. This is known as "Chhota Ghallughara", small carnage.

Over 10,000 Sikhs out of a total population of 15,000 were killed. This disaster goes by the name of "chhota ghalughara", small holocaust (as against the great holocaust of 1762).

After the 1745, Sarbat Khalsa resolution, Sikhs attacked Lahore one evening and decamped with a large booty. Yahya Khan who had taken over as Governor asked Diwan Lakhpar Rai to displace the Sikhsfrom the nearby swamp hounts. One of the units led by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia on the way to the hills clashed with his younger brother Jaspat Rai and chopped of his head. Lakhpat Rai now in rage vowed to erase the Sikhs from the pages of history.

Lakhpat Rai with the help of the provincial forces fell upon the Sikhs concentrated in the marshes of Kahnuwan on Ravi. Some cut their way through hostile hillmen to Kiratpur. The main body turned back and after heavy losses crossed the Bease and the Sutlej into Malwa. 7000 Sikhs were killed, and another 3000 taken prisoners were executed at Nakhas, horse market. In March of 1747, Yahiya Khan, the Governor of Lahore, was ousted by his brother Shah Nawaz Khan and Lakhpat Rai was put in prison.

1842 During midnight, at the instance of Dhian Singh Dogra, Maharani Chand Kaur’s skull was crushed with grindstone by her maids who themselves were put to death later in the day.

==> CHAND KAUR: daughter of Fatehgadh (dist. Gurdaspur) resident Rais Sardar Jaemal Singh Kanaeo. In 1812, she married Khadak Singh, the eldest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Kanwar Naunihal Singh was born in 1821 from this marriage. Upon the head of her husband and son, she assumed and managed the control of Lahore Darbar for sometime.

In 1842, she was assasinated as a result of the conspiracy hatched by Raja Dhayan Singh Dogra and Mahara Sher Singh.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh 481

1896 Death of Attar Singh Bhadaur.
1957 Vir Singh passed away.
1974 Giani Kartar Singh, an Akali Leader died at Patiala.
1978 Nirankari Gurbachan Singh declared apostate by Akal Takhat. A Hukamnan was issued to the Sikhs for social boycott of the’ Nirankari Mafia organization by Akal Takhat.

Nirankari Gurbachan Singh was declared apostate via a Hukamnana. The issuance of this hukamnama from Akal Takhat, the highest seat of religious authority and lehislation of Sikhs, forbidding the Sikhs to have any social dealings withe the Sant Nirankaris. This was an expression of the Sikh’s will to protect themselves against the enroachments of those who questioned and attacked their fundamental beliefs and their accepted way of life and who in a body had killed several of their brothers-in-faith.

Over 1 million Sikh pilgrims had assembled at Amritsar on the Vaisakhi day of 1978. At the same time, the Nirankari-called Sect of bohemians from Delhi and other parts of the Indian sub-continent held a procession and a conference at Amritsara. During their Conference the speakers made venomous attacks on Sikhism, Sikh Gurus, Sikh scriptures, etc. A few Sikhs, under the command of Bhai Fauja Singh, marched from the Darbar Sahib to protest against this fake Nirankari procession in which Gurbachan Singh Nirankari had seated himself on a higher position than Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the prevalent Guru of GurSikhs, is always respectfully seated at the highest platform in any congregation. Anyone seated on a platform higher than that of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is considered disrespectful and sacrilegious among Guru Khalsa Panth.

Further, the Nirankaris were hurling grave and malicious insults against the GurSikhism religion, beliefs, and sentiments. Oblivious to the GurSikhs, the Nirankaris had other plans, including a para-military platoon armed with lethal weapons, guns, revolvers, acid-filled bottles and mechanical propellants for shooting poison-tipped arrows, all well positioned behind a row of trucks. The GurSikh protestors were persuaded by the police officers on duty into believing that steps were being taken to stop further provocations of GurSikhism sentiments. Then the voice of Gurbachan Singh. Nirankari chief, was heard over the sound system, saying "these sikhs think they can stop us from freely carrying out our program. Let them know today, how mistaken they are. Time has come to be active for those, who have come here for this job". Suddenly the para-military platoon briskly advanced toward the GurSikh protestors. The police on duty hurled tear-gas bombs against the unarmed GurSikhs, converting them into sitting ducks for their hunters. Even some Hindu police officials like O.D. Joshi joined the Nirankaris attacks on the protesting GurSikhs. When it was all over 13 lay dead and over 50 were seriously injured. The batch of protesting GurSikhs were from Akhand Kirtan Jatha and Bhindranwale jatha, led by Bhai Fuaja Singh, included the following 13 who layed their lives:

    1. Bhai Amrik Singh
    2. Bhai Avtar Singh
    3. Bhai Darshan Singh
    4. Bhai Dharamvir Singh
    5. Bhai Fauja Singh
    6. Bhai Gurcharan Singh
    7. Bhai Gurdial Singh
    8. Bhai Harbhajan Singh
    9. Bhai Hari Singh
    10. Bhai Kewal Singh
    11. Bhai Piara Singh
    12. Bhai Raghbir Singh
    13. Bhai Ranbir Singh

The irony of the Sikh situation was this that Punjab was being ruled by a so-called Sikh Party; Amritsar was one of the holiest cities of the Sikhs; one minister, Mr Jiwan Singh was also present in the city; the city was the headquarters of the Akali Party and the Sikh Parliament (SGPC) and the Nirankaris had long been attacking the Sikh religion and this was known in the Government. Furthermore all the killers of the Sikhs escaped from the Punjab safely, even with the help of officials of the Punjab Government (including Niranjan Singh, an official of the Punjab and, allegedly, the Chief Minister of the Punjab).

Throughout the world the Sikhs exhibited their fury. However, the Akali ministers of Punjab province bowed before the Central (Hindu) Government and refused to ban the activities of this gang of bohemians. Meanwhile these ministers addressed various Sikh congregations and spoke against the Nirankaris so that the Sikh masses should not become furious against them for their indifferent (or pro-Nirankari) attitude.

Thus this became the starting point of the new phase of the struggle of the Sikh nation. The lead was given by the Sikh Youth under the guidance of the Sikh intelligentsia. They had to fight various platforms: the Hindus, the Communists and some of the pseudo-Akalis, who loved their office more than their nation.

This amritsar massacre was one of the most significant incidents of this century for GurSikhs. It led to the murder of Lala Jagat Narain, the rise of the Khalistan demand, attack on the Golden Temple and Sri Akal Takhat, and enormous destruction of lives and properties in Punjab, Delhi, and other locals of GurSikh population. It should be noted that although Gurbachan Singh’s movement call themselves Nirankaris, they do not have anything in common with the original Nirankari movement that made enormous sacrifices and significant contributions for GurPanth’s reform. For details see the description on Nirankaris below.

On October 6, 1978, a Hukumnama bearing the seal of Sri Akal Takhat (by the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat, Amritsar) was issued, calling upon GurSikhs all over the world to socially boycott these fake "Nirankaris" and not allow their faith and creed to grow or flourish in the society. This Hukumnama was prepared by a committee comprising of the following:

Giani Gurdit Singh
Giani Lal Singh
Giani Partap Singh
Giani Sadhu Singh Bhaura
Sardar Kapur Singh
Sardar Parkash Singh
Sardar Satbir Singh

Through this Hukumnama, all GurSikhs were asked to stop "roti beti di sanjh", food and marital relations, with the fake nirankaris. Gurbachan Singh was subsequently killed by the GurSikhs on Apr. 24, 1980. However, the repercussion of the initial event continue to persist.

-Ref. The Illustrated History of the Sikhs (1947-78), by Gur Rattan Pal Singh
THE SIKHS’ STRUGGLE FOR SOVEREIGNTY, An Historical Perspective By Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer and Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon Edited By: A.T. Kerr Page 110-119

==> NIRANKARI: a particular branch of GurSikh faith, established by Bhai Dayal Singh Ji. A Saehajdhari Sikh resident of Peshwar, GurSahai Ji, had a son named RamSahai Ji who married Ladhaki, daughter of Vasakha Singh (treasurer for the tenth Guru). Bhai Dayal Singh was born from this marriage on 15 Vaisakh sunmat 1840 (1783).

At the age of 30, Bhai Dayal Singh’s mother passed away. Since then he moved to live with his Mama ji (mother’s brother) Milkha Singh in Rawalpindi. Milkha Singh successfully instigated the drive for religious preaching in Bhai Dayal Singh Ji.

Bhai Dayal Singh married Mulladae and had three sons: Darbara Singh, Bhara Singh and Ratta Ji. Bhai Dayal Singh was continually absorbed in Nirankar Shabad Jaap and diligently preached against idol worship. For this reason, he and his following came to be known as "Nirankari". This group has actively and successfully lead reforms within GurPanth practices. However, it should be noted that this group is distinct in their beliefs and practices form another group who believes in human Guru and also calls themselves Nirankaris. Bhai Dyal Singh opposed idol worship and preached marriage reforms.

Bhai Dayal Singh Ji passed away on 18th Magh sunmat 1911. Rawalpindi has a beautiful Gurudwara of Nirankaris, where visitors are humbly served with GurSahab kirtan, Katha, Guru’s Langar.

CAUTION:- The SANT NIRANKARIS are a recent phenomenon and they have nothing in common with the Nirankari sect of the Sikhs, except for the name. They are not even a schism split from it, although the founder, Buta Singh (1883-1944), was once a member of the Nirankari Durbar at Rawalpindi. Upon being asked to quit the Durbar for a misdemeanour, he raised a group of his own. He was succeeded by Avtar Singh, who after the partition of India, 1947, migrated to Delhi and set up a centre there. Over the years, he recruited a considerable following from among Sikhs, Hindus and others. He was followed by his son, Gurbachan Singh. Gurbachan Singh’s son, Hardev Singh, is now the leader of the Nirankaris.

These Nirankaris have no affiliation with any of the known religious traditions. In any case, they have nothing in common with Sikh religion and own no connection with it. They welcome to their fold people from all religions. In this way, they form a freemasonry of faiths held together by the person of the leader, who is believed by the faithful to be the incarnation of God. As Gurbachan Singh once proclaimed : "The responsibilities assigned from time to time to prophets like Noah, Rama, Krishna, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, Kabir, Nanak, and Dayal have now been put on shoulders by my predecessor Baba Avtar Singh." In Nirankari writings, he was claimed to be the Deity, the creator of this entire universe, its sustainer and master.

It is not for anyone to controvert such claims. Least of all for Sikhs, who do not regard truth as the monopoly of any single group or faith. Their history and culture are witness to their liberal outlook. Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-75), Nanak IX, laid down his life to secure the people the liberty of conscience. His martyrdom was for the protection of the right of everyone to practise his religion unhindered. He protested against the State’s interference with the individual’s duty towards his faith. It was a declaration that any attempt to create a unitary, monolithic society must be resisted. It was a reiteration of the Sikh belief in an open and ethical social order and of the Sikh principles of tolerance and acceptance of diversity of faith and practice. This lesson is part of the Sikh experience and teaching and no follower of the faith may contravene it.

The Sikhs would have no quarrel with the Sant Nirankaris about their beliefs or ways of worship, but there are certain aspects of their system which cause abrasion. Although the Sikhs form a small percentage of their following, the Nirankari leaders have always preached their faith through the vocabulary and symbols of Sikhism. But with their native bias, they never cease from attempting to disfigure and distort many of its cherished ideals and institutions. Imitation breeds obliquity. The word Nirankari itself is borrowed from the Sikh chroniclers. The Founder, Guru Nanak, was by them referred to as Nanak Nirankari – believer in God, the Formless. "Nirankari Baba" is the title the Nirankari leader has appropriated unto himself. He retains his Sikh form, as did his predecessors. In imitation of Guru Gobind Singh’s Panj Piare (the Five Beloved of Sikh history), he has created his Sat Sitare (Seven Stars). The names of venerable Sikh personages from history are assigned to members of the leader’s family and his followers. Among them : Mata Sulakkhani (Guru Nanak’s wife), Bibi Nanaki (Guru Nanak’s sister), and Bhai Buddha and Bhai Gurdas, two primal figures of Sikhism, both regarded highly in Sikh piety. Peculiarly Sikh terms, such as Satguru, Sangat and Sachcha Padshah, the title which the Sikh history came to be used for the Gurus, in contrast with Padshah and Badshah representing secular emperors, have been appropriated by the Nirankaris. Their religious book, a collection of Punjabi verse, incipient and elementary in character, by Avtar Singh, with little literary grace and spiritual content, is designated Avtar Bani in the manner of gurbani, i.e. the Sikh Gurus’ utterance. In Nirankari congregations gurbani is frequently and copiously quoted, but with a deliberate slant. The purpose invariably is disapprobation of the Sikh way of life. Sikh Scriptures are quoted and expounded openly to suit the Nirankari bias. In their monthly journal, Sant Nirankari, articles were published on gurbani and its interpretation. These articles appeared under title such as "Vichar Sri Sachche Patshah" (Thoughts of, or Interpretations by, the True Lord, i.e. the Nirankari leader), and "Gurbani ki Hai" (What really is gurbani?). Meanings contrary to Sikh understanding and tradition were propounded.

Sikhs have resented the continuing denigration by the Nirankaris of the their faith and of their belief in the Guru Granth as the Person Visible of the Gurus. They have protested against it. This is what they attempted to do – peacefully – at the time of the huge Nirankari congregation in Amritsar on April 13, 1978, coinciding with Baisakhi celebrations by the Sikhs. The Sikh group which went to the site had no violent intent. They were unarmed, except for their religiously sanctioned regalia. They were neither Nihangs nor Akalis, though most of the Sikhs are of Akali persuasion – politically. The bulk of the protesters in fact belonged to Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh’s jatha, whose primary concern is with kirtan or chanting of the holy hymns. Their other colleagues were from the jatha of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who devote themselves exclusively to the study and expounding of the bani of the Guru Granth.

The protesting Sikhs were met with a shower of bullets from the Nirankaris. Thirteen of them were killed, and many more wounded. The congregation, under the aegis of the Nirankari leader, Gurbachan Singh, continued for more than three hours after the gruesome tragedy. No one – none from among the Nirankaris who profess love and human fellowship to be the fundamental value in their creed – had a thought to spare for the dead bodies that lay scattered outside.

-Taken from "Retrospect" section, on page 26 of the June 1994, Volume 42:6, No. 486, issue of The Sikh Review.

The genesis of the real trouble between the Nirankaris and Akalis goes back to the years when Mrs. Gandhi headed the Union Government. She wanted to weaken the Shiromani Akali Dal but found that Akalis could not be brought to heel. She thought of an elaborate plan to strengthen the Nirankari sect not only in Punjab but throughout the country and abroad also. Official patronage was extended to the Nirankaris much to the chagin of Akalis who have always considered the Nirankaris as heretics. In pursuit of this policy of divide and rule, Mrs. Gandhi personally gave clearance for a diplomatic passport to be issued to the Nirankari chief, and the Indian High Commissioners and Ambassadors abroad were instructed to show him respect and regard. This was meant to help the sect to improve its image and increase its following abroad. During Mrs. Gandhi’s regime, the Nirankaris were known to be receiving financial help from secret Government funds, not open to audit or scrutiny by Parliament.

– Sat Pal Baghi of Ferozepore in Chandigarh Edition of Indian Express in the last week of April, 1978.

1982 Hot iron rod shoved into GurSikh’s stomach.

Hot Iron Rods were shoved into GurSikh’s Stomach. On May 22, three persons were killed at Patti by some unidentified persons. The police declared rewards of thousands of Rupees for effecting the arrest of a number of Sikhs:

Sukhdev Singh,
Anokh Singh,
Kulwant Singh,
Lakha Singh,
Dhanna Singh,
Suba Singh,
Balwinder Singh,
Sulakhan Singh,
Jagat Singh,
Surinder Singh and
Kulwant Singh of Jagadhri.

One of these, Kulwant Singh, was arrested by the police. He was kept in illegal police custody for some days and later he was formally charged. He was tortured by the police for a number of days. When the police were unable to extract information from him he was asked to read out an already prepared confessional statement. He refused. At this, a red hot iron was shoved into his stomach. He was branded by a hot iron on his forehead and every point of his body was fractured by blunt weapons. He survived the torture but carried the brands, which could be seen by everyone. The police, in order to destroy the evidence of inhuman torture, shot him dead in a fake encounter. The murder was committed on the night of June 10-11, 1982. This fake encounter has been referred to in the Amnesty International Report, 1983.

  1984 Sikhs took out huge processions in London (UK) and in the capitals of all the major countries throughout the world to protest against the attrocities committed by the Indian government during its operation Bluestar. 1984 Sikh solidiers of Sikh Regiment rebeled in protest of Indian Amry’s attack on Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar.

400 Sikh solidiers of Sikh Regiment, stationed in Ganga Nagar, rebeled in protest of Indian Amry’s attack on Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. Armed with weapons and heavy artillery they reach the Punjab border where they faught a piched battle with other regiment. Heavy losses took place on both sides, the surviving members were arrested. Similar news was received from RamGadh. The Sikh unit stations in Amritsar camps refused to participate this the operation Bluestar.

1985 Harjinder Singh and Sukhdev Singh Sukha killed General Vaidya, who had invaded darbar Sahib on June 4, 1984a This operation code named Bluestar.

==> BLUESTAR OPERATION is the code name for the June 1984 attack on Sri Harimandir Sahib, Amritsar, by the Indian Armed Forces. This attack was conducted under the pretext of flushing out terrorists but was designed for maximum damage. The attack took place on the day of Guru Arjan Dev Patshah’s Shahadat Gurpurab observations. Further this operation was sanctioned under the direct orders of Indira Gandhi (then prime minister) and Zail Singh (then President). The Golden Temple Complex was attacked by the Indian Armed Forces using tanks, helicopters, and other heavy artillery, under the command of Major General Kuldip Singh Brar. Sri Akal Takhat was desecrated during this attack. Sri Darbar Sahib sustained at least 300 bullet holes. Thousands of innocent people were murdered in cold blood. Their fault? They were attending the Martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. The brave GurSikh soldiers in the Akal Takhat, numbering about 250, gave extremely tough resistance to the Indian army. However, their resistance was no match to the large number of tanks, helicopters, bombs, and other heavy artillery that destroyed the Akal Takhat. The whole Sikh nation rose as a whole to protest against this ghastly attack. Thousands of Sikhs were martyred in the holy precincts of Darbar Sahib. Many gave their lives in attempts to reach for Darbar Sahib’s protection. All roads to Amritsar were blocked. Every Sikh approaching these blockades were asked to remove their kirpan and turban. Those refusing were immediately killed or arrested. Anyone with blue or saffron turbans were particularly targeted and killed. Those arrested were blind folded and their hands tied behind their backs with their own turbans. Arrested Sikhs were packed in groups of 60-70 in small rooms with liitle room for any mobility.

In protest, many respected Sikhs returned their Padam Bushan medals/honors bestowed upon them by the Indian government and sacrificed their high positions. Several Sikh Army personal deserted their posts in protest and marched straight to protect Darbar Sahib. However, Indira Ghandhi did receive retribution for her black deeds on Oct. 31st, that same year.

For detailed description of events surrounding this attack, readers are referred to the following:

Gurbhagat Singh, "Kommi Ajadi Wal – Panjab Tae Punjabi Sabhiyachar Da Bhawish," Vichar Prakashan, 1993
Major Singh, "Punjab Khuni Dahakae Di Ghatha," Vichar Prakashan, 1993
Naraen Singh, "Kau Kito Visahau?" Singh Brothers, Mai Sewa, Amritsar, ISBN 81-7205-003-8, 1986, 1990, 1992.
Naraen Singh, "Sikh Vira Nu Haluna," Singh Brothers, Mai Sewa, Amritsar, ISBN 81-7205-085-2, 1987, 1989, 1993.
Harbir Singh Bhanwer (Tribune reporter), "Diary de Panne," This book is in Punjabi. It is hard to come by. I found it to be most authoritative books on this event. Mr. Bhanwer was the person who provided quite a bit of basic information to Mark Tully and Mr. Jacob for their book "Amritsar: Indira Gandhi’s Last Battle."
Dr. Mohinder Singh, "Blue Star Ghalughara," This book was published in 1991 (several years after Dairy de Panne), but is more detailed.
Jathedar Kirpal Singh, "Saka Neela Tara." This book is written by thim when he was the Jathedar of Akal Takhat. I have not read it, but I think it has extremely valuable information.




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