Blue eyes and a slim body, Bhai Umarpal Singh Pala Babbar always spoke with a smile on his face. I saw Bhai Umarpal Singh Pala Babbar for the first time on 26th July 1986 CIA headquarters in Bathinda. Bhai Sahib was being brutally tortured by the police officers. Bhai Sahib had been arrested by SSP Shinda Singh, Inspector Baljinder Grewal and ASI Niranjan Singh in connection with the killing of Thanedar Gurtej Khushki from Baagha Purana. Bhai Sahib had an electrical shop in Baagha Purana.
The writer of this jeevani, Bhai Karamjit Singh Sikhanwala was also at the same CIA headquarters in Bathinda in connection with the same case and facing blind torture. All the inmates at the CIA headquarters were kept in separate rooms. When any one of the inmates was taken out of their cell, then all other inmates became cautious, due to brutal torture that took place and rest of the inmates could hear the screams of the inmate being tortured and also the dirty swearing of police officers. In this case Bhai Sahib was being tortured and the screams of pain were heard all of the CIA headquarters. Bhai Sahib would fall unconscious due to intense torture then the inmates could hear the police talk amongst each other, “Quickly go call Dr. Ranjit. He might die” from this, it proves that police officers had tortured singhs so much that singhs would reach the edge of death and fall unconscious. All the inmates related to the killing of Thanedar Gurtej Khushki were arrested on the night of 16th July 1986.
On 22nd July 1986, when police took Bhai Karamjit Singh Sikhanwala to his court hearing in handcuffs he saw a bruised slim body of a singh, that was sat on a chair in the patio with police all around him. One police officer was pulling his hair and another was tightening the rope around his feet with a wooden rod. One more police officer had electric wires in his hand, Bhai Karamjit Singh Sikhanwala heard the police shout at this singh, “Don’t know what this singh is made off, he isn’t opening his mouth. Oi, Tell me where is the pistol from, with which you killed Thanedar?”
The Bathinda and Faridkot police now also charged Bhai Karamjit Singh Sikhanwala with Thanedar Khushki murder and having possession of Thompson gun and 45 gauge shotgun with 100 bullets. Bhai Sahib was also charged with murder of Thanedar Khushki and accommodating terrorists. Both singhs were sent to Bathinda jail. In Bathinda jail Bhai Karamjit Singh Sikhanwala found out that the singh who was brutally tortured at the CIA headquarters in Bathinda was Bhai Umarpal Singh Pala Babbar from the Sangrur district.
Bhai Umarpal Singh Pala Babbar was born in the house of Sardar Gurdev Singh and from the womb of Mata Jageer Kaur on 5th August 1958 in the village of Behla, district Sangrur. Bhai Sahib had two sisters. Bhai Sahib passed his metric at the local school of the village and wanted to study further but his family made him an apprentice at an electrical shop, so he could learn the electric trade. After learning the trade, Bhai Sahib opened an electric shop in the Baagha Purana. Bhai Sahib was fond of the views of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale. The family looked after Bhai Sahib very well, as he was the only son in the family. After the attack on Sri Harimandir Sahib in June 1984, Bhai Sahib was deeply hurt and his way of thinking had changed. Thoughts of wanting to do something for the Sikh panth grew within Bhai Sahib’s heart. Bhai Sahib first met Bhai Gurpal Singh Bucho Mandi Babbar and after fully being aware of the Sikh freedom movement by having long discussions with the Khadku Singhs, Bhai Sahib joined Babbar Khalsa. Bhai Sahib was given the role of an informer for the Babbars, Bhai Sahib would go to villages and prepare a report of police informers and black cats.
Babbar Khalsa decided to kill Thanedar Gurtej Khushki, who worked at the CIA headquarters of Faridkot and lived in Bathinda. Khadku Singhs wanted to kill Khushki because he had brutally tortured Bhai Veer Singh in Faridkot. Bhai Veer Singh was the brother of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale. Khushki had also tortured and in some cases killed the family members of the underground singhs. The Babbar Khalsa gave Bhai Sahib the sewa to collect information of Khushki. Bhai Sahib bought an electric shop on rent in Bathinda, near the house of Khushki. By chance these days the father if Khushki had passed away. The singhs of Babbar Khalsa had finalised the plan to finishing this cruel Thanedar. One day when Khushki went to the gurudwara to get the saroop of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the singhs decided to kill him on his way back home. But Khushki came back with Guru Granth Sahib Ji placed on his head. The singhs paid their respects to Guru Granth Sahib Ji as passers-by and allowed Khushki to live another day.
Then again, Bhai Sahib informed the singhs of Babbar Khalsa that Khushki would be flowing the ashes of his father at Sri Kiratpur Sahib and that at 5 o’clock Khushki would go to Sivian first to collect the ashes of his father. The singhs, including Bhai Iqbal Singh Babbar decided to punish the Thanedar in Sivian. Bhai Sahib would go to Khushki’s house, as if he had gone to pay respects to Khushki’s father and get all of the information of Khushki for the Babbars. The Babbars ended the life of Thanedar Gurtej Khushki in Sivian and Bhai Sahib had left the shop in Bathinda after this action.
Bhai Iqbal Singh Babbar had met a singh by the name of Sukhdev Singh Fauji, who had spent time with Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke and had recently been married. Short time after joining Babbar Khalsa, Sukhdev Singh Fauji and a close relative, Baldev Singh Khayala turned themselves in to the Bathinda police to avoid being prisoned or killed. Sukhdev Singh Fauji was too attached to his wife and after joining the movement, he wanted to leave the Babbars but not be hassled by the Indian security forces. To have safe passage out of the movement, Sukhdev Singh Fauji told the police about Bhai Sahib and Bhai Karamjit Singh Sikhanwala. The police of Bathinda arrested both of these singhs and after brutal torture at the CIA headquarters, the singhs were jailed in Bathinda jail.
In jail Bhai Sahib was not given a Nitnem Gutka. When other inmates finished their Nitnem, Bhai Sahib would take their Gutka and do his Nitnem daily. Bhai Sahib knew many Sikh prayers by heart but Bhai Sahib was still in the process of memorizing Sri Anand Sahib. One day Bhai Sahib said, “From now on I will not ask for the Nitnem Gutka, I will memorize Sri Anand Sahib.” That day Bhai Sahib memorized Sri Anand Sahib within 2 hours. While in Bathinda jail, the police did not allow Bhai Sahib to meet his family. Bhai Sahib always said one thing, “I am dependant on Gurbani, I am able to take the torture of these cruel dogs of the Indian government. What kind of Khadku Singhs are those who are not even slapped by the police and spill out all of the information to the police?”
Inmates of jail would be allowed out of their cells twice a day, once in the morning and then in the evening. One day as the inmates were released from their cells in the morning, Bhai Sahib came out and saw some footprints of the mud as it rained the night before and quickly ran back into his cell. These footprints were not of a human, instead these footprints were of a frogs but Bhai Sahib did not know this. Bhai Karamjit Singh Sikhanwala asked Bhai Sahib why he ain’t coming out and Bhai Sahib replied, “I’m not coming out, there footprints of snakes outside on the mud.” Bhai Karamjit Singh Sikhanwala and other inmates tried to explain to Bhai Sahib, “These footprints are of frogs not snakes. As it rained last night, all the frogs were wondering about outside. Also snakes don’t have feet and frogs are harmless, now come out of the cell.” Bhai Sahib finally came out. The inmates had a laugh and nicknamed Bhai Sahib, Sap De Pairan Wala Bhai Pala. (Feet Of Snakes Bhai Pala)
Bhai Sahib was kept at Bathinda jail for 8 months. Bhai Sahib use to say, “Once a Lion takes birth in my house, then I’m going to leave home and join the Sikh Freedom Movement fully.” Bhai Sahib already had two daughters and soon his singhni gave birth to son, the wish of Bhai Sahib was granted by Waheguru. Now Bhai Sahib had said his final Fateh to his family and left home to fight against the Indian government alongside the singhs of Babbar Khalsa. After the shaheedi of Shaheed Bhai Gurpal Singh Bucho Mandi Babbar, Bhai Sulakhan Singh Babbar alias Bhai Gurmeet Singh Babbar and Bhai Kehar Singh Jhabbal Babbar, the links of Bhai Sahib with Babar Khalsa ad broke. Now Bhai Sahib had started doing sewa as a granthi at a local gurudwara of village Dharoli Bhai. This gurudwara is an historical gurudwara of 6th Nanak, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji and holds continuous Sri Akhand Paath Sahibs for Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale. Bhai Sahib had stayed here for over two years doing sewa as a granthi.
Once Bhai Sahib was invited to a wedding by the girl side in the neighbouring village of Dhadhur. The family had told Bhai Sahib that some Khadku Singhs are threatening the family for many and that the whole family wound be killed. Bhai Sahib assured her that real Khadku Singhs would never do such acts and told the family not to worry. Bhai Sahib said, “I will come to the wedding, you don’t need to be scared.” When Bhai Sahib went to the wedding, he had seen a police black cat, Surinder Shinda of Marurh. Surinder Shinda was responsible for killings of many singhs n fake encounters including Bhai Jaswinder Singh Happy of Sivian. The wedding was completed without any hassle. Shinda the black cat had told the police of Faridkot about Bhai Sahib doing sewa at the gurudwara of Dharoli Bhai. The police of Kotakpura arrested Bhai Sahib from the gurudwara and faced brutal torture for 18 days in Kotakpura police station. The panchayats of Dharoli Bhai and surrounding villages managed to free Bhai Sahib. After continuous harassment of the local police Bhai Sahib left Dharoli Bhai. Now as the links of Bhai Sahib with Babbar Khalsa had broken due to the shaheedi of some singhs, Bhai Sahib joined Khalistan Commando Force.
The family of Bhai Sahib had faced many difficulties after he had left home. Sardar Gurdev Singh passed away due to being ill. Most of Bhai Sahib’s relatives had boycotted him. Bhai Sahib use to say, “I don’t care if my family or my relatives disown me, but my Satguru must not leave me.” Bhai Sahib had been married to Bibi Surinder Kaur and his two daughters are very intelligent as they both have passed their MA exams with flying colours. The elder daughter has been married and the son is still studying.
For a soldier to attain martyrdom on the battlefield is the highest platform. Every death can’t be labelled as martyrdom. Bhai Sahib always kept a capsule of cyanide hidden in his shirt collar. Bhai Sahib had decided not to come into the hands of the Indian security forces alive. On 2nd August 1990, Bhai Sahib was travelling with fellow singhs, Bhai Sahib was recongnised by a police black cat. The black cat by the name of Bahle told the local police about Bhai Sahib and singhs at the electric water motors of village Mansur wale. The police quickly surrounded the singhs. Bhai Sahib and group faught the Indian security forces for 8 hours and after attained shaheedi with the bullets of the machine guns.
On 3rd August 1990, the police of Faridkot and Ferozpur held an press conference and told the media, “Umarpal Singh Babbar alias Pala of Behla, district Sangrur, was involved with the terrorist group Babbar Khalsa since 1984 and was wanted for many killings. His fellow singh, Naib Singh has been killed in an operation carried out by the police, but Malkeet Singh Dansingh Wala and Darshan Singh Akalian managed to escape. The police are now searching for them. The police have also found a great amount of weapons and ammunition from these Babbars.” Bhai Malkeet Singh Dansingh Wala was arrested 2 and half years later and killed in a fake encounter on 1st January 1992, he also was the only son of his parents. Bhai Sahib’s children hardly remember their father but are proud of the family’s contribution within the Sikh Freedom Movement. After many attempts we have managed to get only one photo of Shaheed Bhai Umarpal Singh Pala Babbar from his teenage days.
Tavareekh Babbar Khalsa – Karamjit Singh Sikhanwala via 1984tribute