Shaheed Bhai Harmandir Singh Dabwali – Guru Granth Sahib Ji Satkar Sabha
The conflict between the Sikh Nation and the Sirsa based Sacha Sauda cult ran by an impersonator of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Ram Rahim, took another turn for the worst when clashes between cultists and Sikh protestors claimed another Sikh youth’s life in the town of Dabwali in Haryana. Furious over the latest murder, members of the Sikh community clashed with cultists for several hours before authorities managed to control the situation in the border districts of Bathinda, Mukatsar, Faridkot, and Sirsa. Tensions also flared in the districts of Sri Ganganagar, and Hanumangarh on the border with Rajasthan.
On Saturday 19th July 2008, thousands of Sikhs gathered in large numbers at Shaheed Bhai Harmandir Singh’s native town of Dabwali to pay tribute to the Sikh Nation’s third Shaheed in the anti-Sauda Dera agitation. Bhai Harmandir Singh, who was also known as Mandar Singh in the community, was a local leader of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Sabha. Bhai Sahib’s body was cremated according to Sikh code of conduct, after being taken from a local Haryana Gurdwara Sahib in a huge procession and show of strength by the Sikhs.
Bhai Sahib’s body, draped by siropas (robes of honor) presented by Sikh organizations, was carried on top of a large vehicle with his father, Sardar Mohinder Singh, Takht Dam Dama Sahib, Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh along with other prominent Sikh leaders and members of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Sabha.
Emotions on Edge as 3rd Sikh Martyr is Cremated
Passions were on edge as the large numbers of mourners raised loud war cries of ‘Bole so Nihal, Sat Sri Akal’ and ‘Shaheed Harmandar Singh Amar Rahay’. Slogans against the Sirsa cult of Ram Rahim and its criminal chief were also raised through the procession.
After Bhai Sahib’s body was brought to Dabwali’s cremation ground, an emotional farewell was given by the martyr’s parents, elder brother, and wife Manjit Kaur. His surviving daughter, Sukhandeep Kaur, who was only 5 years old at the time of Bhai Sahib’s shaheedi and son Gurcharan Singh, who was only two and half years old, seemed oblivious to the tragedy that occurred in their family. The Funeral fire for Bhai Harmandir Singh’s body was lit by the shaheed’s father and elder brother, along with Jathedar Nandgarh and Avtar Singh Makkar of the SGPC. After the cremation, Sikh leaders such as Simranjit Singh Maan, Baba Baljit Singh Dadduwal and Daljit Singh Bittu, eulogized the martyr at the local Gurdwara at Dabwali.
There was a huge presence of local police, Border Security Forces and Rapid Action Forces throughout the area, in which the entire border area between the districts of Bathinda and Mukatsar had been sealed and a curfew put in place. Only during the cremation procession was the curfew lifted for about two and a half hours.
According to eyewitnesses, a local ‘naam-charcha’ (Sirsa cult meeting) was being organized at the residence of Sundar Dass Mehta on Friday, 18th July 2008. Volunteers of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Sabha, including Bhai Harmandir Singh, complained to the local police officials about the meeting, but officials, who themselves sympathize with the cultists, turned a blind eye to the issue as usual. When the Singhs, numbering only 15-20, began to protest outside Mehta’s residence, they were violently confronted by the cultists whose numbers had now surged into the hundreds-heavily armed. In the initial attack, dozens of cultists ambushed Bhai Harmandir Singh with sharp weapons and latthis (staffs), several others were injured in this melee. In protest closed down the Delhi-Dabwali highway.
When other members of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Sabha found out about the situation, they quickly arrived at the scene and took possession of the Bhai Sahib’s body, but it was too late as Bhai Sahib had already attained shaheed.
Police attack Protesting Singhs
According to press reports, the deputy commissioner Oma Shankar and senior police captain Venktarmun, soon arrived at the protest scene and attempted to disperse the protesting Singhs using the infamous ‘lathi-charge’ tactic in which half a dozens more Singhs were injured directly due to police brutality.
As reports of the mistreatment of the Sikhs in Haryana spread, more Sangat began to pour into the town of Dabwali, in which during the evening the Sikh protesters began to retaliate against the authorities and Sirsa cultists. It took several hours and reinforcements from neighbouring districts before the Police could contain the situation.
As in the past, local government officials are suspected of sympathizing with and protecting the cult dera members and are being partly blamed for the death of Shaheed Bhai Harmandir Singh. They include deputy commissioner Oma Shankar, a sub-inspector Dalip Singh, and local patwari.
ਸ਼ਹੀਦ ਭਾਈ ਹਰਮੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਡਬਵਾਲੀ
Bhai Harmandir Singh was a devoted and honourable Sikh who served his family, community and humanity in any way possible. Bhai Sahib would regularly engage in Seva and attend Smagams in his locality and beyond.
On 18 July 2008 at Mandi Dabwali, a small number of Sikhs including Bhai Harmandir Singh were holding a peaceful protest against the corrupt practices of Dera Jhoota Sauda at an event held by them in Mandi Dabwali. The Sikhs were ambushed by large numbers of Dera supporters who brutally killed Bhai Sahib by stoning him to death. The Police booked five Dera supporters for the murder of Bhai Harmandir Singh and seven Sikhs for allegedly damaging Dera supporters property. In July 2013, a Sirsa court sentenced the Sikhs to ten years imprisonment for the damage. On 10 October 2013, a Sirsa court acquitted five Dera Jhoota Sauda followers of the murder of Bhai Harmandir Singh.