Gursikhs from the Past

Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal

In recent times the Indian authorities have been trying to eliminate not only the Sikh people but also those belonging to other minorities in India by persecution and genocide. Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale awakened a sleeping nation and invited the Sikhs to raise their voices against the tyrant rulers. In this struggle to defend the Sikh nation thousands of brave Sikhs have received martyrdom and one of these is Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal who was one of the greatest leaders of the present struggle. 

In the district of Amritsar Tehsil Taran Taran there is a village known as Manochahal. In this village Mata Gurmej Kaur the wife of Atma Singh gave birth to Gurbachan Singh Manochahal in 1954. After having passed his metric exams his father wanted him to work on the family land but Baba Manochahal had no interest in this. So he joined the army as a surveyor. While in the army he felt an awakening for Sikhi and his consciousness led him towards the essence of Guru Ji's teachings.

After four years service in the army he decided to leave and went to live at his maternal grandfather's house to look after their land because they were in a foreign country. It was here that Baba Manochahal became a Granthi (priest) at Baba Dhanna Gurudwara. Whilst he was staying here Sant Kartar Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale came to give Amrit Sanchar and to do parchar. Baba Manochahal was so influenced by Sant Ji's he utterances that he became a firm believer in Sant's message. After this initial meeting Baba Manochahal stayed at the headquarters of Damdami Taksal at Mehta on many occasions.

In 1978 a group calling themselves Sant Nirankaris organised a convention in Amritsar on April l3th the Birthday of the Khalsa. The so-called Nirankaris backed by the Congress Party were under the leadership of one Gurbachan `Singh' who had claimed himself to be a prophet and incarnation of Guru Nanak Dev ji. At the gathering the Nirankaris mocked the Sikh faith and insulted the Sri Guru- Granth Sahib Ji. On hearing this Sant Bhindranwale sent a group of devote sikhs under the leadershipof Bhai Fauja Singh to hold a peaceful protest march to the place where the socalled Nirankaris were gathering. However the Nirankaris and the police fired upon the Sikhs resulting in the martyrdom of 13 Sikhs and 80 were further injured including Baba Manochahal who was shot in the arm.

In 1982 The Sikh Freedom Fighters shot Lala Jagat Narain the editor of the Hind Samachar newspaper which was writing derogatory; remarks directed against the Sikh religion. In connection with this case a warrant was issued for Sant Bhindranwale and in order to arrest him raids were made in Chando Kalan (Haryana) and Bombay. Baba Manochahal was with Sant Bhindranwale during this time and they managed to reach Mehta Chowk. At Mehta Chowk Sant Bhindranwala peacefully courted arrest. After the arrest the police without any reason shot 22 Sikhs dead and wounded many more. Unable to falsely find Sant Bhindranwale guilty the Brahmin Government was forced to release him. On being released Sant Bhindranwale went straight to the Darbar Sahib and started the `Dharam Yudh' morcha.
In June 1984 the Indian rulers attacked the Darbar Sahib resulting in thousands of innocent men women and children being butchered. After this incident and the atrocities generally being committed against the Sikhs Baba Manochahal decided to fight in the armed struggle. His first action was in his own village where he shot and killed a soldier after which he absconded
The police in order to force Baba Manochahal to give himself up took from his maternal grandparents home their jeep motorcycle tractor and then burnt their crops. They also started to harass his family which included violence
At Manochahal village the Punjab police and the CRP surrounded Baba Manochahal and an
encounter ensued in which Inspector Bhupinder Singh and many other police officers were killed. Baba Manochahal broke through the police cordon and escaped. By 1986 Baba Ji had 9 encounters with the army and police and always broke through their cordons and escaped.

On the 26 July 1986 a Sarbat Khalsa was called at the Akal Takhat which the Punjab police tried to prevent by blocking and barricading all the roads leading to Darbar Sahib. A five member Panthic Committee was established to over look the affairs of the Sikh Nation and Baba Manochahal was chosen as one of the five. On the 29th April 1986 the Panthic Committee declared that the Sikhs would struggle for the establishment of an independent Sikh state `Khalistan' . The Akali Government led by Barnala sent the army into Sri Harmandir Sahib resulting in hundreds of arrests including that of the acting Jathadar of Sri Akal Takhat Sahib Bhai Gurdev Singh Kaonke. The Panthic Committee elected Baba Manochahal to replace Bhai Koanke as Jathadar. As Jathadar Baba Manochahal stood firm on the demand for Khalistan and kept the high traditions and morals of Akali Phula Singh Ji.
In order to quicken the struggle for Khalistan Baba Manochahal founded the Bhindranwala Tiger force of Khalistan which in a very short time spread its operations throughout Punjab Delhi and other surrounding states.

Baba Manochahal had many encounters with the Indian police and after causing havoc he managed to escape. For instance in village Vrana he along with his companions Dr Resham Singh and Bhai Buta Singh had an encounter with the police in which they inflicted terror and death. The police commander in charge was Mohammad Izhar Alam and he had his men surround the area. The encounter lasted for 7 hours and Bhai Buta Singh received martyrdom but Baba Manochahal along with Dr Resham Singh managed to escape.
The Indian Government once again attacked the Darbar Sahib in operation Black Thunder in which many of Baba Manochahal's companions received martyrdom including Lt General Bhai Surjit Singh Penta and Lt General Bhai Karj Singh Thanda
Baba Manochahal's greatest encounter with the police was in village Rotal which lasted 56 hours. In this encounter the police CRP and the army were involved and in the battle there was a heavy loss on the enemy. The BTF lost Lieutenant General Lakhwinder Singh and four other freedom fighters who became Shaheeds fighting for the Sikh Nation. Once again Baba Manochahal escaped from the clutches of the police.

Being unsuccessful in capturing Baba Manochahal the police turned their attention to his family. His father Atma Singh and his brother Tarlochan Singh who had deserted the army after operation Blue Star were arrested. After spending six years in jail they were released. Baba Manochahal's wife and son along with his other brothers Nirvair Singh who was working as a farmer and Ninder Singh who was working for the electricity board were arrested. The police later killed Baba Manochahal's father Atma Singh and brother Nirvair Singh in a fake encounter. The rest of the family if they have not been killed by the police are still being harassed and tortured today.

Due to Baba Manochahal's military training and his own intelligence he survived in the thick of the battle against the brahmin regime for 15 years. He stayed true to the Khalsa spirit and showed what can be achieved in a short space of time by following the teachings of the Gurus.

At the beginning of 1993 a near companion of Baba Manochahal by the name of Sukhwant Singh Warchiree was arrested by the police. Unable to bear the heavy police torture he told the police the whereabouts of Baba Manochahal's hideouts. But Baba Manochahal was able to change his hideouts before he could be found.

In the village of Bagria the police raided the house of Piara Singh. When the police were about to arrest his son Resham Singh his mother asked the police why are you taking my son? Baba Manochahal is sitting down in the bunker. Before the police could take any action Baba Manochahal exploded a bomb and rained a spray of bullets on the police. This caused a stampede amongst the police and Baba Manochahal managed to escape. When the police broke the bunker and went inside they found a feast of ' arms and' a small wireless set which Baba Manochahal had been using to track the movement of the police.

The police surrounded all the villages nearby and carried out house to house searches. On the 28 February 1993 outside Rotal village the police raided the farmhouse of Ajit Singh where Baba Manochahal was staying.

This was Baba Manochahal's final encounter and he knew the time had come for him to become one with the Almighty. He came out fighting like a lion and was shot by police entrenched behind a tubewell.

Baba Manochahal's martyrdom was a great loss to the Sikh Nation and his martyrdom was revenged by the freedom fighters who killed five police officers near Barnala. Baba Manochahal's involvement in the Khalistan Movement inspires many a Sikh today to fight against oppression and injustice and will continue to do so. He has joined the endless list of Shaheeds martyred in a righteous war in defence of his faith.


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