The Sikh Spirit That Couldn’t Be Tortured. (Part 1)

We are saved in this life by Guru Gobind Singh, Ezdi Mansoor Guru Gobind Singh

When I met the survivors of the Sikh genocide, mothers, fathers whose entire families were murdered by the Indian state, I wondered how did they survive? When they suffered such terrible atrocities how did they survive? Widows would later tell me that they remembered Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Their beloved Guru helped them. One widow said I think of “Kalgia wala, I think of him losing his four young beautiful sons and still holding his head up. He lost his children, his world. His inspirational sacrifice in life has saved us in these terrible times. We are not alone…”

Widows saw their husbands and sons dragged away; entire families were tortured and murdered. They would look to Guruji’s supreme sacrifice in life. Despite a country, the Indian state, hell bent on destruction of the Sikhs, hurling entire machineries of dehumanisation and mass murder at the Sikhs- using laws, using armies, friends in the UN, intelligence communities around the world, using police machinery, deploying with systematic and systemic intent mass torture and their plans on annihilation of our people; despite a world, the Sikh world, paralysed and in chaos - our people caught in the clutches of Indian state crimes against them, no country, no police, no judges, no one to protect them - fought with the Guru as their armour, and He is their armour to this day. Their spirit is astounding. 

Years ago I met these survivors when we started the medical camps (because it was the safest option of help given the humanitarian route the Indian state did not open up for these people in post conflict Punjab in TARAN, when entire lives needed rebuilding.) I was so ashamed when a meagre medical camp for treatment of eye cataracts was conducted by our brave, dedicated doctors. It was something I kept saying to myself, and even as the camps multiplied with our help, but always it was never enough. There were so many to help with so little. A Hindu human rights activist told me - you will never find doctors who will help for free here - especially for those whom you are looking to help - it is so risky. But eventually, through Guru’s grace, we found doctors like Tejinder Singh, Dr. Gurpartap Singh, of Jullundhur, who treated people privately and risked so much – doctors who were so stigmatised by the state and labeled - that later at one of the surgeries they did have Indian intelligence crawling around to check that a piece of eye equipment was really just what it was.

An elderly man in dark glasses got out of the jeep we used to transport people from Gurdaspur to hospitals, and he touched my forehead. Someone was telling me that he had lost his two sons. All we had done was help his eyes a little through the camps. I was so ashamed so little was done and yet received the love and blessing of such a beautiful elder who had sacrificed so much. Anyone else in his place would have rightly argued that little was done for him, as so little was. But in his radiance and his blessing - I knew then that, despite so many in the West and Punjab saying that it was sheer madness to give up your money for what is a drop in the ocean of help, here the ocean had met me in this one blessing. I urged people for years - you will not be helping victims, they will be helping you….Those who kept Guru Gobind Singh in their hearts through such persecution. This man’s blessing for our meagre help was priceless.

Dr. Amy Law said that she had seen torture survivors throughout the world. Yet she had seen such an immense spirit of survival from Sikh torture survivors (She met survivors in a brief field trip with Harshinder Singh, lawyer, (and the CCDP)). Despite having no help from anyone and suffering such brutal third degree torture she realised the Sikh survivors showed a resilience that was much higher than thought. They had used the spirit of their ancestors, the history of shaheedi, of the Gurus’ lives, to survive.

When she heard the story of one Sikh woman she couldn’t hold back her tears. The woman said to her ‘Why are you crying?’

Amy said she couldn’t believe the horrific tale the woman was relaying.

The Sikh woman said ‘don’t worry about me… worry about yourself young woman…I will be fine…’

Despite such brutal third degree torture the Sikh survivors used their amazing historical legacy of shaheedi, of their Guru’s lives to survive, Amy once shared. This is not to underestimate the severe depression and ill health survivors suffered. The need for torture rehabilitation in the Punjab and for Sikhs who fled has been needed for over thirty years, the devastation suffered undeniable and is a case of medical negligence on the Indian state’s part as well as a condemnation of the brutal torture methods inflicted on Sikhs. Torture victims around the world face the world so bravely. I met survivors of the Democratic Republic of Congo- survivors, through Freedom From Torture (who over fifteen years ago produced critical reports on the torture Sikhs were suffering in India), whose families are still ‘disappeared’ or in hiding and who have suffered mass rape and the rape and torture of the Yazidi and other groups across the world continues.

These noble Sikh torture victims continue to hold their heads up high. When I used to work with torture victims I’d hear of the words- we were beaten (‘kut paee’)- used for third degree torture and it was almost a brush off. The resilience people tried to use with their experience was so critical for them but their leaning on their Guru and their history of shaheedi and saints helped them move on when no psychiatrist, welfare worker, doctor or government would help them. India had in effect become a brutal aftermath in post conflict punjab as the Indian state set up no rehabilitation route or system after its state crimes. There were instances of US Congressmen, women, Canadian MPs, British MPs trying to be the eyes and ears to confirm the torture chambers in Punjab were being used. A British MP said that they had been told the pulleys across the ceilings were for ‘curtains’ and they knew how third degree torture on the Sikhs had been inflicted.

The Guru was the victims’ Light in the darkness.

When I feel most low in life I look at Guru Gobind Singh ji as a beacon in life. And I remember the Light he was when I met these angels who have fallen from earth and sit as survivors of genocide.

When we hear His words of Liberation, Salvation we are truly saved

Har Har Mukunday…. As many artists have sung….Paramjeet Singh and Kaur, hauntingly… Waheguru, Lord God Almighty is our Liberation…. 

And Mirabai Ceiba’s haunting rendition of Jaap Sahib 

(to share just a few angelic voices of the Lord….)

Guruji’s supreme spirit to fight tyranny and oppression is in our lives. When we are our most brave, when we seek to try to change systems that are working against the vulnerable, seek to protect, we are seeking to emulate the ocean of Guru Gobind Singh.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the Light in the darkness.

He is the father of the Sikh nation and we must always lean on His perfect universe in our times of need. His is a vision of sovereignty the world has yet to see, free from oppression. When we are unable to face things He is our strength. For me the widows of the Sikh genocide and their unflinching faith in Sikhism, despite being tortured, because they were Sikh, brought Guruji’s love nearer.

The brave genocide survivors, torture victims, are our reality. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, inspired us his followers to hold our heads up in the darkest times, and fight on. He is our Saviour in the darkness. And no one in the world can remove Him from our hearts. No country, no state tyranny, no government can remove Sikhi from our souls.

Some of the souls we remember among the thousands murdered in the Sikh genocide through their loved ones:

Lakhbir Kaur (whose son was Shaheed Balvinder Singh) Jabalpur pind:

He was going on the bus.- the police took Balvinder and the boy off the bus and killed them. He was my only son. I was devastated. He was just 22 years old. He was unmarried. I cannot forget what they did to him ever. After that his dad was in such shock he died after six months. I got no help from the Indian state. Not even justice….

Baljinder Singh, Tota, was an Amritdhari, baptised Sikh who had started working as an assistant to a doctor. In May 1988 Baljinder Singh had gone for Darshan to Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. There he became stuck in what was later known as Operation Black Thunder. The police registered several cases against him and sent him to jail for 3-4 months. Later the police brutally tortured him claiming he would be released. His family tried desperately to reach police stations, get letters from Baljinder’s brother Gurdial Singh who was serving in the Indian army as a Havildar. They desperately tried to get his release and filed a case of his being missing in the Kapurthala court. Later Baljinder Singh’s brother was also murdered by the Indian police on the 12th October 1990 by the Mehta police.

Gurjit Singh was the son of Sajjan Singh, 70, and Sita Rani,55, of Khalra village, Hata Bhagdeen.

He was just 22 years old when he was killed by the Indian police. Gurjit’s mum, Sita Rani (who belonged to a Hindu Khatri family). Gurjit Singh, who was employed as a foreman at the Sheller, was arrested by Bhikhiwind Police, on 5.7.1990, while he was on his way back from duty. He had got married just one week earlier. His family members tried desperately to find him. The Police concocted the story of having arrested him after an "encounter" and sent him to jail. He was subjected to inhuman torture in illegal custody. He got released on bail in September 1991 and came home. He stayed at home for two days. On the third day, on 9.9.1991, he went to Bhikhiwind. He had told his family members that he would be back but he never came home.

Sukhdev Singh, Sukha, was the son of Joginder Singh, Sukhbir Kaur, Sathiala. He was 22 years old when he was taken by the police and killed. The police were from Beas, Baba Bakala.

Sukhdev Singh was a farmer who joined the militant resistance of Punjab. The police began harassing his family members. His body was found bullet ridden on the 23rd July 1991.

The family demanded his body be handed over but the police refused.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji remains in our souls forevermore. No scholars can break it, no wordsmiths, no debaters, no intellectuals can break, no preachers can reduce, or exaggerate for Nasro Mansoor Guru Gobind Singh- We are saved in this life by Guru Gobind Singh, Ezdi Mansoor Guru Gobind Singh, Waheguru’s Light is Guru Gobind Singh. No one can describe him, portray him….No country can eliminate his people, his disciples, his armies and countries of followers. Guru Gobind Singh is our Heart. He gave us life when He gave us Amrit. He gave us the Guru Granth Sahib. The spiritual principles we fly through this life with. He gave us the Spirit of Resistance to all evil regimes. He gave us the Spirit of the Sikh could not be tortured even through genocide.

Acknowledgements:

Survivors of the Sikh Genocide- Twelve Years in Punjab’s Burning Fields, TARAN. (June 2017 report)

Coordination Committee for Disappearances Cases, Appear in Lakhi and Amarpal, novella, Feb 2017. (on amazon.com)

Gurjit Singh, son of Sajan Singh who was disappeared by the Indian state- Further Details of his disappearance.

His family, mother, father desperately tried to find Gurjit and get him released. The Sadar police wouldn’t hand him over. It is known Gurjit Singh was taken from Putlighar, Amritsar city. Later some people said he was in a torture chamber in BR Modern School. His mother, Sita Rani tried to see DSP Gurdeve Singh but no one would let him be seen.

They came to know from some people that he had been detained at B.R. Modern School. The family tried desperately to see police in Bhikiwind, Khalra, Patti. But no one would help. They tried the President of the SGPC, Governor of Punjab. For many years they believed that Gurjit could still be alive. For years they tried to find him and went through lists and lists of disappeared people.

His mother suffered a nervous breakdown and the whole family was traumatised. Date of Disappearance: 25/09/1992

 

Painting of Guru Gobind Singh Ji by Bhagat Singh Bedi - SikhiArt.com

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