During the 80s, terrorism claimed several innocent lives; we saw two instances in the previous story – Harjinder Singh and Subhash Chandra. Besides, these two families, other numerous families who got affected by the radical groups at that time. The analysis contributes to an understanding of the insurgency in Punjab that took as many lives as it can.
Umranangal family also lost their loved ones during the insurgency in Punjab. Jathedar Jiwan Singh Umranangal has always raised a voice against what he considered wrong. He was of the view that being a Sikh, it is his religion to do so. He gained immense knowledge by reading Sikh scriptures, and he staunchly believes that a Sikh should always be ready to die for the truth.
With an unshakable conviction, Jiwan Singh believed that what the terrorist groups are doing in Punjab is against the principles of Sikhism. For having this attitude, he and his family also got threats from the radical groups, through letters, to stop speaking against them.
The police took the threats seriously, and his sprawling farmhouse (on the GT road between Jalandhar and Amritsar) was turned into a fortress where CRPF pickets were deployed. All entrances to the farmhouse had armed guards, and every member of the family was provided an armed bodyguard.
Sukhdev’s Death Was a Trap Set Up by One of His Bodyguards
The Punjab crisis, a two-decade long armed insurgency of the Khalistan movement that emerged as a violent ethnonationalism movement in the 1980s and gradually transformed the state into a wreck. On May 8, the terrorists found their first target – Sukhdev Singh (Jiwan Singh Umranangal’s Son). The astonishing thing about his death was that he was shot barely a kilometer away from his house. It is alleged that Sukhdev’s death was a trap set up by one of his bodyguards. The police later arrested the bodyguard.
On the evening of that fateful day, Sukhdev Singh returned home without intending to go out. His wife remembers asking her for a cup of tea and saying that he will be resting as he was tired following a day’s traveling.While he was resting, some people came to his house and informed that there was a robbery in the house of one of his closest friends in the nearby village.
Without giving a second thought, he started his motorcycle and immediately set off with one of his bodyguards. Sukhdev was killed along with his bodyguard outside his friend’s house. The killers vanished in one of the neighbor’s houses. The killers were so confident that not only did they killed him in broad daylight, but they attended his funeral the next day as well.
Continue reading Punjab Insurgency – An Untold Story (Part III)
Jiwan Singh Umranangal Continued His Fight
Sukhdev was a very helpful, apolitical, and mild-mannered man. His sudden demise was an irreparable loss to his widow, Harpreet Kaur, and three children. But even after the death of his son, Jiwan Singh Umranangal continued his steadfast stand against militancy.
After the death of Sukhdev Singh, a warning letter was sent to Harpreet Kaur. The letter said that she had to leave her father-in-law or else her family would be killed. Jiwan Singh’s conviction of what he is doing is right was so great that he even didn’t let any member of his family collapse under this tragedy.
He refused to show any despair or sorrow on his face. Instead, he said that he believes in the path shown by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and other gurus. They taught us to fight the evil and wrongdoings; he even said that today there are more wrongdoings than it was during the Babur reign. During the Babur’s rule, Guru Nanak Dev Ji said that Babur’s government is of dogs. He was the ruler at that time, and he could have had him killed, but instead, he gave him the freedom of religion. At that time, in Punjab, the terrorists will execute a massacre just because the people’s views differ from theirs.
Fight Against Terrorism is the Fight for Humanity
It seemed that the terrorists were far from being happy in having Sukhdev; in fact, it has emboldened the terrorists and warned Jiwan Singh to do as they say or else he will be killed as well. After his son’s funeral, Khalistan Security Force sent a letter to him saying that he had done enough service for the Hindu Government. It was also written that he was a traitor, and no one can destroy Sikhs except traitors like him. He was told to come to the Akal Takht and beg for forgiveness, or else he will be killed.
However, in fact, the letter served as a motivation for Jiwan Singh to further continue his fight against terrorism. On June 15, he started padayatra to the nearby villages. He decided to first go to the place where his son was killed, there he halted for a while and prayed for the peace of his son’s soul. He then moved on to other villages where he urged the villagers not be afraid of the terrorists; they should not tolerate the atrocities and should speak against them.
Jiwan Singh was usually seen with a sword in his hand, but this time around, he adopted a laid-back approach where he was seen as a solitary prophet wandering through villages spreading a single message. He used to tell the people that they should say their prayers in front of their respective gods and join the fight against terrorism.
Continue reading Punjab Insurgency – An Untold Story (Part IV)
PS Umranangal Followed His Grandfather’s Footsteps
Seeing the current scenario, he said that the whole Punjab had turned into a cremation ground, where all you can see is burning corpses and people mourning over their loved ones. He stressed that these killings would have to stop. Wherever he used to visit, he kept reminding people that one day, they all have to die, so they should die like a man than to lead their lives like a coward. According to him, a killer is a killer, and it’s wrong to call them a martyr.
It was, understandably, quite hard for Harpreet Kaur to accept what happened. She said that she used to tell Sukhdev to be careful, but he always used to reply that everybody has a fixed number of breaths to breathe, and there is nothing anybody can do about it. She said that she doesn’t allow her children to go out without bodyguards, but they don’t listen either. The children want to follow the footsteps of their grandfather and want to take ahead the crusade he once began. Paramraj Singh Umranangal, Sukhdev’s eldest son, started going out with his grandfather Jiwan Singh Umranangal and participated actively in the fight against terrorism.
Jiwan Singh chose to merge his loss with the collective grief of Punjab that when he built a memorial at the exact place where his son died, he dedicated that place to all those innocent people who lost their lives in Punjab. It is not a fancy memorial; in fact, a simple structure built using cement and red bricks. The memorial is located at the edge of a rice field near GT (Grand Trunk) Road. Even today, passersby stop and place flowers at the memorial.
A new brand of Sikh militancy has surfaced in Punjab during the ’80s because of their rebellion mindset that led to the killing of innocent people like Ashok, Simratpal, Subhash, Sukhdev Singh & many more those we haven’t heard of.