Continuing the story, in this story of Punjab Insurgency – An Untold Story Part IV, we are going to have a look at various other lives affected by terrorism during the 80s. Subhash Chandra had a daily supply shop in a small village, Rahimabad (Gurdaspur District). He used to keep his shop open till the late hours so that the people returning back home from their respective jobs and the people working in the fields can buy necessary things on their way back home. Subhash who had worked with PSEB (Punjab State Electricity Board) generally let his wife (Chanchal Kumari) buy all the necessary things from the shop.
On the evening of May 22, Subhash went to the shop instead of his wife; he also took his eight-year-old son (Harsh) along with him. His elder brother Madan Lal and his wife Rano were at the adjoining shop, which was also owned by his family.Suddenly, two unknown youngsters came out of the dark in the street. Thinking them as customers, Subhash turned his attention towards them.
But, before he could ask them anything, they opened fire. Recalling the event, his son said that the first bullet hit the scales that his father was holding, but unfortunately, the second one hit him in the chest at point-blank range. By the time his brother and sister-in-law reached the spot, he was already dead.
An Innocent Life Has Gone for No Reason
Madan Lal grappled with one of the terrorists and latched on to grab the pistol. His wife also joined him, and she grabbed him from his hair and punched him on the face numerous times. As per Madan, he remembered thinking that the killers have taken the life of my brother without any reason. He said that he wanted to kill them as well if their accomplice had not arrived at the scene.
The police identified one of the terrorists, nabbed by Madan Lal, as Jagir Singh, who hailed from Kalanaur. The other one, who managed to escape, was identified as Nishan Singh. All of a sudden, it seemed that some magic happened, and now the police knew everything about the terrorist’s whereabouts. The police said that the terrorists belonged to the Mastana Gang, and they were hiding in Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Jagir Singh, one of the accused, was taken to Dera Baba Nanak and was chained to a bed. There is a new face in the story by the name of Dheera. He was the husband of Jagir Singh’s sister. It was asserted that Dheera spent some time at his sister’s residence in Rahimabad before heading out to the murderous mission.
Continue reading Punjab Insurgency – An Untold Story (Part II)
No Steps Were Taken for the Betterment of Subhash Family
In distant Chandigarh, Julio Ribeiro (Chief of Punjab Police) was quite happy to know that the villagers had shown enough courage to nab one of the terrorists, and he even announced that they would be awarded Shaurya Chakra. A specialized police team was forwarded to the village of Rahimabad after a couple of days of the massacre. Seeing this, media persons, in huge numbers, reached Rahimabad from Chandigarh and Amritsar. However, the fuss was short-lived.
The police team disappeared as the panchayat decided that they will not feed the police anymore. Moreover, Subhash Chandra’s family was, obviously, not in a position to afford all that. The reporters also discontinued coming to the village, and Mr. Julio had other important tasks than to think about the betterment of the family. Now ever since the removal of the police picket, two brothers of Subhash Chandra were forced to guard their home on their own even in the late hours as they were receiving threats from the terrorists.
There have been incidents where the terrorists bang doors in the nighttime and try to invade. The fear was such that the children also stopped going to school.There were many instances where strangers used to stop the children, on their way to the school, to inquire whether it was because of their father, Jagir Singh got arrested.
Families Started Moving From the Village in Pursuit of a Better Life
Since the village of Rahimabad almost entirely had Sikh families, it gave the feeling of hostility to the Chandra family. Moreover, the handful of Hindu families also started moving from the village in pursuit of a better life. The PSEB (Punjab State Electricity Board) was kind enough to offer employment to the widow of Subhash Chandra and his brothers. Alas, the desperate family request for a transfer to some other village, was left unanswered.
Madan Lal even said that if they were not transferred to some other village, their whole family would be killed. We lack funds; otherwise, we would have left this village by now. We are forced to lead our lives under constant threat and fear. Just imagine how hard it would have been for Chanchal Kumari to explain her four children, all under the age of 10, what happened with their family and what is the reason behind the massacre.
Harsh, one of Chanchal Kumari’s son who saw his father killed right in front of his eyes, used to have nightmares. The impact was such that he started staring, continuously, the ceiling saying that his father is watching them from heaven.
Continue reading Punjab Insurgency – An Untold Story (Part III)
Families Under Threat Requested a Permanent Police Post in the Village
In an attempt to articulate all her fears and despair, she chose to pen down all his in a letter to the Police Chief and to the Governor. The letter went something like this – My husband, Sh. Subhash Chandra, son of Sh. Rattan Chand, linesman, PSEB sub-station Kalanaur, and resident of Rahimabad (Batala, Gurdaspur) was shot dead by the terrorists in the village on May 22, 1987, at around 7:30 p.m.
Now, when one of the terrorists, Jagir Singh, have been apprehended, they started receiving death threats from his companions, and her family was living under constant fear. She added that under the mentioned circumstances, she humbly requests that some apt arrangements should be made right away to save their and other villagers’ lives.
She also requested a permanent post of, preferably, BSF (Border Security Force) or CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) to be established in the village Rahimabad as there were no security arrangements in the radius of about 4 km. Unfortunately, Ms. Chanchal Kumari is still waiting for a reply to her letter.
Days of Terror: Punjab Back in 1980s
We have seen in the previous post Punjab Insurgency – An untold story (Part 1) , how based on some doubt, Harjinder Singh was shot dead by the terrorists? And the same case, we have read in this part where Subhash Chandra also became the victim of Punjab Insurgency during the 80s.
One thing is sure that neither these people nor their families were in contact with any of the radical groups. However, still, they lost their lives, how unfortunate is that.
In the next story, we will be reading about what the Paramraj Singh Umranangal family had to go through during the insurgency in Punjab.