Since the birth of the Khalsa in the Land of Five Rivers, countless sons and daughters of Punjab have given their lives to protect their freedom, their people and their natural resources. Just like the looting foreign invaders have taken different forms in the army of Ahmad Shah Abdali, the British colonialists, and today’s foreign and Indian capitalists, Punjab’s organized resistance has manifested itself from time to time in the Babbar Akalis, the Gadhr Party and the Kharkoo Jathebandis of the Sikh Liberation Movement.
Since the British colonizers made their exit from the Indian subcontinent and transferred power to India’s Brahmin, “free” Hindu India has oppressed, looted and exploited the people of Punjab unceasingly. One such scheme to cripple the Sikh’s of Punjab economically and ecologically, was to divert and steal Punjab’s river water. With this end in mind, the Satluj-Yamuna-Link canal was proposed in 1982 to carry Punjab’s river water to neighboring Haryana and despite the democratic protest of Punjab’s people, construction of the project began over the next few years. Remembering the words of Guru Gobind Singh Jee that, “when all peaceful means fail, it is righteous to raise the sword,” Bhai Balwinder Singh Jatana, Bhai Jagtar Singh Panjola, Bhai Balbir Singh Fauji and Bhai Harmeet Singh Bhaowal decided to stop the looting of Punjab’s resources “by any means necessary.”
On the morning of the 23rd, all four of the Guru’s Singhs approached the head office on scooters while the chief engineers of the SYL project held a meeting on the second floor of the building. The jatha of Babbar’s entered the office casually and made their way to the meeting place with silenced pistols. Like lightning, they struck – eliminating M.S. Sikri and Avtar Aulakh, the engineers who were collaborating with the Brahmin Sarkar to loot Punjab’s resources and livelihood. Just as casually as they had entered, the Singhs walked out of the office and left on the same scooters they had come on. The government was shaken by the audacity of the action and immediately halted the SYL project.
It was a few days later, on September 4, 1991, that an informer alerted the police of Bhai Sahib’s whereabouts – hoping to collect the Rs. 16 lakh reward on his head. It was the afternoon of the fourth when Bhai Balwinder Singh and Bhai Charanjeet Singh ‘Channa’ were driving towards Sadhugarh village when they saw a police checkpoint. They abruptly turned their jeep around and ran into nearby fields for an encounter with the police. Both Singh’s had very little ammunition and were soon martyred by the police.
“Our struggle will continue as long as a handful of men, be they foreign or native, or both in collaboration with each other, continue to exploit the labour and resources of our people. Nothing shall deter us from this path.”
–Kartar Singh Sarabha