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They also gave their blood for country's freedom

They also gave their blood for country's freedom

Author: Satbir Singh Bedi
Date: July 30, 2008

I remember 31st August, 1995 vividly. On that day, my father died but I do not remember it because of that event but a much more sadder event in the Indian history for on that day, the gutsy Chief Minister of Punjab who rooted out terrorism from the face of Punjab, died. Beant Singh (February 19, 1922 - August 31, 1995, Chandigarh) was the Chief Minister of Punjab from 1992 to 1995. Singh was a secular Sikh and member of the Congress Party.

Born in the village of Bilaspur, Ludhiana, he later lived in Kotli. He attended the Government College University in Lahore and later joined the British Indian Army. He began his political career with Akali Dal, but was elected to the State Assembly in 1969 as an independent. During the 1970s he joined the Congress Party, and he remained in office even after 1977, when Indira Gandhi was voted out. When the Congress Party regained power in 1980, Singh was made a minister.

During the bloody years after Gandhi's assassination, Singh was the party president in the Punjab. When the government called elections in 1992, Sikh nationalists boycotted; Singh was elected with fewer than a quarter of eligible votes. Despite that shaky start, Singh's tenure was in some respects successful. He helped restore agriculture and industry after the turmoil of the late 1980s; however, he did so by means of a ruthlessly enforced, often extrajudicial, discipline. Singh (and Rao's central government) argued that such means were necessary to control terrorism; however, at the time of Singh's death more than a hundred cases of police abuse were pending in the state courts.

He was assassinated by a car bomb on August 31, 1995 in Chandigarh. The bomb killed eleven other people, including three members of Singh's security detail. Separatist group Babbar Khalsa took responsibility for the assassination.

Similarly, Darshan Singh Canadian also laid down his life fighting terrorism. Darshan Singh Canadian (aka Darshan A. Sangha) (born 1917, Langeri, Punjab, India; died September 25, 1986) was a trade union activist and Communist organizer in Canada and India.

He immigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1937. Upon his arrival his uncle attempted to get him a job at Dominion Sawmills resulting in the uncle being fired and Sangha being hired at five cents less pay an hour. He became active in the Labour-Progressive Party (as the Communist Party of Canada was known). He was one of the founders of the International Woodworkers of America and served as one of the union's organizers as well as its general secretary from 1942 to 1946. He led striking woodworkers on a march on the provincial capital of Victoria in 1946. He fought for the rights of B.C.'s East Indian woodworkers.

He returned to India upon its independence in 1947 and adopted "Canadian" as his surname.

He became active in the Communist Party of India becoming party secretary in Punjab. He represented Garhshanker, Hoshiarpur district as member of Punjab State Legislature for three terms until his assassination in 1986, in retaliation for his comments against Sikh extremism.

The other person to be murdered for opposing Sikh extremism was Lala Jagat Narain who was the founder of the Hind Samachar group.

Lala Jagat Narain, a Chopra Khatri and an Arya Samaji, was born at Wazirabad, District Gujranwala (now in Pakistan) in 1889. He graduated from D.A.V. College, Lahore in 1919, and joined the Law College, Lahore. He left his studies in 1920 at the call of Mahatma Gandhi to join the non-cooperation movement. He was sentenced in two and a half years imprisonment, in jail he acted as Lala Lajpat Rai's Personal Secretary. In 1924 he became the editor of Bhai Parmanand's Weekly Hindi Paper Akashvani. He participated in all the Satyagraha movement and was in jail for about nine years on different occasions. His wife was in jail for six months. His eldest son, Ramesh Chandra, was arrested during the Quit India movement.

Lala Jagat Narain was President of the Lahore City Congress Committee for seven years, leader of the Congress Party in the Lahore Corporation, a member of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee for more than thirty years and member of the All-India Congress Committee for about 30 years.

Jagat Narain had come to Jalandhar as a refugee from Lahore and started an Urdu daily, Hind Samachar in 1948. Urdu then was the language of the salaried urban men of Punjab, the people who could afford the time and money for a newspaper. But Urdu in independent India lacked government support. In the schools of Punjab, Punjabi and Hindi became the languages and Gurmukhi and Devanagari the scripts of instruction. In 1965, Jagat Narain founded Punjab Kesari, a Hindi daily.

Lala Jagat Narain, an Arya Samaji, was a prominent critic of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

Dilbir Singh,Public Relations Advisor at Guru Nanak Dev University for seven years, has stated

"On that day in a great fury he [Bhindranwale] called upon someone to read aloud what Lala had said. There was quiet. 'Our turban has been torn from our heads,' he proclaimed. Then one of his followers asked, 'What are your orders?' Again in anger, he said 'Orders, you need orders! What orders? Are you blind?' Now you see he did not say anything. And they said it. 'O.K.' meaning thereby, we'll finish this man. So, then, 3-4 days later, Lala was coming from Ludhiana and they fired upon him."

Bhindranwale spoke on September 20, 1983:

"Some son of his mother could stand it no longer and put him (the Lala) on the train (killed him). After he was put on the train on the 9th (September 1981), on the 12th warrants for my arrest were issued." Mr H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune said in a tribute to Jagat Narain

The White Paper issued by the government of India, mentioned that Lala was murdered because of his criticism of murders of Nirankaris in Amritsar. He was present during the clash that occurred between Nirankaris and Akhand Kirtni Jatha Members, and stood witness at the Karnal Trial, in favour of the accused. Thirteen Sikhs and Two Nirankaris were killed in the clash. The Nirankaris fired from their guns and were acquitted by court on grounds of self defence. He was shot dead on September 9, 1981, near Amaltas Motel on the national highway while returning to Jalandhar from Patiala. Both the Government and Surjeet Jalandhari, project the murder as the murder of a person deeply involved in criminal cases in Punjab.

In 1981, Bhindranwale barricaded himself inside the fortified Gurudwara Gurdarshan Parkash at Mehta Chowk, but was persuaded to surrender on September 20, 1981. For 25 days, violence exploded all over Punjab, while Bhindranwale was jailed in a Circuit House. India´s then Home Minister, Giani Zail Singh, announced to Parliament that there was no evidence that Bhindranwale was involved in Lala Jagat Narain´s murder, and was released in Oct. 15, 1981.

A chair in the name of Lala Jagat Narain was established at Kurukshetra University in 1998.

Ramesh Chandra, eldest son of Lala Jagat Narain was also murdered because of his opposition to Sikh extremism.

There are, of couse, many other people who also laid down their lives for fighting terrorism in Punjab but I have not been able to find details about them. I think that Balramji Das Tandan, the BJP leader and Gobind Ram, a police officer also lost their lives fighting against terrorism in Punjab.

My request to all nationalist people is that just as so called Khalistani people celebrate the so called martyrdom of Bhinderanwale and assassins of Indira Gandhi etc., similarly, they should celebrate the martyrdom of those people who died while fighting Khalistani terrorism.

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