Babbar Sher of Punjab
A Sikh Leader took the amrit sanskar to dedicate his life to the teachings of Waheguru right from his birth. But he who protected the Khalsa Raj was apparently assassinated for the same land. What was it that went wrong?
Sukhdev Singh Babbar; Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

Born and Killed on 9th August

Since the founding of Sikhism, many sects have developed that believe in certain teachings from Gurus and have divergent interpretations of Sikh scriptures. Nirankari is one such sub-tradition still predominant in Sikhism that saw a reform in the 19th century through the formation of a movement. Among its requirements were the restoration of practices and beliefs of Guru Nanak and a belief in the worship of a pure form of Sikhism that is 'without form'.

With time, it started to fall apart.

It is certain that for every unorthodox school of thought, there will be an orthodox belief or vice-versa. Nirankari also ushered in this thought as they began to form a small group of the Sant Nirankari who sparked orthodox Sikh ire. Taking this a step further, Satguru Avtar Singh even claimed himself to be the 'living guru' in a way that contradicted the foundation of Sikhism.

People from the Sikh community were furious, and the anger lasted, for some time until the conflict erupted in 1978. This resulted in a depletion of relations between Sikhs and Nirankari.

In the midst of such conflicts, one of the emerging Sikh leaders was raised against the ideologies and culture set by Nirankari. He was known as Sukhdev Singh Babbar, an individual who epitomized all the rituals of Sikhism, but he also had rising blood that made him stand by his beliefs until his dying day. After completing middle school, he went to work on his family's farm in the village.

During that time, Fauja Singh was among the prominent figures who joined forces against the Nirankaris. Upon meeting him, the young man became highly impressed with his revolutionary thoughts and determination to unite and form the Khalsa community. Upon his advice, he performed the Amrit ritual at an Akhand Kirtani Jatha Smagam and continued his commitment to Khalsa Raj for life.

Khalsa is yet another sub-sect of Sikhism reconstituted by Guru Gobind Singh that denotes both the body of initiating Sikhs and the community as a whole. Every Sikh who undergoes the ceremony of Amrit Pahul, eventually became a member of the Khalsa.

From Fauja Singh, he learned the spiritual and gathka teachings that were to guide him throughout his life. This was the core ideology from which all 'Singh' lived their lives. Thus, he remained a person with a religious outlook and deep spiritual inclination to seeking knowledge about Sikhism from his gurus and following their teachings.

While he was crossing the ocean, he was taken by the current waves.

During the Vaisakhi celebration of 1978, which also coincided with his marriage day, he learned from his neighbors that Nirankaris had killed 13 Sikhs on the sacred land of Amritsar, including Fauj Singh. Every street was abuzz with the news, which eventually erupted into battlegrounds. As a state, Punjab was in a dark phase when that moment occurred, but Singh himself was affected profoundly. As a person, he was known for his quiet and spiritual nature at the village. But this time he returned to his village with a fire of revenge burning within him.

It was Indira Gandhi who was in the ministry and viewed Sikh as the biggest threat to her ambition of holding power in the state and thus planned to support Nirankari and internally weaken the Sikh community.
Darkest day in the history of Punjab; Image Source- The Tribune

As news of the incident spread through the town, the case was reviewed by the government. Despite this, the Nirankari received indirect government support that infuriated the other sects. The leader of the Nirankari clash in 1978, Gurbachan, was becoming powerful and attempting to manipulate those who opposed him. Singh took the role of a warrior for his community, he became upset with Nirankari being supported and encouraged by the government for their own personal gain. As a result, he formed an alliance with Anokh Singh, Sulakhan Singh, and Amarjit Singh Daheru to destroy the leadership of Nirankari. From underground training to proving weapons, his goal was clear.

He went through a similar process before becoming a leading Sikh leader and founding his own organisation, the Babbar Khalsa International. As a result of his efforts, he initiated the Khalistan movement by organising his groups, motivating youth and attempting to influence them to propagate his objective of establishing Khalistan on Punjab Land with the entire Sikh community, meaning that India could be separated from this land. The group had conducted many armed attacks on Indian security forces using bombings, kidnappings and murders backed by well-trained and fully-funded militant groups.

In no time, he became a household name as the Khalistani Extremist and established himself in other countries such as the United States, Belgium, Canada, and France. He was not on an extended journey in his fight to remove the name of Nirankari from the Sikh community or create a separate sovereign nation for Sikhs, but he fought until his last breath. He is still revered for his bravery and dedication to Sikhism as evidenced by his high following.

During a gunfight with heavily armed police, Sukhdev Singh was ambushed and fatally shot on the day when he was born. It incited mass killings among a large population after Sukhdev's death, and his organisation continued for years before it was listed as a terrorist group.
Ishita Gupta Author
While I write life stories of others, make sure to get me the perfect 30 words that define me. Otherwise, I will mess it up with my own silly jokes.

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