This section considers Important events within Anglo-Sikh history such as early European accounts of Sikhs, the role ofSikhs in the armed forces and pre British Raj accounts.


Kanpur Massacre 1978

25th September 1978

After the incident of Vasakhi 1978, a agitation was started against the Nirankaris. Wherever the Nirankaris had their meetings, GurSikhs would go and protest peacefully. Thus Gurbachan Singh was unable to address the meetings held at Varanasi, Azamgarh and Allahbad. On 25th September 1978, Gurbachan Singh reached Kanpur at 9.30p.m, flanked by police officers to protect him. The news having leaked out, the Sikhs started a protest march from Gurdwara Gobindpuri, which is at a distance of about 3 kilometres from the Nirankari Bhawan of Kanpur. Women and children also joined the protesters.

This time the Nirankaris again had made full preparations for the Sikhs. When the Sikh protesters reached near the Nirankari Bhawan, the Nirankaris greeted them with brickbats and even gun-shots. An armed volunteer of the Nirankaris attacked Jathedar Kishan Singh with a spear which pierced through his stomach. On this a fight started. The police fired at the Sikh protesters, a result of which 13 Sikhs died, while 74 were injured.

This incident further increased the Sikhs resentment against Nirankaris and the government. On 28th September, the dead bodies of those killed at Kanpur were taken out in a huge procession. A day earlier, on 27th September 1978, Sikhs of Amritsar, Delhi, Bombay, Lucknow, Kanpur and many other places observed a one-day protest strike.

The names of some of the Shaheeds are:- Bibi Darshan Kaur, Bhai Jagjit Singh, Bhai Harcharan Singh, Jathedar Karam Singh, Jathedar Kishan Singh, Baba Kashmira Singh, Bhai Manmohan Singh, Bhai Gurbir Singh, Bhai Balwant Singh, Bhai Gurjit Singh.

As the tempers ran high, the Punjab Government, on 28th September, 1978. banned the entry of the Nirankari Chief in Punjab for six months. But the Nirankari Chief challenged it in the Supreme Court and the ban was lifted.

On the 30th September, 1978, the Sikhs of Delhi organised a protest march and presented a memorandum to the Government of India to ban Nirankari 'Samagams' (congregations). On 4th November, 1978, the Nirankaris took out a procession in Delhi in connection with their annual conference. The Sikhs retaliated with a counter protest march that culminated in violence. The President of the Delhi Akali Dal, Avtar Singh Kohli, was hit on the head by a police tear gas shell and was killed. Besides him, Bhai Darshan Singh and a 13-year old Sikh boy Maninder Singh were also killed. Nine Sikhs were also injured. On 5th 6th November, 1978, disturbances broke out in some parts of Delhi and a curfew had to be imposed.

Jan Sangh (BJP) workers provided a protection force to enable the Nirankaris to continue their functions in spite of disturbances in the city. Many Arya Samajist leaders, including Lala Jagat Narain, gave speeches supporting the Nirankaris. This gave a new direction to the anti-Nirankari agitation. The GurSikhs developed a feeling that the majority community in India was patronising the Nirankaris to finish off the separate identity of the Sikh faith.

Realising the attitude of the Government, the Singhs decided to take matters in their own hands. They took inspiration from Guru Gobind Singh Ji's words, "When all means of redressing a wrong have failed, then lifting a sword is pious and just" The Singhs then pretty much wiped out the Nirankaris in India.

Bhai Ranjit Singh, a member of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, with two other Singhs killed the Nirankari chief at his home on April 24, 1980. Bhai Ranjit Singh had managed to find employment at the Nirankari headquarters in Delhi as a carpenter. Late in the evening, He waited with an automatic rifle in a room of the centres guest house. One window of the room opened to the side of the driveway. Bhai Ranjit Singh shot Gurbachan Singh through it when he returned from a public function at about 11pm. Ranjit Singh managed to escape by jumping down a compound wall from the backside of the room.

Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar, Jathedar of Babbar Khalsa, was a very close friend of Bhai Fauja Singh. He heard the news of his martyrdom when his Anand Karaj ceremony was being performed. He left his newly-wed wife there and rushed to Amritsar. He played a major part in getting rid of the Nirankaris, including assassinating the Nirankari 7 "Sitares". Later he had to go underground, from where he led the Khalistan movement for 14 years, before he also attained martyrdom in 1992.

Baba Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala emerged after this incident of Vasakhi 1978 as the pivotal figure for the Sikh reaction against government of Indira Gandhi. The situation deteriorated as the government continued its policy of undermining the Sikh Nation. This included murder, rape and humiliation of Sikhs, in particular Sikh youth. Baba Jarnail Singh Ji pointed out to the Sikh masses the policy of the government. Frustration grew within the Sikhs against the government and Hindu media barons, such as Lala Jagat Narain. The popularity and influence of Baba Jarnail Singh became a threat to government, so it resorted to Operation Bluestar on 6th June 1984. The GurSikhs fought heroically, however many attained martyrdom including Baba Jarnail Singh Ji.

Learn More -
  Amritsar Massacre


Hukumnama Against Nirankaris
On October 6th 1978, a Hukumnama bearing the Seal of Sri Akal Takht Sahib (by the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib) was issued, calling upon Gursikhs all over the world to socially boycott these fake "Nirankaris" and not to allow their faith and creed to flourish in the society. This Hukumnama was prepared by a committee comprising of the following:-

Giani Gurdit Singh Ji
Giani Lal Singh Ji
Giani Partap Singh Ji
Giani Sadhu Singh ji Bhaura
Sardar Kapur Singh Ji
Sardar Parkash Singh Ji
Sardar Satbir Singh Ji

Through this Hukamnama, all Gursikhs were asked to stop "Roti Beti Di Sanjh", food and marital relations, with the fake Nirankaris.

However the author would like to point out that today, 20 years later, the Nirankaris are flourishing. In England and Canada, many people we consider to be Sikh are in fact Nirankaris. They even control some Gurdwaras in Canada, and use the Internet to spread their propaganda.

It is important that we do not forget this event in Sikh History, and the sacrifices of these glorious Gursikhs, who would not tolerate disrespect of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. We must make ourselves aware of this threat, and continue to live according to Gurmat as exemplified by Bhai Fauja Singh and the Martyrs of 1978.

"This day must not be forgotten. This is the day to remember the Martyrs of Amritsar. This is a day to be proud of, that at least there were men among us who could live to the very tradition of the Khalsa. There were men among us while alive who could take eleven bullets in their body and still say, "Waheguru". They went as a true son goes to defend the grace of the father." Harbhajan Singh Yogi

Source:Kurbani - Akhand Kirtani Jatha UK

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