Shaheed Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Babbar was the iconic leader of the Khalistan movement between 1978 to 1992. He ranked among senior Generals like Bhai Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwale, Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma and Baba Manochal. However his impact was legendary, and was considered the backbone of the struggle. Such was the calibre of this Gursikh, that everyone referred to him as “The Jathedar…”. (one and only).
Shaheed Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar was born on 9th August 1955 in the house of Sardar Jind Singh and Mata Harnam Kaur, in the village Dhassuwal. This is in the Amritsar area of Punjab. Bhai Sahib had three brothers, Angrej Singh, Rashal Singh, Mehal Singh, and three sisters, Swaran kaur, Charan kaur, and Jeet Kaur.
Bhai Sahib had a very high Jeevan. His eyes shone, and his stature was like Purataan Gursikhs. He was very quiet, but was highly intelligent. He never raised his voice, and always spoke with a sweet voice. Jathedar jee was very close to Bhai Anokh singh. Both singhs would live for days on sholay de daane (chick peas) and Naam. Even during great hardship, moving by the night and living undercover they managed to keep there Bibekta and amrit vela.
His daily prayers would last many hours, as he meditated peacefully on God. He was a very humble and caring man, soft-spoken, yet very determined and strong of character. He was a perfect example of a Gursikh.
The Punjab Police and Indian Intelligence Services made capturing and eliminating Bhai Sahib their top priority. They realized he was the backbone of the movement. As other Generals were being Shaheed, they were being replaced, however Bhai Sahib was so iconic and organizationally effective, he would be irreplaceable. Many Singhs were tortured in the cruelest of manner to find out the whereabouts of Bhai sahib. However such was their love and respect for him, that they never uttered a word.
Both Bhai Anokh Singh and Bhai Sulakhan Singh had amazing spiritual Jeevans. Both when captured were severely tortured. Bhai Anokh Singh jis was tortured for many days, his eyes were removed, his tongue was cut off, and his insides were exposed and hot peppers pushed in. Bhai Sulakhan Singh was Shaheed just as Bhai Mani Singh ji was, as he was cut joint from joint.
Bhai Manmohan Singh just stated to his torturers that his name was Manmohan Singh. He said ask me anthing else you want, that is all I will tell you. After many days torture, the only words the police heard from his mouth were “Waheguru”, until he also was ultimately Shaheed. Another Singh, close to Bhai Sahib had his legs tied between two jeeps, which drove off, ripping him in half.
For 14 years Bhai Sukhdev Singh led the Khalistan movement in Punjab. He ensured many responsible for the genocide against sikhs, met there suitable ends. During the late 80`s and early 90`s, the Singhs were so strong, that they virtually ran a parallel government in Punjab.
Even international magazines, such as article in India Today had reported that Bhai Sukhdev Singh Jee was the “most prominent militant leader since 1978, who had, over the years, acquired an aura of Invincibility”. With Bhai Sukhdev Singh at its helm “Babbar Khalsa had acquired a reputation as the most puritanical, austere, and ideologically committed militant organisation”. Most Indian journalists regarded the organization as above the other groups as it owned up to its assassinations and condemned the killings of innocent civilians. There was another report in India Today where an un-named Police officer told the paper that when they tortured Gursikhs by cutting there muscles and pouring chilli powder into the cuts and also using hot poke into the eyes and muscles and ripping the muscles of the bones he used to hear Naam-Simran and also Paath. In one such case was when he witnessed the death of Bhai Anokh Singh Jee Babbar. He left the police shortly afterwards due to stress and mental problems.
To really understand what Bhai sahib was you have to consider one thing. If we youth today, most of whom are the same age as these Singhs were when they did all this Seva, had intelligence services, police, black cats, sikh informers after us. How long do you think we would last? Probably a few days. Bhai sahib lasted 14 years. Virtually hundreds of Singhs were shaheed under torture in efforts by Punjab police to find Bhai sahib. They had there families annihilated. But such was the love and respect for Bhai sahib, no-one ever spoke. How much love does someone have for someone to do that? They saw their families killed, and were tortured limb by limb themselves, but never told where Jathedar Sukhdev Singh was. Then you understand what he was, and how highly he was held by so many. To become a singh with him, meant death, not only of you, but your whole family. There was no culture of fear around him, it was a culture of Love and Respect.
Another mark of Jathedar ji, was after his Shaheedi, no group was for many years capable doing any major operation in India, until Bhai Dilavaaar Singh Babbar blew up the genocidal Beant Singh, Congress Chief Minister of Punjab. Even after that, the movement has never been the same. So many Dushts against Sikhi are still alive and active today. The Panth needs Gursikhs of the Calibre of Jathedar Ji.
Never was there a better example of a Gursikh worthy of the title “Jathedar Ji”. This was the mark of his Jeevan, the mark of the man and the Legend.