Warriors of Faith

Shaheed Jathedar Gurdev Singh Ji Kaunke


Bhai Gurdev Singh ji Kaunke was a Charhdi kala Gurmukh, Diamond of Damdami Taksal and Loyal soldier of Khalsa Panth. Bhai sahib was appointed Working Jathedar of Akaal Takhat sahib in January 1986 and he did this sewa till his Shaheedi. He was the one who went out in Rural Punjab in that dark period and awakened Sikh masses by doing Katha of Guru Granth Sahib ji and Sri Dasam Granth. Areas of Ludhiana,Moga,Jagraon and Faridkot transformed considerably. Malwa belt of Punjab saw a revolution and there were Amrit Sanchars on daily basis in which hundreds used to tak Amrit and become Khalsa. Bhai Sahib had a highly pure character, high Gursikhi jeevan, Awastha and humble attitude. Thousands were inspired by his magnetic personality, left drugs and patitpuna and became Gursikhs and part of Sikh movement.

                   Bhai Sahib ji woke up at 1am in the morning and his Nitnem continued till 8 am, and it was only after finishing his Nitnem that he used to eat or drink something. He did 25 Paath of Sukhmani Sahib and 101 Paath of Japji Sahib daily, apart from regular Nitnem of 7 Baaniya. Bhai Sahib had a very humble attitude, yet he was strong and firm in his beliefs and when times to show firmness came, he showed his Sipahi aspect aswell. His self was always imbued in remembrance of True Waheguru, and his eyes showed the ‘Naam-ras’ he had in his heart.

                    When Panthic committee declared State of Khalistan on 29th April 1986, CM of Punjab Barnala ordered his police to enter Darbar Sahib and arrest the Singhs. Bhai Sahib ji was in Parkarma that day, and Singhs requested him to leave the parkarma, but Bhai Sahib ji stayed on to maintain sanctity of Sri Darbar Sahib and Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib. Police arrested Bhai Sahib with scores of other Singhs and was taken to Haryana. Here Bhai Sahib refused to eat anything made in police canteen. When police saw Bhai Sahib’s resolve not to eat anything made by police, Lnagar was arranged from nearby Gurudwara. From here He was moved to Sangrur high security Jail. The Deputy Superintendent of Jail, Jagroop Sio was a chela of Narkdharis and hated Sikhs. He asked Bhai Sahib to remove his Gatra, which Bhai Sahib ji refused saying that As per the position of Jathedar of Akaal Takhat Sahib, he retained his right to keep his Kirpaan in Jail. Jagroop ordered constables to remove Bhai Sahib’s Kirpan, but constables didn’t go near Bhai Sahib. Jagroopa, maddened by anger, went to his Office and brought a pair of scissors and cut Bhai Sahib’s Gatra from behind. Bhai Sahib held his Kirpan in One Hand and with other, slapped Jagroopa on face so hard that he fell on floor. One gursikh constable delivered this news in every barrack of Jail, hearing which, all the Sikh prisoners started shouting slogans in favour of Jathedar ji. Singhs started hunger strike in Jail. Seeing situation slipping out of hands, Jagroop came to Jathedar ji, bowed his head at their feet and asked for forgiveness. Jathedar ji requested Singhs to finish the hunger strike and things became normal once again.

                         After some days, Jathedar ji was shifted to Nabha High security Jail. Here Bhai Jagjeet Singh Gill (KCF) was also lodged in a separate cell. While all the inmates were given few hours in a day to come out of their cell, meet with others and walk in Jail grounds, Bhai Jagjeet Singh wasn’t taken out. One day Jathedar ji saw Jagjeet Singh and asked the sentries why this Singh isn’t brought out of his cell. They said He is very dangerous Kharkoo, as he had freed Bhai Gurjant Singh Rajasthani  by attacking the police party when he was being taken to courts. Also He had killed guards in Sangrur Jail and escaped twice from Jail. Jathedar Gurdev Singh ji Kaunke, who saw every Sikh Jhujaroo as his Brother and Son, who had pain for every Sikh, who was being tortured in Jails of Punjab, asked the sentries to call Jail Superintendent. When Superintendent came, Jathedar ji asked him to open Bhai Jagjeet Singh’s cell so that he too can have some fresh air and take a walk or else stop taking Him (Jathedar ji) also from his cell. Superintendent opened the cell of Bhai Jagjeet Singh that very moment and asked the sentries to take him out for walk. Jathedar ji went ahead himself, and helped Bhai Jagjeet Singh get up and walk, supporting him with his hands. ( As Jagjeet Singh had been tortured badly and wasn’t in a situation to walk all by himself).  Such was Prem Piaar Jathedar ji had for Jhujaroos.

              Baba Thakur Singh Ji Khalsa, Kaarajkaari Jathedar of Damdami Taksal always went to Bhogs of Shaheed Singhs and helped them in every way possible.  Babaji used to say that These Singhs are dying for us, for our honour, and its our duty that we look after their families and children. Babaji had started a regular monthly sewa for thousands of Shaheed families. Jathedar Gurdev Singh Ji Kaunke always used to accompany Babaji to these samagams and stand with Jhujaroo Singhs in time of distress.

  Wassan Jaffarwal and Harinder Kahlo had accused Bhai Sahib ji once of being partial and taking sides. Bhai Sahib Ji summoned Harinder Kahlo, who refused to have said anything against Jathedar ji. The local media in Amritsar was embarrassed after Jathedar ji left Harinder Kahlo without any punishment. They gave to Jathedar a copy of signed statement by Wassan Jaffarwal wherein he had accused Jathedar Gurdev Singh Ji of being Partial and not doing his duty properly. Bhai Sahib ji summoned Jaffarwal to Akaal Takhat Sahib to seek clarification. Jaffarwal, being the sly fox he was, outrightly refused to have said ‘Anything’ against Bhai Sahib ji. Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke brought out the letter from his pocket and showed it to Jaffarwal, who, seeing himself exposed started asking for forgiveness. Jathedar Gurdev Singh Ji Kaunke imposed ‘Tankhah’ on Jaffarwal and asked him to seek apology from Khalsa Panth, as he had tried to divide Panth with his statement. Jaffarwal played diplomatically and asked Jathedar and Khalsa Panth for apology and also finished his Tankhah. (Jathedar ji ordered other Jathebandis not to harm Jaffarwal after this peshi, as many Singhs had asked Bhai Gurdev Singh ji for permission to do ‘Sudhaai’ of Jaffarwal. This statement of Jaffarwal was the root of division which were seen in Jhujaroo Singhs later in movement.)


        Seeing his Parchar, popularity, influence and sewa, Jathedar Gurdev Singh ji Kaunke was arrested again in 1989 by SSP Sumedh Saini and tortured . Police saw him as ''Second Bhindranwala'' and feared his charisma. Later he had to be released as courts ordered Bhai Sahib’s release.

   Punjab police was adamant to finish Jathedar Gurdev Singh ji, as he was the one parcharak who had the charisma and ability to unite Khalsa Panth and take struggle forward.  On 20th December 1992, Bhai Sahib ji was arrested again and was tortured badly by Swaran ghotna, Harbhagwan sodhi and Gurdeep sio of Jagraon police. Bhai sahib was killed on 1st January 1993 and his body was thrown in River. Before his Shaheedi, his bones were broken, flesh pierced with hot iron rods and electric shocks were given to Singh Sahib ji, still he remained in Charhdi kala and took every torture on himself, with firm faith in Maharaj.

    People like Bhai Sahib and Baba Manochahal were true Jathedars of Akaal Takhat Sahib who served panth and fought for Panth till last breath.  It was jeevan of Gursikhs like Bhai Gurdev Singh Ji Kaunke (Jathedar Ji) that brought back memories of Akali Baba Phoola Singh ji back in Sikh conscience. Great Souls like Bhai Sahib come very rarely on this planet, and when they come, they leave foot marks for generations to come, which if followed, take nations to glory, honour and Freedom.


Posted by Kamaljeet Singh Shaheedsar on Friday, July 22. 2011 in History



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