June 1984 – One Jujharoo’s Account
This is based on an interview with Bhai Sukhvant Singh Jalalabad, a prisoner in Nabha Jail. He fought in the June 1984 attack on Darbar Sahib. Bhai Sukhvant Singh began staying with Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in 1982 along with 11 other young men from his village. Later, six of those Singh’s would become Shaheeds during Bluestar and the rest were arrested and sent to Jodhpur Jail. Bhai Sukhvant Singh was released in 1989 and joined the Sikh Resistance Movement. He was arrested and sent back to jail in 1997 where he has remained since, except for a brief four-month release in 2000. This is his account of the attack and how he and other Singhs fought back.
On June 4th, at Amrit vela, as the sweet sound of keertan was coming from Darbar Sahib, unexpectedly at 4.15am, a loud explosion was heard. It felt as though this explosion had taken place right near us. This was a signal for the bombing to begin. This all was part of a very carefully hatched plan by the Indian Government to attack the Sikh’s most important centre. All of a sudden a hail of bullets began to fly. All us Singhs became alert right away. We were about 20 Singhs in the Sindhi Hotel, which was near the Langar building.
By daybreak, all the placements that had been made at high places had been completely obliterated. It’s important to say here that whatever placements had been made before June 3rd, and the government had noticed, were completely destroyed. Only those positions remained intact that had been made after June 3rd and which the government was unaware about.
General Shabegh Singh spent the entire night of June 3rd making new positions and those were the ones that caused to most damage to the army.
We came to a lower level of the Hotel and made new positions in the rooms and with our weapons we took them up. The bullets were flying at us so quickly that we couldn’t fire back.
We got in contact with the Langar Building and this was where Bhai Amrik Singh and Baba Thara Singh were commanding operations. They sent us a message at the Sindhi Hotel to leave there and to come to the Langar where all the Singhs would be gathering to fight together. This was because the Sindhi Hotel could have been surrounded at any time.
At about 11am, we left the Sindhi Hotel and went to the Langar. There all the Singhs gathered and had a meeting where different positions were assigned. I and some other Singhs were given our duty at the Burj, but when we got there, there was a storm of bullets being fired at it. The Burj was swaying and it seemed that it could fall at any moment. Inside it, the dust made it impossible to breathe. Our position here could not be successful so we came back to the Langar Building. So many bullets were being fired that no one could leave their morcha. But we would only shoot when we had a soldier in our sights. All of us were in contact with each other and we would go to each others morchas. If someone needed ammunition we could get it.
All night the fighting continued but the army did not have the courage to advance on foot. At around midnight, four helicopters began to hover around Darbar Sahib. They tried to drop Commandos but the Singhs with their fire did not let them. A helicopter hovered over the Langar Building for quite some time as well and Bhai Amrik Singh grabbed an LMG and fired at it. This one too couldn’t drop any Commandos.
The next day at around 5, the Langar building came under organized fire. Our placements on the top level were completely destroyed. Many Singhs were Shaheed and others were injured. There was no one to tend to the wounds but Guru Sahib was doing so much kirpa that the injured were still encouraging the rest of us to fight hard. The dead bodies of the Shaheed Singhs were lying in the placements but our hearts had become like stone and it didn’t matter anymore. In our hearts we all wanted to fight ill our final breath.
On the evening of June 5th, Bhai Amrik Singh and the others made a plan to go to Akal Takhat Sahib. We also got ready to go with Bhai Sahib because we had planned to bring ammunition from there.
Bhai Sahib and the rest of us went through the Parkarma, through a hail of bullets and reached Akal Takhat Sahib. We met Sant Mahapursh (Baba Jarnail Singh) there and he gave us a Fateh. Sant Ji asked Bhai Amrik Singh about the Langar side and what was going on and he asked us if we were in “Chardi Kala”. We replied that we were all in Chardi Kala. Sant Ji had a yellow keskee on his head and a Thompson Gun in his hands. He was in total Chardi Kala. We explained that we had come for ammunition and Sant Ji told Bhai Rachhpal Singh to get us what we needed. Bhai Rachhpal Singh took us to the basement and we took as much ammunition as we could carry. We then returned to the Langar Building. After this, we lost all contact with Akal Takhat Sahib.
We distributed the ammo and in total we were 60-70 Singhs at the Langar. There were bullets flying in every direction. We took up positions on the bottom most floor. As night fell, the Army sent 400 trained Commandos from the Ghanta Ghar gate, Baba Deep Singh gate and the Langar side. From the Langar side, we did not let even one Commando get into the Complex. On the other sides as well, not even one Commando survived. The army saw that they couldn’t advance by foot so around 11pm, tanks and armoured vehicles began to come from the Seraan side. They fired a hail of bullets at the Langar as they advanced.
Us Singhs in the Langar, Baba Thara Singh, Bhai Surinder Singh, Bhai Major Singh (Nagoke), Bhai Balvinder Singh, Bhai Svaran Singh, Bhai Dalbir Singh, etc had a meeting at the back side of the Langar Building. We decided to leave here and go to the Akal Takhat Sahib. Bhai Svaran Singh did an ardaas here that “Guru Sahib Jio! Give use the strength to combat this enemy.”
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