During the aftermath of the Indian Army’s attack on Sri Darbar Sahib in June 1984, the Sikh Panth called for sacrifices, and the Sikh youth answered this call by fearlessly dedicating themselves to the Sikh struggle, undeterred by personal comforts. Among these courageous Singhs stood Baba Ranjit Singh Dialgarh, a fearless leader who gallantly joined the Sikh struggle. Alongside him, his younger brother, Bhai Jagir Singh, also attained martyrdom in the course of this fight for justice and freedom. The locals held Baba Ranjit Singh in high regard, addressing him with the utmost respect as ‘Baba Ranjit Singh’.
Birth and Early Life
Baba Ranjit Singh Dialgarh was born in 1959, at the house of Sardar Harbhajan Singh and Mata Gurdeep Kaur in the village of Dialgarh, situated in the tehsil of Batala, Gurdaspur district. He was one of six siblings, having elder brothers Sukhdev Singh and Surjit Singh, younger siblings Kulwant Singh, Shaheed Bhai Jagir Singh, and sister Bibi Sukhwant Kaur.
Due to the untimely demise of his father during his childhood, Baba Ranjit Singh did not attend formal schooling. However, he possessed a remarkable intellect bestowed upon him by Akal Purakh. Despite being illiterate, he exhibited the ability to both read and write. His eloquence and demeanor outshone those who were educated, as he presented himself with utmost politeness on every occasion. Proficient in reciting Sri Guru Granth Sahib, he also frequently chanted Chandi Di Vaar and Chaupai Sahib while walking, demonstrating his familiarity with other Banis of Sri Dasam Granth Sahib. Interacting with everyone with a warm and smiling countenance, his visage exuded perpetual serenity.
A Farmer Leader
Engaged in agricultural pursuits alongside his brothers, Baba Ranjit Singh ji assumed a prominent role in championing the cause of farmers. He took charge of addressing the myriad issues faced by farmers and was frequently arrested for his active involvement in the farmers’ union struggle. Firmly opposing the exploitation of farmers, he ardently advocated for their rights through various struggles. In 1983, he secured the position of Panchayat member for Dialgarh village.
While spreading the teachings of Sikhism, Baba Ranjit Singh also fervently fought for the dignity and rights of followers of other religions. A notable instance was when the Dialgarh slaughterhouse slaughtered cows, revered as sacred by Hindus. In a bold move, Baba Ranjit Singh intervened to protect these animals, considered sacred entities by many, Baba Ranjit Singh marked ‘Sodhaa’ of slaughterers and prevented the continued slaughter. This act garnered widespread support from the local community, who stood by Baba Ranjit Singh in this noble cause.
Following the arrest of Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale in the Lala Jagat Narayan murder case on September 20, 1981, the Punjab Police ruthlessly shot and martyred 24 innocent Singhs. Witnessing this tragic bloodshed, Baba Ranjit Singh Dialgarh fervently opposed the oppressive government, initiating a spirited resistance. He connected with Damdami Taksal, embracing the Amrit Daat and wholeheartedly adopting the Khalsa ideology.
Sant Jarnail Singh Ji persistently rallied the local populace for the cause of Khalsa Raj’s liberation. Under mounting Sikh pressure and the bold actions of the Singhs of Nagoke Jatha, the government released Sant Ji from Ferozepur Jail on October 15, 1981. Subsequently, Baba Ranjit Singh Dialgarh forged a closer alliance with Bhindranwala Jatha and Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa. He tirelessly dedicated himself to fortifying the edifice of Sikhism, devoting his efforts to serving the Sikh community’s quest for freedom. Baba Ranjit Singh maintained proximity to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji until the Army’s assault in June 1984, persistently aiding the Sikh struggle to liberate the community from the shackles of slavery, following Sant Bhindranwale’s directives.
Shaheed brother Bhai Jagir Singh
In an attempt to deter Baba Ranjit Singh from his pursuit of the Khalsa state, the government targeted his brothers while they were working on their farmland. Despite this police attack, by the grace of Guru Sahib, his brothers survived. The family faced continuous harassment from the authorities, leading to Baba Ranjit Singh Ji’s younger brother, Bhai Jagir Singh Dialgarh, joining the Kharkoo Struggle. Tragically, on April 10, 1986, Bhai Jagir Singh Dialgarh, accompanied by his fellow singhs Bhai Gurmej Singh Tutt and Bhai Jagtar Singh Kapurthala, attained martyrdom near Valtoha, Patti, Tarn Taran.
Shaheedi –24 June 1986
In their final days, Bhai Gurmej Singh Dhilwan, Baba Ranjit Singh Dialgarh, and Bhai Makhan Singh Chhit visited Batala. The Singhs had devised a plan to secure a loan from Line Marka Bank Batala for purchasing arms. They meticulously arranged the required documents and successfully obtained approval for the loan from the bank. Subsequently, they went to finalize the loan agreement.
However, SSP Sumedh Saini and the CID in Batala received information about the Singhs’ plans and began tailing them. Upon learning of the surveillance, Bhai Gurmej Singh, Baba Ranjit Singh, and Bhai Makhan Singh returned to village Kali Bahmani.
On June 24, 1986, it was a hot summer day, the three warriors were bathing at a tubewell when suddenly Punjab Police, Punjab Police, CRP, and BSF, led by SSP Sumedh Saini of Gurdaspur, encircled them. Despite lacking long-range weapons that day, the Singhs couldn’t confront the forces. However, the security forces, numbering ten thousand, displayed cowardice by fatally shooting the three unarmed Singhs using long-range weapons. They refrained from capturing the Singhs alive, exhibiting fear even though the Singhs were unarmed.
Following the martyrdom of Bhai Gurmej Singh Dhilwan, Baba Ranjit Singh Dialgarh, and Lt. General Bhai Makhan Singh Chhith during the police encounter at the farmhouse in village Kali Bahmani, the news rapidly spread throughout the region. Sikhs from the area gathered and surrounded the Sadar Police Station in Batala. Witnessing the Sikhs’ agitation, the police authorities handed over the bodies of the three martyred Singhs to their families. Subsequently, the bodies were taken to the village for cremation. The Sangats of the area gathered in large numbers and acquired the martyred bodies of the three Shaheed Singhs and on 25th June 1986, the Sikh Sangats gave baths to Shaheedi Saroops of Singhs with their own hands and decorated them to perform the last rites.
The pyres of the three Shaheed Singhs were lit by Baba Thakur Singh Ji, the acting head of Damdami Taksal. The Sikh Sangat bid a tearful farewell to the martyred Singhs.