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Baba Visaakha Singh Dadehar

Baba jee was a great freedom fighter and spent years in British jails. He spent many years at the notorious Kala Pani (Andaman Island) jail. He was a great Naam abhyaasi Gursikh.

Here is a small incident from his life:

Once Baba jee was travelling in a train. He got on the train from Delhi and was travelling in second class coach. After eating some food he lied down on his seat. On the front of his seat was a Madrasi (Tamil) Jamadaar (army rank above Subedar) and his friend. The Tamil Jamadaar ordered some food and the waiter brought the food he had ordered. When the waiter came back to get dishes and money, the Tamil Jamadaar refused to pay saying that the rice were not fully cooked.

The waiter said, “You can complain at the office. If the food is not fully cooked or is not tasty, it is the fault of the cook. If you don’t pay for this food, they will deduct this money from my salary. Since you have eaten all the food, you will have to pay for this. If you had complaint, you should not have eaten this food.”

The train started moving and the waiter was standing by the door, waiting for the Tamil to pay money.

The Tamil guy got agitated and threatened to kick the waiter out. The waiter in return stayed humble but insisted for money. The Tamil fellow, who was proud of his army rank got furious and slapped the waiter across his face. After slapping him few times, he tried to push the waiter out of the train.

Sardar Joginder Singh who was travelling with Baba Visaakha Singh jee, quickly got up and grabbed the waiter, thus saving him from falling off the train. Hearing shouting and loud noise, Baba jee got up and inquired what was going on. Upon finding the facts of the incident, Baba jee’s soft heart melted for the poor waiter. He moved forward and hugged the crying waiter and consoled him.

After consoling the waiter, Baba jee got filled with Khalsa Bir Rass. He always carried big sword with him. He was tall and strong. Then he lashed out at the Tamil Jamadaar and his friend. Seeing a Khalsa of Siri Guru Gobind Singh jee in full Bir Rass form, the Tamil and his friend started trembling with fear.

Baba jee continued, “for 700 years you (your Hindus) got trampled by the Mughals and got humiliated by them. Where was your self-respect and strength then? Then for 200 years you licked the shoes of British but did not fight them. Seeing poor and helpless people you start abusing your power. Have you not got any shame?”

Hearing such words, a lot of people gathered on the scene. By now the train had stopped at the next stop. Baba jee ensured that the waiter got paid by the Tamil guys and they had to apologise to him in public. The embarrassed Tamils moved from the coach to another one.

Baba Visaakha Singh jee Dadehar was a Gadri Baba i.e. freedom fighter of Gadr movement. Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee too was a Gadri Baba who went to jail for 16 years trying to liberate India from the British.

Baba Visaakha Singh jee was caught and tried in the Lahore Conspiracy case at Lahore in 1914-1915. The trial was very unfair. Baba jee used to narrate one incident involving Bhai Jawahar Singh. While the trial was going on, witnesses were required to identify the accused Gadrees. On one occasion, a witness failed to recognize an accused and the prosecutor (lawyer) got upset and scolded him. The witness replied saying that he could not recognize the accused because everyone was wearing turbans in a different style. At this Bhai Jawala Singh started laughing.

The prosecution lawyer got upset when he saw Bhai Jawala Singh, a renowned Gadri freedom fighter, laughing. He and Bhai Jawala Singh started arguing. Seeing the defiant attitude of Bhai Jawala Singh, the judge ordered that Bhai Jawala Singh to be caned 30 times right in the front of the court.

Bhai Jawala Singh was grabbed by the police officers and taken in the veranda i.e. just out side the door, and tied with a pillar. Then he was caned with a leather stick. Each cane had a huge impact that was very visible. It tore away the skin where it hit. Drops of blood could be seen all over the wall on the outside. The courtroom was stunned at this punishment. Baba Visaakha Singh jee Dadehar has recorded this incident very beautifully in one of his poems:

NAAL TIK TIKEE BANN KE JWALA SINGH NOO,
PYAARE VEER NOO BAINT PHIR LAGAUN LAGAE ||
(They tied Jawala Singh and then starting caning my beloved brother)

MAAR MAAR KE BOTIYAAN KADHIYO NE,
PAINJAY VAANG PHIR MAAS UDAUN LAGAE||
(By hitting again and again, skin got torn and was flying like cotton)

UDON KHOON DE VEERO, GHARAAL VAGG PAYE,
KAYEE VEKH KE NEER VAHAUN LAGAI||
(At that time, blood was flowing out like river. Seeing this scene many of our brothers burst into tears)

DAAS SINGH VISAAKH DEE BENTI JEE,
JWAAL SINGH NAA MOOL GHABRAUN LAGAE||
(Servant Visaakh Singh writes that, Jawala Singh did not falter at all)

Bhai Jawala Singh jee stayed adamant and did not even make a sound. He kept a smiling face. Seeing this brutal treatment of Bhai Jawala Singh, Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna declared in the court that this court was a butcher house and that from that day, no one would cooperate with the court proceedings.

By Kulbir Singh