H C Singh

My first encounter with British Soldier

I was studying in 10th class in 1945 and was returning from my school on my bicycle when on the way and near to my residence (Indian Military Officers Banglows) I saw a British soldier walking, towards British regimental Centre which was about 1 km from our residence. On the spur of moment, I speeded up my bicycle and while crossing him removed his cap and shouted – you Tories quit India. I threw his cap at a distance of about 50 yards as I saw him running after me. I speeded up so that I would not be caught by him. I heard him shouting in his inaudible voice. Fully exhausted I reached home : my respected mother asked me what was the matter. I replied that somebody was running after me to snatch my bicycle. I did not tell this episode to any one except my closest friend and class fellow Ramesh also warning him that he must not tell anyone this incident as I was Military Officer’s son.

Why did I do that I pondered over it. In August 1942 I had participated in Quit India Movement in Delhi as a young boy of 11 to 12 years and had raised slogans like “Inqilab Zindabad” and “Angrezo Bahrat Chhodo”, at that time my respected father had just been commissioned as Lieutenant in British indian Army but in 1945 he was Captain and acting Major. So I was a little bit cautious.

Another fact that prompted me to remove the cap of British Soldier was that in 1943 we had purchased a Radio which was rare in those days. There was no shop selling or repairing radios in Ferozepore and I and my elder brother had gone to Lahore to purchase a radio. There was only one shop selling Radios in Anarkali Bazar of Lahore. Because of war there were no radios of Phillips and Murphy Brand. Only radio set available was Westing House from USA which we purchased at Rs 400/- i.e. equivalent to Rs 20,000 of today as in those days gold was Rs 50 per 10 grammes and now it is more than Rs 2500 for 10 grames. Only few Indian Military Officers used to have radio sets. As a result we used to put our radio on teh table outside our room and put some chairs round, as it was summer, for neighbouring officers and their families to come and listen ti news of 9 PM read by Melvelle de Mello or Roshan ‘Menon’. I too used to listen to the news both in Hindustani and English.

After the guests had gone and I had brought the radio inside. I used to sit in the drawing room and after half an hour or so by 10:30 PM. I would listen to speech by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose from Radio Sheonan Singapore. That speech of Netaji starting and concluding with Jai Hind enthused me always. So this was the reason that I took the risk of removing the cap of a British soldier and then escaping as fast as I could. Thus I became a great fan of Netaji and like him wanted t fight for India’s Independence. Here is my tribute in a brief sketch.

Netaji had fundamental differences with Mahatma Gandhi’s approach for forcing British to Quit India. Gandhi relied on Ahimsa while Netaji was in favour of using all means to win independence. During war Netaji got the opportunity to fight the British by all means, even by waging war.

In 1940, Subhash Chandra Bose escaped from British custody posing as a pathan and through Afghanistan he reached Germany to wage war against British by helping the Germans in their fight against British Empire. In Germany Bose managed to raise Indian force of 3000 men composed of Indian POWs. Some of these jawans of Netaji’s Free India Legion saw action against Allied troops invading France in 1944.

Bose expressed his desire to go to south east asia to fight the British. So the Germans agreed and in mid 1943 Bose was transported on submarine. Once in Singapore Bose reorganised the Indian National Army (INA) originally created by captain Mohan Singh who came to be known as General Mohan Singh. His INA was short lived because Singh had no political background and following in India when Singh resisted Japanese interference in INA of 16,000 men he was arrested and ordered the disbanding of INA which was complied by all INA personnel.

For Japanese who had taken over South East Asia, Subhash Bose, who had been as big a name in India as Gandhi and Nehru, suited them as chief of INA. Netaji created Provisional Government of Azad Hind so as not to annoy Japanese, Bose made little attempt to rehabilitate or consult with “Mohan Singh” (A Military History of India and South Asia)

About 40,000 Jawans had joined Netaji’s INA which was divided into Gandhi Brigade, Azad Brigade, Rani Jhansi Brigade and Subhash Brigade. They did fight against the British Indian Army right upto Burma and finally planted India’s National Tricolour after taking the village of Mowdok in Bengal (now in Bangladesh). It was of symbolic significance though thereafter INA troops were defeated and surrendered as Japanese Army was being beaten and was fast retreating.

Bose had left with retreating Japanese some have criticised. But it is explained in chapter on INA in the military history: “Would churchill, had he been at Tobruk, when Romel’s tanks came charging have surrendered with his men? I think not.” It is said that Bose died in a plane crash in Taiwan but Taiwanese government had denied that there was any plane crash between August 14 and September 20, 1945. “Thus the ashes in Renkoji temple in Janpan were not those of Netaji: It continues to be a mystry as how, where and when Netaji died. But one thing is established that Netaji was a great, if not the greatest freedom fighter that India had and India is rightly proud of Netaji.

From imminent Independence of India and partition of India and creation of Pakistan there were partition riots initiated by Muslim League Government in Bengal in July-August 1946 and thereafter in part of West Punjab, particularly in Jehlum and Rawalpindi Districts and ultimately from August to November 1947 killing of a million of innocent Hindus and Sikhs and Muslims. As a result Muslims of India and Pakistan became more fanatics and Sikhs and Hindus, too of India became equally fanatics so as to take revenge of the killing of Sikh and Hindus un newly created Pakistan and migration of Sikhs and Hindus in millions from their homes from entire Western Pakistan. Trains full of dead bodies of Sikhs and Hindus had started reaching India even a fortnight before actual partition of India and declaration of Independence of Pakistan on 14th August 1947 and India on 15th August 1947.

With a view to stop the massarac of Sikhs and Hindus in West Punjab in particular, partition riots started in Indian Punjab in particular and trains of Muslims dead and alive started going from Indian Punjab to Pakistani Punjab. This retaliation though cruel and criminal led to hue and cry in Pakistan and finally they stopped killings Sikhs and Hindus there so that Muslims of Indian Punjab and Delhi are not butchered in retaliation by Sikhs and Hindus particulary by those who suffered loss of their kith and kin and seen the molestation of their wives and daughters before their very eyes.

This was a dangerous period of murders, tortures and molestations particularly in West Pakistan and Indian Punjab, unforgiveable and unforgetable. As a result during these years I became more religious Sikh as will be seen by my humble tribute to Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, like Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first guru, considered all human beings as the cration of one and the same god, the Creator, whom Hindus called Karta and the muslim called Karim both refer to the same almighty God. In Guru Gobind Singh’s own word “Hindu Turk (Muslims) Kou (Rafhi, Imam Safi) manas ki Jaat Sabhe ek Pehchanbo.”

One of the most important and the most democratic hymns of Guru Gobind Singh Ji is: “What Ever I am it is because of the Khalsa. Otherwise, but for the Khalsa I am nothing.” No saint or leader of humanity has said and written such touching ans selfless words and meant what he said. To emphasise the universal greatness of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. I take this opportunity to quote Gurujee’s words from hymns of Dasam Granth:

Judh Jeetai inhi ke parsad aur daan kare
Aah oag taray inhike parsad, inhike kirpa faan dhaam bharray.
Inhi ke prasad vidya lee, inhi ki krippa sabh shatru mare
Inhi ki krippa ke sajje hum hein
Nahin moh sou gharib karor paray.

Translated in simple English, The great guru means:

I have won wars because of Khalsa and able to give charities because of Khalsa.
I have been able to overcome all sorrows and ailments because of Khalsa and fill treasury of Khalsa. It is through the grace of Khalsa that I have got education and triumphed over all enemies. It is because if Khalsa that I have attained such high status otherwise there are millions of poor and insignificant people like me.

This hymn was written by tenth Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Here in my humility and reverence for great Guru I say with confidence that in the annals of world history these have been a few human beings who during 42 years of llife attained unparalled distinction as a poet and scholar, who learnt Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit and Punjabi and wrote poetry and prose of examplry distinction. His ZAFAR NAMA in Persian where the great Guru, follower of saint par excellence Guru Nanak Dev Ji, gave justification for taking up arms against Mughal Army. Saying “Hama Heelta Dar Guzasht – Halal Ast Burdan Ba Shamsheer Dast”- meaning when all other alternatives of trying for justice and peace fail it is justified to take up arms to end cruelty.

Guru Ji was a great warrior too. He led the battles himself to inspire his followers, (the Khalsa) that he had created, were both high in spirit and valour. So Guru Ji said: Khalsa is my true face and I live in Khalsa.

Guru Ji sacrificed all his four sons, two aged 15 and 17 Sahibzada AJIT SINGH and Sahibzada JUJHAR SINGH died fighting against hordes of Mughals soldiers and Guru Ji’s Sahibzada ZORAVAR SINGH and Sahibzada FATEH SINGH two younger sons aged 8 and 10 were captured by the viceroy of Sirhand who was so cruel that he got the innocent children bricked alive. As Guru Ji’s children, they naturally refused to abandon the Khalsa faith and accept Islam. Guru Ji did not mourn the demise of his all the four children as mortals do but said “What does it matter if he have lost four children there are many thousands of Khalsa who are alive.”

Guru Ji was a great organizer. He founded the Khalsa the Pure who would be ready to sacrifice all for the sake of justice who would die fighting and never surrender. After creating the Khalsa by giving them nectar, Amrit, the great Guru Ji first asked for 5 Sees (heads) then he gave Amrit to 5 who became 5 pyaras. Thereafter the great guru himself bowed before them and got Amrit from them and so the congregation acclaimed wah wah Guru Gobind Singh, Appe Guru and Appe Chela – that the great guru is both the guru and the disciple.

Guru Gobind Singh was a rarest possible genius, philospher, poet, organizer, a valiant soldier and a brave leader of khalsa soldiers and one of the rarest and greatest who willingly sacrificed all his four sons. Not only the Sikhs but whole humanity bows before him for his greatness, selflessness, spirituality, honesty and integrity. Guru Gobind Singh Ji always emphasized on good deeds, helping the needy and destitute. In this famous couplet he says:- “Deh Shiva Bar Mohi Ehe Shibh Karman Te Kabhum Naa Tarron.”

Oh god bless me that I never hesitate or waiver from doing good to others and live for helping others. This is the message often quoted by many eminent saints, social, religious and political personalities in Gurudwaras, Mandirs and others Congregations.

Guru Gobind Singh ji declared that he is servant of God and no one should call him God. Who so ever calls him God may go to hell. In Guru Ji’s own words:

“Mein huin Parampurakh ka dassa dekhan Ayun Jagat Tamasha. Jo humko Pamashar uchar hoe te sabh Narak Kund mei porehein jai”.
To sum it up, these are in brief teachings of Guru Gobind Singh Ji which are enshrined in our hearts and minds for the last 300 years since Guru Ji’s demise and these shall guide mankind to truthful, helpful and selfless living till eternity. It is opt to recall great Calcutta Killings of 1946 endorsed by Jinnah.

August 25, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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