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The Forgotten Babbars Babbar Akali (Babbars) movement (1921-1925)


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The Forgotten Babbars

Babbar Akali (Babbars) movement (1921-1925)

By Harinder Singh

Babbar Akali (Babbars) movement (1921-1925) was a radical outgrowth of the Akali movement for the reform of Gurduaras. The latter practiced non-violence of the strong to free Gurduaras from state-sponsored “priests” suffering physical injury and violence at the hands of the “priests” and government authority.
On the day of Holi, 27 February 1926, when we were getting high on our enjoyment, a terrible thing was happening in a corner of this great province. When you will hear it, you will shudder! You will tremble! On that day, six brave Babbar Akalis were hanged in the Lahore Central Jail ...  [Kishan Singh Garhgajj, Santa Singh, Dilip Singh, Nand Singh, Karam Singh and Dharam Singh] had been showing a great indifference to the trial for the last two years, which speaks of their fond waiting for this day. After months, the judge gave his verdict. Five to be hanged, many for life imprisonment or exile, and sentences of very long imprisonments. The accused heroes thundered. Even the skies echoed with their triumphant slogans. Then an appeal was preferred. Instead of five, now six were sent to the noose …
The city was still celebrating. Color was still being thrown on the passers-by. What a terrible indifference. If they were misguided, if they were frenzied, let them be so. They were fearless patriots, in any case. Whatever they did, they did it for this wretched country. They could not bear injustice. They could not countenance the fallen nation. The oppression on the poor people became insufferable for them. They could not tolerate exploitation of the masses, they challenged and jumped into action. They were full of life. Oh! The terrible toll of their dedicated deeds! You are blessed! After the death, friends and foes are all alike-this is the ideal of men.
-    Comrade Bhagat Singh, “A Panjabi Youth,” Partap Hindi Weekly, 15 Mar 1926


Many Sikhs lost their lives at the Tarn Taran (Jan 1921) and Nankana Sahib (Feb 1921) incidents. In response emerged a secret group called Babbar Akalis, literally Immortal Lions. The secret campaign for the "reformation," a euphemism for liquidation of the jholichaks (lit. robe-bearers, i.e. British stooges and toadies), especially those who spied on the Babbar Akalis.

Why did Kishan Singh raise a Chakarvarti group to fight under the Babbars?
 In his own affidavit, he cites because of “the arrest of S. Ajit Singh, demolition of the wall of Gurduara Rakab Ganj, the episode at Budge Budge port, Rowlatt Act, the bloody massacre of Jalianvala Bagh and the Martial Law.”

Kishan Singh criticized and eventually resigned from the army to fight imperialism. And remarked: “The government has done countless oppressions in the Panjab. Much torture has been perpetrated in jails and many innocents have been thrown into prisons. People have been pressurized to make false evidential statements. Karam Singh Daulatpur had followed the footsteps of his elder Sikhs in eliminating the minions and sycophants. Sikh history reveals that reform is a must. It is a matter of shameful death for those who have turned approvers for selfish gains fearing repression...’’

Majority of the Babbars were returned immigrants from Canada. Some of them had actively participated in the Ghadar movement. The Babbars were initiated Sikhs who were against the British imperialist policies and didn’t approve of the Congress and Gandhi’s version of non-violence and noncooperation.


More:  https://sikhri.org/articles/the-forgotten-babbars

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