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Hassan Abdal- Saka Panja Sahib

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by dalvindersingh grewal, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. dalvindersingh grewal

    dalvindersingh grewal India
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    Hassan Abdal- Saka Panja Sahib

    Dr Dalvinder Singh Grewal

    Hasan Abdal is a famous town in the North West district Attock of Pakistan. Karakuram Highway branches out from GT road at this place. We travelled to the place from Nankana Sahib. Our train started at about 5PM on 15 November 2016 from Nankana Sahib and reached Hasan Abdal railway station via Shahdra at about 2 AM. Hasan Abdal is famous for Guru Nanak’s hand mark on stone reminiscent of Guru’s stopping the boulder rolled down from the nearby hill by Wali Kandhari to crush him. As we reached the station we were reminded of Saka Panja Sahib reminded where the Sikhs sacrificed their lives to stop the train to feed the hungry. The heroic event took place at this railway station, on the morning of 30 October 1922 AD which has since passed into folklore as an instance of Sikh courage and resolution. The Saka was about to stop the train and to serve Langar to hungry Sikhprisoners of Guru ka BaghMorcha, who were being taken to Attock for 2 and half years’ imprisonment. Guru ka Bagh agitation was a nonviolent morcha or agitation to assert the right of the Sikhs to felling trees for Guru ka Langar from the land attached to Gurdwara Guru ka Bagh in Amritsar district. This land had already been taken over from the priest (Mahant) by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee after a negotiated settlement. But the Government having been peeved of the increasing power of the Sikhs with the formation of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, were eager to break the Gurdwara reform movement which had started on 8 August 1922. On the 8th August, 1922 A.D., the police arrested five Sikhs for cutting Acacia wood for langar (community kitchen) from uncultivated land attached to Gurdwara Guru Ka Bagh. Everyone was sentenced to a fine of rupees fifty and imprisonment for six months on charge of stealing wood from the land of the Mahant. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee started an agitation against this excess of the Government. Mr. B.T., the additional police superintendent started beating with clubs the Sikhs taking part in the agitation. On the intervention of the Punjab Governor and the on motivation from Reverend C.F. Andrews the beating stopped on the 13th September and the procedure of arrests resumed. The prisoners were tried summarily at Amritsar and then dispatched by special trains to distant jails.
    Saka Panja Sahib
    One such train left Amritsar on 29 October 1922 for the Attock Fort which would touch Hasan Abdal the following morning. No meals were served to the prisoners en route. The Sikh community of Gurdwara Panja Sahib prepared food and drinks to serve the Sikhs in the train and took it to the railway station early in the morning of the 31st October and started waiting for the train to arrive. The station master told them, "The train shall not stop at this station. You have made these arrangements for nothing." Bhai Karam Singh replied, "Baba Nanakhad stopped a mountain with one hand. Cannot his Sikhs stop a train?" At ten o'clock, seeing the train approaching, Bhai Karam Singh lay on the railway line. Next to him Bhai Partap Singh, S. Ganga Singh, S. Charan Singh, S. Nihal Singh, S. Tara Singh, S. Fakir Singh, S. Kalyan Singh and many other Sikhs including ladies squatted on the track. Seeing the Sikhs lying on the track, the driver of the train blew the whistle time and again but the Sikhs did not budge as if they had not heard the whistle at all. The engine pierced through the bodies of Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Partap Singh; the 11 others suffered serious injuries before the train screeched to a halt. The injured Sikhs told the Sangat (Sikh devotees), "Serve the hungry Sikhs in the train first. You can take care of us later." The train halted for one and a half hours. The Sikhs served the prisoners in the train whole-heartedly and then turned to the injured. Thirty year old Bhai Karam Singh died within a few hours. Bhai Partap Singh and S. Sarup Singh of Akal Garh, Gujranwala attained martyrdom next day. Before attaining martyrdom Bhai Sarup Singh recited "Kabira sant Muye kiya Roviye jo apne greh jaye rovo saakat bapre jo hato haat bikaye" and instructed his 18 years old wife never to cry over his death otherwise his sacrifice would be a waste. She never cried her whole life after receiving these instructions and bravely bore the brunt getting engrossed in "Naam Simran". The train-driver told the reason for stopping the train: 'When the train hit the Sikhs lying on the track, vacuum lever dropped out of my hand and the train stopped. I did not apply the brakes." The dead bodies of the martyrs were taken to Rawalpindi where they were cremated on 1 November 1922.

    I wondered how these simple Sikhs were devoted to the cause of Sikhi and the welfare of their brethren that could not even care for their lives. I shuddered when I recalled how the train screeched to stop and pierced through the innocent lives, who had no remorse for themselves. Instead they requested his fellow beings to feed the hungry. This is an extreme example of self less service where own life is put at stake to serve fellow Sikhs. It deserves a memorable place in Sikh History without doubt. These Sikhs were rightly hailed as martyrs and, until the partition of 1947, a three day religious fair used to be held in their memory at Panja Sahib from 30 October to 1 November every year which needs to be continued again.


    1. Ganda Singh, ed., Some Confidential Papers of the Akali Movement. Amritsar, 1965.
    2. Mohinder Singh, The Akali Movement. Delhi, 1978
    3. Teja Singh, Gurdwara -Reform Movement and the Sikh Awakening". Jalandhar, 1922
    4. Sahni, Ruchi Ram, Struggle for -Reform in Sikh Shrines, Ed. Ganda Singh. Amrksar, n.d
    5. Pratap Singh, Giani, Gurdwara Sudhar arthat Akali Lahir. Amritsar, 1975
    6. Josh, Sohan Singh, Akali Morchian da Itihas. Delhi, 1972
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