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Ram Bagh - Amritsar

Words of a kuka martyr before being hanged:

I shall pass ten months in the womb of a mother and come back to avenge myself. Your justice is a lie. Your death and downfall is near at hand. We shall be born again, hold the sword in our hand and wage a war which will destroy your rule.

Gurdwara Sri Harmandir Sahib Amritsar

Under British rule the ban on killing of cows and the sale of beef in the Punjab was lifted. Slaughter houses opened in most cities and towns including in the pious city of Amritsar. This was a direct challenge by the British regime to the dignity and religious sentiments of the Hindus and Sikhs. Rifts and quarrels between Hindus and Muslims took place. Local protests against the opening of slaughter houses in Amristar feel on deaf ears in the Government.

For the sake of independence of India and to preserve sanctity of Sri Harmandir Sahib Amritsar, four Namdhari Sikhs : Sant Lehna Singh, Sant Beehla Singh, Sant Fateh Singh and Sant Hakam Singh were hanged to death openly by the British Government on 15th September 1871 at Ram Bagh Amritsar to terrorise the masses and banish the Kuka Movement.

The Shaheedi Bohr (tree) in Ram Bhag, Amritsar

Desecration of the holy sarowar
The slaughter house in Amritsar opened near the clock tower, adjacent to the boundary wall of the Golden Temple. Desecration of the holy sarowar (tank) around the Golden temple took place when pieces of bone and flesh picked up by vultures and kites from the slaughter house and thrown into the waters.
While visiting the Golden Temple , a batch of namdhari sikhs witnessed this desecration and immediately decided to attack the slaughter houses and free the cows. The operation was headed by Lehna Singh of Amritsar.

A 'Hom' ceremony with recitations from 'Chandi Path' was most solemnly gone through in the house of Lehna Singh, at which prayers were offered for the success of the enterprise. On the night of the 15th June, an attack was made on the butchers in the slaughter house. Four men were killed outright and three others were badly wounded. The Sikhs freed all the cows. The local authorities were taken completely unawares. The weather conditions being unfavorable tracking the namdhari Sikhs was not possible. In Bhaini Sahaib Satguru Ram Singh Ji learned the happenings in Amritsar from the real attackers. Satguru Ji immediately directed the Sikhs to surrender so the innocent may not be hanged.

The authorities learnt about the attack and the murder of the butchers and deputed Mr Christie to apprehend those who were responsible for it. He used all his third degree methods to rope in many of the innocent citizens of Amritsar. Heera Singh, Ahya and Jai Ram were tortured and mode to confess that they had actually committed the crime. All of them were made approvers, and 12 other citizens, namely Sant Rom, Rom Kishon, Manno Singh, Jawato Singh, Pannaji, Mula, Nihal Singh, Mayya, Sunder Singh, Bhup Singh/ Teka Singh and Shoba were sent to the Sessions. Actually none of these was responsible for the murders, but still all of them were committed to the Sessions on 25th July, 1871 by Mr. Christie.

When the real culprits came forward to confess their crime, Mr. Christie reported to the authorities that he had been put on the wrong track by an informer Hira Singh, who had come forward to confess the guilt. He also intimated to the Government that Jai Ram, a respectable broker of the city had admitted that he had instigated these men to commit this crime. But the real fact was that this Police Officer had got these men and other citizens of Amritsar to confess the crime which they had never committed.

One factor greatly helped the disclosure of this case. When Guru Ram Singh came to know that the lives of Innocent people were endangered for the murders committed by the Kukas, he directed those Kukas to go and surrender themselves to the authorities so that innocent people may not be hanged. Thus the trial of the namdhari Sikhs started. Five Sikhs were sentenced to death and the remaining two for exile.

The news of death sentence on the four Kukas spread in the streets of Amritsar in the most electrical manner. There was praise and appreciation for their bravery on everybody's lips. The public was deeply impressed by the way these Kukas had confessed - their guilt and saved others from the gallows. From the day of judgment to the day of hanging, these Kukas were allowed to visit the Mar Mandir, as well as prepare their own food. 15th September, 1871 was the day and Ram Bagh in Amritsar the place of dating with death.

On that fine morning, the four Kukas bathed in The Holy Tank; the 'prashad' was prepared and distributed. What a beautiful scene it was! The patriots, intoxicated with love, were starting off to kiss the gallows. Chanting holy songs and performing 'Kirtan' the party moved towards the hanging ground. The large assembly of onlookers was amazed. Were These Sikhs for hanging ? The crowd thickened. Before death, they demanded two things: Firstly, they should not be hanged with leather strings and Secondly they would themselves put the hanging ropes in their own necks. Both the wishes were granted. After saying their final prayers, the four Kukas embraced death amidst slogans of Sat-Sri-Akal!

It was in such circumstances that Beehla Singh, Fateh Singh, Hakim Singh and Lehna Singh were hanged. They went to the gallows singing sacred verses, without any trace of fear and repentance on their faces. They seemed to feel they had performed a duty towards their faith. Constable Lal Singh Sepahi, Lehna Singh (s/o Bullacka Singh) were exiled to Andaman and Nicobar islands. Sant Jhanda Singh was hanged after one year. Ahya Singh, Hira Singh and Jai Ram were also sentenced to terms of imprisonment for giving wrong information to the Government.

Akhand varni at Ram bagh - Amritsar

Close up of Shahedi bhor - Ram bhag Amritsar

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