Shaheed Bhai Avtar Singh Parowal

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During the June 1984 attack on Sri Harimandir Sahib by the Indian army, thousands of Sikh warriors, young and old gave their lives to free and prevent the disrespect of Sri Harimandir Sahib. it was amongst such warriors, Bhai Avtar Singh Parowal from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha who gave shaheedi in Sachkhand Sri Darbar Sahib as he maintained the maryada stoned by Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj.

Bhai Avtar Singh was born on 1st April 1950, in the house of Sardar Gurbaksh Singh and from the womb of Mata Bhagwant Kaur in the village of Parowal, near Batala in the Gurdaspur district. Bhai Sahib was the fifth eldest of 8 brothers and sisters. From a young age, Bhai Sahib was attached to Sikhi and passed time by reciting Gurbani. While Bhai Sahib studied in 8th class, the family had Parkash of Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj in the house and Bhai Sahib would do sewa both times of Parkash and Sukhhassan. In 10th class Bhai Sahib had grown a beard and in a banter term his friends called him Giani (Priest). Bhai Sahib took this complaint to the principal, but he was told, "If they call you Giani, then show them that you can be a Giani."

From then on Bhai Sahib had made his mind up on attaining the happiness of Sikh gurus and ignoring the attachments of this world. In 1966, Bhai Sahib passed his 10th class from Lala Mussa Higher Secondary School in Fatehgarh Churian. After that Bhai Sahib opened a shop and earned an honest living. Bhai Sahib would regularly go to Sri Amritsar to the wholesalers and during these trips Bhai Sahib would also do darshan of Sri Harimandir Sahib. It was on these trips Bhai Sahib would meet Bhai Satnam Singh of Singh Brothers and Bhai Inderjit Singh Kirpana Wala. After which Bhai Sahib started doing sangat with Akhand Kirtani Jatha. In 1972, Bhai Sahib took Amrit from the Panj Pyare at the Visakhi Akhand Kirtani Smagam in Amritsar. Bhai Sahib then stayed in Amritsar and learnt Kirtan from Bhai Inderjit Singh Kirpana Wala and Bhai Pala Singh, son of Baba Labh Singh Kar Sewa Anandgarh Sahib. After the 1978 Sikh massacre on the land of Amritsar by the Narakhdharis, Bhai Sahib continued to do sewa with the Chalda Vaheer group.

Soon June 1984 came, government of India sent in tanks and cannons to demolish Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, the throne of the Sikhs. Bhai Sahib's father, Sardar Gurbaksh Singh was in the Sri Harimandir Sahib complex at the time of the attack doing darshan of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. On 3rd June 1984, a news reached Bhai Sahib's family that an old man had been killed on the complex. Bhai Sahib quickly got ready and headed towards Sri Harimandir Sahib. On that day the Indian army did not allow Bhai Sahib to enter the complex due to a curfew, but the next day on 4th June 1984, Bhai Sahib managed to squeeze past the curfew and entered the complex. Bhai Sahib managed to locate his father who was still alive and made their way together to the room of Bibi Amarjit Kaur, wife of Shaheed Bhai Fauja Singh which was situated near Sri Akaal Takht Sahib. The Indian army was showering bullets onto the Sikh pilgrims who were on the complex. On the evening of 5th June 1984, Granthi Giani Puran Singh made his way to Sachkhand Sri Darbar Sahib to do sewa of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj and Bhai Sahib also went along.

On 6th June 1984, Raagi Bhai Amrik Singh had finished the sewa of Asa Di Var and as he returned he was shot by the Indian army and made shaheed. Due to heavy firing no other Raagi Singh managed to make their way to Sachkhand Sri Darbar Sahib to do Kirtan sewa. During this time, keeping in mind the Maryada of Sachkhand Sri Darbar Sahib, Bhai Gurdyal Singh of Akhand Kirtani Jatha started doing Kirtan and after him, Bhai Sahib continued to do Kirtan to maintain the Maryada. It would have been roughly 8 o'clock in the morning.

As Bhai Sahib di Kirtan a bullet came and went through Bhai Sahib's right leg and into the left leg. Bhai Gurdyal Singh took the bullet out with his Kirpan and tied a cloth around both of Bhai Sahib's legs. After some time Bhai Sahib sat down and rested against a wall. On the evening of 6th June, when Giani Puran Singh touched Bhai Sahib, whose eyes were shut had lived up to the Gurbani of Bhagat Kabeer Ji:

"Kabeer Muhe Marne Ka Chao Hai
Kabeer, I Long To Die
Maro To Har Ke Duar
Let Me Die At The Lord's Door"

Bhai Sahib attained shaheedi as he maintained the Maryada and respect of Sachkhand Sri Darbar Sahib. Giani Puran Singh wrapped Bhai Sahib's body in a sheet and bought it to Sri Akaal Takht Sahib. Some months before the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib, Bhai Sahib's sister had a dream in which an old man asked her, "If your brother attains shaheedi in Sachkhand Sri Darbar Sahib, would you accept it as an act of Waheguru?" Bhai Sahib's sister remained quiet but when asked the same question for the third time she answered, "Even if my son attained shaheedi in Sachkhand Sri Darbar Sahib, I would accept it as an order of Waheguru."

Vangaar - June 2014

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