During the pre-independence days, the British followed the policy of ‘Devide and Rule’. It was their strategy to become offensive against the roots of Indian culture. During those days, so many Butcherkhanas (Slaughter houses) in different parts of Punjab. During the days of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, there was total ban on cow slaughter. When British annexed Punjab, they printed these words on copper plates –
“COW are not to be killed in Amritsar. The Penalty of killing cow is death.”
But with passing times, the British opened slaughter houses, because they themselves used to eat beef – the meat of cow. This was challenge to the sikhi – self – respect. On 5th May 1849, the British administration allowed the slaughter for each meat of the cows. In 20th May, 1849, Governor General declared an ordinance in this connection. According to this ordinance –
“No one should be allowed to interfere with the practice by his neighbor of customs which that neighbour’s religion either enjoying or permits.”
Christian mentality of the British Government was the reason behind the attacks on Indian culture. It increased the social tension between different sections. During those days every section of the society, panth, mazhab, and representative had consultations with each other and solved the problem of cow slaughter. But opposite to this, English deputy commissioner called a meeting of residents of Amritsar and conveyed this message that co slaughter would be continued. At that time muslim representatives took U-turn and they supported the British Government for opening butcherkhanas. The ground reality was that these decisions had polluted the social fabric.
When news of opening of Butcherkhana in Amritsar reached the ears of Namdharis Singhs, who were residing nearby. After that whole class of Namdharis got agitated over the issue of cow slaughter. According to Namdhari concept of “MARAN GAOO GARIB NOON DHARTI UPPAR PAP BITHARA”, this news of cow slaughter was a social evil and this had to be eradicated. Kukas (Namdharis) were full of spirit of Guru Nanak. These lines were famous among them –
“EH MALECH LUDANON AYE,
ENA BUTCHERKHANEY LAYE.
SANOO DUKH GAOO DA KHAYE,
SINGHO SIS DEN HUN AVE,
NAYE KARTAR DE.”
First a butcherkhana was opened near Shri Harmandir Sahib Parikarma. Beef was openly sold in the city. The vultures used to dived near slaughter house and used to took away bone and filthy rotten meat. Fall of bone or meat from the mouth of the vultures in the holy Amrit – Sarovar of Shri Harmandir Sahib. During that period, those close to the British Government were remained silence. Then Kukas opposed the Butcherkhanas. They started a movement against co slaughter. Englishmen tried to convince the sikh masses that everyone came under the English law; but Namdharis rejected all this and challenged the establishment. After, seeing the activities of the Kuka activists, Lieutenant Governor of Punjab gave warning and wrote letter to D.I.G.
On 28th July 1871 the Lieutenant Governor wrote to Colonel J.C.P. Baillie, D.I.G. of Police Lahore circle that –
Ram Singh and his Subas to be put under secret surveillance.
“The Lieutenant Governor desires you to arrange that Baba Ram Singh Kooka and his vizirs (Subas) be kept under surveillance and their movements watched and reported. This is to be done by men in plain clothes and no restriction of any kind put on those under this surveillance. In fact, those should not be aware that they are watched.”
Namdharis, not tolerating the desecration of sikh religions place and disrespect of sikh religion, decided to teach Englishmen a lesson. Because Namdharis totally boycotted the Government. This non-cooperation movement of Namdharis had awaken the Sikhs as a whole. Placing same objective in the from and not tolerating desecration of holy Amrit Sarovar, the Kuka Singhs attacked the Butcherkhana on the night of 14-15 June 1871. Butchers were killed in that attached. Cows were freed. In that way, slaughter house was destroyed completely and that was beginning of the anti cow slaughter movement. Singhs met Baba Ram Singh ji maharaj and told him the whole story. When Namdharis told the Maharaj ji that in our place some Hindu-Sikh and Nihang Sikhs were arrested and they will certainly get hanged, then Bana ji said, “Why someone suffer from the deeds of ours. It is not bravery. Go to the Kutchery and surrender there. The way you have freed the cows, go and free the Hindu-sikhs.” After that these Namdharis Singh produced themselves in the session court and gave proof of their bravery.
Mr. Chriktee fabricated the case in the court, wrongly investigated the case, false eye-witnesses were produced. Court gave order of handing to the Kuka Singhs. This way we came through shameful history of the British Government.
Those Namdharis, who freed the innocent people, expressed their last desires after listening the order of handing –
1. On the day of hanging, they will come to be hanged after taking bath in the sarovar of Shri Harmandir Sahib and reciting Gurbani.
2. No use of leather made noose. Instead of that a silk rope should be used.
3. We will ourselves wear the noose.
So, on 15th September 1871 Mistsy Baba, Baba Lahina Singh, Baba Fateh Singh Bhatra, Baba Hakama Singh Patwari and Baba Bahilla Singh were hanged.
Whole Punjab stood up against cow slaughter. Kuka Singh opposed the cow slaughter in Raikot Distt. Ludhiana. They closed the slaughter houses in Raikot. In the night of 15th July, 1871, Kukas attacked the Butcherkhanas of Raikot. They two butchers in mean process and seven singhs got wounded, cows were freed. Government informer Dalbir Singh of village Chiniwal informed the police. After this event, Saint Mastan Singh, Saint Mangal Singh, Saint Gurumukh Singh were arrested. On 27th July 1871, in the session court of Judge J. W. Makneith of Ambala Division a case – State Vs. Saint Mastan Singh, Gurumukh Singh, Mangal Singh, had started. At the end case reached High Court. On 1st Aughst 1871, Chief Court of Punjab gave judgement. On 5 August 1871, Kukas got hanged.
D.C. of Ludhiana Mr. Kavin’s report no. 180 dated 20th July, 1871 stated that –
“Definitely murders were the work of Kuka. But I doubt whether this was ordered by Baba Ram Singh to the Kukas.”
Kukas believed in serving poor and needy and fighting for the cause of cow & poor. They fought valiantly against all odds. They never stepped backward. They sacrificed their life. They were fighting for their self – respect.
“SURA SO PAICHANIYE JU LARE OEEN KE HET,
PURJA PURJA KAT MAREY KABHU NA CHADE KHET”
- (SHALOK KABIRJI, Page 1105)
Deputy Inspector General of Police of Punjab was of the opinion that if uprising of the Sikhs were not suppressed mercilessly, they would prove headache for the British Government. Suba Giani Rattan Singh Mandi Wala was a great Namdhari Scholar. He was a great orator. After the episodes of cow slaughter houses, Baba Ram Singh ji Maharaj ordered to boycott the British courts and kutcherys. That is why in the case of Raikot, Giani Rattan Singh mandi wala and Bhai Rattan Singh of Naiwal got the death sentences under section of IPC 109, 302 which were simply based on false and lies of witnesses. Judgement was given by the judge Lindsey on 23 November 1871.
In the modern Indian History the Kuka movement opposing cow slaughter against the Britishers is a golden chapter. On 26 November 1871, outside the Ludhiana Jail, there were thousands of people gathered, where Giani Rattan Singh Mandiwala and his associates were to be given death sentences. Majority Hindu community saw this Ghalughara with their open eyes. For Hindus, cow slaughter is considered as greatest sin on earth. How will Hindus of the Nation take this episode of Namdhari movement and learn something out of it, is yet to be seen.
In the present political scenario the main spirit of Namdhari movement is being totally ignored by the Nehruvians and leftists. Muslim favouring political parties have no interest in this ideology. It is more surprising that Shiromani Akali Dal is also ignoring it. But this issue remains in the minds of Punjabis that in a farmer’s family cow is considered as family member. Farmer of Punjab can not live without cows and dairy products. The rural sports of Punjab has a compulsory and important ingredient is ‘Bull’. This basic spirit should be honoured by Shiromani Akali Dal. Kuka Movement, that opposed cow slaughter, was a national movement. We should see it only in the national perspective. It is strange that Hindu society shows insensitivity towards anti cow slaughter movement of Namdharis. May be the reason behind it is regional, cast equation or pathetic. This disease has to be cured properly. If whole Indian society stands in favour of cow slaughter ban, it will be in favour of the country. For reassessment of the history and learning from it is very necessary for the society. The martyrdom day of these historic personalities should be celebrated. It inspires the society and new generation in particular. In fact sikh history is the history of sacrifices.
NAMDHARI HISTORY – GREAT SACRIFICE
Namdhari Sikhs founded great heights spiritually. They became mature human being due to RAHAT MARYADA. They believed in the philosophy of SWADESHI. They organized themselves. They brought forward the political agenda against Britishers. They gave sleepless nights to the Britishers. On 18th January, 1872, Baka Ram Singh ji and his Subas were exiled from India and sent to Rangoon.
Baba Ram Singh was first saint to Paryagraj (Allahabad) fort from Ludhiana. Associate Secretary, W.M. Sauther wrote in his report-
“I am sending Baba Ram Singh Kuka and his companions under Bengal Regulation – 3 Act 1818 under section 11 warrant. Punjab Government has sent them to Allahabad.”
British Government terrified so much from Baba Ram Singh ji, that Chief Commissioner of Barma wrote –
“He is a very dangerous man, may be he is the most dangerous one among Indians and there should be ban on his letters coming out of the Jail.”
Baba Ram Singh ji was with Bhai Nanoo Singh Garhwai, Bhai Gurdut Singh Gaddewala, Suba Sahib Singh, Baba Jawahar Singh. Later, Suba Sahib Singh and Baba Kahan Singh was shifted to Hazaribagh Jail to give more stringent punishments. On 21st May 1875, in an official report, it was written that Suba Sahib had a painful disease. On 10th June, 1879 Suba Sahib Singh died in Hazaribagh Jail.
British Government was in search of an excuse to ban Namdharis. The Saka of Malerkotla gave them this opportunity. They exiled Baba Ram Singh ji to Rangoon (Berma). Other Subas were sent to the jails of Margoi, Asirgarh, Aden, Chunar and Hazaribagh, where they were martyred. Main centre of the Namdharis “Shri Bhaini Sahib” had a polic station inside its premise. Police Station remained there for next 51 years. Only five people at a time was allowed to go inside of Shri Bhaini Sahib.
In those days Namdharis were treated as criminals. Government started to demand bails for their good conducts under Criminal Procedure Act X, Section 504-505 of 1872. If they did not secure the bail bond, they had to pay penalties or face arrests.
In encyclopaedia of Britanica Ed. 1902, the Namdharis were projected as follows :-
1. Kuka never speaks lie.
2. Kuka never drinks.
3. Kuka is hardline sikh of Guru Gobind Singh.
4. Kuka can not be loyal to the Englishmen.
Shaheed Bhagat Singh wrote in his article ‘Mahan Kuka Laher’ as follows –
“Baba Ram Singh started a non-cooperation movement, which was adopted by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920. His movement of non-cooperation was far greater than Mahatma Gandhi’s movement in so many ways.”
Akali Master Tara Singh wrote that “Nobody can deny this that they consolidated the spirit of Gurus among the Sikhs and by starting a movement of non-cooperation against Britishers, they teached us the lesson of patriotism.”
Bhai Parmanand ji wrote that – “If everybody shed the cooperation with the Britishers, the Raj will go away. This hypothesis was invented by Namdhari Baba Ram Singh ji.”
In 1938, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote in his ‘Satyug’ – “To secure freedom of our motherland Baba Ram Singh ji did glorious hard work about three fourth century back; no Indian can deny this. Congress followed the path shown by you and succeeded.”
Famous writer Khushwant Singh wrote that – “Namdhari Sikhs have a special and important place in the history of Independence of India. They were founder and father figure of, who used non-cooperation and swadeshi as a political weapon.”