In the Kharkoo Movement, numerous militant Singhs performed significant and secretive acts of service throughout their struggle, remaining a mystery to the police. Unfortunately, after their sacrifices, there was a failure on our part to highlight these individuals within the Sikh community. One such figure was Bhai Harvinder Singh, also known as Mathra Singh.
Bhai Mathra Singh became a significant target for the Hindustani government, which placed a bounty of 14 lakh rupees on his head. The intelligence agencies of the Hindustani government were deeply apprehensive of Bhai Mathra Singh’s audacious actions. Even after Bhai Sahib Ji’s martyrdom, these agencies couldn’t discern his true identity or origins.
Birth and Early Life
Bhai Sahib Ji was born on May 13, 1965, in Guwahati (Assam) to father Gurdeep Singh Ji and mother Gurmej Kaur Ji. During those days, his father was employed in Guwahati, Assam. Bhai Sahib was the youngest among three siblings, with an elder sister named Darshan Kaur and a younger brother named Satnam Singh. From childhood, Bhai Mathra Singh Ji was a devout follower of Gurbani and exhibited a deep understanding of religious customs and practices.
He pursued his education up to class VIII at the Christian Mission School in Guwahati. Bhai Mathra Singh Ji refrained from attending the morning prayer at the school. When questioned by teachers about his absence from the prayer, he explained that the school’s prayer did not align with the prayer of his Guru. He reiterated, ‘Deh Siva Bar Mohi Ihai, Subh Karman Te Kabhun Na Tro,’ emphasizing that their prayer was directed solely to their revered Guru Sahib Ji. He firmly identified himself as a Sikh of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, not a follower of Christianity. Bhai Sahib Ji often remained silent, continuously chanting ‘Waheguru Waheguru.’
Joining Bhindranwale’s Jatha
In March 1984, amidst the Dharma Yudh Morcha agitation, Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale addressed a significant gathering of Sikhs on the second floor of the Guru Ramdas Langar. This occasion saw Sikhs ready to sacrifice themselves at a mere word from Sant Ji. Sikhs found a leader in Sant Jarnail Singh Ji who couldn’t be swayed by power or money. His unwavering stance against oppression was inspiring.
During the assembly, a Sikh woman rose from the crowd and approached the stage, expressing her desire to enroll her son in Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa’s group.
Sant Ji responded warmly, “Bibi, your son is welcome to join our group as per your wish.”
Bhai Harwinder Singh Ji presented the Sten gun to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa. Sant Bhindranwale expressed his appreciation for this courageous act, welcoming Bhai Harvinder Singh with resounding Jaikare chants of ‘Sat Sri Akal.’
Following this courageous act, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa conferred the name of Bhai Mathra Singh upon Bhai Harwinder Singh after administering Amrit to him through the Panj Pyara of the Jatha.
Bhai Mathra Singh chose not to mourn but to fight for the freedom of the Sikh community. He rallied his fellow Singhs, forming a clandestine Kharkoo Group, and initiated an armed struggle to seek justice for Sikhs and counter the anti-Sikh perpetrators.
The initial members of his Jatha who joined him in this armed struggle included Bhai Manbir Singh Chaheru, Bhai Charanjit Singh Channi (Talwandi), Bhai Jarnail Singh Halwara, Bhai Harjinder Singh Jinda, Bhai Sukhdev Singh Sukha, Bhai Satnam Singh Bawa, Bhai Manjit Singh Jammu, Bhai Ranjit Singh Kuki, Bhai Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi, Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu, Bhai Surinder Singh Shindu alias K.C. Sharma, along with courageous individuals like Bhai Surjit Singh Panta (Delhi). Together, they embarked on a new struggle post-June 1984, aiming to find a definitive solution to end the oppression faced by Sikhs due to Indian aggression.
Assassination of General Vaidiya
On October 31, 1984, Bhai Satwant Singh, Bhai Beant Singh, and Bhai Kehar Singh avenged the Army’s Golden Temple operation by assassinating PM Indira Gandhi. During this period, Bhai Mathra Singh was in Delhi, strategizing future movements. Meanwhile, the Indian army chief, responsible for the military operation at Sri Harmandir Sahib and the destruction of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, resulting in the massacre of numerous Sikhs, was General Vaidya.
Under Bhai Mathra Singh’s guidance, a plan was orchestrated to eliminate General Vaidya. On August 10, 1986, Bhai Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Bhai Harjinder Singh Jinda executed Vaidya in broad daylight in Pune. Authorities identified Bhai Mathra Singh as the key mastermind behind this operation.
Mathra Singh – A Mystery
After these numerous actions, Bhai Mathra Singh adhered to a policy of not claiming credit or responsibility for any action. Indian agencies were confounded by these individuals conducting actions openly and effortlessly escaping. Agencies had only one name in their possession – ‘Mathra Singh’ – without any photographic evidence or knowledge of his appearance. Despite being an enigmatic figure to the agencies, the head of the agency offered a reward of 14 lakh rupees for information on Bhai Mathra Singh. Even after his martyrdom, the agencies remained unable to uncover his identity.
On June 30, 1987, in the village of Rampura, Jandiala Guru, Police Inspector Harcharan Sinh Suri led a raid on Gyan Singh’s residence along with a police party. An informant had relayed information that a prominent militant was expected to visit Gyan Singh’s house. The police, disguised as civilians (dressed as Singh), besieged Gyan Singh’s family and confined them inside the house. Anyone who approached the house for work was intercepted and apprehended by the disguised policemen.
As several individuals failed to return after visiting Gyan Singh’s house, the village leaders assembled to investigate the situation. When they reached Gyan Singh’s residence to inquire about the disappearances, the police detained all of them as well.
Later that evening, a young man arrived on a bicycle from the direction of Daburji and headed straight for Gyan Singh’s house. He knocked on the door, and since the police were masquerading as Singh, they opened the door and apprehended the young man Mathra Singh as he entered. Subsequently, Gyan Singh and Bhai Mathra Singh were forced into a police jeep and transported to the police station.
The martyrdom of Bhai Mathra Singh dealt a significant blow to the KCF (Khalistan Commando Force). The members of KCF were determined to avenge Bhai Sahib’s martyrdom. It took nearly three years until the day arrived when the Kharkoo Singhs orchestrated the retribution. Harcharan Sinh Suri, the individual responsible for Bhai Mathra Singh’s martyrdom, was targeted by the Kharkoo Singhs on February 11, 1990. He was blown up in the Training Center Phillaur, as they placed a bomb under his sleeping bed.