Shahid Pratap Singh of Punja Sahib
Saka Punja Sahib 1922
The heroic event which took place at Hasan Abdal railway station and miracle of Punja Sahib.
On the 8 August 1922 A.D., the police arrested five Singhs 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 Vlahant. 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 Singhs taking part in the agitation. On the 13 September, the beating was stopped on motivation from Reverend C.F. Andrews and Singhs were arrested and sent to prisons.
One day a squad of army pensioners led by Subedar Amar Singh Dhaliwal from Kapurthala state courted arrest. Magistrate Aslam Khan sentenced those Singhs to imprisonment of two and a half years and a fine of one hundred rupees each. Those Singhs were boarded on a train from Amritsar to Attak on the night of the 29 October, 1922 A.D. The train stopped at Rawalpindi on the 30 October and moved on after change of staff and taking water for the locomotive. Bhai Pratap Singh who was Hony Treasurer and Secretary community of Gurdwara Panja Sahib appealed to the Sikh Sangat to prepare thew Langar for the prisoners as the Station Master of Hasan Abdal who was Bhai Pratap Singh's good friend came and told him about the train and an opportunity to feed the hungry sikh pensioner prisoners. So all night the sangat prepared the food and under the leadership of bhai Pratap singh ji who led with Dholki(drum) sang the hymns and led the crowd on that route got ready food and drink to serve the Singhs of the squad, took it to the railway station early in the morning of the 31 October and started waiting for the train to arrive.
The station master told them, when they arrived "The train shall not stop at this station. You have made these arrangements for nothing." Bhai Pratap Singh replied, "Baba Nanak had stopped a mountain with one hand. Cannot his Sikhs stop a train ?" At ten o'clock, seeing the train approaching, Bhai Partap Singh, appealed to all to lay on the lines to stop the train and he was followed by the others including Bhai Karam Singh who had come on pilgrimage of Punja Sahib. Also with them Sardar Ganga Singh, Sardar Charan Singh, Sardar Nihal Singh, S. Tara Singh, S. Fakir Singh, S. Kalyan Singh and many other Singhs and Kaurs (female of Singh) squatted on the track. Wife of Bhai Pratap Singh (22 years of age) Bibi Harnam Kaur expecting mother and only 18 years of age also joined leading the ladies. Seeing the Singhs lying on the track, the driver of the train blew the whistle time and again but the Singhs did not budge as if they had not heard the whistle at all. The engine ground the bones of Bhai Karam Singh attained martydom immediately but and Bhai Partap Singh and the others suffered injuries. The train stopped. Bhai Pratap Singh said to Sangat "do not bother about us (Sikh devotees), "Serve the hungry Singhs in the train first. You can take care of us afterwards." The train halted for one and a half hours. The Sikhs served the Singhs in the train whole-heartedly and then turned to the injured. Bhai Karam Singh, thirty year old son of Bhai Bhagwan Dass Mahant of Kesgarh Sahib died. On the next day Bhai Partap Singh, twenty-two years of age, son of S. Sarup Singh Thanedar of Akal Garh, Gujranwala attained martyrdom. when the train-driver was asked the reason for stopping the train, he replied, 'When the train hit the Singhs lying on the track, vacuum lever dropped out of my hand and the train stopped. I did not apply the brakes."
Bhai Partap Singh was serving the Army Headquareters as a Clerk at Simla when he came to know about the atrocities on Sikhs for wearing Blue turban he did not accept the persecution of any kind and wore in protest the blue turban at his work and when challenged by his superior British officers he resigned form job under protest. He joined Gandhiji's swadeshi movement and with his young wife and one year old son Master Trilok Singh abandoned all foreign goods and clothes. He led his village to burn all imported clothes and adopted Khadi. In 1920 he joined and was arrested for protesting against BT for Nankana Sahib atrocities on Sikhs. After his release he took up volunteer Service "Seva" of Gurudwara Punja Sahib and shifted there with his family. He was totally immersed in Naam Bani and Sadh Sangat Ki Seva. At such a young age Bhai Pratap Singh was spiritually elevated and socially and religiously very responsible prepared to give up his life for truth and service in the spirit of Khalsa.
He lost his Son when he was just 2.5 years of age in an accident but he accepted it as the will of God as he had once promised himself to live to the descipline of Gursikh by accepting Thy Will in all circumstances. This whole story was narrated by Bibi Harnam Kaur ji to her grand son S. Harinder Pal Singh Luthera, who lives in New Zealand.
Bibi Harnam Kaur ji also told that she too was slightly injured and when she went to see her husband he was saying his prayers and bleeding his head was held in the lap of then famous Raagi Sahib, Bhai Pratap Singh ji refused all medical aid offered to him and when she asked him for advise, he said" After me do not cry see I am not in pain; all pain is taken by Sri Guru Nanak Sahib whose clothes are drenching in blood, and advised remember that whole "panth" the Sikh community is there for you and recited the couplet from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib " Kabira sant moye kiya royee jo apne grah jaye ...." and strictly advised not to cry otherwise his scrifice will be wasted." She lived for 60 years after that and passed away in Feb 1982 at Greater Kailash 2 New Delhi. She never cried or regretted the death of her husband and obediently led all the family to her village Akal Garh reciting the poem of the brave Martyrdom of Bhai Pratap Singh ji "Gaddi" The Train. She use to recite the poem with the great vigour and was greatly honoured at many dewans and by the Government of Punjab and India.
Shahid Baba Pratap Singh's only daughter who was born posthumously now lives in New Zealand with her sons and one of her Grand Son's Nader Pratap Singh Luthera who is named after the late Bhai Pratap Singh. The family always celebrate the martyrdom of Shahid baba Pratap Singh ji in Auckland,New Zealand share the historical event with youngsters .