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Major General Shabeg Singh AVSM PVSM (1925 – 1984), was an Indian Army officer who, post dismissal, joined the Sikh Statehood- Khalistan leader of Damdami Taksal, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala, as a military adviser.[1] He organised the Sikh warriors fighting for their statehood in the fortification and defense of the Golden Temple. During his military service he was involved in training of Mukti Bahini volunteers during the Bangladesh Liberation War.[2]

Shabeg Singh
Gen. Shabeg singh.jpg
Major General Shabeg Singh
Birth nameShabeg Singh
Khiala Kalan, Amritsar, Punjab
Died(1984-06-06)6 June 1984
Akal Takht, Amritsar, Punjab
Years of service1944 – 1977
RankMajor General
UnitGarhwal Rifles
3/Parachute Regiment
11 Gorkha Rifles
Commands heldGOC, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and parts of Odisha
Battles/warsIndo-Pakistani war of 1971 (India) and ghallughara in Harmandir Sahib in 1984 under Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala
AwardsAVSM and PVSM
MemorialsGurdwara Yaadgar Shaheedan, Amritsar
RelationsMehtab Singh Bhangu


Early life and educationEdit

Shabeg Singh was born in 1925 in Khiala village (earlier known as Khiala Nand Singhwala), about nine miles (14 km) from the Amritsar-Chogawan road. He was the eldest son of Sardar Bhagwan Singh and Pritam Kaur, and had three brothers and a sister. He was sent to the Khalsa College in Amritsar for secondary education, and later to the Government College in Lahore for higher education.[citation needed]

Military careerEdit

In 1942, an officers selection team visiting Lahore colleges recruited Singh to the British Indian Army officers cadre.[citation needed] After training in the Indian Military Academy, he was commissioned in the Garhwal Rifles as a second lieutenant. Within a few days the regiment moved to Burma and joined the war against the Japanese, which was then in progress. In 1945 when the war ended, Singh was in Malaya with his unit. After partition, when reorganization of the regiments took place, Singh joined the 50th Parachute Brigade of the Indian Army. He was posted to the 1st battalion of the Parachute Regiment, where he remained till 1959. Promoted to lieutenant-colonel on 2 June 1965,[3] he later commanded the 3rd battalion of 11 Gorkha Rifles, and was given command of a brigade on 4 January 1968.[4]

Singh was promoted to colonel on 12 June 1968 and to substantive brigadier on 22 December.[5][6] On 6 July 1972, he was appointed GOC, MPB & O Area with the acting rank of major-general.[7] Promoted to substantive major-general on 2 April 1974,[8]He took premature retirement because of some internal feud in the officer cadre and later joined the Damdami Taksal leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. [9]

Operation Blue StarEdit

After his dismissal, Singh joined the Sikh fundamentalist leader of Damdami Taksal, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was spearheading the violent and secessionist Khalistan movement with an objective to create an autonomous homeland of Khalistan for the Sikhs.[1] Singh served as a military adviser to Bhindranwale.[9] Singh had said that he had joined Bhindranwale's militant group due to the alleged humiliation he had received during the security checks being done during the Asian games in New Delhi.[10]

Counter Intelligence reports of the Indian agencies had reported that three prominent heads of the Khalistan movement Shabeg Singh, Balbier Singh and Amrik Singh had made at least six trips each to Pakistan between the years 1981 and 1983.[11]

In December 1983, the Sikh political party Akali Dal's President Harcharan Singh Longowal had invited Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale to take up residence in Golden Temple Complex.[12] Shabeg Singh and his military expertise is credited with the creation of effective defenses of the Temple Complex that made the possibility of a commando operation on foot impossible.[13] He organised the armed militants present at the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar in June 1984. Indian government forces launched Operation Blue Star to take out the armed militants from the complex. At the initial stages of the operation, Singh was killed in firing between Akal Takht and Darshani Ḍeorhi. His body was later found and identified when the operation was over.[14]


  1. ^ a b Danopoulos, Constantine Panos/Watson, Cynthia. The political role of the military : an international handbook. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996. p. 184
  2. ^ Mahmood, Cynthia Keppley (November 1, 1996). Fighting for Faith and Nation. Series in Contemporary Ethnography. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-0812215922. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
  3. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 13 November 1965. p. 584.
  4. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 2 March 1968. p. 172.
  5. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 18 January 1969. p. 53.
  6. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 19 April 1969. p. 376.
  7. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 27 January 1973. p. 95.
  8. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 19 April 1975. p. 553.
  9. ^ a b Critchfield, Richard (1995). The Villagers: Changed Values, Altered Lives: The Closing of the Urban Rural Gap. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 383. ISBN 9780385420495.
  10. ^ Mahmood, Cynthia Keppley (1996). Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 81. ISBN 9780812215922. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  11. ^ Kiessling, Hein (2016). Faith, Unity, Discipline: The Inter-Service-Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781849048637. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  12. ^ Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume II: 1839-2004, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 337.
  13. ^ Tully, Mark (3 June 2014). "Wounds heal but another time bomb ticks away". Gunfire Over the Golden Temple. The Times of India. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Interview Lt Gen PC Katoch". Operation Blue Star - The Untold Story by Kanwar Sandhu - 4. Retrieved 11 June 2018.

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