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Major General Shabeg Singh AVSM PVSM (1925 – 1984), was an Indian Army officer who, post dismissal, joined the Khalistan movement leader of Damdami Taksal, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala, as a military adviser.[1] He organised the Sikh militants in the fortification of the Golden Temple during Operation Bluestar. 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
Born1925
Khiala Kalan, Amritsar, Punjab
Died(1984-06-06)6 June 1984
Akal Takht, Amritsar, Punjab
Service/branchArmy
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]

Singh was a notable figure with the press for his service in the 1971 Pakistan War.[7][8] On 6 July 1972, he was appointed GOC, MPB & O Area with the acting rank of major-general,[9] and promoted to substantive major-general on 2 April 1974.[10]

The day before retirement he was stripped of his rank and denied pension without court-martial.[11][7] Two charge sheets in an anti-corruption court were brought against him in Lucknow by India's Central Bureau of Investigation.[12][13] Singh sought redress in civil courts, and was acquitted of the charges on February 13, 1984.[12][11][13]

Operation Blue StarEdit

After his dismissal, Singh joined the Sikh leader of Damdami Taksal, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale,[1] where he served as Bhindranwale's military adviser.[7] Singh had said that he had joined Bhindranwale due to the alleged humiliation he had received during the security checks being done during the Asian games in New Delhi.[2]

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.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16] He organised the Sikh army present at the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar in June 1984. Indian government forces launched Operation Blue Star to take out the armed Sikhs from the complex.[17]

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.[17] Singh was cremated according to Sikh rights and with full military honors.[18][19]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Danopoulos, Constantine Panos; Watson, Cynthia Ann (1996). The Political Role of the Military: An International Handbook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 194. ISBN 9780313288371.
  2. ^ a b Mahmood, Cynthia Keppley (November 1, 1996). Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants. 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. ^ a b c Critchfield, Richard (1995). The Villagers: Changed Values, Altered Lives: The Closing of the Urban Rural Gap. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 383. ISBN 9780385420495. Stripped of his rank and denied a pension, he had bitterly nursed a grievance ever since and it was he who taught Bhindranwale's men how to use modern weapons, most of them smuggled across the border from Pakistan. Kirpekar had not seen Shabeg Singh for thirteen years, but he had once been a popular figure with the press as well as a national hero.
  8. ^ Axel, Brian Keith (2001). The Nation's Tortured Body: Violence, Representation, and the Formation of a Sikh "Diaspora". Duke University Press. p. 124. ISBN 9780822326151. Retrieved 22 August 2019. Bhindranwale drew a wide range of people to his side who could provide support for strategic military action, including two retired major-generals from the Indian army, Jeswant Singh Bhullar and Shabeg Singh (who was a national hero of the 1971 Pakistan War).
  9. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 27 January 1973. p. 95.
  10. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 19 April 1975. p. 553.
  11. ^ a b Danopoulos, Constantine Panos; Watson, Cynthia Ann (1996). The Political Role of the Military: An International Handbook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 184. ISBN 9780313288371. Retrieved 22 August 2019. The former was dismissed from service without a court martial a day before he was due to retire and therefore lost part of this pension. He had to seek redress in civil courts, and later joined a camp of Sikh militants in Punjab.
  12. ^ a b Sachchidanand, Sinha; Singh, Jasvir; Sunil; Reddy, G.K C; Samata Era editorial team (1984). "6: Role of the Media and Opposition Parties". Army Action in Punjab: Prelude and Aftermath. Nizamuddin East, New Delhi-11013: G.K.C. Reddy for Samata Era Publication. p. 56. Retrieved 22 August 2019. Shuhbeg Singh was described as the one who was dismissed from the Army on corruption charges. But it was unfair not to inform that he was acquitted by a special court on February 13, 1984 of the charges against him in both cases filed by the CBI. The media was only indulging in unjustified character assassination of Bhindranwala, Shuhbeg Singh and others (that were corrupt, smugglers, robbers, thieves, rapists) in order to justify the Army action.
  13. ^ a b Jaijee, Inderjit Singh (1995). "9: INFORMATION / COMMUNICATION". Politics of Genocide: Punjab, 1984-1994. Baba Publishers. p. 229. ISBN 978-1583672129. Retrieved 22 August 2019. The Indian Express investigated his past and found that two charge sheets filed against him by the CBI in an anti-corruption court in Lucknow had been disproved and he had been acquitted.
  14. ^ Kiessling, Hein (2016). Faith, Unity, Discipline: The Inter-Service-Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781849048637. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  15. ^ Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume II: 1839-2004, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 337.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ a b "Interview Lt Gen PC Katoch". Operation Blue Star - The Untold Story by Kanwar Sandhu - 4. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  18. ^ Jaijee, Inderjit Singh (1995). "9: INFORMATION / COMMUNICATION". Politics of Genocide: Punjab, 1984-1994. Baba Publishers. p. 229. ISBN 978-1583672129. Retrieved 22 August 2019. Because of his acquittal and his distinguished service, the highly decorated Shabeg Singh was cremated with military honors.
  19. ^ Chopra, Radhika (2010). Commemorating Hurt: Memorializing Operation Bluestar. Taylor & Francis. pp. 119–152. Retrieved 22 August 2019. Bajwa said the Army officers agreed to cremate the bodies of Sant Bhindranwale, General Shabeg Singh, Baba Thara Singh and Bhai Amrik Singh according to Sikh rites at his personal request while the rest of the bodies (more than 800) were cremated en masse.

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