Saturday, December 23, 2017

Episode 4 of Punjab Travels: Meeting Mata Gurjeet Kaur Ji

I first met Mata Gurjeet Kaur Ji in 2012 (read here). Mata Ji's last words to me were, "Whenever you come to Amritsar, please come and meet your mother and say Fateh. I don't need anything else." Remembering this, I wanted to meet Mata Ji.

For those who don't know, Mata Gurjit Kaur Ji lost everything she had at the hands of the brutal Panjab Police. She is a living testimony of the fake encounters carried out by policemen, who remain in positions of power, even today.

During June 1984, Mata Ji's husband, Bhai Gurmej Singh Ji, and youngest daughter, Bibi Jasvinder Kaur Ji, were amongst the thousands of pilgrims visiting Sri Harmandir Sahib to pay respects on the Shaheedi Gurpurb of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Her husband and daughter never returned home that day, and were killed by the Indian army along with the countless other pilgrims. Unable to have access to their bodies, she could not even perform their last rites.

The Punjab Police began harassing Mata Ji because they recovered some pictures of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale which her late husband had bought. Her eldest son, Bhai Kashmir Singh Ji, worked as a mechanic at a nearby shop. He was only 22 years old at the time, when the Panjab Police picked him up and killed him. They threw his body in a drain outside the village. Angry over the injustices being committed on them by the State and Police, two of her younger sons left home to join the Sikh freedom fighting movement. She never stopped them, knowing they wanted to get justice and stop tyranny. Some years later,  around 1991, both her sons were shot dead in encounters with the Police. Mata Ji said, "I did not grieve – they had given their lives while serving the cause of the Panth and the Guru’s."

But the Police did not stop at this. One day in 1991, a group of policemen came to her house and picked up her younger daughter, youngest son and her. To this day, she still doesn't know what happened to her youngest son, Bhai Daljinder Singh Ji, who was only 14. The only explanation given by the Police was that he simply ‘disappeared’ from their custody.

She has one surviving child who lives with her husband outside of Punjab. She cannot visit her because the Police used to harass her each time she came to visit her in the past. Her house was demolished by the Punjab Police led by Sumedh Saini and her possessions and memories wiped away. She was forced to sleep and live in Parkarma of Sri Harmandir Sahib for some time, until she was provided a room a nearby Gurdwara Sahib. Despite all of this, she has faith in Vahiguru and reminds me of the 18th century Sikh women of Mir Mannu's jail who never gave up their Sikhi spirit.

Bhenji from Malaysia, luckily knew where Mata Gurjeet Kaur Ji was. Mata Ji does the cleaning and washing Seva of the Parkarma (area surrounding the Sarovar - holy lake) every morning and afternoon. When meeting Mata Ji she was really pleased and gave me a hug. She gave me a broom and asked me to join her with seva. It was an amazing spirit. Such an elderly lady, but so much energy to do Seva.

Coming towards the end of Seva my parents met Mata Ji. My mum became emotional seeing Mata Ji as she knew her life story. Mata Ji gave her a big hug and said, "O my daughter! Why is your heart sinking? Why are crying?... I not lost anything. I have everything. I have the Guru and I have you." It was just amazing. I could feel the Sikhi spirit of Mata Gujjar Kaur Ji in Mata Ji and reminded me that the Panth still has many jewels!

No comments: