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On 13th April 1978 during the occasion of Vaisakhi an extraordinary event unfolded in Amritsar. This event was to usher in a new chapter in the Sikh struggle against state oppression, unleashed by the ruling Brahmin-Hindu regime. Bhai Fauja Singh and his twelve companions were key participants in this historic turning point, and their Kurbani or sacrifice starts the Sikh freedom movement and forms the focus of this publication.

Though it is thirty eight years since the thirteen Gursikhs courted martyrdom, little is known of their lives, of this crucial historical event and the impact of their Kurbani. This publication offers an insight into the moral and spiritual lives of these contemporary Sikh martyrs, the extraordinary circumstances concerning their martyrdom, as well as the reaction from the Sikh nation and Indian government.

It is often said that the Kurbani of Shaheeds breathes new life into the body and spirit of the Panth. Those that know their history well will recognise this truth. Each day the Ardaas or invocatory prayer recalls and salutes the countless Sikhs who sacrifice their lives for the preservation of the Sikh faith, nation and its distinct identity. This is testament to the power of Kurbani.

The tradition of Shaheedi or martyrdom comes from an inherent love for liberty and justice. It is deeply revered and honoured in Sikhism. During the Panth’s turbulent periods of strife and suffering, Shaheedi gave new hope and pride enabling the Sikhs to struggle against all odds. The story of the thirteen Shaheeds is in keeping with this sacred tradition.


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