Context: The gurdwara management bodies from both sides of the border — Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) will jointly observe the centenary of Shaheedi Saka Panja Sahib (martyrdom massacre), at Hasan Abdal city of Attock district, Punjab province of Pakistan.
About Saka Panja Sahib:
- On October 30, 1922 two Sikhs died and several other Sikh protesters, including women, were injured at Hasan Abdal railway station after the railway authorities under the then-British government had refused to stop the train ferrying Sikh prisoners from Amritsar to Attock.
- The Sikhs from nearby Panja Sahib wanted to serve langar (community kitchen food) to the Sikh prisoners but were told by the station master that the train would not stop at the station.
- In protest, the Sikhs squatted on the railway tracks and as the train approached, the Sikhs, who were determined to halt the train, continued to stay put, demanding their right to serve langar to the Sikh prisoners.
- The train finally came to a screeching halt, but only after crushing many of Sikh protesters — of whom Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Partap Singh died after sustaining serious injuries.
- Since then, both Sikhs are hailed as martyrs of Saka Panja Sahib who sacrificed their lives fighting for rights of Sikhs against the British.
About Gurdwara Panja Sahib:
- The Gurdwara Panja Sahib, in Hasan Abdal of Pakistan was built on the site believed to be visited by Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, along with his companion Bhai Mardana.
- It is believed that a local saint Wali Qandhari was rude towards Nanak and refused to give water to Bhai Mardana who was extremely thirsty, from a natural fountain near his dera.
- He also threw a boulder towards Nanak, but Nanak stopped it with his panja (hand) and a spring of water appeared there miraculously.
- The boulder with Nanak’s handprint is still there.
- Later Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his general Hari Singh Nalwa got the gurdwara building constructed to commemorate Nanak’s visit.
Source: Indian Express