A Sikh Woman Warrior Tells Her Tale

Today, I want to share with you, Nirpreet Kaurs story. I highlight her story for 2 reasons. nirpreet_kaur.jpg

First, as weve discussed on this blog before, the majority of Sikh history as its been documented thus far really is his-tory. So this piece of her-story is a rare gem. And second, too often, we think of women in the Sikh community only in our roles as mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. These are all important roles but our identity isn’t entirely defined relative to others or based on our relationships with others. Yet we recognize the additional roles we play outside of these expected roles too rarely. And so Nirpreet Kaur.

Nirpreet was 16 years old on November 2, 1984 when the mob came for her father, Nirmal Singh…”[Khokhar- a Youth Congress leader] sweet-talked my father into coming with him for a compromise, says Nirpreet. But Khokhar went straight to the mob and handed Nirmal Singh over. The oldest of three siblings, Nirpreet, ran to the mob but could only watch helplessly as her father was tied up and set ablaze. [link]

To avenge the killing of her father, Nirpreet joined the Khalistani movement.

As a functionary of the then dreaded All India Sikh Students Federation, Nirpreet came in contact with those involved with the Khalistan movement, an armed insurgency fighting for an independent Sikh homeland in Punjab, and became part of the militancy that ravaged the state for over a decade in the 1980s.[link]

Her husband, who was also part of the movement, was picked up by police 12 days after he and Nirpreet were married and never heard from again. Her mother was sentenced to 3 years in prison for ‘sheltering a terrorist’ though in reality her mother had no idea what Nirpreet was involved in.

Nirpreet, then pregnant with her son, was declared an absconder. She went into hiding. In December 1986, Nirpreets mother, Sampooran Kaur, was sentenced to three years in Delhis high-security Tihar jail for sheltering a terrorist. She didnt even have an inkling of what I was up to when they arrested her, Nirpreet says. [link]

Nirpreet was arrested in Operation Black Thunder in May 1988 where 40 others were killed.

In May 1988, Punjab Police and paramilitary forces launched Operation Black Thunder against armed militants who had built up a fortified stronghold within the Golden Temple in Amritsar. At least 40 extremists were killed and several arrested. [link]

Her mother, who was watching the news from jail, hadn’t heard from her daughter in a year when she saw her arrest on TV.

Sampooran Kaur was watching the news on television in the jail. She leapt with joy as she caught a fleeting glimpse of her daughter among those arrested. She hadnt heard from Nirpreet for over a year. [link]

Mother and daughter were reunited in jail, where Nirpreet spent 8 and 1/2 years. She was acquitted in 1996.

Five months after her arrest in Amritsar, Nirpreet, by then a mother of a oneyear- old boy, was also brought to Delhis high-security Tihar Jail. Sampooran rushed to Nirpreets cell as soon as the gates were unlocked. She wouldnt stop weeping, recalls Nirpreet, a tear betraying her resolute demeanour. Other inmates gathered around the cell to witness the reunion of a 20-year-old dreaded terrorist and her mother. [link]

Nirpreet Kaur testified before the CBI against Sajjan Kumar earlier this year. But there is a grim irony to her tale.

Though she regrets having taken the extreme step of joining the Khalistan movement, she is not unhappy with the way life has turned out for her. I was forced to take that step because of the Congress governments injustice. The irony is that while I have been punished for what I did after the 1984 killings, those who executed the massacre of Sikhs still roam freely. (emphasis added) [link

I’m not aware of any exhaustive literature that looks exclusively at the roles that women played both within the movement and in the civilian population during the 80s and early 90s, but perhaps we’ll see it develop as more accounts are recorded.

(This week, Tehelka has a number of great pieces on the carnage of 1984 and accounts from those who still suffer the consequences on a daily basis.)


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5 Responses to “A Sikh Woman Warrior Tells Her Tale”

  1. rocco says:

    thank you for the story. There are countless compelling stories that still need to be told and shared.

  2. rocco says:

    thank you for the story. There are countless compelling stories that still need to be told and shared.

  3. ballerkaur says:

    is there any contact info that i can get of bibi nirpreet kaur ji?

  4. ballerkaur says:

    is there any contact info that i can get of bibi nirpreet kaur ji?

  5. sukhjit kaur says:

    I was Nirpreet kaur's class fellow from Khalsa College Jalandhar and want her cntact number is there anybody help me to get this

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