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Bhai Ram Singh - Freedom Fighter

He was born in 1826 at village Bhaini in the District of Ludhiana. His father, Jassa Singh, belonged to the lower middle class and worked as a carpenter in his village. When he grew up, he enrolled himself in the Khalsa Army and served for several years in the Risala of Kanwar Nau Nihal Singh, Grandson of Ranjit Singh. During the period of his service he fell under the spell of a Sikh saint and under his influence left the army.

In 1857, the year of the great Indian Revolt, he founded what he called the Sant Khalsa, which became the nucleus of his Namdhari or Kuka movement. A few years later in 1963, he issued a comprehensive code of discipline for his followers. The code went a long way in consolidating the ranks of the Kuka movement.

Babaji made extensive tours through the Punjab and huge crowds attended his diwans (religious assemblies). As his teachings contained critical references to several elements of Western impact, such as education and cow-slaughter, British authorities felt alarmed and interpreted his movement as a bid to restore the Khalsa Raj in the Punjab. In 1863 Baba Ram Singh and his followers were placed under police surveillance. This act of official repression proved a shot in the arm for the movement, which thereafter made rapid strides and took the form of a political revolutionary organization. The Kukas were now asked to boycott British institutions such as Schools and colleges, courts, post and telegraph offices and steps were taken to establish alternate arrangements, which had the appearance of a parallel government. The province was divided into 22 divisions and each division was placed under a Suba or governor.

When the Government learnt about the rapid growth of the movement, it saw wisdom in removing the ban on the activities of the Kukas in 1869. This gave further encouragement of them. Some of them made attacks on graves, marks of cremation and Smadhs (memorials raised over cremation spots), all objects of worship by superstitious people.

In 1871 a program of attacks on slaughterhouses and butchers was adopted. The slaughterhouses of Amritsar and Rai Kot were raided as a result of which several butchers were killed at both the places. The assailants were traced out and were hanged after summary trials. The most important attack was, however, reserved for Malerkotla in 1872, in the course of which the Kukas killed 10 men and wounded seventeen, their own losses being 8 killed and 31 wounded. 68 Kukas were rounded up. Out of them 65 were blown up from the mouths of guns and one was cut to pieces by sword.

The years 1869 to 1872 were also marked by attempts on the part of Baba Ram Singh to establish contacts with the Rulers of Nepal and Kashmir with a view to strengthening his anti-British movement.

After the Malerkotla affair, the entire Kuka movement was outlawed, a police post was set up at Bhaini, the headquarters of the movement, and all prominent leaders including Baba Ram Singh were taken into custody. Baba Ram Singh was deported first to Allahabad and then to Burma and he remained there as a state prisoner till his death in 1885.