Zakaria Khan was the Governor of Punjab in the year 1745 A.D. By that time, due to oppressive policy of his predecessors, many Sijhs had migrated to jungles, ravines and desert areas. The brave Sikhs did so in order to prepare themselves for ultimate over throw of the cruel Mughal rulers and rid the people of Punjab from life full of humiliation. But still, some of the Sikhs were living in remote villages due to the helpful attitude of moderate and noble Muslims who did not approve of the oppressive policy of the rulers towards the sikh community.
One such Sikh young man was Bhai Taru Singh, living in the village Puhla, in the district Amritsar. His father had died while Bhai Taru Singh was a child. His mother, a devout Sikh lady, had provided his son Taru Singh, with deep knowledge of Sikh scriptures and Sikh History. As a result of this Bhai Taru Singh had developed full faith in Sikh scriptures and was proud of his religious heritage. He used to feed and help the poor and the needy irrespective of caste, crreed or religion. As a result of this he was respected as a noble person, not only by Hindus and Muslims of his own village but of other village in the vicinity. Bhai Taru Singh used to visit near-by jungle and help his co-religionists with food and other items of necessity. One of the government informers, named Harbhagat Niranjania lodged a report against Bhai Taru Singh with the then Governor of Lahore, Zakaria Khan. In his report he reported that Bhai Taru Singh was a dangerous person who provided boarding and lodging facilities to the terriorists who were trying to over throw the government of the time, that he was harbouring criminals which end-angered the life and property or the residents of village Puhla and othe villages in the neighbour hood. Harbhagat Niranjania also accused Bhai Taru Singh of providing intelligence against the government to the terrorists. He capped his complaint against Bhai Taru Singh by adding some self coined stories.
The government of the time expected the peaceloving few Sikhs still living in some villages to help the government agencies against their Sikh brethren, by providing information ragarding location of the Sikh branded as terrorists by the Government.
Much against the expectations of the cruel rulers, the Sikhs still living in villages were all praise for their Sikh brethren engaged in a fierce fight with these cruel rulers. They fully appreciated that the Sikhs were fighting with a view to overthrow the tyrant rulers to free their beloved Punjab from them, and replace it with a just and powerful Sikh rule which could stop foreign vasions for all times to come. They used to provide food, clothes and other necessities of life to their brethen hiding in jungles. At the same time, they also provided them free boarding and lodging facility and information which could endanger their lives of harm their objectives.
Without verifying the truth about the complaint against Bhai Taru Singh, lodged by Harbhagat Niranjania, Zakaria Khan issued orders for the arrest of Bhai Taru Singh.
Accompanied by twenty policemen and armed with orders of arrest of Bhai Taru Singh, Harbhagat Niranjania arrived in the village Puhla. While Bhai Taur Singh was arrested for being taken away, the villagers protested and pleaded with the policemen to set Bhai Taru Singh free since he was a very noble, peace loving and broad minded person according to them. However, their plea fell on deaf ears.
While the police party was passing through village Bhadhana the Siks of the village tried to free Bhai Taru Singh by force, but Bhai Taru Singh persuaded them to desist from doing so.
On reaching Lahore, Bhai Taru Singh was locked in a prison cell and was tortured in various ways. The more they tortured him, the more Bhai Taru Singh became stead fast in his resolve to protect his faith at all costs.
Ultimately, Bhai Taru Singh was produced before Zakaria Khan. Bhai Taru Singh wanted to know the reason for his arrest. He said, “I earn my livlihood by cultivating my land and working hard. I make payment of land tax regularly which could be verified from records. I also spare for the needy and the poor from my hard earned money. Why the government of which you are the ruling chief, is after me?”
Zakaria Khan could not think of any appropriate answer, but he told Bhai Taru Singh that he had to choose between conversion to Islam or death by torture.
Bhai Taru Singh, put a counter question to Zakaria Khan, “ Will I never die if I become a musalman? Don’t Muslims die? When I am going to die one day, irrespective of my religion, then why should I desert my faith of which I am extremely proud of? Why should I commit an act to fall out of favour of my beloved Guru? If God had will me to be a Muslim, I would have been born to Muslim parents. I love my faith more than my life and I will defend it at all cost.”
Zakaria Khan replied, “I will put your stead fastedness to test and would like to see how you defend it.” Saying this, Zakaria Khan ordered the official cobbler to remove Bhai Taru Singh’s scalp together with his hair (Keshas). Bhai Taru Singh accepted this punishment gladly under anxious and watchful eyes of thousand of spectators, Bhai Taru Singh’s scalp was removed by the cobbler who obeyed the orders of Zakaria Khan in letter and spirit. Bhai Taru Singh’s scalp was placed in front of Zakaria Khan. Bhai Taru Singh thanked his Guru Ji and God even in the face of such a cruel act of the ruler.
While the blood kept oozing from Bhai Taru Singh’s head, Zakaria Khan started crying in pain since he could not pass urine. All efforts on the part of best of doctors attending on Zakaria Khan failed to relieve the Governor of Punjab of unbearable pain.
As a last resort, Zakaria Khan sent a message to Khalsa Panth through S. Subeg Singh asking for forgiveness for his cruel acts agains the Sikhs and promised to stop their persecution forth with. S. Subeg Singh suggested that Zakaria Khan should get his own scalp hit by Bhai Taru Singh’s shoes. Zakaria Khan readily agreed to the suggestion, made by S. Subeg Singh, Bhai Taru Singh who was still alive even after removal of his scalp, was approached for loaning his shoe for the purpose of hitting Zakaria Khan’s head with it, as suggested by S. Subeg Singh.
As soon as Bhai Taru Singh’s shoe went into action, Zakaria Khan’s pain started receding and finally disappeared but a little later Zakaria Khan died while Bhai Taru Singh was yet to breathe his last. As soon as Bhai Taru Singh got the news of Zakaria Khan’s death, he too breathed his last.
Bhai Taru Singh’s martyrdom is an eye opener to the Sikhs. His steadfastness towards his faith, his total submission to Guru’s and God’s will should induce unflinching faith in the mind of every Sikh, to obey the Guru’s orders without hesitation and with full faith. “O” Sikh youth! Why lose such rich geritage by meddling with Keshas! By indulging in spoilage of the Sikh appearance, we can not expect to please the Guru, and by defying Guru’s order and teachings, we cannot expect to be closed to Almighty which is out ultimate goal.
Let us resolve now that we will henceforth, mould our lives according to the teachings of our Gurus and by serving the humanity with meditation on the name of God, we will aspire to be one with the supreme being