Babeli is also referred to locally as Dug Babeli because of its proximity to another village called Duggan.
Gurdwara Sri Chaunta Sahib Babeli commemorates the visit of Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji who visited here during one of his journeys between Kartarpur and Kiratpur.
The Gurdwara is located near the confluence of two seasonal streams to the northwest of the village and marks the site where Guru Har Rai stopped to rest and sat on a platform of earth works (Chaunta in Punjabi).
The Gurdwara building, constructed during recent years, comprises a large hall with a square sanctum in the middle. The Gurdwara is affiliated to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, but is administered by Bhai Harbans Singh of Domeli, who raised the present building.
Babeli is also known for courageuos Sikhs who defied the British.
200 meters to the east of Babeli stands Gurdwara Sri Babbar Shaheed which remembers four Babbar Akalis who fell fighting the British in a prolonged encounter on 31st August 1923. Although the British masters were replaced by hindu's in Delhi, the courage of the Babbar Akalis lives on and reminds Sikhs of their responsibilities.
The Babbar Akalis had given a tough fight to more than 2,200 men of British cavalry all through the day on 1st September 1923, before being gunned down near the gates of the historic Gurdwara Chaunta Sahib in the village. The villagers have preserved the memories of the fateful day by making a huge gate and idols of the four heroes at the entrance of the village. An annual fair along with a kabaddi tournament is also organised every year to commemorate the historic saga.
It was the night of 31st August 1923 when a group of 18 Babbar Akalis landed in Babeli village and took shelter at the house of their associate Shiv Singh Chahal.
Amongst the group were dreaded Babbars, including Karam Singh Daulatpur, alias 'Editor’, Ude Singh Ramgarh Jhungian, Bishen Singh Mangat and Mohinder Singh of Pindori Ganga Singh. They all were coming from Domeli village after attending a conference. While the four Babbars stayed in Babeli, others marched ahead.
According to Major Singh, grandson of Shiv Singh Chahal, the Babbars often used their ancestral 'haveli’ as a hideout while travelling from one place to another. "They had even made a secret way out through the back room from where they used to evade easily if any threat appeared from the front side," said Major Singh while showing the place which has now been covered with bricks.
Little did the Babbars realised that one of their associate Anup Singh had shaken hands with the British government to plan their encounter on the historic land visited by Sikh Guru Har Rai, in whose memory a huge gurdwara was erected on the site. The site was surrounded by a 22-foot deep and 100-foot wide rain stream nullah flowing from three sides, which is present even today. Anup Singh’s message reached his uncle Bog Singh at Manko village around 4 am on 1st September who further alerted VM Smith, the Jullundur Superintendent of Police. By 10:30 am, around 2,200 cavalry armed with weapons surrounded the village.
As soon as the Babbars got the news of the police entering the village, they immediately looked for their weapons which were already damaged by Anup Singh. The Babbars didn’t give up or give a thought to bow down or surrender. They went ahead and challenged Smith by unsheathing their swords.
Both the parties challenged each other and the scene of utmost courage, passion and 'fight till the last breath’ went on for over an hour. According to author Dr Bakhsish Singh Nijjhar who had interviewed many Babbars few years ago over this incident, Smith had offered the Babbars to surrender.
In response, the Babbars challenged him and said Khalsa never lay down its weapons, but opt for the supreme sacrifice. Later, after raising a loud 'jaikara’ of 'Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal’, Karam Singh, who always used to keep a pistol with him, fired the only round he had and caused panic amongst the British army who thought they were without weapons. Taking advantage of it, the Babbars broke their security net and ran towards the jungle situated on the other side of the village.
Finding no way out to get hold of weapons, the Babbars decided to reach Gurdwara Chaunta Sahib where they would further swim across to other village through the high flowing choe.
Informing about the saka, ex-sarpanch Kuldeep Singh said the Babbars jumped from a window inside the room and ran towards the choe (rainwater stream). The police too rushed behind them. However, the Babbars managed to reach the banks of the choe and were about to jump into it when they were shot at by the British army surrounding the area. While shouting the 'jaikaras’ loud and clear, the bullet-stricken Babbars fell into the stream from where their bodies were flushed out later.
"While three of them —Babbar Karam Singh Daulatpur, Ude Singh Ramgarh Jhungian and Mohinder Singh Pindori Ganga Singh died on the spot; Bishen Singh Mangat, though injured, managed to swim across the other side of the choe. However he too was shot dead by the British army," informed Singh.
Immediately after the killings, the bodies of the four Babbars were brought under a huge tree in the village and a post mortem was conducted on the site. According to Sitaram Bansal, an expert of revolutionary studies, village folklore says that when measured, Karam Singh’s heart was found to be nearly 1 kg.
After the brutal killings, the British army threatened the villagers not to cremate them or else they would face dire consequences. With no one coming forward, Sadhu Singh, an old man from nearby Babiana village came forward and cremated them later at the night in the light of a lantern. He later threw their ashes into the choe. Due to his daring act, folklore says the Britishers 'awarded’ him with 100 'koras’ (lashes).
The villagers hold an annual fair in the memory of their heroes and also organise a kabaddi tournament to promote young talent in the area. A beautiful gate depicting the date of the bloody battle of 1923 was constructed at the entrance of the village and colourful idols of the three Babbars along with Shiv Singh Chahal and Sadhu Singh too were constructed inside the gurdwara complex where the Babbars were cremated.
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