Thursday, August 27, 2015

The legend Baba Harbhajan: Ghost Soldier on Duty in Indian Army

The legend Baba Harbhajan: Ghost Soldier on Duty in Indian Army

   You must have seen many young people serve their country . But you will be totally shocked to know that somebody’s soul is still serving his nation and this can happen only in India. Yes, in Indian Army the soul of “Baba” Harbhajan Singh who died in 1968, still does his duty on Nathula Pass in eastern Sikkim, India. The story goes like this,

   Late Sepoy Harbhajan Singh was registered into the Punjab Regiment, Indian army in 1966. Baba Harbhajan Singh was born in a Sikh family on August 3, 1941 in the village of Browndal in Kapurthala district of Punjab. He was posted on the smoggy heights of the Sino- Indian border near Nathula Pass.

   The year 1968 saw heavy rainfall and floods in the region. On 4 October, 1968, while escorting a mule caravan from his battalion headquarters at Tukla to Deng Chukla, he felt into a fast- flowing stream and was washed away. The search for his body continued for a couple of days but due to inclement weather, it was abandoned. Everyone had lost the hope, then it was Harbhajan Singh himself who helped the search party to find his body, by coming in the dreams of his mates. His body was recovered after three days and was cremated with full military honours.

   It is said that many of them have seen him patrolling the area. Soldiers deployed in the area started to talk of a lone uniformed man on horse patrolling the region. Forces on the other side of the border confirmed these reports and claimed that they too had seen the ghost rider. Over the many years, soldiers in the area began seeing Harbhajan Singh in their dreams and instructed them of loopholes, unprotected areas from where the Chinese could attack. His instructions generally proved accurate and the legend of Baba Harbhajan Singh grew.

  And later, he had appeared in his friend’s dream and asked him to build and maintain a shrine for him at the place where he was cremated. Army myth holds Baba is a stickler for discipline.

   In the camp at Nathula Pass, a bed is kept for him and his boots are polished and uniform is kept ready every day. The sheets are reportedly crumpled every morning and boots muddy. The Ghost soldier continues to draw a salary and takes his annual leave also. Legend also shares that in the event of a war between India and China, Baba would warn the Indian soldiers three days in advance.

    Chinese also worship him & during the flag meetings between the two nations at Nathula Post, the Chinese Soldiers, in fact, set a chair aside for the saint. Soldier Baba Harbhajan Singh is today honoured with the rank of Honorary Captain. Ghost Soldier gets two months annual leave every year. 

   Every year on September 14, a jeep departs with his personal belongings to the nearest railway station, New Jalpaiguri. A First Class berth is booked in the train in his name and his portrait, uniform and other belongings are brought by army officials to his native village Kuka in Kapurthala district to avail of his leave.

   As a tribute, small sum is also sent to the mother of this Ghost Soldier each month. Ghost Soldier’s name still continues in the army’s payrolls, his mother has still been getting his salary cheques and he has also been given all due time bound promotions. Though it may look weird but it’s true & Indian Army still pays homage to this soldier.

    Taxi drivers and soldiers passing through the area generally stop at the Samadhi to pay obeisance to the revered Baba. Not doing so is supposed to bring bad luck.

    This year also under an annual drill, belongings of “Baba” Harbhajan Singh were brought to Jalandhar from New Jalpaigudi by Dibrugarh Express on Thursday night. A JCO and a Subedar orderly accompanied the belongings. The family of the late soldier received the belongings at the railway station and later proceeded for their native village. On completion of the leave the same team of the army personnel will escort back the belongings to the Nathula region.

Written By Aastha bapna

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