Shaheed Mohinder Singh Saini, Babbar Akali

Mohinder Singh Saini (1904-1923) was a well-known militant and  freedom fighter of Punjab.  He hailed from the village Pandori Ganga Singh of district Hoshiarpur and was thus sometimes also called Mohinder Singh Pandori Ganga Singh.
He was martyred on September 1, 1923 in the famous Babeli Police Encounter.

Background: Joins and Quits Army

Mohinder Singh Saini was son of Sh. Labh  Singh Saini and was born in 1904  in Pandor Ganga Singh, which is village famous for producing a number of distinguished freedom fighters. Like a typical Saini youth of his time he took up army career at a very young age but quickly developed deep hatred for British Imperialism. He quit the army and became actively involved in sedition.

Becomes a Babar Akali

Mohinder Singh Saini  began his nationalistic work by first engaging in social service  in his village where he first founded Pannchayat and Congress Committe.  He was elected  as Secretary of Congress and Jathedar of Akali Dal for Pandori Ganga Singh,
Later Jathedar Karam Singh of Daulatpur,  who was aware of his patriotic views, persuaded him to join Babar Akalis. Mohinder Singh Saini  used to distribute the copies of Babar Akali Doaba around his village.

Babbar Akali Influence on  Shaheed Bhagat Singh 

 It is to be noted that Babar Akali Movement is not to be confused with  parochial identity based politics which the Akali Dal of post 1947 Punjab got related with  in public mind.  Babar Akalis, although drawing inspiration from the altruistic Sikh traditions of public service and martyrdom, were completely secular in their outlook and had a pan-Indian vision of independence and national unity.
We find a very favorable view of Babar Akalis in the writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and it would seem that this movement and the examples of martyred Babar Akalis like Mohinder Singh Saini , Karam Singh Daulatpur etc had considerable influence on his own seditious activities. Shaheed Bhagat Singh's ancestral village,   Khattar Kalan , falls in the same neck of woods as Pandori Ganga Singh in rural Hoshiarpur, which was the hotbed of insurrection in colonial era.

A Traitor Betrays the Babbars 

Mohinder Singh Saini , along with three more Babar Akalis, namely, Karam Singh Daulatpur, Ude Singh and Bishan Singh Mangat , was being searched for arrest by colonial police. They had  taken shelter near Gurudwara Chuanta Sahib in the village Babeli which then fell in Phagwara tehsil of Kapurthala state.
On September 1 , 1923 they were betrayed by one Anup Singh who had become a police informer. Prior to the fateful day Anup Singh was to accompany four of them from village Domeli to village Babali. On the way Anup Singh kept imploring the other four to let him go to see his ailing aunt. He was allowed to go and instructed to come back soon to join his comrades.
Little did the Babbar know that Anup Singh had already turned traitor due to the efforts of his uncle Bhog Singh who liked to curry favvor with the authorities.
The four Babbars waited in vain for Anup Singh's return and reached Babeli without him. Anup Singh , meanwhile, had sent a message for his uncle Bhog Singh with whereabouts of the Babbars.
The four Babbars instead of going to the house of one Mehar Singh where they usually stayed instead took shelter in the house of one Shiv Singh.  When Anup Singh arrived in the Babeli he went to the house of Mehar Singh. On learning that Anup Singh was in Babeli now the Babbars sent him messages to join them , but the traitor did not respond and spent the night in rendering the weapons of the Babbars useless which were hidden in Mehar Singh's house.

Babeli Police Encounter

On September 1, 1923 a large contingent of mounted police , under the command of Suprindent of Police , Smith, came from Jalandhar and laid a siege on Babeli.  Babbar were given the ultimatum to surrender. All of four Babbars audaciously refused the demand for surrender.  Anup Singh came out from Mehar Singh's house with his hands raised as per the script. He was taken into protective custody.
Babbars meanwhile found out that their weapons had been rendered useless by the traitor but this did not deter them. They unsheathed their swords and came out in open challenging the police. There were arguments between them and the police which went on for some time. The police did not dare to come near them.
Finally, Smith called in his firing squad and ordered them to rain bullets on the Babbars. After a violent scuffle in which  a number of policemen were wounded ,  all the four Babbars jumped in the stream nearby instead of surrendering.  Following of them were martyred midstream:
  • Mohinder Singh Saini
  • Karam  Singh Daulatpur
  • Ude Singh
Bishen Singh Mangat managed to reach the other side but was finally shot down. All of the Babars fought tooth and nail and their martyrdom inspired many other local youth to emulate their example.
Babars took care of the  Anup Singh in 1936 when he was liquidated but not before the traitor had got many of his compatriots arrested or killed in encounters.

Some Other Freedom Fighters from Pandori Ganga Singh

  1.  Gonda Singh Saini (Babbar Akali, imprisoned and tortured)
  2. Harnam Singh Saini s/o Sunder Singh  (National Movement, imprisoned for 1.5 years)
  3. Harnam Singh Saini s/o Rajmal  (imprisoned for 2 years, INA veteran)
  4. Hazara Singh Saini  (Civil Disobedience, Babar Akali, imprisoned for 6 years)
  5. Inder Singh Saini  (Babar Akali, imprisoned for 7 years)
  6. Kartar Singh Saini  (Babar Akali, sentence not known)


  • Punjab Peasant in Freedom Struggle, Volume 2,  Master Hari Singh, People's Publishing House, New Delhi
  • Flame of Freedom and Hoshiarpur District, O. P. Ralhan, Research India Publications, 1992
  • History of the Babar Akalis, pp 494, 606, Bakhshish Singh Nijjar, Published by ABS Publications, 1987
  • Who's who: Punjab freedom fighters, Volume 2, Fauja Singh, Chaman Lal Datta, Bakhshish Singh, Punjabi University. Dept. of Punjab Historical Studies
  • Agrarian Scene in British Punjab, pp 71, By Hari Singh, Published by People's Pub. House, 1983