Satpal Singh

Satpal Singh was 33 years old, teaching at Guru Nanak Dev University in June 1984. He remembers how loud noises would build up in one direction, followed by a big explosion, and then peoples’ screams. His 4-year-old son was sick that week, and needed medicine. Against the tight curfew, his wife and he hoped there would be more safety if the young family traveled the deserted roads of Amritsar together. Still, they were faced with Indian Army guns pointed at their heads, fingers seconds away from triggering bullets.

Then, in November 1984, Mr. Singh barely escaped with his life. He shares how attackers climbed on his train, “yanked off my turban…. their main target was my head.” As a doctor, he knew what a head injury would do. His brave account explains how attackers eventually dragged his brutally beaten body off the train. On regaining conscious, he was helped by a kind person back on to the train—that was considered safer than in public view outside. Mr. Singh was under the false impression that people in army uniforms would be safe from the attack. Feeling death very close, he asked some army men to lend their uniforms. They explained that would hardly help and advised Mr. Singh to cut off his hair. Because of his Sikh faith, he still felt he couldn’t do that. Now, he said what he thought was his final prayer: asking the higher power for peace of mind, for his family, and even for the people who had beaten him. Afterwards, he remembers feeling serene.


Satpal Singh explains the importance of educating ourselves, with rigor, and creating our own interpretations of what happened with us.