True soldiers are immortal", this popular saying appears true in the case of "Baba" Harbhajan Singh. Yes, in Indian Army the Ghost of "Baba" Harbhajan Singh who died during the 1962 China - India War still does his duty on Nathula Pass in eastern Sikkim, India. The story goes like this......
"Baba" Harbhajan Singh was a soldier in the Indian Army & worked in the Dogra Regiment during 1962 China-India War. This soldier died near the Nathula Pass in eastern Sikkim - India while on duty. Baba Harbhajan Singh got drowned in a glacier during the 1962 China-India War. He was searched for everywhere & he was found five days later and was cremated with full military honours. Legend goes like this that Harbhajan Singh led the Search Party to his body, and later, through a dream, instructed one of his colleagues to build and maintain a Temple/Shrine after him. A shrine was built at his Samadhi in the hills.
Baba Mandir is of three rooms, the central room has a large portrait of the Baba along with other Hindu deity and Sikh Gurus. To the right of the central room is the room of Baba. The room has every household belongings required for daily activities, from clothes, shoes, slippers and a neat sleeping bed, it is all well maintained. The uniforms are neatly ironed and shoes polished ready for use. Opposite to this room is a small room that has an office cum store room. The room is filled with water bottles, unused slippers, tooth brushes and other items offered to Baba. The followers believe that the water kept in the Mandir after a week would turn into holy water and cure every ailment. People believe that the slippers kept here would help patients with gout and other foot problems and so on. That devotee who cannot visit the shrine sends letters to Baba that is opened by the associate of Baba. These letters usually have the request for the Baba to help solve personal problems and the gratitude for being helped.
(Source of the photo: Wikipedia)
Every October 4 a special ceremony is organized by the Indian army out here to honour the role of Baba Harbhajan Singh as well as for those soldiers of Indian army who laid their lives for the safeguard of the country. Every Sunday and Tuesday throughout the year puja is observed at Baba Mandir where free meals are distributed among the devotees. These are the best days to visit Baba Mandir for any visitors.
In the camp at Nathula Pass, a camp bed is kept for him and his boots are polished and uniform is kept ready every night. The sheets are reportedly crumpled every morning and boots muddy by evening. The Ghost soldier continues to draw a salary and takes his annual leave also. Legend also has it that in the event of a war between India and China, Baba would warn the Indian and Chinese soldiers three days in advance.
Baba Harbhajan has been guarding the international boundary of the two Asian giants the China and India over the last three decades. Even the army men on the other side of the international wall confirm that they had seen a man riding a horse all alone patrolling the border. Chinese do also worship him & during the flag meetings between the two nations at Nathula Post, the Chinese Soldiers have also set a chair aside for the saint.
A 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, He has also been given all due time bound promotions. Baba used to get his salary from the defence funds that were send to his family but due to some reason it has been stopped now and the donation collected from the offerings made by the devotees are send to his home by the army official. Over the years the shrine of Baba Harbhajan has obtain huge devote across all frontiers. Baba is respected and worshiped by every army men in Sikkim. They believe Baba would forecast accident in the valley much ahead of the happening. Though it may look weird but it is true & Indian Army still honours this soldier like that.
He had join Army on the post of sepoy and after post death promotions, late soldier Baba Harbhajan Singh is today honoured the rank of Honorary Captains. 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 for availing of his leave.
Despite the blessing of the Baba the army at Nathula border is in high alert when Baba goes on an annual leave from September 15 to November 15 every year. Even leaves for other army men during the months are cancelled and extra cautions are sought after.
Now what you call of this weird but true story happening in Indian Army. Interestingly, one of his old colleague Mr. Pyara Singh of Jallandhar District of Punjab has put a Court Case against Indian Army & Ministry of Defence for allowing such weird Dead worship of a person who was dead long-long ago.