Boota Singh

A Sikh ex-soldier of British Army during World War II who is well known for his tragic love story with Zainab.

Boota Singh (Gurmukhi: ਬੂਟਾ ਸਿੰਘ; Shahmukhi: بوٹا سنگھ), sometimes spelled as Buta Singh, was a Sikh soldier in the British Army. He served in Burma during World War II, under the command of Lord Mountbatten.[1] He is very well known in India and Pakistan. He is famous for his tragic love story with Zainab, a Muslim girl who he rescued from the riots during the partition of India in 1947.[1]

Boota Singh
Boota Singh

Jalandhar district, British Punjab
DiedFebruary 19, 1957
Shahdara, Pakistan
Other namesShaheed-e-Mohabbat Boota Singh
(lit. Martyr-in-Love Boota Singh)
Known forHis tragic love story
ChildrenTanveer Kaur (later Sultana)

Love storyEdit

Both fell in love and got married. Later, Zainab was deported (sent back) to Pakistan. Boota illegally entered Pakistan to find her. Zainab stayed away from him due to pressure from her family. Because of this, he killed himself by jumping in front of a moving train near Shahdara railway station in Pakistan. He did this with his daughter, but she survived.[2]

The love story of Singh's life has been adapted to movies and books, from both India and Pakistan. A Punjabi movie Shaheed-e-Mohabbat Boota Singh (1999) is entirely based on the story.[1] Ishrat Rahmani wrote a book, Muhabbat, based on the story. The story also influenced many other movies including Partition, a Hollywood movie from 2007.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Singh lived in a village of Jalandhar district in British Punjab. When he returned home from fighting in Burma, his youth was over. All his friends were married with their own families, but he was still not married. He found no woman to marry him. Once a trader offered to sell Singh a bride from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar for rupees 2000/-. From this day onward, he started saving all his money for the dowry.

His uncle and cousins were wanting him to die unmarried, so that they could inherit his share of the family's land.


In his suicide note, Singh expressed his last wish to be buried as a Muslim in Noorpur village near Barki. This is where Zainab's parents had resettled after the Partition. The autopsy of Singh's body was done in a hospital in Lahore. It was taken to the village on 22 February 1957 for burial. However, the villagers did not allow him to be buried there. Instead, Singh was buried at Miani Sahib Graveyard of Lahore.[3]

In popular cultureEdit

In 1999, Manoj Punj directed a Punjabi feature movie, Shaheed-e-Mohabbat Boota Singh, entirely based on the life story of Boota Singh.[1] The movie stars Gurdas Maan as Boota Singh and Divya Dutta as Zainab. The music was composed by Amar Haldipur. It was a success internationally. It won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Punjabi at the 46th National Film Awards. It was also shown at many national and international movie festivals, including the 1999 Vancouver International Film Festival and the International Film Festival of India. Ishrat Rahmani wrote a novel on the love story, titled Muhabbat. The story also featured in an English book, Freedom at Midnight, by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Silver lining in the clouds of Partition". Tribune India. April 17, 1999. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  2. "Shaheed-e-Muhabbat". Jang. May 30, 2010. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  3. "Shaheed and Shahdara – I". Dawn. January 14, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013.