Mangal Singh, Sardar
Journalist, Politician and Parliamentarian (1892-1987)
He was born on 6 June 1892 at the village of Gill, near Ludhiana, the son of Zaildar Kapur Singh, who had been granted by the British two squares (20 hectares) of land in 1898 in Chakk No. 208 in the newly developed canal colony of Lyallpur, to where the family eventually migrated. After passing the matriculation examination in 1911, Mangal Singh joined the Khalsa College at Amritsar. As the First World War broke out in 1914, he left off studies and enlisted in the signals section of the University Officers Training Corps. For his war service which took him to Mesopotamia (present Iraq) and later Europe, he was awarded the honorary pass degree of Bachelor of Arts and was nominated a tahsildar, a coveted position for beginners in the revenue department.
He was still under training when he quit to join the Punjabi daily Akali, floated from Lahore in May 1920 by two Akali leaders, Master Sundar Singh and Harchand Singh to espouse the cause of Gurdwara reform. Mangal Singh suffered prosecution for his anti-government writings and was sentenced to jail. By the time he was released, the Shiromani Akali Dal and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had been declared unlawful bodies and all leading Akalis taken into custody. Mangal Singh was chosen president of the ad hoc SGPC and in this capacity he took part in the deliberations and negotiations which ultimately led to the passing of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925. Mangal Singh presided over the first meeting of the Gurdwara Central Board constituted under the Act held on 4 September 1926, and acted as pro-tem president of the meeting held on 2 October 1926 at which Baba Kharak Singh was elected president and Master Tara Singh vice-president.
Mangal Singh himself was elected a member of the executive.
Mangal Singh represented the Sikhs on the Motilal Nehru Committee (1928) which drew up a draft constitution for India, commonly known as the Nehru Committee Report. He put forward the view that the Sikhs were in favour of joint electorates but, if the Muslims were conceded separate electoral rights, one-third seats in the Punjab legislature and five per cent at the centre should be reserved for the Sikhs. The Committee, while recommending the abolition of separate electorates, agreed to reservation of seats for Muslims in some provinces and for non-Muslims in the North-West Frontier Province, but no protection was provided for Sikhs as a minority, which was the cause of much of resentment among them. For ten years, 1935-45, Mangal Singh remained a member of Central Legislative Assembly as a nominee of the Indian National Congress. He was re-elected in 1945 as a candidate of the Shiromani Akali Dal and served as a member of its planning committee when the Central Assembly converted into the Constituent Assembly of India. During his years in the Central Assembly, Mangal Singh enjoyed much prestige as a spokesman of the Sikhs. He withdrew himself from active politics in 1960 for reasons of health.
Mangal Singh died at Chandigarh on 16 June 1987.