Sardul Singh Caveeshar
Politician, Newspaper Editor. and Author (1886-1963)
Was born at Amritsar in 1886, the son of Sardar Kirpal Singh. He studied up to M.A. level, but left college in 1909 without taking the degree. In 1913 he launched an English journal, Sikh Review, from Delhi. He came into prominence over the question of the restoration of a wall of Gurdwara Rikabganj, which the government had demolished in 1913-14 as New Delhi was being built. Sikhs expressed strong resentment, but action was suspended owing to outbreak of World War I. After the War, Sardul Singh Caveeshar was among the leaders who resumed the agitation. The government. suppressed his Sikh Review, and externed him from Delhi. He shifted to Lahore and started from there a weekly newspaper named New Herald. The New Herald became the weekly Sangat in its Punjabi/Gurmukhi incarnation.
During 1919, he was interned for some time for his political writings against the Rowlatt Bills. He was one of the founders of the Central Sikh League of which He was elected general secretary. He was also secretary of the publicity sub-committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee formed in November 1920, and of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee (1920). In April 1921, Sardul Singh gave a call through the ‘Akali’, a popular Punjabi newspaper, asking for 100 volunteers who would proceed to Delhi vowed to rebuilding the demolished wall or laying down their lives. He along with Dan Singh Vachhoa, Amar Singh Jhabal and Jasvant Singh Jhabal, repeated the appeal at several public meetings. Seven hundred Sikhs volunteered, Sardul Singh himself heading the list. But before they could assemble for the march to Delhi, the government got the wall rebuilt. For a series of articles he had published in the Akali from 13 to 21 March 1921 on the massacre of reformist Sikhs at Nankana Sahib, he was arrested on 27 May 1921, charged with sedition and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
He was released on 15 August 1925. In 1927, he was elected a member of the Working Committee of the Indian National Congress. During the Civil Disobedience movement, 1931-33, Sardul Singh became acting president of the All-India Congress on the arrest on 14 August 1933 of his immediate predecessor on the roster.
Sardul Singh Caveeshar was opposed to the Congress accepting office under the Government of India Act, 1935, and resigned his membership of the party after it decided, on 18 March 1937, to accept office in provinces in which it commanded a majority. Later, he joined the Forward Bloc formed by Subhas Chandra Bose in April-May 1939, initially as a radical and progressive group within the Congress. After Subhas Chandra’s dramatic disappearance from India in early 1941, Sardul Singh Caveeshar was elected president of the Foward Bloc. He was detained for four years under the Defence of India Rules. After Independence he retired from active politics, resigning the presidentship of the party in 1948. He died in Delhi on 26 March 1963.
Besides being active in politics most of his life, Sardul Singh was a prolific writer. He edited journals in English and Punjabi and published numerous pamphlets and books. Among the latter, the more famous are Guru Nanak and World Peace; All the YearRound : Guru Arjan’s Twelve Months of Love and Worship; Battle of Life: How Guru Govind Singh Fought It; Guru Govind Singh and National Movement; The Cross and the Crown ; Republicanism in Religion ; the City of Joy ; Spirit of Sikhism; A Sikh King: Maharaja Ranjit Singh; Two Jewels of the House of Phul; The Problem of Life How Guru Nanak Solved It; India’s Fight for Freedom (1936); Sikh Studies (1937) ; Sikhs and the Swaraj ; Non-violent Noncooperation; and The Lahore Fort Torture Camp (1946).
His Sikh Dharam Darshan in Punjabi was published by Punjabi University, Patiala, in 1969.