Mohan Singh Nagoke, Jathedar
Akali politician and Jathedar of the Akal Takht (1898-1969)
Akali politician and Jathedar of the Akal Takht from 1935 to 1948. Was born at the village of Nagoke, in Amritsar district, on 25 December 1989. His father, Tahil Singh, was a farmer of modest means, one of whose ancestors had been a soldier in General Ventura’s regiment in the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Mohan Singh had his early schooling in his village and later joinded Khalsa Collegiate School at Amritsar from where he passed his matriculation examination in 1918. He took up service as a clerk in the office of the deputy commissioner of Amritsar, but the Jallianvala Bagh massacre proved a turning point in his career. He registered his protest by coming to the office the following morning in a black turban, with a kirpan slung across his shoulder. This was objected to by his superiors, but he preferred to leave government service to giving up his black turban and kirpan. He joined the first jatha of Akali volunteers marching in February 1924 to Jaito, in the princely state of Nabha. In the firing upon the Akalis at Jaito, on 21 February 1924, Mohan Singh had his thigh torn with a bullet shot. He was picked up and brought back to Amritsar, but as soon as his wound was healed, he again volunteered to go to Jaito. On his insistence he was included in the fourth jatha which was put under arrest as it reached the town. Mohan Singh remained in jail from 18 April 1924 to 27 July 1925. In 1926, he was appointed a superintendent in the office of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee at Amritsar. He rose to be Mit (assistant) Jathedar of the Akal Takht in 1931, becoming a full Jathedar four years later. He held this office until 1948. As Jathedar of the Akal Takht, he led the third jatha comprising 25 volunteers which started on foot on 10 January 1936 from Amritsar in connection with the morcha or campaign for securing Sikhs the right to carry the kirpan as their religious symbol, and was arrested on 17 January 1936. From 1944-48, he was president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. As president of the Shiromani Committee, Jathedar Mohan Singh gave special attention to bringing symmetry to the Golden Temple surroundings. To this end, old private houses were acquired and demolished along with some of those owned by the Shiromani Committee. New construction was undertaken according to a set design. In this process the parikrama or passage around the Golden Temple was considerably widened setting off the central shrine and bringing an open view to it.
Upon the partition of the Punjab in 1947, Jathedar Mohan Singh was nominated a member of the board set up by the Punjab government for the rehabilitation of displaced persons. In 1952, he was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly as a nominee of the Indian National Congress. From 1958-63, he served as a member of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board. He was again elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly in 1967.
Jathedar Mohan Singh Nagoke died on 2 March 1969 in Amritsar after a prolonged illness.