Seva Singh Kripan Bahadur
Akali Activist and Newspaper Editor (1890-1961)
Was the son of Bhai Harnam Singh and Mai Prem Kaur of Bakhtgarh, village 18 km northwest of Barnala (30°-22’N, 75°-321), in Sangrur district of the Punjab. Born in 1890, he received lessons in Punjabi and in scripture-reading in the local gurdwara. He enlisted in the Indian army (Bengal Sappers and Miners) in 1908 and served in Mesopotamia (present Iraq) during World War I.
Those days carrying a kripan (sword) even as a religious symbol was not permitted under the Army Act, and the Sikhs were feeling deeply agitated. Seva Singh, lately promoted havildar (sergeant), at Roorkee in Uttar Pradesh in 1917 refused to take off his kripan, religious obligation for him as a Sikh. He along with three others were dismissed from service.
He joined in 1919 the Panch Khalsa Diwan, a Sikh reformist organization based at Bhasaur, now in Sangrur district, which conferred on him the title "Kripan Bahadur" He continued to agitate for freedom for the Sikhs to wear kripan, wrote three pamphlets, Kripan Virlap, Kripan Faryad and Kripan da Piar, which were, however, confiscated by the government.
In 1922, he broke away from the Bhasaur Diwan and started publishing Kripan Bahadur, a Punjabi weekly from Amritsar. He was prosecuted in 1923 when he began serializing the lives of revolutionaries, Kartar Singh Sarabha and Rash Bihari Bose, in his paper and was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment, with a fine of Rs 200.
In 1927, Kripan Bahadur was amalgamated with Sangat edited by Sardul Singh Caveeshar, the new paper being known as Kripan Bahadur to Sangat.
In 1931, Seva Singh was again jailed for two years for delivering a seditious speech at Muktsar, and his printing press was confiscated. In 1933, he started another paper, Jagat Sudhar which failing to build up circulation had to be closed down. Seva Singh retired to his village. He was elected jathedar or leader of the Sangrur district Akali Jatha in the early 1940’s, It was through his initiative that a Khalsa high school was established at Bakhtgarh in 1946. During the year, he convened three Akali conferences to educate the people of the area regarding the party’s reaction to the Cabinet Mission proposals for India’s freedom. Sardar Seva Singh Kripan Bahadur died on 8 August 1961.