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Sampuran Singh Raman, Jathedar

An Akali Politician (1895-1970)

Active in Akali politics and in the Praja Mandal movement, was born in 1895, the son of Hari Singh Man and Bhag Kaur of Maur Dhilvan in present-day Bathinda district of the Punjab. The family later shifted to Raman where Hari Singh had inherited his mother's property. Both these villages fell within the erstwhile princely state of Patiala. Sampuran Singh came early into notice for his interest in Punjabi folk poetry which he started reciting at fairs and religious festivals. His political career commenced after he had received the rites of the Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib in 1941, when he gave up his role as a popular balladeer and became a wholetime worker of the Shiromani Akali Dal. With his appointment as district. jathedar (leader) of Bathinda Akali Dal, the epithet jathedar came to be a permanent prefix to his name. Raman, the name of his village, was suffixed according to the common Akali custom of using the village instead of caste as surname. Jathedar Raman soon became president of the Patiala state Akali Jatha and worked in collaboration with Jathedar Pritam Singh Gujran, president of Riyasti Akali Dal, a body representing Sikhs of all princely states of the Punjab, and Shri Sundar Lal, president of Patiala state Praja Mandal, demanding democratic reforms in Patiala state. A regrouping of political parties in the region on the eve of the first general elections (1952) in the wake of Independence saw the state Akali Dal split into two groups, one led by Pritam Singh Gojran and the other by Sampuran Singh Raman. Sampuran Singh subsequently broke away from the Shiromani Akali Dal and formed a separate party -Malva Riyasti Akali Dal. Jathedar Sampuran Singh Raman was among the earliest protagonists of Punjabi Suba, a new state to be created comprising Punjabi-speaking areas of the region. He advocated the proposition through a Punjabi poem published in HaftivarBabaron 13 April 1952. On 24 April 1953, he wrote a letter on this subject to Prime Minister jawaharlal Nehru. After saying ard5s at Sri Damdama Sahib, he left for the Indian capital, a kafan or shroud wrapped around his head, to sit on a fast unto death in front of the Prime Minister's house to have his demand for a Punjabi-speaking state conceded. But he was arrested on the way at Narela railway station along with his four companions on 1 November 1953 and lodged in Tihar Jail in Delhi. He immediately went on a hunger strike, but was released from jail and taken to his village, Raman, under escort. Repeated hunger strikes shattered his health and he gradually retired from active politics. He died at Bathinda on 15 November 1970.

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