Type to search

Sikh History Timeline

Today in Sikh History – 26th January


26th January

1720 Nadir Shah attacked, ransacked, and looted Delhi.

Pandits and Brahmins suffered extensively under Aurangzeb, Bahadhur Shah, Forkhshayer, Nadar Abdali, etc. and Guru’s Sikhs rescued their daughters, sacrificed their own lifes for saving their Dharam. Then these decepers used to honor the Sikhs as "saintly rulers."

-Ref. "Amritsar Ji Dae Darshan Eshnan Utay 500 Sala Di Ethasak Directory," Satnam Singh Khalsa Advocate, pp. 74

1921 Sikhs assume control of Sri Darbar Sahib, Taran Taran.
1950 Republic day of India. But the Sikh Nation’s aspirations remain unfulfilled.

India’s constitution was enforced. Whilst August 15th 1947 is usually viewed as a turning point in Indian history, it is the years preceding and following 1947 have become instrumental in shaping the position of Sikhs in society. Prior to 1947 the British were an active party and witnesses to an agreement that provided constitutional safeguards for a SikhHomeland. Additionally, the Sikhs were continually reassured. For example, in 1929, the Indian National Congress under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru had promised to seek total independence.

"The Congress assures the Sikhs that no solution in any future Constitution will be acceptable to the Congress that does not give them full satisfaction."
(Indian Constitution Documens, Vol. ii, by A.C. Banarjee)

This meeting was held on the banks of river Ravi in Lahore.

Sikhs entered the Union of Indian assured of their now legal right to an independent nation but the past fifty years have seen successive Indian and British government deny Sikhs a right to self-determination. On this day, the Indian parliament unilaterally annulled the treaty signed at Independence. The Sikhs it seems have merely had one colonial power substituted for another.

Immediately after independence, the relationships of Sikhs and the Indian Government took a downward slide. Master Tara Singh’s arrest was initiated at the 1949 conference in Delhi and the Sikhs responded with a marcha. Nehru was hot tempered. He forgot the contrbition of Sikhs, especially the Akalis for India’s independence. As a result the Sikh members did not sign the Indian constitution. And the relationship kept deteriorating. 1952 electrions saw Akali government under PEPSU which was dissolved only after a year. By disallowing Nehru from speaking at Fatehgadh Sahib, this silent war among the Sikhs and the Indian government further advance. Subsequently, the election of Pratap Singh Kario as Chief Minister of Punjab, further deteriorated the situation. Morchas were initiated for Punjabi Suba and finally, Indira Gandhi divided the Punjab. Now Akali government was elected in Punjab during the 1967 elections. However, the central government of India dissolved this government. Subsequently, Akali government is re-elected followed by President rule. This scaneri was repeated many times. There was an agreemnt between the Akalis and the Congress in 1956. But that was short lived. Several opportunities emerged under Giani Zail Singh’s tenture as Chief Minster but none materialised. Subsequently, the Akalis came to power three times. In 1980, Sikh-GOI relations saw their lowest point under Darbara Singh. Challenging Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawala put the relationship in new perspective. Finally, Operation Bluestar took place undre which Sri darabar Sahib was attcaked and Sri Akal Takhat was detroyed. Though Sikhs participated fully and made numerous sacrifices (more than any other community) for the independence struggle, their own independence remains unfulfilled and is in question.

==> EAST PUNJAB STATES: Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Faridkot, and Malerkotla were the Sikh states in the East Punjab before the integration of Indian States in 1948. The first four were the Sikh states under the sovereignty of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and were brought under British protection by the 1809 treaty of Amritsar. Patiala, Nabha, and Jind, also known as Phulkian states, share a common ancestor Phul, who was descendent of Baryam. The Emperor, in 1526, had granted Baryam, the office of revenue collection for the waste country south-west of Delhi. Emperor Shah Jahan continued Phul in this office. From his eldest son descended the families of Nabha and Jind while from his second son the Patiala family. The Faridkot family, founded in the middle 16th century sprang from the same stock as the Phulkians chiefs.

The remaining two states were Kapurthala and Malerkotla. The Kapurthala rulers belonged to the Ahluwalia family. The real founder of this family was Raja Jessa Singh, a contemporary of Nadir Shah. The malerkotla rulers were Sherwani Afghans who traced their descent from Sheikh Sadruddin who had received 68 villages near Ludhiana in marriage gifts when he married the daughter of Sultan Bahlol Lodi.

The Sikh states geographically lay in three blocks. The main block comprising the territories of Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Malerkotla and Faridkot was in the centre of East Punjab and was fairly compact. Kapurthala State, composed of two enclaves in the Jullunder district, was in the north of East Punjab. The outlaying districts of Narnual, Dadri, and Badwal, which formed parts of Patiala, Jind, and Nabha States respectively, lay with the geographical orbit of the southern districts of East Punjab. There were also islands of Patiala State in what is now Himachal Pradesh.

At the time of India’s independence, there were divergent opinions as to the integration of the above states. On Feb. 11, 1948, Giani Kartar Singh, then President of Akali Dal, suggested the formation of the Union of Sikh States.He was opposed to the idea of merging those States with East Punjab, as it would further undermine the Sikh’s position who had suffered tremendously because of the partition of Punjab. On Feb. 22, there was a much advertised proposal to form a unit of 4 States of Est Punjab, but that proposal fizzled out because of disagreements among their rulers. The Nationalist Sikh opinion, though not vocal at that time, was in favor of a separate Union of all the Punjab States. Further, the government of India felt special responsibility to ensure that these States, particularly as they were border States, should be organized on proper and efficient lines. On May, 5, 1948, Patiala and Easy Punjab States Union, hereafter called PEPSU, was formed. The covenant was signed by the rulers of eight States, the Maharaja of Patiala signing also on behalf of the minor rulers of Kalsia.

On July 15, 1948, PEPSU was inaugurated. Sardar Patel called this occasion a landmark in the history of India’s progress. The area of PEPSU was to be 10,000 square miles, while its population was 34,24,060, and an annual budget of a little more than 5 crores. Sardar Patel administered the oath of to the Maharaja of Patiala as the first RajPramukh, who in turn administered the oath to Maharaja Kapurthala as teh UprajPramukh, swearing allegiance to the Centre and Indian Union, promising to do justice to all people in accordance with the laws and usages of the Country without fear, favor or ill-will. Due to the obvious differences between the three major parties at the time, no ministries could be announced. A care-taker ministry was formed with Sardar Gian Singh Raraewala as the head. The three major parties included Prajamandal (Congress party in the state was generally addressed by this name), Akali Dal, and Lok Sewak Sabha (patronized by Sardar Udham Singh Nagoke).

On Jan. 13, 1949, a broad based ministry was constituted to conduct the adminsitration of PEPSU. It comprised of Sardar Gian Singh Rarewala (as the head), Col. Raghbir Singh, Gianai Zail Singh, Chaudhri Nihal Singh Takshak, Pandit Ram Nath, Mr. Lachhman Dass Advocate, Sardar Ajit Singh of Rampura Phul, and Sardar Harcharan Singh Advocate of Bhatinda. Only 10 month later, this ministry was disolved and the government of India took over the administration of PEPSU.

On May 23, 1951, a 7-person ministry was sworn in. It consisted of Sarvshri Raghbir Singh (Col.), Brish Bhan, Giani Zail Singh, Nihal Singh Takshak, DEs Raj Gupta, Tirath Singh, and Sampuran Singh as cabinet ministers while Sardar Harchand Singh and Mr. Roshan Lal were the two deputy ministers.

On Jan, 7, 1952, PEPSU went to the polls for electing a 60-member state assembly with Congress winning 26 seats and Akali winning 19 seats. On March 1, 1952, Col. Raghbir Singh was unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Assembly Party. On March 19, the Congress Ministry was announced and administered the oath of office. Political activities in PEPSU centered around economic and social but certainly not on religious considerations. The problem of antagonistic relations between the landlords and tenants was so enormous that it almost defied a solution. Maharja Patiala’s father-in-law, Sardar Harchand Singh Jeji, played a vital role in PEPSU politics. He has always been associated with the Akali movement in the pricely States. After the settlement of disputes over the Gurudwaras, the Akalis from the states began to agitate against teh autocratic misuse of power by the maharajas, chiefly Bhupendra Singh of Patiala. Bhupendra Singh retaliated by having the leading agitator, Seva Singh Thikrivala, transfered from Lahore and interned in Patiala on false charges of theft. The Akalis took up the case of Thikrivala and let loose a campaign publicising Bhupendra Singh’s amorous escapades and the sadistic behavior of his police. Though Maharaja was able to win over a section of the Akalis, he could not silence the Punjabi and Urdu press.

In 1928, Akalis from the states joined with Hindu nationlists and founded the Praja Mandal (States People’s Association). The mandal was later affiliated to the All India States People’s Congress, which in turn was associated with the Indian National Congress. Sewa Singh Thikrivala was the moving spirit behind the Mandal. He was arrested several times and in 1935 succumbed to third degree methods practised on him by the Maharaja’s Jailers. As a result of the murder of Thikrivala, the anti-Maharaja, anti-British movement gained momemtum in all princely ststes of the Punjab.

As far as teh language problem, PEPSU was linguistically divided for educational purposes. The Hindi speaking region consisted of the districts of Mahendragarh and Kohistan (including Chhachrauli tehsil minus Dera Bassi) and the tehsils of Jind and Narwana. The rest of the State was declared to be Punjabi zone. In one zone, Hindi in Devnagri script; in the other Punjabi in Gurmukhi were made the media of instruction and in both the other language was made compulsory from the 4th primary class upwarsd. There was no provision for choice of the medium of instruction in Punjab.

-Ref. The Illustrated History of the Sikhs (1947-78), by Gur Rattan Pal Singh

1986 The Sarbat Khalsa, gathered together at Akal Takht Sahib, Amritsar resolved to establish a sovereign State, Khalistan and elected a Panthic Committee to co-ordinate the movement for national independence.
1986 Work was initiated to dismantle Akal Takhat constructed under government’s forcible "Kar Sewa" after Bluestar Operation. This work was carried out by Baba Santa Singh, who was excummunicated from the Panth for his cooperation. A new construction was decided upon and the following five were given the responsibility for its construction:

Baba Thakur Singh Ji
Baba Harbans Singh Ji from Delhi
Baba Jagtar Singh Ji
Baba Udam Singh Ji and
Baba Diwan Singh Ji

The foundation stone for the new construction was laid on Februrary 16, 1986.


Leave a Comment