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Sikh History Timeline

Today in Sikh History – 2nd September


2nd September

1922 Pandit Madam Mohan Malviya, a great National Leader, arrived in Amritsar to witness the brutal Lathi Charge of police on the non-violent Akali Satyagrahies in Guru-Ka-Bagh Morcha.

==> GURU KA BAGH gurudwara was under the control of Mahant Sundar Dass. He had agreed to serve under a committee of eleven members appointed by the SGPC on August 23, 1921, but the land remained under his possession. The Sikhs used to hew wood from the land for common kitchen and Mahant, under instigation from others, lodged a complaint against the Akalis. The government was on the outlook for opportunities to retrieve its prestige, lost in the Key’s affait. On Aug. 9, 1922, five Akali Sewadars were arrested for cutting wood for Guru Ka Langar from Guru Ka Bagh. Subsequently a morcha was launched to seek the release of the five GurSikhs.

From Aug. 23 until Sept. 13, the government sided with the Mahant and ruthelessly lathi-charged the visiting Jathas. The violent use of force on the non-violent Akalis had great impact in and outside the Punjab. The Government brutality was condemned. The police beat the Akalis with iron-tipped rods and batons, till blodd began to flow and the brave GurSikhs fell unconcious. The insults heaped up on the Akalis were unbearable. They were given inhuman punishments and their religious symbols were desecrated and hair pulled out. The effect of all this on thousands of GurSikhs was tremendous, resulting in deep seated hatred against the British rulers and the Sikhs lost all faith in non-violence. The Babbar Akali movement took its final shape during this Morcha. The courage and persistent of Sikhs became world renouned during this period. From Sept. 13 until Nov. 17, Sikhs courted arrests. Finally, the government gave in and on Nov. 17, 1922, all Sikh demands were accepted and the agitation was successfully concluded. During this agitation 5605 Sikhs courted arrest including 35 members of the SGPC, over a dozen Sikhs accepted shahidi and thousands were injured.

-Ref. Babbar Akali Movement, A Historical Survey, by Gurcharan Singh, Aman Publications, 1993.

1926 Hira Singh, an accomplished Panthic ragi passed away.
1953 Sirdar Kapur Singh, a Sikh Philosopher and an ICS officer, was dismissed from service on flimsy grounds.

== > Sirdar Kapur Singh (1909-1986), the Sikh scholar, statesman and administrator, was born on 2 March 1909 at Mannan Kalan Chakk. His parents (father: Sardar Didar Singh, and mother: Harman Kaur) were upper middle class peasants at Lyallpur, now known as Faisalabad in the modern-day Pakistan. Young Kapur Singh spent his early childhood at Faisalabad where the environment was saturated with the Sikh rennaissance movement spearheaded by the Singh Sabha ideology.

Sirdar Kapur Singh joined the Lyallpur Khalsa School for his early education. The school was the run under the stewardship of Master Tara Singh, the undisputed leader of the Sikh community during and around the Partition in 1947 when the Sikhs passed through a very crucial phase in the life of community. If the Singh Sabha was working hard around the turn of the century to revive the pristine doctrines of the Sikh faith, the Akali Dal under Master Tara Singh’s leadership was responsible for instilling among the Sikhs the feeling of community consciousness. Kapur Singh was fortunate enough to spend his formative years at school under the tutelage of Master Tara Singh.

Having completed his matriculation from the Lyallpur Khalsa School, Kapur Singh shifted to Lahore where he joined the Government College for his graduation. He did his M.A. in Philosophy from Panjab University (1951), securing first position in the University. Thereafter, he sailed down to England to join the Cambridge University from where he got another Master’s degree in Philosophy and Moral Science. Bertrand Russell, the well-known and much acclaimed British philosopher, was his tutor at Cambridge.

In 1934, he earned a Tripos from the Cambridge University, and also passed the I.C.S. examination to join the elite bureaucratic class in the British India. He served in that capacity both before and after the independence of India. However, change in political leadership did not matter much for a man of Kapur Singh’s mettle who always stood staunchly and fearlessly by his principles.

During his tenure as an I.C.S. officer, Sirdar Kapur Singh performed his duties according to the dictates of his conscience, without ever trying to please his political bosses at the cost of rules and values. He served as Deputy Commissioner for about fifteen years. Some incidents from his commissionaries stand witness to the strong convictions of Sirdar Kapur Singh. We quote here one from the pamphlet issued by the Shiromani Akali Dal at the time of Parliamentary elections of 1962. In 1939 when he was the Deputy Commissioner of Gurjarat, some Nihangs of village Ahla were murdered. Sirdar Kapur Singh, while handling this case, challenged men like Sir Umar Hayat Khan Tiwana. Then, in 1944, he got released about 2200 cows (in Gurgaon) meant to be slaughtered. Next year, twenty Muslim butchers were murdered at Farukh Nagar, a town in the Gurgaon Commissionary under him. The Unionist Government resolved to hand two Hindus for each Muslim dead. Sirdar Kapur Singh faced, singly, the ire of the government and saved all Hindus. In 1942 when he served in the Karnal district, he went on to live with Mahatma Gandhi at Seva Gram. After this brief sojourn he never allowed firing on the Congressmen. Similarly, after independence, he developed close relations with the Sikh leader, Master Tara Singh. In 1942, Mahatma Gandhi was a rebel in the eyes of the British Indian government; and similarly in the 1950’s Master Tara Singh was no less than a traitor. Ironically, this kind of love for humanitarian values could pass with the British government in India but not so after independence. So Sirdar Kapur Singh was suspended in April 1949 on frivolous charges, and then unceremoniously dismissed from service on 2 September 1953.

After Sardar Kapur Singh became free from his bureaucratic assignment, he joined politics so that he could serve his community and fight for the genuine demands of the Sikhs and the Punjab. He fought the 1952 Parliamentary election and was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Ludhiana constituency. He was elected in 1969 to the Punjab Legislative Assembly. He availed of both these terms to highlight the genuine grievances of his community. He was an ardent supporter of the demand for an autonomous Sikh Homeland within Indian Union. His aim was two-fold: on the one hand, he wanted the Sikhs to be able to make their full contribution in the interests of the country and unity of the nation, and, on the other, to let the Sikhs also enjoy, as once Jawaharlal Nehru stated, the glow of freedom. Sirdar Kapur Singh was rather unhappy with the Sant leadership of the Sikhs. He also stated that not all Congressmen at the Centre were communal and thus untouchable though a suspicion was taking roots in their minds that the Sikhs aspire for political power only to create a sovereign state like Pakistan. Unfortunately, this suspicion still persists in the minds of most of the Congressmen, and the Sikh leadership has failed miserably to wipe out this ill-conceived suspicion. And, this has been partially responsible for the present human tragedy in Punjab.

Sirdar Kapur Singh was an intellectual of high calibre, with a restless, introspective and thinking soul. He has several publications, both in English and Punjabi, to his credit. Parasharprasna, a thesis on the status and significance of Sikhism, and Sachi Sakhi (Punjabi), political memoirs and analysis of contemporary Sikh history, are two of his more important titles. Pundrik and Saptshring are fine example of Punjabi prose, the former being a collection of cultural essays and the latter biographies of seven great men. He was the first person to render in Punjabi the known Buddhist text Dhammapada. Some of his unpublished works have been published posthumously by Guru Nanak Dev University (1993).

– Sirdar Kapur Singh: The Unsung Sikh Statesman, by Dr. Dharam Singh, Punjabi University, Patiala.

1984 Sarbat Khalsa convened as Sarab Sansar Sikh Smmelan that confirmed the excommunication of Giani Zail Singh, Buta Singh, and others from Guru Khasla Panth for their part in the operation Bluestar.

Sarbat Khalsa convened after the operation Bluestar. During the operation Bluestar, Sri Harmindar Sahib, Sri Akal Takhat, and 32 other Gurudwaras were desicreted by the Indian Armed forces. During this World Sikh convention, Giani Zail Singh, then President of India and Buta Singh then Home minister of India were encommunicated from Guru Khasla Panth for their role in the operation Bluestar. Furthermore, it was asserted that if Sri Darbar Sahib complex is’nt handed over by Sept. 30, thousands of Sikhs would gather to liberate their Darbar Sahib.



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