Khalsa Defence of India League
Organisation encouraging Military Assistance during World War II 1941
Khalsa Defence of India League was formed on 19 January 1941 at Lahore with the object of launching a movement among the Sikh masses for increased military enlistment for the defence of the country during the critical years of World War II and for maintaining and strengthening the special position of the Sikhs in the Indian army. A report prepared by a committee headed by an English General appointed by the British to look into the causes of the slow rate of Sikh recruitment sent to the Punjab Government was suppressed by the Premier, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan. The report had suggested that the good offices of Maharaja Yadavinder Singh of Patiala be utilized to step up the enlistment of Sikhs – a proposal which was not acceptable to Sir Sikandar for personal reasons.
As the news leaked out, the Sikhs themselves took the initiative. A representative group of them waited upon the Maharaja and requested him to lead a campaign among the Sikhs for recruitment so that their position in the army remained intact and the counsel of the British officers, who, in view of a few instances of insubordination, had recommended a total embargo being put on their entry into the army could be nullified.
As a result of these parleys, the Khalsa Defence of India League came into being, with the Maharaja of Patiala as the President-General. The main body of the League was composed of 150 members, 118 from British Punjab and 32 from the Sikh states. Sardar Raghbir Singh Sandhanvalia of Raja Safisi was elected president and Sardar Baldev Singh, M.L.A. (later Defence Minister of India), Col Raghbir Singh of Patiala and Sardar Bahadur Ranjit Singh of Delhi vice-presidents. Among other office-bearers and those closely associated with the League were Sardar Beant Singh of Gurdaspur (secretary), Malik Mukhbain Singh, a judge of the Sikh Gurdwaras Tribunal, joint secretary, Sardar Kartar Singh Diwana propaganda secretary, Sardar Joginder Singh Man, Sardar Jaswant Singh Danevalia, Malik Hardit Singh, Sir Jogendra Singh, Sir Datar Singh and Midi Shubhsher Singh, Rais of Arnauli.
The League set up 22 branches in the districts of Karnal, Hissar, Ambala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Firozpur, Amritsar, Lahore, Gurdaspur, Siakot, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Gurmat, Jehlum, Rawalpindi, Multan, Muzaffarabad, Montgomery and Lyallpur in the Punjab, and Peshawar in the North-West Frontier Province. An extensive campaign was launched across the Punjab to rally Sikh youths to join the defence forces. Representations were made to the government to encourage the Sikh intake. Pre-cadet training classes were started for college students at Khalsa College at Amritsar and Mohindra College at Patiala, which enabled a large number of young Sikhs to qualify for entry into the army as commissioned officers. With the end of War in 1945 ended the work of the League, and it ceased to function after November 1946.