Achievement and Frustration
(1964 – 1975)
The succession as Prime Minister of Lal Bahadur Shastri, the tiny little man, who rose several times in height by the time of his death in another 18 months, was not expected to herald any change in the Government of India’s attitude and policies towards the Sikhs. Shastri was well aware of Nehru’s mistrust of the Sikh objectives. Unlike Nehru, however, he had no family heritage to despise them.
By the time of his induction as Prime Minister, it was certain that the Punjab would be de-Kaironised. The oppressive super structure was to be dismantled. Kairon already had caused misgivings among the members of the Congress High Command about his intentions in post-Nehru era. Besides, in the struggle for succession, he had backed Morarji Desai, the losing candidate, who could have served as the helmsman for the ‘slave overseer’.
Justice S. R. Das who was looking into the charges of corruption against Kairon was now emboldened to give a report upholding four of the 32 charges.1 A week before the report was submitted on June 21, 1964, Kairon resigned. Thereby came to an end, eight years of oppressive Kairon regime which thrived on anti-Sikhism. Kairon had served Nehru well in suppression of the Sikh aspirations. The Sikhs heaved a sigh of relief. This was a byproduct of the change in administration in New Delhi. Kairon was succeeded by Comrade Ram Kishan, a non -entity Arya Samajist, as a result of manoeuverings of Swaran Singh.
The two factions of the Akalis temporarily united in giving expression to the cumulative resentment of the community at the Paonta Sahib sacrilege.2 But they were soon on the parting of the ways. Sant Fateh Singh, from time to time, met members of the Congress High Command who kept angling at causing a permanent schism between him and Master Tara Singh. His statement of September 9, 1964, assuring the Congress leaders that the Punjab or Punjabi Suba would remain part and parcel of India was misplaced,3 as it were the Congress leaders, especially Nehru, who had threatened expulsion of the Sikhs from other parts of India, if Punjabi Suba was formed. The mediatory efforts of the Panthic Convention at Patiala in November 1964 to bring about reconciliation between the two groups, proved abortive. 4
Fateh Singh and Tara Singh Akali Dais were now heading towards a clash for Gurdwara elections in January 1965. Fateh Singh was hopeful of victory, but lacked machinery and manpower to organise his party. This provided an ideal opportunity to various cohorts to infiltrate the Sant Akali Dal. This infiltration was both by the leftists and the Congressites. The communists who had been a permanent feature in fighting the Gurdwara elections wound up their Desh Bhagat Board. Though Communists had split in 1964 into Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxists) also known as CPM, they kept their limited cooperation in their infiltration strategy. Under the leadership of Gurcharan Singh Tohra, a card holder member of the Communist Party of India, they entered the Sant Akali Dal on a massive scale. Side by side, the Congressites too did not form any ‘Khalsa Dal’ or ‘Sadh Sangat Board’, but entered the Sant Akali Dal in strength. The leadership to them was later provided by Balwant Singh who entered Sant Akali Dal in another year or so. 5
The January 1965 Gurdwara elections gave a decisive edge to Sant Fateh Singh who won 90 seats against 45 for Master Tara Singh Akali Dal, with few independents. Tara Singh’s decision to retire to Salogra in Himachal Pradesh for six months left the field clear for Fateh Singh.
The victory of Sant Fateh Singh, perfected with the help of Communists and Congressites, gave wrong signals to anti-Sikh elements who now started indulging in a series of sacrilegious acts in various part of the Punjab. These included setting to fire copies of Guru Granth Sahib, tearing pages from the holy Granth, interruption of Akhand Paths and the like.6 The moderate Sikh Review of Calcutta in its issue of May 1965 gave expression to the agony of the Sikh mind. It highlighted Arya Samajist Urdu daily Partap’s sprinkling salt over the wounded Sikh feelings by referring to Guru Nanak inoffensive language. All these were a grim reminder of “the Mughal excesses against the Sikhs in the 18th century.”
The Panthic Convention at Patiala on April 29, 1965, was expressive of feelings of deep hurt and disgust of the Sikh community. There was no effort, as yet, to restart the struggle for Punjabi Suba. 7
It was this suffocating atmosphere that made Master Tara Singh’s men to give a deep thought to the Sikh problem. They came out with a new slogan and a new ideology to come out of this frustration. Tara Singh was down but not out. He had some followers like Kapur Singh, formerly of I.C.S. and now member of Lok Sabha who was known for his clear thinking and perceptive analysis of the emerging situation. Then, there was Gurnam Singh, former Judge of the Punjab High Court and Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly. He was, however, ambitious.
The holding of the Conference named after the distinguished Sikh soldier, General Hari Singh Nalwa, in May 1965 at Ludhiana was a significant development. The main resolution, which introduced new trails in Sikh polity, was drafted by Kapur Singh. It was moved by Gurnam Singh and seconded by Giani Bhupinder Singh, then President of Master Akali Dal. It recalled that the Sikhs had decided to throw in their lot with the majority community in 1947 “on the explicit understanding of being accorded the constitutional status of co-sharers in the Indian sovereignty alongwith the majority community”, and that “This solemn understanding now stands totally repudiated”. Further that, “The Sikhs have been systematically reduced to sub-political status in their homeland, and to an insignificant position in their motherland, India.” It went on to add that the Sikhs are in a position to establish before an international tribunal, uninfluenced by the present Indian rulers, that the law, judicial processes and executive action of the Union of India is consistently and heavily weighted against the Sikhs, and is administered with unbandaged eyes against the Sikh citizens.” Finally, it came to the conclusion that, “There is left no alternative for the Sikhs in the interest of self preservation than to frame their political demand for securing a self-determined political status, within the republic of the Union of India.” 8
Two aspects were significant. One, it was for the first time that reference was made to an international tribunal which was expressive of lack of confidence in the Indian judicial processes: these had been persistently subverted by the executive. Two, ‘self-determined political status’ was to be ‘within the Indian Union’. What the organisers had in mind was the Cabinet Mission Plan on the basis of which sovereignty was transferred in 1947.
The Hindu communal press, not unexpectedly played it up as a demand for a sovereign Sikh state. The resolution received wide publicity and support. Even Chief Khalsa Diwan, a conservative organisation, on August 1, 1965, extended support to the resolution and explained the reasons for that. Precisely, it stated, “Unless the present rulers and the majority community show a change of heart and consider the Sikhs to be co-sharers in the Indian sovereignty (and not second-rate citizens to be humiliated at every step), the Sikhs cannot and will not live a life of peace.” 9
Tara Singh by now was back from 6 months political exile. Accompanied by Khushwant Singh, the prominent journalist as interpreter, he held an international press conference at Delhi on August 2, 1965. He read out a 10 point written statement, a comprehensive document, tracing the treatment meted to the community since 1947. It, for the first time, referred to the ongoing communal riots in India against the Muslims, the desecration of Sikh places of worship and curbs on the Christian missionaries, and suppression of true feelings of Kashmiris as forming part of the same pattern of aggressive attitude against the minorities. It asserted that, “The Sikhs demand a space under the sun of free India wherein they can breathe the air of freedom.” 10
Khushwant Singh who never supported the demand for Punjabi Suba, in an article published in the Sikh Review, Calcutta, of September 1965, rationalised the support for the demand for “self-determined political status” to be in conformity with the Sikh litany raj karega khalsa, (Khalsa shall rule), sung in every Sikh temple day in and day out as part of the regular prayer. He added, “I do not consider the demand for a Sikh Suba communal, fissiparous or anti-national. On the contrary, I am convinced that only in a state where the Sikhs can assure themselves of the continuance of their traditions, can they play their full role as citizens of India. Such conditions do not obtain in the country today. There is a definite resurgence of Hinduism which threatens to engulf the minorities. The administration is unwilling or unable to suppress it. . . . I am sure that as soon as this Suba is constituted the Sikhs will overlook other grievances (fall in Sikh proportion in the services, ceiling on land, discrimination in granting of industrial licences, etc. often mentioned in Sikh circles). Such a Sikh Suba will strengthen, not weaken India. It will give the Sikhs a chance to say proudly, ‘I am a Sikh. I am an Indian’.” 11
The Hindus were alarmed at these formulations. It was very natural for them to rally around Sant Fateh Singh. Fateh Singh had been touring the Punjab for the last half a year to establish rapport with the people of the Punjab and establish branches of his Akali Dal. His talks with Lal Bahadur Shastri on August 7, 1965, are to be seen in this light. The Sant, despite the change in the nuances, which the Hindu press was prone to see in his attitude vis a vis that of Tara Singh, could not but be influenced by the vitiated atmosphere.
The talks between Sant Fateh Singh and Lal Bahadur Shastri were spread over two days, August 7-8, 1965. Fateh Singh was assisted by Man Singh of the Mansarover weekly Delhi, Arjan Singh Budhiraja, Uttam Singh Duggal, M.P., and Lachhman Singh Gill, M.L.A. The Prime Minister had with him Gulzari Lal Nanda, Union Home Minister, and government officials.
Opening the talks, Sant Fateh Singh stated, “Purely on the basis of language, our demand for a Punjabi Suba is constitutional.” He did not want to enter into percentages. When other states in India had been formed on the basis of language, non-formation of Punjabi Suba was discriminatory against the people of Punjab, pure and simple. He pointed to 12,000 people courting arrest in 1955, and over 57,000 in 1960; then there was violence and cruelty meted to the Sikh processionists in Delhi on June 12, 1960, when truckloads were thrown into the Jumna river. He contended that
during “the entire course of freedom struggle, half that number had not courted arrests, and yet the country was free.” He did not want to go into figures of Hindus and Sikhs. His demand was based purely on language.
There was silence of about three minutes. Shastri, Nanda, and the officials did not mutter a word. Was Shastri thinking a course different from the one taken by his mentor, Nehru? On merits, probably. But his hands were not free. The poison spread by Nehru against Punjabi Suba was very much green. Nehru’s “For Eyes Only” note for his successors constituted a major stumbling block.
Fateh Singh breaking the silence stated, “We have come to talk. Shastriji, why have you become silent?”.
Shastri pointed to the Sant’s free and frank talks with the late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and said, “Punjabi is the language of the whole of the Punjab and efforts are being made for its development.” That set the talks going.
Fateh Singh pointed out that earlier Kairon had at least introduced Punjabi at district level, but now even that had been discontinued, and progress was towards its annihilation. And, “Now, even our religion is no longer safe.” He dilated on various sacrilegious incidents which had put the community in pain. The Government had done nothing. He also referred to the offensive remarks by Dr. Sushila Nayar on Sikhism and the Sikh Gurus. And, also by Vinobha Bhave. Thereafter, he highlighted that the Sikh spirit in the armed forces was being crushed with soldiers being encouraged to shave off their beards and sacred keshas. Again, when the Government was raising monuments for Hindu martyrs in the freedom struggle, none was being raised for the Sikh martyrs. He cited various instances. Thereafter, talks centered around various grievances -misrepresentation of the Sikhs in the text books, continuous injustice to the Sikhs in the Terai area of U.P., injustice to Punjabi farmers in Rajasthan, ignoring of Punjabi language by Jalandhar Radio, victimisation of the Sikhs in services, etc. The height of discrimination was non-conceding of the Punjabi Suba.
Sant Fateh Singh contended that if the opposition of a section of the people, say, in the division of Bombay, was not a factor in the formation of other provinces, why that should be an overriding principle to obstruct the Punjabi speaking state. At Nanda’s instance, the Union Home Secretary stated that the Sikhs would constitute 60 percent in Punjabi Suba. Arjan Singh Budhiraja on the basis of 1961 census contended that they would be 50 percent. Home Secretary was right. He was aware of the extent to which the census of 1961 had been falsified, and Hindu population inflated.
Shastri mentioned of Nehru’s views, “that this will be a dangerous step.” Nanda twice during the talks conceded that the demand was constitutionally justified, but pleaded present time of emergency. Shastri wanted the Sant to postpone it now.
The Sant brought in the communal attitude of the Judge in the Paonta incident. “The Sikhs are being insulted everywhere, and no heed is paid to their grievances. No body listens to them. A nation of lion-hearted men have been reduced to such a low level, as to make them beg for mercy from persons who are no match for them”, said the Sant with, a heavy heart. “Already they are seething with rage against injustices.” 13 12
Shastri spelled out his objective to be, to keep the Punjab united.
The talks came as a total disappointment to Sant Fateh Singh and his Akali Dal. He, on August 16, announced from the holy Akal Takht to a huge crowd of 25,000, of his resolve to go on fast-unto-death, from September 10, inside the Golden Temple. In case he survived the first 15 days of the fast, he would self-immolate himself on the 16th day. This came as a great jolt. One hundered people offered to follow the same line.
Tara Singh Akali Dal announced its full support to Sant Fateh Singh’s threatened fast and self-immolation “to arouse the conscience of the rulers of India in favour of immediate creation of the Punjabi Suba and the recognition of it as an important step towards the realisation of the final destiny of the Sikh people in free India.” 14
Already the demand for ‘self-determined’ political status had jolted the Central Congress leadership. But it could not come out of the communal mire in which it had enmeshed itself. G. L. Nanda on August 23, in Parliament spoke of “two linguistic groups” in the Punjab in terms of Hindus and Sikhs, not in terms of Punjabis and non-Punjabis/Hindvis/Haryanvis.
The situation on India-Pakistan frontiers was taking a turn for the worst because of infiltration. 15 Members of Parliament appealed to Sant Fateh Singh to suspend his fast and self-immolation. The Sant was not moved. The situation by end of August was grim and the Indian forces captured Haji Pir Pass on August 30. The following day, 15 Congress M.L.A.s of Punjab Assembly, including Giani Kartar Singh, at Chandigarh expressed their view that central government should accept the demand in principle, and defer its implementation to a later date. The Hindu members of Parliament including Dewan Chaman Lal opposed the demand. The central government at this crucial stage appointed Ujjal Singh as Punjab Governor on September 1, 1965. This was indicative of flexibility in the government’s policy. President, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan was playing a silent role from behind the scenes.
The Haryana leaders now activated themselves and opposed either declaring the whole of Punjab as Punjabi-speaking state or dismembering of Hindi zone to increase the ratio of Punjabi-renegade Hindus in the Punjab.
The entry of Indian armed forces in Lahore sector from three sides on September 6, made Nanda to announce in Lok Sabha the willingness of the Government of India to hold fresh talks on Punjabi Suba with an open mind. It was a product of the process of doubletalk. If the mind was open then what was there to talk to. If it was designed as a sop to the Sikhs, it was misplaced. The Sikh mind was not in conflict at all. It were only the wanton Nehruites who had been doubting their loyalty. They had always spoken in terms of making Punjab a strong border state. They never realised that a contented people was worth several armed forces Divisions.
A deputation of five emissaries of Sant Fateh Singh met Home Minister, Nanda, on September 8, 1965. They were reported to have been given some assurances. The following day, Sant Fateh Singh decided to postpone his fast on the advice of the Working Committee. President Radhakrishnan who was playing an active, behind the scene role, in a broadcast on September 11, stated that Sant Fateh Singh “will be satisfied with the eventual solution of this problem agreed to by the leaders of Punjab.” 15
The army was heroically supplied by civilian (read Sikh) population in its three-pronged thrust in the Lahore sector. The Army authorities acknowledged the significant role played by civilians in the conflict. The performance of civilian truck drivers was spectacular. The Sikh peasantry rose as one man to back the troops in providing the Jawans their provisions – the basic necessities of life. The zeal, enthusiasm and daring spirit displayed by the populace put to shame the Punjabi-renegade Hindus and their cohorts – the cohorts of Satan. Purposely, the government did nothing to remove from the mind of its partisans the vicious poison spread during the Nehru era.
The scheming Hindu mind had many a trick up its sleeves. Instead of straightaway effecting a division of the Punjab on the basis of linguistic zones, as was done in case of Bombay, they resorted to subterfuges of Committees and Commissions to take with one hand, what they had to concede with the other. Their mind was not clean.
After the ceasefire on September 26, Gulzari Lal Nanda was for, what he said, a ‘co-operative solution’ based on goodwill and a reasonable approach. A Parliamentary Consultative Committee with Hukam Singh, Speaker of Lok Sabha, as its President, was set up. The Parliamentary Consultative Committee was to arrive at a decision in consultation with a Cabinet Committee consisting of Y.B. Chavan, Indira Gandhi, and Mahavir Tyagi.
The Parliamentary Consultative Committee was to be constituted by the Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha. Gulzari Lal Nanda who had serious reservations, forwarded names both from Rajya Sabha through it Chairman and of Lok Sabha to the Speaker. Hukam Singh accepted the names from Rajya Sabha forwarded through its Chairman, but effected changes in those from Lok Sabha. Hukam Singh, earlier during an informal discussion with Nanda, had mentioned that Punjabi Suba would eventually not be in the interests of the Sikhs. The Hindu partisans thought that they would be able to get an adverse report and scuttle the demand for Punjabi Suba, using Hukam Singh as a scapegoat. 16
Sant Akali Dal on October 11, 1965, stated that it would have preferred the government to have accepted the demand for Punjabi Suba, as Hindi and Punjabi regions were already demarcated. It now wanted the Parliamentary Consultative Committee to complete its work soon. The Master Akali Dal on November 2, welcomed “the decision to form Punjabi Suba on linguistic basis which was not to be confused with the political demand of the Sikh people as such.” 17
The setting up of the Committee activated the communal Hindu elements. As expected. Chief Minister Ram Kishan opposed bifurcation of Punjab, and the Congress Legislature Party on October 6, endorsed his views. The. Punjab Congress on October 11,1965, decided to submit a memorandum to oppose Punjabi Suba. Legislators from Haryana marshalled themselves to oppose the possible declaration of Punjab as a unilingual Punjabi speaking state, or dismemberment of Haryana. Ram Kishan again on October 21, 1965, stated that the state Cabinet was opposed to the division of Punjab. He was supported by Gurdial Singh Dhillon, Prabodh Chandra, Yash and Darbara Singh. The sub-committee set up by Provincial Congress Committee wanted merger of Himachal Pradesh with the Punjab, and division of the state into three zones of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The Punjab Congress sponsored Ekta (Unity) Samiti, in its memorandum to the Parliamentary Consultative Committee, conveyed serious suspicions about the loyalty of the Sikhs to India and expressed apprehensions that the Sikhs would join hands with Pakistan once the Punjabi Suba was formed. 18
This led to an adjournment motion in Punjab Vidhan Sabha on November 3, 1965, over the issue of “the arrogant and insulting remarks made in the memorandum on the linguistic reorganistion of the Punjab as drafted by the Ekta Samiti.” Gurnam Singh, visibly agitated, stated “We cannot tolerate these insults. Have Hindus taken the monopoly of loyalty to the country?”19 They had!
The government’s intention was that Parliamentary Consultative Committee would submit its report to the government which would have an overriding role to whet its recommendations. But the Parliamentary Consultative Committee under the leadership of Hukam Singh took the stand, and correctly, that no Parliamentary Committee presided over by the Speaker could make its recommendations to any one except the Parliament.
Shastri, Nanda and Indira Gandhi were fulminating at the turn of the events. “The intention of the Government” in the words of Hukam Singh “was to use me against my community, secure an adverse report, and then reject the demand, even after 18 long years of deliberate frustrating delays.” 20
With Shastri’s death at Tashkent and induction of Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister on January 20, 1966, Nehruvian line was back with vengeance. She wanted to circumvent the Parliamentary Consultative Committee, which was known to be sympathetic to a favourable solution of the Punjabi Suba issue. She invited Fateh Singh for talks with Cabinet sub-committee. Fateh Singh wisely declined to fall into the trap. He also stated that the Central Government had already taken six months, and he could not wait any longer. President of Master Akali Dal, Giani Bhupinder Singh, on February 26, 1966, declared that even the establishment of Punjabi Suba would not be the final and permanent solution of the Sikh problems. The following day, the Master Akali Dal reiterated its resolve to secure for the Sikhs “self-determined political status within the Republic of the Union of India.”21 These made Fateh Singh to issue a press statement on February 28, that he would wait for another four weeks, and then revive his programme.
The Punjabi-renegade communal Hindus were seething with rage for entrusting the issue of linguistic reorganisation of Punjab to a Parliamentary Committee, and that too headed by Hukam Singh. Hindu industrialists threatened large scale migrations.
The report of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee seemed a foregone conclusion, recommending a neat division of the state on the basis of recognised linguistic zones.22 Indira was livid with rage. Her memoirs. My Truth, (Delhi, 1981) fully reflect her determination to safeguard Hindu sectarian interests. She saw the formation of Punjabi speaking state as a first step to the fulfilling of projections made by the astrologers (in early 1960s when they were performing jantra-mantra-tantra fetishes for prolongation of Jawaharlal Nehru’s life) that the Sikhs were destined by end of the century to reaffirm their national self-assertion. One of them, Haveli Ram, had passed this on to Master Tara Singh as well. The astrologers did not spell out that the Sikhs would be doing so not as much because of their own exertions as because of Brahminical India’s restructuring its polity, or possibly committing suicide. Anyhow, Indira decided that the Sikh victory had to be vitiated with poisonous reeds.
It were with these malicious considerations in mind, she decided to pre-empt the Parliamentary Consultative Committee Report by a week. She had a resolution adopted by the Congress Working Committee on March 9, 1966, accepting the formation of Punjabi speaking
The communal Hindus, not understanding Indira’s game plan, were wild at Congress’s acceptance of the formation of Punjabi Suba. They went on complete strike in Punjab for three days. There were numerous cases of arson at Amritsar, Ludhiana, Panipat. The police had to open fire at several places. Several were killed and wounded. 2528 persons were arrested. The communal divide came as an eye-opener to the Sikhs, because they had not done their homework.
Speaking in Lok Sabha on March 15, 1966, Indira assured the Punjabi-renegade Hindus that their interests would be safeguarded. Even now the much maligned Master Tara Singh stated, “Basically, we cannot be separated from Hindus as our culture is the same. But I am opposed to the domination.”25 That was the precise problem!
The Hindus, and for that matter the Congress, were not willing to let the Sikhs have their way. The Hindus of all denominations, Jan Sangh, Ekta Samiti, Arya Samaj including the Congressites waited on Home Minister Nanda on March 20, 1966, and discussed certain proposals to deal crippling blows to the Punjabi Suba. The Congress leaders from Haryana too mobilised themselves. It was as a result of all around consultations that Indira proceeded to act as a petty politician and load the reference to the Shah Commission against the Punjab by making the 1961 census as the basis and Tehsil, instead of village as the unit. The government was fully aware, that 1961 census gave bloated figures of Hindus, apart from large scale falsification of the mother tongue, that had been resorted to at the time, by the Punjabi Hindus.
There was again a breeze of fresh thinking on Punjab by the national leadership of both Jan Sangh and Rashtriya Swym Sewak Sangh. For instance, Balraj Madhok in his presidential address to Jan Sangh in April 1966 pleaded for his party’s acceptance of the division of Punjab on linguistic basis and berated the “extremist elements among the Akalis and the Arya Samajists” who were dissatisfied with the reorganisation.26 He and RSS leader M.S. Golwalkar, who toured Punjab in April 1966 urged the Hindus of Punjab to acknowledge Punjabi as a legitimate language and Gurmukhi a proper script for the Hindus to accept.27 Again, as in 1960, it was the anti-Sikh family traditions of descendants of Ganga Dhar Kaul alias Gangu Brahmin that held the sway.
Sant Fateh Singh was disturbed at the formulations of the Congress leaders. In his telegram of April 13, 1966, to Prime Minister, he unsuccessfully pleaded for pre-partition census and not those of 1961, taken at the height of Punjabi Suba agitation which had mad large sections of Punjabi Hindus to disown their mother tongue.
The appointment of a Commission four days later proved the worst fears of Fateh Singh. The Commission consisted of a sitting Supreme Court Judge, J.C. Shah, and two retired civil servants, S. Dutt and M.M. Philip. None of them could understand a decca of Punjabi, to objectively ponder over the “linguistic homogeneity”, they were required to look into. The false and spurious 1961 census were made the fulcrum of the Commission’s operations to deprive Punjabi Suba of its legitimate rights.
The Sant Akali Dal in its detailed representation to the Shah Commission claimed the entire district of Ambala, all tehsils of Karnal except Panipat tehsil, Sirsa and subtehsils of Fatehabad and 23 This enabled her to bypass the recommendations of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee and proceed ahead to vitiate the whole process, so that the end product was not palatable. 24
Guhla in Hissar district as part of Punjabi suba, besides the already demarcated Punjabi region.
That showed that the Akali mind was not working for a Sikh majority state, but one based purely on language. It was Indira, and for that matter her father’s resolve, inter alia, to prevent division of U.P. as a fallout of linguistic reorganisation of Punjab, that muddled the whole atmosphere. To checkmate the Sikhs was one objective. The other was to keep the people of Haryana involved in one imbroglio after another with the people of Punjab to prevent their looking westwards to Jat unity, causing a possible three pronged division of U.P., her bastion of power, and also liberation of Jats from Brahmin-Bania clutches.
The Shah Commission worked in a most arbitrary manner. It declared certain areas hilly, and transferred those to Himachal Pradesh, irrespective of the language of the people. The Commission declared Districts Gurdaspur (excluding Dalhousie, Balun and Bukloh), Amritsar, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Ferozepur, Bhatinda, Patiala, Ludhiana, and Tehsils Barnala, Malerkotla and Sangrur of Sangrur District, Tehsil Ropar of Ambala District, Tehsil Dasuya, Hoshiarpur and Garhshankar, and Development blocks Anandpur, Nurpurbedi and village Kherabagh, Samipur, Bhabhaur and Kalseh from Una block and village Kosri in Una Tehsil from Hoshiarpur District to form Punjabi speaking state. 29
The Commission applied with vengeance its discretion in depriving Punjab of as much area as it could, as if it was a case of secession. Shah and Philip awarded especially built for Punjab, the Chandigarh Capital project and the Kharar Tehsil of which it formed a part, to Haryana. Dutt, however, argued that Chandigarh during 1961 census had a large migratory labour from U.P. and Rajasthan which made it a marginally Hindi speaking area. Excluding that segment, the area was Punjabi speaking. This was supported by the Sachar formulae of 1949. Himachal came out to be the biggest gainer. 30
As a result of the web created by herself, Indira implemented the minority report but kept Chandigarh as a centrally administered territory, shared by both the Punjab and Haryana.31 Not only that, the Central Government took over control over Bhakra Dam and reservoir and works apertunent thereto, Nangal Dam and Nangal Hydel Channel, and Kotla Power House, the Irrigation Head Works at Ropar, Harike, and Ferozepur, Bhakra Power Houses, Ganguwal and Kotla Power Houses through the Bhakra Management Board; and the Pong Dam project and connected power houses. These provisions taking away Water and Power resources from the Punjab smacked of worst distrust of the Sikhs, their loyalty and bonafides as Indian citizens. This was unprecedented, unique and fully discriminatory, not practiced on the formation of any other Hindu-dominated states. The Sikhs were made to feel that they were third rate, if not unwanted, citizens of second rate state.
Another feature of the states reorganisation bill was the unique feature of Punjab and Haryana having “the common links between the two states which provided for a common Governor, a common High Court, a common University, common Electricity Board and Warehousing Corporation, a common State Finance Corporation, etc.” 32 28 The Sikh members of the Punjab Assembly also advocated the inclusion of Kangra, as it was a Punjabi speaking area. But Hindu members, including Ministers from Punjabi region would not sign a memorandum on these lines.
The Master Akali Dal summed up the Sikh’s pique in a resolution adopted on July 20, 1966, which spoke of the Sikhs’ resolve and proclaiming “their determination to resist, through all legitimate means, all attempts to devalue and liquidate the Sikh people in a free India”. It spelt out the areas left out of the new Punjab which should be included and stated that “such a new Punjab should be granted an autonomous constitutional status on the analogy of the status of Jammu and Kashmir as was envisaged in the Constitution Act of India in the year 1950.”33 It also had to say something about the employment of judiciary for quasi-political purposes against the Sikhs when it stated,
“AFTER HAVING CAREFULLY VIEWED the findings, the reports and judgements of judicial and quasi-judicial Tribunals and Forums that have dealt with matters and cases involving important Sikh interests, COMES TO THE CONCLUSION, that the entire judicial machinery and judicial process of the Independent India, under influence of certain section of political Hindus, is prejudiced and has been perverted against the Sikh people in India in relation to their just and legal rights.” 34
Kapur Singh speaking in Lok Sabha on the Punjab Reorganisation Bill on September 6, stated that “it will almost certainly lead to a weakening of national integration and loss of faith in the integrity of those who exercise political power in the country.” 35
The Sant Akali Dal in a resolution dubbed the Shah Commission “to be the worst type of communal commission.” Sant Fateh Singh on his return from abroad said that “the Punjab Boundary Commission Report smacks of communalism” and declared that “Chandigarh at no cost will be allowed to remain out of Punjabi Suba.” Tara Singh on September 14, 1966, termed the new Punjabi Suba as yet another move to enslave the Sikhs. Meanwhile, President’s rule was imposed in the Punjab and Ujjal Singh replaced by Dharma Vira I.C.S. in June 1966 to work out Indira’s nefarious plans.
Instead of letting politics in the reorganised state of Punjab to follow the non-sectarian course, Indira Gandhi created in the Hindus a sense of euphoria at their maiming and disabling the Punjabi Suba at its birth. This also encouraged them not to adopt a conciliatory attitude towards their Sikh neighbours, and continue their policy of confrontation.
Sant Fateh Singh instead of broadening the field of his political operations was forced to lick his wounds and concentrate on the removal of discriminatory provisions, besides inclusion of left over Punjabi speaking areas from Punjab. On the top of it, as envisaged by Indira Gandhi, Haryana people got fully enmeshed in their imbroglios with Punjab.
If Sant Fateh Singh said that Punjabi Suba was the ‘last demand’ of the Punjabis including the Sikhs, Indira by various contrivances was determined to destablise the Sikh polity. She did not want the Sikhs “to be accepted in the mainstream and saw to it that they were continually fen the run.
The new states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh came into being on November 1, 1966.
Sant Fateh Singh was back on November 5, after a long foreign tour.36 His absence during this crucial period was untimely.
The formation of Punjabi Suba did not free the Akalis from the need to continue their agitational approach. Fateh Singh was again back with threats of self-immolation.
At the conference convened by him on November 10, 1966, the representatives of Communists, Swatantra Party, Republican Party, and the SSP extended their full support for the contemplated agitation for abolition of common links and inclusion of Punjabi speaking areas and Chandigarh in Punjab. Fateh Singh was clear that what was at stake was for the Sikhs to live in the country “with respect and honour”, though he spoke of the cause of the Punjabis. A Jatha of 75, despatched from Amritsar on November 16, 1966, split into three groups, and preached against communal approach of the Central government. The Jathas were arrested before they reached Chandigarh.
The Punjab government on December 1, decided to bifurcate the Electricity Board and disrupt all the common links under its jurisdiction. The Central government also announced that it had an open mind on Chandigarh. Indira Gandhi wrote to Fateh Singh in the matter. 37
On December 5, 1966, the Sant Akali Dal called on the Punjabis to observe December 12, as a protest day. It directed the people to wear black badges and observe a complete hartal. Sant Fateh Singh announced his decision to go on a fast unto death on December 17, and resort to self-immolation on December 27, if he survived the fast. The Sant accused the Central Government of extreme discrimination, perverse attitude and holding out threats to suppress the Sikhs.
This again brought Punjab to the edge of a precipice. People were in commotion. Tara Singh lent support to Fateh Singh and went “a step further”. He demanded “an autonomous status for Punjab in order to provide a real Homeland for the Sikhs.” Giani Bhupinder Singh, President, Master Akali Dal perceptibly added that, “This communal and narrow minded Government will never treat us as equals. We should understand that there is no place for justice and equality for us in this country. Hence our lives, honour, property and even our religion are in danger.” 38
As usual appeals by the Union Home Minister, Y.B. Chavan, and Prime Minister to Sant Fateh Singh followed. There was even a proposal to have a referendum in the areas claimed for Punjab. This was turned down. Jaya Prakash Narayan accompanied by J. J. Singh of America saw Fateh Singh on December 15. Prime Minister too made a last minute appeal to him. The following day, Chief Minister Gurmukh Singh Musafir and Defence Minister Swaran Singh in a joint statement expressed themselves against ‘unreasonable’ demands of Sant Fateh Singh. Fateh Singh, as scheduled, began his fast on December 17, 1966, on the third floor of the holy Akal Takht. Before doing so, he spelt out his demands to be: a) abolition of common links; b) return of Chandigarh and Dam projects held by the Central government; and c) inclusion of the Punjabi speaking areas.
This increased the tempo of activity. Hukam Singh and Gurmukh Singh Musafir on December 21, 1966, visited the Sant who refused to accept any compromise formulae. The Punjab government by that time arrested 1927 prominent Sikh leaders. Troops marched in the streets of Amritsar on Christmas day, December 25, to exhibit the awe and imperial majesty of the central government or Delhi Durbar. The same day, a 48 hour curfew was clamped on the walled area of the city.
On December 27, 1966, Hukam Singh was flown by a special plane to Amritsar, where he reached one hour before the scheduled self-immolation by the Sant. He was straightaway closeted with the Sant and according to Fateh Singh gave him “almost a solemn assurance from Akal Takht that Chandigarh would go to Punjab. “The Central government also decided to appoint a committee to recommend the future of left out areas from Punjab. Amidst these dubious assurances, Sant Fateh Singh’s breaking his fast came as an anticlimax.39 Meanwhile, Gurnam Singh who was opposed to any spurious assurances had been taken into custody.
We may now pause here to have an assessment of the role of Sikh politicians in the Punjab imbroglio. Baldev Raj Nayar in his mis-titled book Minority Politics in Punjab,40 published few months before the formation of Punjabi Suba, which he never foresaw, divided the Sikh leaders into three categories.
The first category, according to him, consisted of those who consistently demonstrated their opposition to what he stated, “Akali Dal, its demand for Punjabi Suba and, its other communal demands.”41 He included Kairon and Gurdial Singh Dhillon in this category.
The second category according to him was of those Sikh leaders who opposed Akali Dal “on a non-communal basis”. He included only Hukam Singh in this category. The third category, consisted of those who found membership of the Congress as “a suitable instrument for the pursuit of either personal or community goals”, but were ready to foresake the party the moment such goals were frustrated. He placed Giani Kartar Singh and some other Sikh leaders in this category. 42
As a matter of fact, Nayar had been too restrictive in drawing his lists. The first category would include Partap Singh Kairon the “slave overseer. . . more heartless than any alien beast” and all those who were willing tools in the hands of communal Hindu leadership. These would include Gurdial Singh Dhillon,43 Swaran Singh,44 Gurmukh Singh Mussafir,45 and Darbara Singh.46 Giani Zail Singh from this category was later kicked high and did greater damage to the Sikh people, by serving as a thoughtless crony of Brahmins. The second category would consist of those who by force of circumstances happened to join the Congress and operate from that platform, but kept in view the blatant discrimination to which the Sikhs were being subjected. When the time came they arose, as they could, to safeguard the Sikh interests. Prominent among those would be Giani Kartar Singh47 , Hukam Singh and a host of others. One, however, tends to feel that both of them, once Indira Gandhi had made a mess on introduction of Punjab Reorganisation Bill, should have resigned in protest.
With the creation of Punjabi Suba, the Sikhs entered half a decade of creative part of their modern history. The celebrations of tricentenary of Guru Gobind Singh’s birth in 1966-67, were marked by a profuse production of literature on various aspects of Sikhism -history, biography, literature, religion and philosophy. The Sikhs reflected a “settled and consolidated psyche.”48 The green revolution came to fruition in the Punjab in the second half of 1960s bringing prosperity to the people. The emigration of the Sikhs from East Africa to U.K. introduced a new and healthy element in the burgeoning Sikh community in Great Britain, while Yogi Harbhajan Singh achieved a phenomenal success in spreading the message of the Gurus to the white Americans in the United States of America.
Another facet of the consolidated Sikh psyche was the introduction of half an hour evening programme of Shabad-Kirtan and Shabad-Katha on Jalandhar station of All India Radio in 1966. This
was done as a reaction to Radio Pakistan’s introduction of half an hour programme in the evening which included Shabad-kirtan and was followed by five minutes discourse from the forgotten pages of Sikh history. These discourses highlighted the inimical moves and actions of Brahminical Hindus against the Sikhs and Sikhism right from the beginning of the Sikh movement down to the present day.
The author being head of research cell in Pakistan Division of the Indian Foreign Office at the time was regular reader of the monitoring of Radio Pakistan and other world Radio stations. He found that incidents narrated over Radio Pakistan of Hindus malfeasance against the Sikhs, at the time seemingly couched in provocative language, had a kernel of truth in them. The Pakistan Radio programme had become extremely popular in Indian Punjab, and the people craved to listen to gurbani. The Government of India regarded this as a hostile propaganda. To counter it, at the instance of Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad, the Indian authorities reluctantly agreed to the introduction of gurbani programme over Jalandhar Radio station to wean the people away from Lahore Radio. The end result was a gain for the Sikhs.
The consolidated Sikh psyche had little impact, if at all, on the Sikhs in the armed forces. The trend towards shedding of keshas continued, though some Sikh Generals provided a corrective to the malaise. The armed forces officers continued to give un-Sikh names to their children, especially daughters. They mostly dropped Kaur from their names. This had an unhealthy impact on their mental make up.
The formation of Punjabi Suba was shortly afterwards followed by the general elections in February 1967. The Congress came out cropper in northern India. Despite sharp shortfall in the number of votes polled, thanks to the Indian electoral system, it managed a bare majority with 283 out of 520 seats in the Lok Sabha. But it lost power in all states in northern India, so that one could travel by train from Calcutta to Amritsar without passing through a single Congress ruled state.
The Akalis were split, led by Fateh Singh and Master Tara Singh whose influence was on the wane. Both the groups polled 24.69 percent votes and secured 26 seats (with Master group getting bare 2 seats) out of 104 seats in the Punjab legislature. Congress secured 48 seats, with 37.46 percent votes. As the Congress had lost its overall majority for the first time since 1947, all opposition groups – two Akali Dais, two Communist Parties, Jan Sangh, Republicans and Independents (save Balbir Singh of SSP) in a clever move coalesced and formed a United Front of disparate elements under the leadership of Gurnam Singh, former leader of the opposition. He had joined Sant Akali Dai before the elections. They drew a 10 point minimum programme, a clever adjustment of different ideologies. 49
Gurnam Singh government during its tenure of 8 months could not make Punjabi an official language of the new state of Punjab. It had a bare majority and Jan Sangh was bitterly opposed to this measure. This enabled Lachhman Singh Gill, a Contractor of Delhi, , who knew the weaknesses of both the Akali Dais, to win over 17 MLAs. Gurnam Singh government fell on November 22, 1967.50 Lachhman Singh Gill four days later formed the defectors government with Congress support. One of the important members of this government was Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Finance Minister, about whom later.
Gill was able to push through Official Languages Bill introducing Punjabi in Gurmukhi script as the official language of the new state of Punjab. That was quite creditable. Otherwise, Gill
had nothing to show. The row he had with the Speaker, who survived the no confidence motion and adjourned the Assembly, and the questionable manner in which he pushed through the Budget drew adverse verdict from the Punjab High Court.
Congress was led in the Punjab Assembly by Gian Singh Rarewala who had a frustrating experience with the Congress High Command. His statement on his resignation from the Congress in November 1968 about Congress attempts to crush the Sikh leadership was quite revealing of the attitude of the Congress Hindu mind.
Sant Akali Dal tried to make up with Master Akali Dal on the eve of the mid-term polls. The only point of difference between the two was Master Akali Dal’s ‘Sikh Homeland’.
A committee constituted at Batala Akali Conference on September 30, 1968, “to bring about Panthic unity” gave a new programme of “reconsideration of the State-Central relationship” under the changed conditions. “The Shiromani Akali Dal demands that the Constitution of India should be on a correct federal basis and that the states should have greater autonomy. The Shiromani Akali Dal feels that the Central Government’s interference in the internal affairs of the States, and the obstacles it places in the proper functioning of the state machinery, are detrimental to the unity and integrity of the country. . . “Therefore, Shiromani Akali Dal demanded that necessary changes be brought in the Constitution. It also appealed to “the State Governments to raise their voices to protect and safeguard their rights.” 52
The United Akali Dal made a shrewd move to enter into an electoral alliance with Jan Sangh and other splinter groups on most of the seats. The prospects of unity between Hindus and Sikhs constituted a real threat to the Congress which had so far thrived on sowing suspicions between the two communities. The Congress leaders adopted a purely communal and fissiparous approach in scaring the Hindus away from the Sikhs. Deputy Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, termed Akali-Jan Sangh alliance as an ‘unholy’ one, as, in his words, “Akalis were demanding a Sikh state and the Jan Sangh stood for Hindu Raj.”53 This Hindu-Sikh unity was poison to Congress and must be torpedoed to make Punjab safe for it.
In the February 1969 elections, Akalis won 44 seats and had the support of 5 Communists and Marxists. Again, this time under the leadership of Gurnam Singh, Akal is formed a coalition government with the 9 member Jan Sangh group, to instill confidence in the Hindu minority.
The government faced various storms. To begin with were the efforts by Arya Samajists and All-Parties Hindi Raksha Sammelan to prevent the introduction of All-India Three Language Formulae with Punjabi as first compulsory language in Punjab. As a result of the built up, a compromise solution was announced on July 15, 1969, to permit “status quo regarding medium of instruction in private aided schools”. Then followed from August 15, 1969, the fast unto death of Darshan Singh Pheruman. This was designed to embarrass the Akali Dal. Actually, Pheruman had been in search of an issue to fast unto death. His original testament, of which Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan was a witness, stated the object to be establishment of a Sikh Homeland. However, Gurnam Singh made him change that to the merger of Chandigarh with Punjab. The Congress leadership watched the situation bemused. Some took it as a Congress manoeuvre to weaken the 51 The Supreme Court reversed the judgment, out of necessity, but ensured that Gill ministry had to go. Congress withdrew its support and this resulted in introduction of President’s rules as a prelude to mid-term polls.
leadership of Sant Fateh Singh. Others regarded Pheruman’s fast to be in complete accord with the programme of Akali Dal.
Indira Gandhi by the time was facing a life and death struggle with the syndicate, which was bent upon removing her. The issue was in the forefront in the Presidential elections in July – August 1969 – V.V. Giri whom she finally supported versus Sanjiva Reddy, originally proposed by her. Akalis had the bargaining power and could have negotiated with Indira Gandhi or others for satisfaction on issues which agitated them. Or simply, they could have announced till the very last their standing apart from the ensuing contest to draw maximum advantage. Already, they had bitter experience with the Nehru family – both Nehru and Indira who had been out and out Sikh baiters. Even her defeat would not have been unwelcome. But Gurnam Singh faltered in offering her support. The fact that -finally the Akali vote tilted the balance in Giri’s favour yielded them nothing. Even the Akalis remaining neutral would have seen him lose. Akalis should have known that gratitude has no place in politics. Not being adept in the game, they wasted the opportunity to rue later.
Indira was now on high road to establishing a personalised rule with loyalty to her being equated with loyalty to the nation.54 She was now in a much better position to carry forward her family vendetta against the Sikhs. The forces of evil had been greatly strengthened.
Pheruman’s fast created a piquant situation for Sant Fateh Singh. He wrote to Indira Gandhi on August 25, 1969, and asked for a decision on Chandigarh, Bhakra Dam project and Punjabi speaking areas in Haryana. The timing could not be more inappropriate. The various manoeuvres led to formation of an All Parties Action Committee comprising representatives of seven political parties including the Punjab Congress on September 28, 1969. Akalis, Communists and Jan Sangh organised a huge mass procession of three to five hundred thousands on October 17, 1969, from Mohali to Chandigarh to secure Chandigarh for the Punjab.
Pheruman died on October 27, 1969, on 74th day of his fast in fulfilment of his vow. It created a deep stir in Punjab and made Union Home Minister, Y.B. Chavan to declare that a decision on Chandigarh would be announced before the Budget Session of 1970. Fateh Singh too announced his firm determination to go on fast unto death on January 26, 1970, and commit self-immolation on February 1, at 3 p.m., if Chandigarh was not merged into Punjab by then. His written statement spoke of his having delayed the whole process for over three years on assurances by the Centre. Now, when all political parties in Punjab were supporting merger of Chandigarh with Punjab, there was no excuse for the delay.
The All World Panthic Convention of the Sikhs held on January 10, 1970, adopted the resolution of the Working Committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal of a day earlier. The resolution stated, “It is the considered opinion of the Working Committee that after partition, the Government of India’s attitude towards the Punjabis in general and the Sikhs in particular is one of great injustice, discrimination, oppression, Zulum, and violence. It is part of history.” It also accused the central government of “fraud, oppression and injustice of a low order” in snatching “from the Punjabi-speaking state Chandigarh, Bhakra complex and some Punjabi-speaking areas.” It was reflective of deep frustration of the community’s reaching “the bitter conclusion that unheard of and unthought of discrimination is being resorted to against the Punjab.” 55
Sant Fateh Singh went on fast as scheduled. The central government on January 29, 1970, through a press Communique further complicated the situation by agreeing to transfer Chandigarh (minus certain areas forming part of Hindi zone and tagged to Chandigarh on its becoming union territory) to Punjab, but gratuitously transferring part of Fazilka tehsil of Ferozepur district to Haryana. This was unprecedented. Andhra did not get anything for losing Madras. Nor did Gujarat for giving up claims to Bombay. But in Punjab, the Centre was bent upon drawing the last drop of blood to cripple Punjab. It also helped to create another point of conflict between Punjab and Haryana to keep them embroiled, and prevent attention being paid to Jat unity.
Since the area transferred was not contiguous, the Communique provided for a corridor of one furlong on Punjab-Rajasthan borders. This idea of corridor was borrowed from Mr. Jinnah’s asking for 5 mile wide corridor through India to link two parts of Pakistan which was then negatived by the Congress leaders. The Communique also spoke of a Commission for adjustment of areas between Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Modifications on Bhakra-Beas were to be considered later or were rather put off.56 This caused protest among those gathered at Akal Takht. For the first time in Sikh history, the Sikhs committed the sacrilege and threw stones at Akal Takht in protest against the deal.
The All-Parties Action Committee on January 30, 1970, with Dr. Baldev Parkash of Jan Sangh in the Chair resolved that the idea of corridor was highly unjust, discriminatory, and deserved condemnation. The meeting appealed to the Sant to give up the fast since the merger of Chandigarh with the Punjab had been announced. Sant Fateh Singh broke his fast at 5.30 p.m. without any tangible achievement.
The Jan Sangh branches in Punjab and Haryana took different attitude depending upon the interests of the two states.
Punjab State Jan Sangh on February 1, 1970, described the decision of the Central government on Chandigarh and Fazilka as “most abject, humiliating, unjust and detrimental to the interests of Punjab.” It described these to be “mainly based on non-secular considerations” and against justice and accepted linguistic principles. Gurnam Singh, Chief Minister, termed the decision “arbitrary” and communal, “to push Hindu villages into Haryana not on the basis of language but religion.” He stoutly denied accusations of his being a partner in this barter deal. Come what may, Sarhadi considered Gurnam Singh of being no match to the political manoeuveres of the Central Congress leadership. 57
Akalis were now in for crude surprises. Revolt of Gurnam Singh and some M.L.As in elections to Rajya Sabha on March 25, 1970, led to the defeat of official candidate Jathedar Santokh Singh and election of Giani Bhupinder Singh. Gurnam Singh had entered into some understanding with Congress to save his Ministry, but he was betrayed.58 This sealed his fate. He was expelled from Akali Dal. Jan Sangh remained steadfast to its alliance with Shiromani Akali Dal.
On nomination by Sant Fateh Singh, Parkash Singh Badal on March 27, 1970, took over as Chief Minister. Badal did a great Job in checking violent Naxalite activity, and large scale smuggling of contraband from Pakistan. 59
The efforts of Gurnam Singh to dislodge the Badal Ministry by a no-confidence motion was foiled because Congress remained neutral on the move. Indira Gandhi, running a minority
government at the Centre because of break with the Syndicate, did not want to embroil herself in the Punjab imbroglio. Badal wanted Gian Singh Rarewala, who by now had joined Akali Dal, to play an active part. Gurcharan Singh Tohra had his own designs. He was in league with the Communists, and wanted to checkmate Rarewala.
Akali politics by now had become factional and canktankerous. This enabled the extraneous elements – the Congress and the Communists to play havoc with the Akalis.
Indira since her breaking the Congress party was heading a minority government. She was dependent upon the Communists who looked kindly to her various socialistic measures. She was heading towards a mid-term poll with vengeance, destroying all restraints. She was willing to placate those who could help her, infiltrate and destroy those who were weak. She gave full play to business and in generating ‘black money’. Foreign powers too sent black money through diplomatic bags.60 It was a free for all. Akalis marred by dissensions were the worst sufferers. The Communists were working for her victory.
The Akalis were now under attack from within and from without. They had no means to counter the mischief being wrought by Tohra and his cohort infiltrators; they were orchestrating the policies dictated by their parent party – the Communists. And, since, Tohra had a solid support of communist infiltrators in the SGPC and District Akali Jathas, he was more dangerous. Then, there was Gurnam Singh since won over by central Congress leadership and working in close collaboration with Tohra. Gurnam Singh was not reconciled to Badal’s taking over as Chief Minister. The Jan Sangh too dittoed Gurnam Singh in that.
The Central Government with formidable resources at its disposal sought to create a chasm between Akalis and Jan Sangh, twice coalition partners in the last few years. Services of Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan were commissioned at political level in raising the slogan of Sikh Homeland.61 Tohra was an important actor in that. Various intelligence agencies reported the widespread impression among the people that Chauhan was raising the slogan of Khalistan at the instance of Indira Congress.”
The Akali Dal had been greatly weakened by Sant Fateh Singh’s suffering a heart attack in September 1970. His protege Sant Chanan Singh suffered the same fate in another two weeks. To capitalise on the situation, Tohra gave a call for Panthic unity. For him, such calls were instruments of offence and deception. Now, as a result, Pheruman and Master groups merged themselves with Sant Akali Dal in November 1970; Gurnam Singh and Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan, both deeply in league with Indira Congress, were inducted into Akali Dal. Gurnam Singh took over as President of the Parliamentary Board, whereas Dr. Chauhan was appointed as one of the General Secretaries.
For mid-term polls to Lok Sabha, Dr. Chauhan prepared a draft manifesto for the Party on the lines dictated by Indira Congress. It envisaged, a) complete autonomy in all affairs except Foreign Affairs; b) separate flag; c) Sikh representation in the United Nations Organisations; and, d) refraining of the Constitution in accordance with the wishes of the Sikhs. The Congress objective was to distance Jan Sangh from Akalis, and Hindus from Jan Sangh. Since the draft was not in accordance with the Akali policies, Sant Fateh Singh rejected it.
Gurnam Singh and Jagjit Singh Chauhan were mere pawns. The mastermind was Tohra. Under his advice, Gurnam Singh manoeuvred to prevent Akali Dal from having any understanding
with Jan Sangh or any other group for the Lok Sabha mid-term elections. Akalis fought 12 of 13 seats and lost all but one.
Encouraged at the Akali debacle, Congress took them by the horns to smash them. Nirlep Kaur, daughter-in-law of S.B. Ranjit Singh, a long-standing Congress Member of Parliament, with the help of toughs from Punjab, and police connivance, took forcible possession of Gurdwara Sis Ganj in Delhi, in May 1971. Delhi High Court obligingly, the following month, ruled against Sant Akali Dal. The long-standing Congress government’s desire to control the Sikh Gurdwaras was fulfilled atleast in the capital. 63
This had its fallout in withdrawal of Congress support to minority Akali government in Punjab. The Akali leadership’s efforts to save their government by arranging rapprochement with Jan Sangh was foiied by Tohra group and Gurnam Singh, The latter along with some former Congressites defected from Akali Dal to Congress on eve of mid-June session of the Punjab Assembly. Badal resigned. Instead of induction of Gurnam Singh as Chief Minister, Governor dissolved the Punjab Assembly and imposed President’s rule. 64
Indira now sought to strike decisive blows at any prospects of Akali Dal and Jan Sangh coming together. Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan was let loose on international arena to propagate, what he called, Khalistan. Since India by the time was having a war of words with Pakistan over the crisis in East Pakistan and influx of Bengali refugees to India, Chauhan came into contact with foreign governments, and their intelligence set ups too. Pakistanis under President Yahya Khan, looking for a break through, fell into the trap and extended support to Chauhan.
When the Akalis were marshalling their resources to have a brush with Indira Government over its seizure of Delhi Gurdwaras, Chauhan on June 22, 1971, left on foreign tour. Though a General Secretary of Akali Dal, his visit was not sponsored by the Party.
The Akali Dal launched a morcha, agitation, on August 15, 1971, to liberate Delhi Gurdwaras. Over the next few months, 20,000 Akali workers were arrested. The agitation was suspended on December 3, on start of open hostilities between India and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Chauhan on September 18, 1971, in a press interview in London raised demand for Khalistan and stated that a rebel government would be formed with headquarters at Nankana Sahib; if necessary, the Sikhs could fight the Indian army and obtain arms from Pakistan and China. Paradoxically, his pronouncements very well suited both Pakistan and its supporters, and Indira Congress and its cohorts. He also circulated a map of the Sikh state.65 The Des Pardesh of London of September 26,1971, published a verbatim interview with Chauhan.66 He stated that Pakistani President, Yahya Khan, had agreed to give Vatican status to Nankana Sahib; a government in exile would start functioning from Nankana Sahib after the International Sikh Convention on November 2, the birthday of Guru Nanak; he would himself issue visas and also launch a Sikh International Airline. He, thereafter, referred to economic injustices perpetrated by the Indian Government, viz. non completion of Dam over river Ravi and delay in completion of Pong Dam, poor central investment in industry in Punjab which was at 16 crores (Rs. 160 mn) out of 56,000 crores (Rs. 560,000 mn), etc.
Dr. Chauhan shortly afterwards left for New York to take up the case for independent Sikh land with the United Nations. He inserted half a page advertisement in the New York Times of 62 Indira was quite pleased.
October 12, 1971, for the Sikh demand for an independent state.
Indira’s purport seemed to have been served when Jan Sangh weekly Current of October 23 published the news about Dr. Chauhan under the banner headline: “Sant Akali Dal Now Demands a Sovereign Sikh State”. This was despite Sant Akali Dal’s disowning of Jagjit Singh Chauhan. The Current report shrewdly hinted at possible adverse repercussions of Chauhan’s pronouncements on fortunes of Sant Akali Dal in the state assembly elections which, it said, “are not far away”.
Dr. Chauhan duly arrived at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan on November 2, for Guru Nanak’s birthday celebrations. He was ceremoniously presented with the keys of Gurdwara Janamasthan, the birthplace of Guru Nanak. He contrasted Government of India’s action in taking over the Sikh shrines in Delhi as against that of the Government of Pakistan.
Sant Fateh Singh on November 9, 1971, when still in Delhi jail for liberation of Delhi Gurdwaras from government control, suspended Jagjit Singh Chauhan from the party for his activities abroad which were “against the party’s policy as well as the interests of the country and the Panth.”68 The Akalis, as already stated, suspended the agitation on December 3, on start of India- Pak war out of patriotic feelings.
Following the war, the government adopted the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Bill, but held the elections after a long interval to hand back the Gurdwaras to the representatives of the Sikh community. This long delay also showed mala fide intentions of the government.
Indira’s prestige reached new heights following India’s victory over Pakistan leading to the creation of sovereign, independent, Bangladesh, and with over 93,000 Pakistani Prisoners-of-War in hand. She sought to encash her popularity, and called for Assembly elections, including that for Punjab in March 1972. Besides, Dr. Chauhan’s activities abroad were deliberately projected by the media to form part of Sant Akali Dal’s doings. Her purport to scare Hindus away from Jan Sangh which had twice entered into alignment with Akalis had been achieved. The Akalis had no answer to this character assassination campaign by the controlled media.
Indira Congress had an alignment with Communist Party of India and Gurnam Singh faction of Akali Dal. It won 66 of 89 seats contested, securing 42.84 percent votes. Its ally, Communist Party of India won 10 seats. Sant Akalis got 24 seats with 27.7 per cent votes, and Communist Party (Marxist) 1 seat with 3.3 per cent votes. Jan Sangh which polled 5 percent votes drew a blank. 69
In the post election analysis, Harish Bhanot, Correspondent of the Hindustan Times attributed Indira Congress’s victory to two factors. One was the help extended by CPI which according to him “spearheaded Congress political campaign”, and two, the “Hindus tilted the balance in Punjab”. The Hindus were determined not to let Akalis come into power themselves or in alignment with other political parties. They, therefore, voted for Congress(I) and its allies. 70
Giani Zail Singh was inducted as Chief Minister of Punjab on March 17, 1972. With him started the new era of Congress efforts to break the hegemony of Akalis in Sikh politics. 67 This must have cost a lot of money. The following day, he backed up with a demonstration before the United Nations headquarters.
Tohra, taking advantage of Akalis defeat, asked for Sant Fateh Singh’s retirement. The Sant did not disappoint him. He stepped aside from Presidentship which devolved on Jathedar Mohan Singh Tur. The Akali Dal, however, at its annual session in August 1972, named Sant Fateh Singh as Patron, and asked him to name the new executive. Again, Mohan Singh Tur was named President. Later, in the SGPC elections Sant Chanan Singh, close to Sant Fateh Singh was re-elected President.
Sant Fateh Singh died of heart failure on October 30, 1972, and Sant Chanan Singh followed suit in another month. This void put the Akali politics in doledrums. 71
Tohra, a pastmastar in effecting alliances, with his solid support of leftist infiltrators was now angling to take over Presidentship of the SGPC.72 He entered into new understanding with unsuspecting Badal, brought about the merger of breakaway Akali Dais to strengthen his hands. This enabled him to seize Presidentship of the SGPC on January 6, 1973. That, he has been able to keep control for over two decades without his active links with Communists being questioned, reflects the bad days to which the Akali leadership has fallen.
Tohra straightway under advice of Marxist leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet, and also Giani Zail Singh (from whose Faridkot district many Naxalites came) started bringing in former Naxalites in employment in various Gurdwaras. This accelerated the downhill journey of the Sikhs in socio-religious sphere.
As against that, Giani Zail Singh unintentionally gave spurt to the Sikh revivalism. He virtually ran away with Akalis clothes. His project to build 400 km long zig zag Guru Gobind Singh Marg (highway linking Anandpur Sahib in the north to Damdama Sahib in the south),73 with erection of pillars with inscriptions from Guru Gobind Singh’s utterances at 20 historical places on the way, caused a great deal of enthusiasm among the people.74 Akalis stole the show by putting the SGPC van in front of the inaugural mahanyatra, great pilgrimage, which commenced at Anandpur Sahib on April 10, and ended at Damdama Sahib on April 13, 1973. The securing of Guru Gobind Singh’s weapons from London and their display at various places in Punjab, besides taking out special processions on the occasion was another factor. Giani Zail Singh also organised Kirtan Darbars all over the state, named various hospitals after the Gurus, and founded Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar at the outskirts of Chandigarh. 75
The centenary celebrations of founding of Singh Sabha movement starting 1973, the founding of Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha under presidentship of Hukam Singh to carry on the work of dharam prachar, religious preachings, on continuous basis, and the tricentenary celebrations of martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur in 1975 helped to rejuvenate the community. The Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha organised discussions, lectures, seminars on an ongoing basis. These and other activities helped to bring about resurgence and renaissance of traditional Sikh values.
The greening of Punjab farms and concentration of small scale industries made the Sikhs all the more conscious of the state having been starved of heavy industry.76 Then, there was the war of words between Zail Singh and his overlord Indira Gandhi on the one had, and the Sikhs who accused the Congress leadership of ingratitude and betrayals on the other. The disclosures in February 1973 by Niranjan Singh Talib, President Punjab Congress, of Tarlochan Singh Riyasti having been “paid and bribed” with the blessings of Indira Gandhi to bring down the Akali ministry in 1971, “substantiated the gravest misgivings of those who cherish democracy in this country.”77 On top of it, came news about the centre’s intentions about splitting up the SGPC into several
boards to break the Sikh power and ride roughshod over the Sikh community. The refusal of Haryana Chief Minister, Bansi Lal, to hold the SGPC elections was seen as part of a widespread conspiracy.
Giani Zail Singh’s efforts to ingratiate Arya Samajists on Hindi in Schools indicated that Congress(I) was not willing to give Punjabi the same status as given, say, to Bengali in Bengal, Marathi in Maharashtra. The Sikhs were not amused.
The growth of Sikh consciousness and the feelings of infidelity of the Hindus towards the Sikhs went hand in hand. In July 1973, the Master Akali Dal headed by Kapur Singh decided to launch a new movement for a ‘Sikh Homeland within the Indian Union’ from August 15, 1973. The Spokesman weekly of July 16, observed that “The Sikh Homeland idea is catching up. Mere condemnation or denunciation would not solve the problem. . . disappointment among Sikh masses is rapidly increasing.” Bhai Sahib Ardaman Singh of Bagarian observed in the Spokesman weekly of mid-August 1973 that the “Sikhs feel grieved in free India”. He analysed and placed the Sikhs in the Congress into three categories. Firstly, there were few devoted Sikhs who were “much better Sikhs than many of us”, but were inhibited by Congress masters whom they could not displease. Secondly, there were opportunists who were interested only in their own self and their positions of profit and vantage. “Thirdly, there are those who are afraid that any rapprochement and understanding between their gods at the Centre and the Sikh Panth will sweep them out into dustbins. They are interested only in keeping the bad blood boiling. It will be futile to pin any hope on these people.” 79
As a matter of fact, the persons enumerated by Bhai Ardaman Singh in first category also fell in the third category, as the situation demanded. Also, the Congress leadership encouraged the last group of people who were willing to do maximum damage to the Sikhs in return for loaves and fishes of offices, and other crums.
The counterpulls to which the Sikhs were subjected found expression at the Annual Conference of Akali Dal on October 16-17, 1973, at Anandpur Sahib which adopted the famous resolution. It was drafted by Kapur Singh who had earlier authored the resolution adopted by Hari Singh Nalwa Conference in May 1965, which had demanded ‘a self-determined political status within the Union of India’.80 Anandpur Sahib Resolution now adopted was more detailed and all comprehensive. Kapur Singh proceeded with the assumption that the Sikhs were the chosen people.
Anandpur Sahib Resolution has come to acquire the status of Magna Carta for the Sikhs. It spells out the political, religious, social, cultural, and economic interests of the Sikhs. To the Hindus, who are allergic to Khalsa’s concept of charhdi kala, loftiness of spirit, the concept of Sikh Panth’s independent entity is secessionist, and subversive of national objectives laid down by Gandhi to merge the entity of the Sikhs within the broad ocean of Hindudom. Hence it was acclaimed as treasonous.
The resolution, however, went unnoticed and was adopted without any discussion in much the same way as were the resolutions adopted by the Indian National Congress till 1920. It was reflective of the deep feelings of some sections of leadership over the malady that afflicted the community and the remedy that suggested itself as a way out. 78
It was in this vein that the Spokesman weekly of December 3, 1973, covering the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur captioned the main story, “Hindus Turn Ungrateful to Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Supreme Sacrifice of Life; Sikh Sacrifices and Help Paid Back with Treachery, Deceit and Stab-in-the Back.” In the main news story it said that “We cannot resist the urge to grieve over the present day anti-Sikh policies of Hindus” and that, “Now a days the Hindus are thirsty of Sikh Blood and would love to bury the Sikhs fathoms deep beyond any hope of resurrection. To achieve these nefarious designs, they consider no means too mean or too foul.” Further that, “Long used to political hegemony, economic overlordship and false notions of social superiority, they seek to drown every one who tries to challenge them or had the potential of becoming a rival to them in any field. “It went on to add, “Scratch any Hindu and behind his skin you will find an anti-Sikh maniac who is sneaking his lips to finish off the Sikhs.”
Such feelings got aggravated in the next year and a half till Indira Gandhi went berserk and imposed internal emergency to save her dynastic, Sikh-baiting, Brahminical rule. This constituted perversity of the Indian Constitution.
The Sikhs with traditions of defiance of autocratic, dictatorial, rulers were naturally destined to be the worst sufferers of this maniac-depressive Indira’s emergency regime, which changed for the Sikhs the course of their history and their place in the Indian set up.
- It was generally believed that had Nehru been alive. Justice Das would have exonerated Kairon.
- On May 22, 1964, the police entered Gurdwara Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh with shoes on and cigarettes in their pockets in utter disregard of Sikh traditions and sacred injunctions. The police also opened fire killing many Nihangs congregating inside the Gurdwara. The doors and windows of the shrine were smashed and the man reciting Akhand Path was also killed.
- Ajit Singh Sarhadi, Punjabi Suba, The Story of Struggle (Delhi, 19.70), p. 399.
- Ibid, p. 400.
- Both Tohra and Balwant Singh played a prominent part in the Akali Dal and continued to serve as Trojan horses for their respective parties. For instance, Tohra has throughout kept in close touch with Harkishan Singh Surjeet, the evil genius of the Communist Party of India(Marxist) in guiding the course of Sikh politics. Balwant Singh till his very last, protected the Congress interests. For instance, when Akalis came into power following the emergency excesses in 1977, he did not permit severe action being taken against any of the civil servants who had served as Sanjay’s cronies. They were only given unimportant posts. All this while, Akalis were arrested a number of times on various issues by different Congress governments, but Balwant Singh was not even once taken into custody. The understanding was mutual.
- Gurmit Singh, History of Sikh Struggles, (Delhi, 1983), Vol 1. p. 157.
- Sarhadi. n. 3, pp. 400-01.
- Emphasis added. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs, (Delhi, 1983), pp. 369-70; Also, Sarhadi, n. 3, pp. 401-02.
- Gurmit Singh, n. 6, p. 160.
- For text, Ibid, pp. 161-63; Sarhadi, n. 3, p. 403.
- For text, see Gurmit Singh, n. 6, pp. 163-65. Khushwant Singh later went over to the other side and was amply rewarded.
- “Shastri-Fateh Singh Dialogue on Punjabi Suba”, The Sikh Review Calcutta, December 1965; also reproduced in Ibid, pp. 396-419.
- Sarhadi, n. 3, p. 409.
- Ibid, p. 414. Dr. S. Gopal in the biography of his rather. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan has played down his role, probably to ingratiate himself with Nehru-descendants still holding the levers of power in India.
- Hukam Singh, “Betrayal of the Sikhs” in Hindu-Sikh Conflict: Causes and Cure; (London, 1983), pp. 21-22. Also in Gurmit Singh, n. 6, appendix 43, pp. 427-32.
- Sarhadi, n. 3, p. 418.
- Ibid, p. 420.
- Hukam Singh, n. 16, pp. 21-22.
- Sarhadi, n. 3, p. 423.
- Precisely, it recommended the present state of Punjab being reorganised on linguistic basis and the Punjabi region specified in the First Schedule to Punjab Regional Committee Order, 1957, to form an unilingual Punjabi speaking state.
- Krishna Huthee Singh, Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister, not knowing Indira’s game plan wrote, “I am sure Indira was overruled.” Reflecting Gangu Brahminical heritage, she went on to add, “If it were upto me I’d… send a firing squad to hasten them to Sainthood” We Nehru’s, p. 360, quoted in Gurmit Singh in The Spokesman Weekly, February 25, 1973.
- In the words of Khushwant Singh, In her dealings with the Punjab or the Sikhs, Mrs. Gandhi practised a kind of duplicity “more becoming of a smalltime politician than a far sighted statesman”. In her memoirs My Truth, Indira confirms her duplicity which she justified in the interest of retaining Hindu support. Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, (Delhi, 1991), Vol 2, pp. 304-05.
- The Tribune, March 10, 1966, quoted in Sarhadi, n. 3, p. 430.
- Craig Baxter, The Jan Sangh. A Biography of an Indian Political Party, (Philadelphia, 1969), p. 255.
- Ibid, p. 256.
- Sarhadi, n. 3, p. 438.
- “Punjab Boundary Commission Report” in Gurmit Singh, n. 6, Doc. 46, p. 447.
- Ibid, p. 454.
- Punjab had a population of 115.84 lakhs (11.584 mn) of whom over 60 percent actually, and not 50 percent as per false and fictitious census of 1961, were Sikhs. The reorganised Punjab had over 80 percent of the Sikh population in India. The next biggest concentration of the Sikhs was in Delhi.
- Satya M. Rai, Punjab Since Partition, (Delhi 1986 edn), p. 312.
- Gurmit Singh, n. 6, pp. 175-76.
- Ibid, p. 442.
- Ibid, p.435.
- He was preaching Sikhism and carrying on amrit prachar administering baptism) and reclaimed back to the fold of the Khalsa some of those managing Sikh shrines in London.
- Sarhadi, n. 3, p. 453-54.
- Ibid, p. 455.
- Hukam Singh was shortly afterwards rewarded with appointment as Governor of Rajasthan.
- Baldev Raj Nayar, Minority Politics in Punjab, (Princeton, 1966). Nayar had failed to foresee that Punjabi Suba was on the anvil and referred to the Sikhs as a minority whose politics he discussed. The Sikhs actually were over 60 percent in the Punjab. The Hindus, after excluding
Scheduled Castes, were barely 15 percent. Of them, the real miscreants, namely Arya Samajists were hardly 5 percent. On seeing the title, the author in 1966 thought that Nayar was writing about the political antics of these hard core fanatics. To his great disappointment, he found that Nayar was discussing the politics of over 60 percent majority, which he erroneously termed minority.
- Ibid, p. 139.
- Ibid, pp. 138-41.
- Dhillon as Speaker of the Assembly was the right hand man of Kairon and throughout the period had blinkers over his eyes. In early 1963, the author spent a week with his Ph.D. guide, Dr. Hari Ram Gupta, then pro-Vice Chancellor of the Punjab University. In the room on the opposite side of the corridor. Vice Chancellor, A.C. Joshi, was conducting interviews for teaching appointments to the University Colleges in Jalandar and Rohtak. These went on for a week and the author found that not a single Sikh candidate appeared for interview. Dhilion as Speaker was also sitting on the interview Board. The author asked Dr. Gupta the reasons for Sikhs not figuring in the interviews. Dr. Gupta said that Dr. Joshi was a rabid Arya Samajist and he eliminated the Sikh candidates at the preliminary stage. He also said that in the whole of the Punjab University, the number of the Sikhs appointed to the teaching posts could be counted on the fingertips of one hand. Dhillon never bothered about the blatant discrimination to which the Sikhs were being subjected.
- Swaran Singh during his entire ministerial career did not help a single Sikh (including his brother in the Railways), except a Sikh lady, and that too for extraneous reasons! Rather he was cause of retarding their service prospects.
For instance, in 1965-66, over a period of a year, one Mr. X was superceded four times for ad hoc promotion to Senior Class I Grade I level, and Swaran Singh as Minister approved the promotions. When the papers superceding Mr. X by the author went up to him, Swaran Singh got rather disturbed: how could a turbaned Sikh supercede a caste Hindu? He raised certain objections. The administration pointed out that the post to which the author was being promoted was highly specialised, relating to Pakistan, and knowledge of Urdu was essential. Also, another post was coming up in another two months to which Mr. X could be accommodated. The author’s promotion was approved. A couple of months later, Mr. X was also promoted. Thereafter Mr. X speaking to the author stated that it was his (authors) promotion that made Swaran Singh to wake up to the injustice that was being done to him.
- Musafir committed faux paus as a satyagrahi during the civil disobedience movement and was later taken by Gandhi to Wardha where he was subjected to complete brain washing, that he virtually became a robot.
- Darbara Singh was the only Sikh politician who did not have an apprenticeship with Akali Dal. So far as Sikhs are concerned, he was simply an unregenerate man.
- One may recall Giani Kartar Singh’s act as Revenue Minister in mid-1950s, when talks for formation of linguistic zones were going on. He transferred the village of Kandu Khera from Ferozepur to Bhatinda District to break the contiguity of Hindu-dominated Hissar district with Hindu-dominated Abohar and Fazilka tehsils of Ferozepur district. It was this farsighted act, of breaking the link between two Hindu dominated areas, that saved the cotton rich areas of Fazilka from being awarded to Haryana by the Shah Commission in 1966 itself. It was not for nothing that he was called the brain of the Akali Party.
- Harbans Singh, n. 8, p. 375.
- For text, see, Sarhadi, n. 3, pp. 463-64.
- Coincidentally, the same day master Tara Singh died.
- K. C. Gulati, Akalis Past and Present, (Delhi, 1974), p. 186.
- Sarhadi, n. 3, p. 466.
- Ibid, pp. 467-68.
- Inder Malhotra, Indira Gandhi, A Personal and Political Biography, (London, 1989), p. 122.
- For text, see Sarhadi, n. 3, p. 475.
- Ibid, pp. 477-78. The Commission for adjustment of areas was never appointed.
- Ibid, p. 481.
- Gulati, n. 51, p. 190.
- Khushwant Singh, n. 24, Vol II, p. 315.
- Nayar, n. 40, p. 167.
- Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan had a colourful career. A private medical practitioner of Tanda, Hoshiarpur District, he was elected to the Punjab Assembly in 1967 on Republican Party of India ticket. In the United Front Ministry, he was inducted as Deputy Speaker. He withdrew support from the United Front Ministry of Gurnam Singh on November 22, 1967, and joined the Janta Party formed by breakway Lachhman Singh Gill. In the 1969 Punjab Assembly elections, he lost security deposit. He became President of Janta Party when Gill died in April 1969.
Chauhan played a major role in Darshan Singh Pheruman’s fast unto-death over Chandigarh, leading to his death in October 1969.
When Kapur Singh and Gian Singh Rarewala floated the Panj Kaunsli, Chauhan merged his Janta Party. He was a strong critic of Sant Fateh Singh and asserted on June 18, 1970, that only the formation of a Sikh Homeland could deliver the goods to the Sikhs. By the time, he had come under the influence “of Indira Congress leaders and was playing into their hands. He became Vice President, when Panj Kaunsli was renamed Shiromani Akali Dal (Pheruman) on August 25, 1970.
- Gulati, n. 51, p. 192.
- Ibid, p. 193.
- Ibid. Gurnam Singh was later rewarded with appointment as High Commissioner to Australia, but died shortly afterwards in an air crash.
- The Hind Samachar, Jalandhar on September 21, splashed Chauhan’s statement published in Partap of London of September 19, 1971.
- He was interviewed by the editor of the paper.
- Sant Fateh Singh was at the time being held in Delhi jail in connection with the agitation for liberation of Delhi Gurdwaras.
- The Patriot. November 10, 1971.
- Paul R. Brass, Language, Religion and Politics in Northern India, (Cambridge, 1974), pp. 371-72.
- Harish Bhanot in the Hindustan Times, March 15, 1972.
- See, Bhai Hari Singh Shergill for a detailed analysis of the Sikh situation in the post-Sant period. The Spokesman Weekly, December 25, 1972.
- The Spokesman Weekly, December 25, 1972.
- Much of the highway was already in existence.
- The Spokesman Weekly, April 23, 1973.
- Khushwant Singh, n. 24, vol II, p. 327.
- The Spokesman Weekly, April 23, 1973.
- Ibid. April 30, 1973.
- Ibid. May 7, and June 11, 1973.
- Ibid, Anniversary Number 1973, p. 21
- See n. 8 ante.