Treasure trove of history neglected

However, the historical weapon has yet to find a proper place in a museum. Earlier, on March 3, 1947, Master Tara Singh, along with about 500 Sikhs, had declared ‘Death to Pakistan’ at Lahore by holding this sword. Consequently, about 50,000 strong Muslim crowd went berserk outside and Masterji and his men narrowly escaped death.

Ms Jaspreet Kaur, grand daughter-in-law of a Panthic leader who has done her Ph.D on Master Tara Singh, says that he is remembered for steering Sikhs towards opting for India in 1947 and also for the campaign for the state of Punjab in independent India.

However, his own party and the SGPC seem to have forgotten the ‘Betaj Badshah’ (the uncrowned King), she adds. Masterji was one of the great leaders instrumental in the formation of the SGPC and SAD. While at last the nation paid tribute to the memory of one of its great freedom fighters by adorning his portrait in Parliament’s Central Hall on August 21, 2003, the Sikh Panth has yet to recognise his services by raising suitable memorial.

Neither the SGPC nor SAD has come forward to open museum where belongings of Master Tara Singh could be preserved and displayed. The cupboard of Master Tara Singh, kept in the old structure of his house, remains locked t of the time. It contains a number of swords, including a samurai (Japanese sword), t of them gifted to him during functions, along with Siropas (robe of honour).

The indifference of the SGPC and Shiromani Akali Dal notwithstanding, the family members of the legendary Akali leader are contemplating to turn a portion of his abode into a museum for the posterity. The family has been preserving a number of items, ranging from his personal use items to correspondence containing precious information and views regarding Partition. His grandson, Mr Mandip Singh, has these items including garwi, large-sized metal glasses, muffler, pens, passport, gold pocket watch, historical documents, including his correspondence with the British rulers and national leaders Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru on burning topics like Partition and communal riots.

Alas! His pocket watch got partially burnt in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi. A plastic pipe and funnel, kept in the old structure of the house, shows the humble way of living of the towering Sikh leader who used them as hearing aid in his old age.

He was in the habit of writing his thoughts in diaries of which some pages are now available. Some of the pages of his diary written in Punjabi read that Pakistan would attack Jammu and Kashmir. These words proved prophetic after a year of Partition. Another page of the diary reads ” America was instigating Pakistan and provided it (Pakistan) with arms and ammunition. These are the historical documents that need immediate attention.
The cupboard also contains a white coloured bulletproof jacket given by the then British Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar in 1947 after the breaking of communal riots. Masterji’s walking sticks and utensils are other articles of importance, which he used in Dharamshala jail while fighting for Punjabi Suba. Besides, he had in his possession one 12-bore double barrel gun and a 3.3 gun.

His correspondence with the famous Cripps Mission, which visited India in 1942, showed again his concerns about the rights and safety of the Sikh community. The important papers included a Shiromani Akali Dal resolution passed on March 22, 1946, demanding an independent Sikh state free from the subjugation of any theological state.

In post-independent India, his communication with various ministers and leaders illustrated his concerns about the adequate representation of Sikhs in various jobs and also his demand for the Punjabi Suba.

Is there any leader today who can take pledge to remain pauper throughout life’ This was true in case of Master Tara Singh, who served his community and nation selflessly. The ordinary hand-made cot where he used to sit while meeting people kept in his room also shows his humble lifestyle. Though he was not a man of means, but he had the will, perseverance and honesty of purpose, and that helped him occupy the centre-stage of the Sikh politics till his death.

Masterji took pledge to serve the nation and the Sikh Panth by remaining poor when he was a student of Khalsa College, Amritsar.

His credentials as a national leader could be ascertained from the historical facts. During the Round Table Conference at Shimla, convened by the then Governor-General, Lord Wavell, after the end of the Second World War, Master Tara Singh argued that the creation of Pakistan would be more injurious to his community than to any other community. He was among the twenty-one Indian leaders invited for the high profile conference to ease the surcharged political atphere. He made many enemies by opposing the creation of Pakistan. Sikh leaders like Tara Singh did indeed have a great foresight by not believing in the private concessions of Jinnah. Hindu leadership, including Bhim Sen Sachar, Gopi Chand Bhargava, Mahasha Krishan, and Mahasha Khushal Chand, formed an anti-Pakistan front, with Master Tara Singh as its leader.

Though Master Tara Singh was a great freedom fighter, yet his family members have not taken any benefit from freedom fighters’ quota so far.

Author par excellence
Tara Singh had a bright educational career and was a scholarship holder throughout his academic years. In 1907, he passed his B.A. examination from Khalsa College, Amritsar. He remained captain of the college hockey team for three years. Later, he joined as headmaster of Khalsa High School, Lyallpur, at an honorarium of Rs 15 per month. Since then he came to be known as Master Tara Singh.

The Nankana Sahib tragedy came as the turning point in his life and he plunged into the Sikh politics by saying goodbye to teaching. He also edited two Akali newspapers ‘ Akali (Urdu) and Akali te Pardesi. He took an active part in national politics till his death on November 22, 1967. Few people know that Master Tara Singh was a prolific writer. He authored two novels ‘ Prem Lagan and Baba Tega Singh. He was also the author of Garihst dharm sikhiya, Piram pyala and Kio varni kiv jana. He also penned travelogues.

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