Sikh Social Warriors

Master Tara Singh (1885 - 1967)

picture of tara singh

Master Tara Singh was born in a Punjabi Hindu Malhotra family of Rawalpindi. It is indeed remarkable that from humble origins he arose to the top of Sikh leadership, culminating with the creation of Punjabi State in Independent India. He initiated into Khalsa when he was ten or twelve years old. A fierce sewadar and helpful to all Sikhs he was among those cream of crop who strive to become a perfect Soldiers of their community. Tara Singh Malhotra is remembered for two things, one steering Sikhs towards opting for India in 1947 and other to campaingn for the state of Punjab in Independet India.

His first duty to serve Khalsa on the political arena came when he was invited to Round Table conference at Shimla after the end of the Second World War by the Governor-General, Lord Wavell, to ease the political situation in the country, the Sikhs were given representation along with other communities. Pleading on their behalf, Master Tara Singh who was among the twenty-one Indian leaders invited, argued that the creation of Pakistan would be more injurious to his community than to any other community. He told governor general that Sikhs are scattered all over the Punjab and are not in majority in any district. He vigorously campaigned against the demand of Pakistan by Muslim League and made many enemies.

He along with other Sikh leaders met with the leader of Muslim League Mohammad Ali Jinnah at the house of Hardit Singh Malik. Here is a quote from the book "Heritage of the Sikhs by Harbans Singh" "Mr Jinnah, who outwardly maintained an attitude of sullen and studious disregard towards the Sikhs, tried to cajole them privately. He knew in his heart of hearts that Sikh opposition to Pakistan was one real obstacle in his way and made several secret overtures to the leaders of the community. He chided them for being too subservient to Congress influence and held out all kinds of allurements, including the formation of an autonomous Sikh area within Pakistan. Some British of ficers also conveyed similar offers to Sikh leaders "to enable them to have political feet of their own on which they may walk into the current of world history." Plans were made to have Master Tara Singh and Jinnah talk together. A meeting took place in Delhi on April 2, 1946, at the house of Sir Teja Singh Malik, a retired chief engineer who had also been minister in the princely states of Jaipur and Patiala. Besides Master Tara Singh and Jinnah, Maharaja Yadavinder Singh of Patiala, his prime minister, Sardar Hardit Singh Malik who was the host's brother, and Giani Kartar Singh joined the meeting. Malik Hardit Singh was assigned to presenting the Sikh viewpoint as the principal spokesman. Jinnah's one overriding concern was to have the Sikhs rescind theiropposition to Pakistan and lend his demand their support instead. He was prodigal of assurances, and told the Sikh leaders that the Sikhs would have a position of honour in the new State. But he refrained from elaborating. Malik Hardit Singh tried to extract from him a more specific enunciation and raised some concrete issues. He said that in Pakistan there would presumably be a parliament, a cabinet, armed services, and so on. He wished Jinnah to say what exactly would be the Sikhs' position in these and other instruments of State. Jinnah dodged by inviting the Sikhs to set forth their demands in writing and by citing the instance of Zaghlul Pasha of Egypt. Zaghlul Pasha, he said, asked the Copts, the Christian minority, to give him their charter of demands. Without having a look at what was written in document, Zaghlul Pasha signed, "I agree." " That is how I shall treat the Sikhs," said Jinnah. Hardit Singh continued his thrusts and said, "You are being very generous, Mr Jinnah, but how about your succcessors? What is the guarantee that they would implement the assurance given by you?" "My friend, in Pakistan my word will be like the word of God. No one dare go back on it," replied Jinnah. "

Since these meetings were private and there was never promised anything on paper, Sikh leaders did not trusted the Promised given to them by Jinnah and were vindicated of their foresight when Pakistan's army launched an attacked against Bengali Muslims in Bangladesh with mass destruction and gross human rights violations. Considering the current pathetic state of minorities like Hindus and Christians, Sikh leaders like Tara Singh did indeed had a great foresight by not believing in the private concessions of Jinnah.

After repeated attempts of rioting, Indian leaders agreed to the partition of country . Tara Singh and many Akali leaders were furious as they were going to loose their houses and lands. On March 3 1947, Tara Singh at Lahore along with about 500 Sikhs declared from a dias "Death to Pakistan" when about 50,000+ strong muslim crowd went berserk outsie. Tara Singh and his Akali men narrowly escaped their death, the next day 4th March 1947, wide scale rioting in Lahore and adjoining areas started. As Jinnah had declared "Muslims are no believers of non-violence", each muslim tried to prooved his point by plundering, pillaging, raping and other un describeable acts.

Rioting at other places in Punjab stated as a retaliation to the killings by Muslims in Lahore and Rawalpindi. In this greatest holocaust ever, More then one million humans were murdered by Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab. Tara Singh migrated to East Punjab and was active in Akali politics until his death in 1967 on the eve when Akali Party was going to form their first government in new state of Punjab.


Excerpts taken from these books.
Heritage of the Sikhs Sardar Harbans Singh