PUNJABI SUBA MOVEMENT, a longdrawn political agitation launched by the Sikhs demanding the creation of Punjabi Suba or Punjabispeaking state in the Punjab. At Independence it was commonly recognized that the Indian states then comprising the country did not have any rational or scientific basis. They were more the result of the exigencies of British conquest. To have some of these demographic imbalances corrected and inconvenient bulges expunged with a view to drawing up cleancut boundaries a commis sion was set up by Government of India in 1948. The commission had its jurisdiction limited to the southern states such as Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra. Northern India, it seems, was deliberately kept out of the purview of the commission especially to prevent problems like those of Punjab and, specifically, issues pertaining to Sikhs cropping up. But these problems could not be swept under the carpet for long, and had to be faced for the sake of honest politics and for the sake of the democratic functioning of polity and society. Another States Reorganization Commission was appointed in 1953. The Commission tried to foreclose the possibility of the demand for Punjab state being resurrected by resorting to one obviously weak argument. The formation of linguistic provinces, it was said, was sure to give rise to a demand for the separation of other linguistic groups elsewhere and such claims had already been advanced by Sikhs, Jats and others. The Commission recommended the integration of Patiala and East Punjab States Union and Himachal Pradesh with the Punjab. This was entirely unacceptable to the mainstream Sikh political setup, the Shiromani Akali Dal. The Akali leader. Master Tara Singh, took the opportunity to exhibit Sikh unity and resolution on this point. He summoned a representative congress of the Sikhs at Amritsar on 16 October 1955. Nearly 1,300 of the invitees attended. With one voice, they rejected the recommendations of the States Reorganization Commission and severely castigated it for treating the Sikh claims with such undisguised bias. The convention authorized Master Tara Singh to devise ways and means to bring home to the Government of India Sikhs' sense of injury. His first move a conciliatory one was to call upon Prime Minister Nehru. The ground for such a meeting had already been prepared by the former De fence Minister, Sardar Baldev Singh. Baldev Singh, who had shunned meeting the Prime Minister since he had been dropped from his cabinet and who in fact stayed away even from social gettogethers at which he was likely to be present, was persuaded by Giani Kartar Singh and others to act as a mediator betwen the Akalis and the government. He showed Jawaharlal Nehru the correspondence which had passed between Sikhs and the Muslim League leaders prior to the transfer of power, and reminded him how the former had rejected the League overtures and thrown in their lot with India. Conciliatory intercession brought Jawaharlal Nehru and the Sikh leaders round the conference table. In these parleys, the Prime Minister was assisted by two of his senior cabinet colleagues, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant. The Sikhs were represented by Master Tara Singh, Giani Kartar Singh, Sardar Hukam Singh, Bhai Jodh Singh and Sardar Gian Singh Rarewala. A sixth colleague of theirs, Bawa Harkishan Singh, did not participate in the negotiations, but joined their own private discussions afterwards. All of them put up in Sardar Hukam Singh's house in Delhi, and, before leaving for the first day's meetings, they vowed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib that they would act by mutual counsel and that none of them would meet singly any member of the government. The members also apportioned among themselves the topics they would take up for discussion. Master Tara Singh was to say a few opening words and was not to. speak again. Bhai Jodh Singh was to explicate the language problem in the Punjab, and Giani Kartar Singh and Sardar Hukam Singh were to meet the political points. The first meeting took place on 24 October 1955, the second a month lateron 23 November. This second meeting was preceded by Prime Minister Nehru's lunch for Master Tara Singh. At the end of the meeting, the Press asked Master Tara Singh if he had obtained the Punjabi Suba. "I have not at least lost it," he quipped. The parleys were interrupted at the end of December as a general session of the Indian National Congress was announced to be held in Amritsar on 1112 February 1956. In an impromptu, but dramatic gesture, the Shiromani Akall Dal gave notice of a parallel conference of its own. As subsequent events proved, this turned out to be efficient strategy. The Sikhs' meeting was massive in size. The entire Punjab countryside seemed to have burst upon the city of Amritsar. The Akall cavalcade preceding the deliberations was a magnificent spectacle of Sikh solidarityan endless column of marching humanity fired with one single passion, with one single will. It completely dwarfed the Congress convention. The Indian leaders watched from across the road the mammoth turnout of the Sikh populace. They could not have been but struck by its perfect orderliness and its sense of purpose. Beckoning the processionists on and ever urging them to a quicker pace to be on time was Giani Kartar Singh, proudly standing in ajeep, his broken arm in a sling and his eyes alight with an unmistakable glint of triumph. He had but lately returned to the Akall fold to strengthen the hands of Master Tara Singh. Most graphic is the account of this Sikh march in Michael Brecher's biography of Jawaharlal Nehru: On a bright, cool north Indian winter morning the contending groups massed their forces in a show of strength, especially for the benefit of the Congress High Command which was camped close by. First came the Sikhs in the most impressive and peacefuldemonstration I have ever seen. Hour after hour and mile after mile they marched, eight abreast, down the main streets of Amritsar, a hallowed name in Indian nationalism because of the shootings of 1919. Old and young, men and women, they came in an endless stream, most with an expression of determination and sadness in their eyes, many still remembering the ghastly days of 1947 when their homeland was cut in two and hundreds of thousands fled before the Muslims, and when thousands of their corcligionists died or were maimed. What strength there was in appearance of the older men who, with their flowing beards, looked like the Hebrew prophets of old. Many carried their traditional sword, the kirpdn, and many wore blue turbans, symbol of militancy. (The dyers in the city did a handsome business that week.) They had come from the villages and towns of the Punjab and from faroff places as well. Almost without exception they marched in orderly file, portraying their unity of purpose. At intervals came the resounding cry, "Punjabi Suba Zindabad" ("Long live a Punjabi State") and "Master Tara Singh Zindabad," with intermittent music to enliven the proceedings. On they came, for five hours. Few who watched them could doubt their genuine fear of being swallowed up in the vicelike embrace of rabid Hinduism. By conservative estimate they numbered over 100,000. To this observer it seemed more like double that figure. The Sikhs had put forth their strongest argument in support of Punjabi Suba. The dialogue between the Akali leaders and the government was resumed. What began to irk the former was the monotonous style the meetings had acquired. The Sikh leaders did all the speaking and the government representatives only listened. Pandit Pant, who was meant to be the chief government spokesman never uttered a word from his lips. The Sikh delegation felt frustrated and decided to cease from participating. News appeared in the press on the morning of 26 February 1956 that the negotiations had broken down. The report was accompanied with the announcement that the Sikh leaders were leaving Delhi. ButJoginder Singh, a Sikh member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh, who sat in the meetings as an observer, tried to bring them round to rejoining the talks. The negotiators were at length able to devise a scheme to break the impasse. It was at best a compromise solution. Without demarcating a Punjabi Suba, the state was to be split into two regionsPunjabi and Hindi. Each zone was to have its own regional committee consisting of its own share of the Punjabi legislators, with powers to deliberate on all subjects except law and order, finance and taxation. This Regional Formula, as the plan came to be designated, was put to the vote at a general meeting of the Shiromani Akali Dal at Amritsar on 11 March 1956. There were critical voices raised. The angriest was that of Amar Singh Ambalavi, who had his dissent formally recorded. Gurmit Singh did not go that far, but opposed the proposal. In the same lobby was another youth leader, Karnail Singh Doad, who was then a member of the Working Committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal. A stickler for constitutional propriety, he privately raised with some of the sponsors the cavil that the Formula could not be discussed in that meeting without it having been put up first to the Working Committee. The objection went unheeded by the leaders who were committed to seeing the Formula through. Especially persuasive at the meeting were Giani Kartar Singh, BhaiJodh Singh and SardarAjit Singh Sarhadi. Giani Kartar Singh conceded that what had been offered by government was not the Punjabi Suba of their conception. Yet he commended acceptance of it as a shagan or promise for Punjabi Suba. The motion was carried, but one man who was left somewhat puzzled was Master Tara Singh. He was not sure if they had acted prudently. Once again the Akalis were permitted to join the Congress. Once again Master Tara Singh questioned in his heart of hearts the wisdom of so enfeebling the Akali Dal. His instinct inclined him to oppose the halfmeasure that had emerged from governmentAkali detente. But he did notwant to overrule his colleagues. He, nevertheless, continued to feel sceptical. He himself did not join the Congress, although most of his frontrank colleagues did. On 30 September 1956, the Akali Dal renounced politics. It was proposed to hold a rally a few weeks later and present two lakhs of Akali members to the Congress. Master Tara Singh' s unease was not lessened. The 1957 general elections gave him the opportunity to end his mental dichotomy. The Congress had assigned the Akali entrants twentytwo nominations for the Punjab Assembly and three for Parliament. This share struck Master Tara Singh as grossly inadequate and he abrogated the settlement with the Congress so far as he was personally concerned. In his individual capacity he put up his own candidates against Congress nominees. None of the twentythree fielded by him won, but he had underwritten the point once again that Sikhs must be the masters of their political fortune. He was left alone as he had been in 1948 when all the senior Akali leaders had joined the Congress. This was the situation in which he found himself now in 1957. His one advantage now, as in the past, was his control of the Shiromani Akali Dal. He started on the course of recovery by reactivating it politically. The supporters of Hindi assailed the Regional Formula as being harmful to their interests. Under the aegis of the Hindi Raksha Samiti, they launched a fierce agitation to have it annulled. The new Congress government which had taken office in the Punjab on 3 April 1957, with the mighty Partap Singh Kairon as Chief Minister and former Akalis, Giani Kartar Singh and Gian Singh Rarewala, as two members of his cabinet, dealt with the Hindi protest firmly. But it could do little to assuage the Sikhs' sentiment hurt by the Hindi Raksha Samiti's acts of animosity against them. During the course of the Hindi movement, several Sikh places of worship had been desecrated. Language frontiers had become communal frontiers. For Master Tara Singh, Punjabi Subawas the only antidote to the rising Hindi fanaticism. On 14 June 1958, he resurrected the demand for it, repudiating the Regional Formula which had anyhow been the subject of his criticism and sarcasm. Though accepted under the pressure of circumstances, the Regional Formula was no trustworthy solution of the Punjab problem. The Sikh masses were scarcely enthused by it. Essentially, it was a tentative arrangement and, as it soon became apparent, neither the government nor any of the political parties was keen to give it an earnest trial. Master Tara Singh called a meeting of the general body of the Shiromani Akali Dal at Patiala on 14 February 1959. 299 out of 377 members attended. The convention resolved by one voice to restore the political character of the Dal. The Regional Formula, never seriously put into effect by government and never seriously accepted by the Sikhs, left one permanent monument in the shape of the Punjabi University. The idea of such a university had taken birth in the new intellectual and cultural milieu created by national independence. Educators and public men in the Punjab had vaguely spoken of a university for the development and promotion of the lanugage of the state. But none could define exactly the scope and design of such a university. The first concrete formulation came from the Punjabi SahitAkademi, which at its annual conference in Delhi, in 1956, adopted a resolution demanding that a university with Punjabi as the medium of instruction be set up in the Punjab. Most crucial, though generally covert, was the part of Giani Kartar Singh, who was one of the architects of the Regional Formula. He was then a minister in Partap Singh Kairori's government. One of his close associates, Sardar Ram Dyal Singh, proposed in the Punjabi Regional Committee a resolution for Punjabi being adopted as the exclusive medium of instruction in schools in the Punjabi xonc. Certain sections felt perturbed and pressed Giani Karlar Singh to have the motion withdrawn. Giani Kartar Singh agreed on the condition that the leader of the House, Pandit Mohan Lal, make an announcement for the estblishmcnt of a university in the name of Punjabi. Mohan Lal held hurried consultations with the Chief Minister, who under the provisions of the Formula, did not sit in either of the regional committees. In seeking his concurrence, he said that Giani Kartar Singh had told him that the establishment of such a university was provided for in the Regional Formula. No one had the time to go into the details. Partap Singh gave his approval and Mohan Lal declared on the floor of the House that the government would initiate measures to bring into being a Punjabi University. Later, as the Regional Formula was scanned to locate the pertinent provision, it was discovered that none existed. Confronted on this point, Giani Kartar Singh told the Chief Minister that the development of Punjabi language was an important aspect of the policy on which the Regional Formula was based. How would, he asked the Chief Minister, the language develop if such a university was not established? What chances would the language have to develop itself, if it did not have a university to support it, said Giani Kartar Singh without batting an eyelid. The humour of the situation was not lost on Partap Singh Kairori. In any case, he was himself a protagonist of Punjabi. His own cultural perceptions and affiliations were derived from the Singh Sabha enlightenment in which his father, Nihal Singh, had been a prominent figure. In private conversation and in public speech, he used to refer proudly to his Singh Sabha upbringing. Although his regime as Chief Minister was marked by severe repression of the Akalis, he gave the Sikhs a dominant position in the administration of the Punjab, and took the ruling Congress party into rural Punjab, tilting the leadership structure decisively in their favour. With the characteristic resoluteness, Partap Singh now went ahead with his plans for the establishment of the university. Soon afterwards he and his cabinet colleagues happened to be in Patiala for the bhog ceremonies for the mother of Maharaja Yadavinder Singh.'There the Chief Minister requested the Maharaja to accept the chairmanship of Punjabi University Commission the state goverment had decided to appoint. The Maharaja agreed. Among other members of the Commission nominated were Bhai Jodh Singh, Hukam Singh, Ujjal Singh, Malik Hardit Singh, Dr A.C.Joshi, Dr Anup Singh, Dr P.S. Gill, Hardwari Lal and Professor Harbaris Singh. The Commission submitted its report to government in 1961 and, during the same year, legislation was passed. In 1962, the University opened in one of the old Patiala palaces. The Punjab Government, under Partap Singh Kairori, was as inflexible in front of the supporters of Punjabi as it had been in front of the supporters of Hindi. In the affairs of the former, it intervened more directly via Giani Kartar Singh who was now a minister in the Kairori government. Master Tara Singh was outmanoeuvred in the annual elections to the office of president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on 16 November 1958, and defeated by 77 votes to 74. The victor was a young man, Prem Singh Lalpura, barely in his thirties. Master Tara Singh reacted by giving the signal for a Punjabi Suba conference to be convened in Chandigarh. At the conference, he disclosed his intention of launching a mass movement on a vast scale. In preparation, a silent procession was to be taken out in Delhi on 15 March 1959. The government acted swiftly and took him into custody. The Delhi march did take place, with Sikhs participating from all over the country. The procession, led by Master Tara Singh's portrait displayed on a vehicle, ended in a religious (Swan at Gurdwara Rikabgarij. Within less than a week, Master Tara Singh was released from gaol. The 1960 elections to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee turned out to be another trial of strength between the Congress and the Akalis. Congress Sikhs, led by Partap Singh Kairori and Giani Kartar Singh, strove hard to defeat Master Tara Singh and his nominees. Giani Kartar Singh resigned from the ministry to apply all his energies to electioneering. With the overt help of the state government, he sponsored a society called Sadh Sari gat Board to contest the elections. But the results went overwhelmingly in favour of the Shiromani Akali Dal. The Dal took 136 seats, contrasting with Sadh Sarigat Board's four. All the Akali members assembled at the Akal Takht on 24 January 1960, to bind themselves solemnly to achieve Punjabi Suba. The Akali Dal carried its campaign a step further by calling upon former Akali members to withdraw from the Punjab Legislative Assembly. Only five out of 24 members resigned at the behest of the Akali Dal. Undismayed, Master Tara Singh summoned a broadbased Punjabi Suba convention in Am ri tsar on 22 May 1960, to which members ofSwatantra and Praja Socialist parties were also invited. The conference was presided over by Pandit Sundar Lal, and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew, once a staunch Congressman, opened the proceedings. The main resolution was moved by Sardar Gurnam Singh, calling upon government "not to delay any more the inevitable formation" of a Punjabispeaking state, especially when languagebased states had been carved out in other parts of the country. Close on the heels of the Amritsar con vention, came Master Tara Singh's proclamation to start upon a march on 29 May 1960, which was the day of Guru Arjun's martyrdom, through the Punjab countryside and reach Delhi to join a Sikh procession in the capital on 12 June 1960. On the way, he was to visit important Sikh gurudwaras and make speeches to rally support for Punjabi Suba. This announcement led him into gaol once again. He was picked up by police from his home in Amritsar on the night of 2425 May and taken to Dharamsala gaol. The government came down upon the Akalls with a heavy hand. Largescale arrests were made throughout the Punjab. A reign of terror ensued. The Sikhs once again exhibited their usual fondness for gaolgoing. Columns of volunteers started courting arrest at Amritsar and Delhi. The main centre of mobilization was the Golden Temple. The evening divans at MarijI Sahib attracted vast audiences. Akall leaders made stirring speeches asserting the Sikhs' right to selfdetermination. In the absence of Master Tara Singh, Sant Fateh Singh, a man devoted to religion who had but lately been initiated into politics, directed the movement from inside the Golden Temple precincts. He was assisted by a devoted band of young men from the Sikh Students' Federation such as Satbir Singh, Bharpur Singh and Bhan Singh. Satbir Singh was a favourite speaker at the Mariji Sahib divans. By his eloquent narration of deeds of heroism and martyrdom from Sikh history, he maintained mass fervour at a high pitch. Sant Fateh Singh proved to be the man marked out for politics. He took to his new role with sovereign facility and stuck to it with a rare tenacity of will. He gave evidence of shrewd practical judgement, uncommon for one reared as a religious recluse. He held the strings of the agitation firmly in his hands and ran it with the finesse of a seasoned leader of men. By his circumspection in speech, he introduced a new convincing note into the agitation. He presented the demand for Punjabi Suba as based on linguistic considerations alone, bringing it in line with the country's declared goals of democracy and secularism. Besides the Sikh masses, he won many from other communities over to his viewpoint. For him, the size of the n« w state or the proportion of Hindu and Sikh population in it was not of primary reL'vance. What mattered was the creation of a unit comprising Punjabispeaking areas, with Punjabi as the official language. Sant Fateh Singh handled the media with the skill and aplomb of a born statesman. He never faltered in the consistency of his argument, nor did he ever lose his equanimity or run into a faux pas. Talking once to the Press at Amritsar during the course of the morchd, he said, "We do not seek a Sikhmajority area. V/e are not concerned about percentages. We want the Punjabi Suba to comprise an area where Punjabi language is spoken, regardless of the fact whether the Sikhs are in a majority or minority." This was the burden of his speech and statement, always. The state government resorted to rigorous measures to put down the agitation. A scare was created throughout the Punjab, but the supply of volunteers continued unabated and the morchdwent from strength to strength. Thousands of Sikhs had lodged themselves in gaols, and the number kept multiplying. On its side, the government showed little sign of relenting. It seemed an unending contest, when Sant Fateh Singh, in a conclusive bid, put his own life at stake. On 29 October, he wrote a letter to Prime Minister Nehru saying that, if the Sikhs' democratic and constitutional demand for a Punjabispeaking state was not accepted, he would end his life fasting. He sought to impress upon him the Sikhs' sense of grievance and to tell him how repressive and vengeful the Punjab Government had been. Jawaharlal Nehru refused to intervene, and Sant Fateh Singh unhesitatingly took up his cross. The fast began on 18 December 1960. Before entering his ascetical hut in the Golden Temple premises, Sant Fateh Singh had the ardds said at Akal Takht by theJathedar praying God to give him strength to carry his resolve through, and made obeisance at the Harimandar receiving what was meant to be his last portion of kardh prasdd. He also addressed a mammoth gathering of the Sikhs, adjuring them to remain peaceful in any event. "Every particle of the country is ours and any damage to it is damage to ourselves," he told them. A roster was announced often Sikhs who had offered to continue the chain in case Sant Fateh Singh's fast ended in a fatality. Suddenly a grimness hung over the country. The air was filled with foreboding. There was universal applause for the purity of Sant Faieh Singh's motive and no one questioned the steadfastness of his resolution. Yet everybody prayed that the worst might somehow be averted. This was Sant Fateh Singh's finest hour. But immolation by fasting was a novelty in Sikh tradition. In this strategy lay the germ of many an internal conflict and of the eclipse of many a reputation. Indian leaders of diverse opinion tried to intervene and persuade Sant Fateh Singh to abandon the fast. But he would not withdraw from his selfimposed ordeal until the justice of his point had been admitted. The concern daily grew in the entire nation and there was anxiety everywhere to save his life. Prime Minister Nehru, in a speech in Chandigarh on 20 December 1960, conceded that Punjabi was the dominant language of the Punjab and that it must be promoted in every way. The same assurance was repeated in a speech at Rajpura later in the day. This and an even more conciliatory speech given by him in Delhi on 31 December, making a personal appeal to Sant Fateh Singh to end his fast, were judged by the latter as falling short of his stipulation. So the stalemate continued. Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairori made a bold gesture and set Master Tara Singh free on 4 January 1961. This was done on the advice ofBhaiJodh Singh, his old teacher of college days, with whom he often took counsel in moments of crisis. Immediately after his release from gaol in Dharamsala. Master Tara Singh called on Sant Fateh Singh, considerably weakened from his trial. He next wanted to meet Prime Minister Nehru, who was then in Bhavnagar attending the annual session of the Congress. Not wishing to lose any time, he flew from Delhi in a specially chartered plane to Bhavnagar. He was accompanied by Harbaris Singh Gujral, Lachhman Singh Gill, Hargurnad Singh, Harcharan Singh ofBathinda, and Seth Ram Nath, one Punjabi Hindu of consequence who openly espoused the cause for a Punjabispeaking state. The group held mutual consultations while in flight and reduced their minimum demand to writing. Master Tara Singh had a twohour meeting with the Prime Minister on 7 January 1961, but without securing anything worth reporting to Sant Fateh Singh. On 8 January 1961,Jawaharlal added a postscript to what he had told Master Tara Singh. He announced that it is not out of any discrimination against Punjab or distrust of the Sikhs that the process of forming linguistic states must stop here. "Punjab state," he went on, "is broadly speaking a Punjabi Suba with Punjabi as the dominant language." He expressed his anxiety about Sant Fateh Singh's health and wished to see his ordeal ended. Master Tara Singh, who had returned to Delhi, felt reassured by this elaboration and forthwith had a call made to Amritsar. He assured Sant Fateh Singh that the obligations of his vow had been fulfilled and asked him to terminate his fast. To Master Tara Singh's appeal was added the weight of a motion adopted by the Working Committee of the Akali Dal and the command of the Parij Piare or the Five Elect who, speaking for the entire Khalsa, told Sant Fateh Singh that they were satisfied that his pledge had been complied with and that he must forthwith end his fast. On the morning of 9 January 1961, Fateh Singh took his first sips of nourishment in twentytwo daysa glass of juice from the hands of Bhai Chet Singh, one of the Golden Temple priests. This marked the end of the sevenmonthlong morchd in which, according to official figures, 30,000 went to gaol and, according to Akali reckoning, 57, 129. Political negotiations ensued between government and the Akalis. Sant Fateh Singh had three meetings with Prime Minister Nehruone on 8 February 1961, the next on 1 March 1961, and the last on 12 May 1961. The meetings were friendly, but yielded no definite results. Offering to extend to the Punjabi language all the protection it needed, the Prime Minister was not willing to slice off Punjabispeaking areas of the Punjab into a separate state. The Sikhs were far from pacified. To press home the Punjabi Suba issue another fast had to be staged this time by Master Tara Singh. His trial began on 15 August 1961, after a solemn prayer in front of the Akal Takht. The Punjab again was in a commotion. The crisis deepened as days went by. Mediators arose to try and settle the issue. Notable among them were Maharaja Yadavinder Singh of Patiala and Malik Hardit Singh. They kept in touch with Prime Minister Nehru and Home Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on the one hand and with the Akal; leaders on the other. Eventually Master Tara Singh was persuaded to end his fast on the 48th day (1 October 1961). The glass of lemon juice, mixed with honey, was given him by the Maharaja of Patiala and Sant Fateh Singh. In pursuance of the settlement made, the Prime Minister appointed a commission to go into the question of Sikh grievances. The Shiromani Akali Dal cavilled at its composition and refused to put up its case before it. But the commission carried on with its work in spite of Akali Dal's noncooperation. It gave its report on 9 February 1962, rejecting suggestions of any discrimination against the Sikhs. Demand for a Punjabispeaking state was, according to the commission, a camouflage for the demand for a Sikh state. Among the Sikhs, criticism was brewing against Master Tara Singh himself His termination of his fast without achieving the target aimed at had made him liable to public accountability as never before. The accusation was commonly levelled that he had perjured the pledge solemnized at Akal Takht. The Sikhs were not willing to condone what amounted to violation of a religious vow and what seemed to cast a slur on their proud tradition. The responsibility for having Sant Fateh Singh *s fast similarly ended was also laid at Master Tara Singh's door. Five Sikhs eminent in the religious hierarchyJathedar Achchhar Singh of the Akal Takht, Jathedar Sharam Singh of Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Giani Bhupinder Singh, Head Granthi of the Harimandar Sahib, Bhai Kartar Singh and Bhai Chet Singhwere named as Panj Piare on 24 November 1961, to judge if the oath sworn by Master Tara Singh had been complied with. They made a close investigation of the circumstances leading to the abandonment of the fast and pronounced Master Tara Singh guilty of having gone back on his plighted word and of having blemished thereby the Sikh tradition of religious steadfastness and sacrifice. Master Tara Singh was laid under expiation to have an akhand path of the Guru Granth Sahib recited at the Akal Takht, to say for one month an extra path of theJapu every day in addition to his normal nitnemor prescribed regimen of five daily prayers, to offer kardh prasdd of the value of Rs 125 and to clean the shoes of the sangatwd the dishes in the Guru ka Langar for five days. As Jathedar Achchhar Singh and Giani Bhupinder Singh explained on behalf of the religiousjury, they had no comments to make on Sant Fateh Singh's fast which, they said, had been given up with the consent of Master Tara Singh and under the orders of the Working Committee of the Akali Dal, Panj Piareand the sangatin general. He was, nevertheless, held guilty, along with other eight members of the Working Committee, for acquiescing in Master Tara Singh's breaking his fast. Sant Fateh Singh was to recite for one month an additional path of the Japu and wash dishes in Guru ka Langar for five days. Other members of the Working Committee got away with a lighter penance. They were to broom the Golden Temple precincts and clean dishes in Guru ka Langar for two days. The verdict was announced on 29 November 1961, and the sanctions imposed were dutifully complied with. Master Tara Singh's pictures scrubbing dishes in the Guru ka Langar and cleaning the shoes of the sangat were widely circulated. These acts of humility and expiation evoked spontaneous popular admiration, but Master Tara Singh could not climb up the ladder again. Sant Fateh Singh had emerged as a serious rival. The story of Sikh affairs henceforward is the story of the gradual eclipse of Master Tara Singh and steady ascendancy of Sant Fateh Singh. Already the former's authority had been challenged, with the charge flung at him that he was responsible for having the Sant's pledge falsified. On 11 January 1961two days after Sant Fateh Singh had broken his fastMaster Tara Singh was booed by the audience at a divan at Manji Sahib and not allowd to make a speech. At the Maghi divan at Muktsar on 13 January 1961, the entire festival crowd stood up in protest, forcing him to break off abruptly. Jathedar Jivan Singh Umranangal, a member of the Akali Dal Working Committee, notified Master Tara Singh on 15 November 1961 to vacate presidentship of the Shiromani Akali Dal as well as that of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. He counted ten charges against him and declared that, if he did not resign by 20 November, he would sit afasting. Jivan Singh began his fast on 21 November in front of the offices of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. But a patchwork settlement was arrived at two days later. Umranangal gave up his fast and the suspension orders against him and others were withdrawn. Jivan Singh Umranangal and Lachhman Singh Gill, both supporters of Sant Fateh Singh, continued their criticism of Master Tara Singh. They rejected the party elections held under his presidentship as fraudulent. Master Tara Singh suspended them for indiscipline on 4 July 1962. and summoned on 16 July a meeting of the Working Committee of the Akali Dal which ratified these expulsions. Sant Fateh Singh issued a public statement the followig day challenging the decision. He fixed 22 July for a general convention of the Sikhs at Gurdwara Mushkiana, near Mullaripur in Ludhiana district. The assembly, attended among others by 78 of the 155 members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and 8 of the 19 Akali members of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, led to the birth of a parallel Akali Dal. Master Tara Singh summond on 18 August 1962, the general body of the original Akali Dal. Lachhman Singh Gill notified a meeting of the rival Akali Dal for the same day. The latter, comprising 200 delegates of the Shiromani Akali Dal, 72 circle jatheddrs and 9 members of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, met in front of the Akal Takht. Sant Fateh Singh was formally elected president. Capturing the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee was the dissidents' next objective. A noconfidence motion was brought forth on 2 October 1962 against the sitting president, Kirpal Singh Chakksherevala, which was carried by 76 votes to 72. Sant Channan Singh, a righthand man of Sant Fateh Singh, was elected the new president. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee was now in the hands of Sant Fateh Singh. He also controlled the dominant section of the Shiromani Akali Dal which had split into two. The two Dais kept up a running feud. Punjabi Suba remained the principal plank for both, but their energies were consumed more in mutual recrimination. A truce was called as the country faced a Chinese attack in 1962. The leaders of the two groups sat together in a meeing at Motibagh Palace, Patiala, on 24 December 1962, to plan how to have the Sikhs contribute their maximum to the war effort. Maharaja Yadavinder Singh was nominated MahaJathedar of the Panth to mobilize the community. Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairori had already launched a largescale campaign to rally the Punjab. He had raised a voluntary corps which consisted mainly of rural Sikhs. The two Akali Dais resumed their militant postures as soon as the hostilities ceased. The fortunes of the Master Akali Dal were visibly on the decline. They received a severe setback when in the Gurdwara elections on 17 January 1965. the rival faction won a clear majority. The Sant Akali Dal annexed 90 seats, conceding only 45 to Master Tara Singh. Among those who lost were two of the latter's leading candidates, Kartar Singh Divana and Karivarani Jagdish Kaur of Faridkot. After a while. Master Tara Singh stepped aside, withdrawing himself from active politics to leave the field open for Sant Fateh Singh. He took to the hills and quarantined himself in a small village, Salogara, spending his time in prayer and contemplation. A development which helped to focus attention afresh on the Sikhs' political objective was the Nalva Conference. Named after the famous general of Sikh times, Hari Singh Nalva, it was convened at Ludhiana on 4 July 1965. The main. Conference resolution, drawn up by Sirdar Kapur Singh, eminent Sikh scholar and intellectual, was moved by Sardar Gurnam Singh, then leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Legislative Assembly, and seconded by Giani Bhupinder Singh, president of the Master Tara Singh Akali Dal. The resolution ran as follows: This Conference in commemoration of General Hari Singh Nalva of historical fame reminds all concerned that the Sikh people are makers of history and are conscious of their political destiny in a free India. 2. This Conference recalls that the Sikh people agreed to merge in a common Indian nationality on the explicit understanding of being accorded a constitutional status of cosharers in the Indian sovereignty along with the majority community, which solemn understanding now stands cynically repudiated by the present rulers of India. Further, the Sikh people have been systematically reduced to a subpolitical status in their homeland, the Punjab, and to an insignificant position in their motherland, India. The Sikhs are in a position to establish before an impartial international tribunal, uninfluenced by the present Indian rulers, that the law, the judicial process, and the executive actions of the State of India are consistently heavily weighted against the Sikhs and are administered with unbandaged eyes against Sikh citizens. 3. This Conference, therefore, resolves, after careful thought, that there is left no alternative for the Sikhs in the interest of selfpreservation but to frame their political demand for securing a selfdetermined political status within the Republic of Union of India. This demand for a selfdetermined political status for the Sikhs was more radical than the demand for a Punjabi Suba. It had the immediate effect of breaking the still ness which brooded over the political scene and of stimulating the process of history. On 24 July 1965, Master Tara Singh ended his sixmonthold selfexile and announced his reentry into politics. He first made a trip to Pakistan to pay homage at Nankana Sahib and perform there the concluding caremonies for a recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib he had completed during his retirement. On 2 August 1965, he addressed a press conference in Delhi, demanding for the Sikhs "place in the sun of free India." He applauded the Nalva Conference resolution and pledged his support to it. But the initiative was again seized by Sant Fateh Singh with the announcement on 16 August 1965, that, to clinch the Punjabi Suba issue, he would sit afasting from 10 September 1965, and, in case the Government of India did not melt, he would burn himself up on 25 September. The venue fixed for immolation was the top roof of the Akal Takht; time, 4.30 p.m. Following upon the heels of this declaration came the war between Pakistan and India. In that moment of crisis, everyone wished that Sant Fateh Singh would revoke his decision. Sant Channan Singh, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Gurcharan Singh Tauhra and Harcharan Singh Hudiara went to Delhi on 8 September 1965 to take counsel with the leaders of government and others. A highlevel meeting took place in the Speaker's chamber in Parliament House attended among others by Maharaja Yadavinder Singh of Patiala, Yashwant Rao Chavan, Defence Minister, Jaisukhlal Hathi, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Sirdar Kapur Singh, Member of Paliament, Dr Anup Singh, Member of Parliament, Sardar Buta Singh, Member of Parliament, and Sardar Dhanna Singh Gulshan. They were all anxious that the tragedy be somehow averted and unanimously sent a message to Sant Fateh Singh requesting him to defer the fast. Some of them, notably the Maharaja of Patiala, added the assurance that they would be on his side if the government continued to circumvent his demand after normalcy was restored. Sant Channan Singh returned to Amritsar with his colleagues by the night train and conveyed to Sant Fateh Singh on the morning of 9 September the message they had brought. Sant Fateh Singh accepted the advice and made a public statement postponing the fast. Simultaneously, he appealed to his countrymen, especially Sikhs, to muster all their resources to resist the onslaught from across the frontier. In the border districts, the Sikh population rose to a man to meet the crisis. It stood solidly behind the combatants and assisted them in many different ways. It provided guides to the newly inducted troops, offered free labour and vehicles, country carts, tractors and trucks to transport war supplies to the forwardmost trenches. Instead of evacuating in panic to safer places, Sikhs right up to the frontier stuck fearlessly to their homes, plying their ploughs and tending their cattle. Along the main approach routes to the front, they set up booths serving refreshments to the soldiers. Their most spectacular feat was the way they swooped down upon the parachutists dropped by Pakistanis behind the Indian lines. On seeing the parachutes open up in the skies the villagers rushed out gleefully with whatever they had in their handslathis, axes or swords, and seized the bewildered paratroopers before they knew where they were. A few were beaten to death on the spot and the rest were handed over to the army. A South Indian pilot belonging to the Air Force, who had made an emergency leap from his crashing aircraft, had a hard time explaining to his rugged, but prompt, captors that he was an Indian national and not a Pakistan; spy. Besides a vast number of Sikh troops fighting all along the border from Kutch to Baltistan and Ladakh, almost all senior com manders in the Punjab sector were Sikhs. LieutGeneral Harbakhsh Singh, with his chief of staff, MajorGeneral Joginder Singh, commanded the entire Western zone and was. as such, the principal architect of India's victory. Involved with planning at the army headquarters was another Sikh officer, MajorGeneral Narinder Singh. LieutGeneral Joginder Singh Dhillori, a brilliant tactician, with his Brigadier General Staff, Brigadier Parkash Singh Greval, and artillery commandar, Brigadier S.S. Kalha, commanded the corps operating in the Punjab and parts of Rajasthan. MajorGeneral Nirarijan Prasad was replaced midbattle by MajorGeneral Mohinder Singh, a tough and shrewd soldier, as division commander in the Amritsar sector, the other division commander, in the Khem Karan sector, being MajorGeneral Gurbakhsh Singh. The two divisions not only secured their first objective, the Ichogil Canal, but at certain points advanced even farther, holding Lahore within artillery range. North of the Ravi, MajorGeneral Rajinder Singh 'Sparrow', commanding an armoured division, recorded a marvellous feat in the history of tank warfare by a lightning putsch towards SialkotNaroval, his Centurions humbling Pakistan's prestigious Americangifted Pattons and Chaffees. The Khem Karan sector, too, was turned into what came to be known as the graveyard of the Pakistani Patton tanks. South of the Sutlej, Brigadier Bant Singh, commanding an independent brigade group defended stoutly an extensive border covering the entire Firozpur and Gariganagar districts. Both at Hussainiwala and Fazilka, Sikh battalion commanders held fast to their positions despite intensely heavy shelling by Pakistan artillery. The Indian Air Force, under the command of Sikh Air Chief Marshal, Arjan Singh, made devastating strikes and surprised military experts the world over by decisively outpacing a far superior, i.e. betterequipped, force. Indian Moths had routed Pakistani Hawks. Within 21 days, Pakistan was brought to heel. The ceasefire came about on September 22. Legendary stories were already in circulation about the patriotic fervour and bravery Sikhs had displayed during the war. Clearly, their moment of fulfilment had arrived. On 6 September 1965, the Union Home Minister, Gulzari Lal Nanda, had made a statement in the Lok Sabha saying that "the whole question of formation of Punjabispeaking state could be examined afresh with an open mind." On September 23, recalling his statement of September 6, he announced in the Lok Sabha: "The Government have now decided to set up a committee of the Cabinet to pursue this matter further. The committee will consist ofShrimatI Indira Gandhi, Shri Y.B. Chavan and Shri Mahavir Tyagi." Addressing the Speaker, the Home Minister said: "Sir, I would request you and the Chairman, Rajya Sabha, to set up for the same purpose a Parliamentary Committee of members of both Houses of Parliament presided over by you." Continuing his speech, he expressed the hope that "the efforts of this Cabinet Committee and of the Parliamentary Committee will lead to a satisfactory settlement of the question." The Congress party also took up the issue in earnest. On 16 Novembr 1965, the Punjab Congress Committee debated it for long hours, with Giani Zail Singh, General Mohan Singh, and Narain Singh Shahbazpuri lending it their full support. The Home Minister sent a list of nominees from Rajya Sabha to the Chairman and a list of nominees from Lok Sabha to the Speaker, Hukam Singh. The Chairman forwarded his list to the Speaker. The latter, however, did not accept the Lok Sabha list given him by the Home Minister, and made five changes in it at his own discretion. The twentytwomember committee announced by Sardar Hukam Singh represented all sections of the House. Among them were Hiren Mukherjee (Communist), Surendra Nath Dvivedi (Socialist), Atal Behari Vajpayee (Jana Sangh), Maharaja Kami Singh Bikaner (Independent), Dhanna Singh Gulshan (Akali Dal), Barisi Lal (Congress), Sadiq All (Congress), Amar Nath Vidyalankar (Congress), Surjit Singh Majithia (Congress) and Daya Bhai Patel (Swatantra). The first meeting of the committee was held in the committee room of Parliament House to lay down its procedure of work. 1 October 1965 to 5 November 1965 was the period fixed for receiving memoranda from various parties and individuals. From 26 November to 25 December, the committee held preliminary discussions. On 10 January 1966, Lachhman Singh Gill, general secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, and Rawel Singh, a membeer of its executive, met the committee and presented the case for a Punjabispeaking state. On 27 January, Giani Kartar Singh and Harcharan Singh Brar appeared before the committee on behalf of the Congress group in the Punjab legislature. Both argued in favour of Punjabi Suba. There were nearly 2,200 memoranda submitted to the committee favouring the Punjabi Suba and 903 opposing it. Hukam Singh was able to secure from his committee so diversely constituted a unanimous vote in favour of the creation of Punjabi Suba. This was nothing short of a miracle. The Indian Home Minister, Gulzari Lal Nanda, was dismayed. Soon after the nomination of the Parliamentary Committee he had borne complaints to Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri alleging that the Speaker was actively working for the creation of a Punjabispeaking state. The Parliamentary Committee's report was handed in on 15 March 1966. On 9 March 1966, the Congress Working Committee had already adopted a motion recommending to the Govern ment of India to carve a Punjabispeaking state out of the thenexisting Punjab. The only member to oppose the resolution was Morarji Desai. The report of the Parliamentary Committee was made public on 18 March 1966. Finally Mrs Indira Gandhi who had, after the sudden death of Lal Bahadur Shastri, taken over as Prime Minister on 24 January 1966, conceded the demand on 23 April 1966. A commission was appointed to demarcate the new states of Punjab and Haryana. On 3 September, the Punjab Reorganization Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha and on 1 November 1966, Punjabispeaking state became a reality. The happiest man on that day was Sant Fateh Singh. A lifelong bachelor,greeted the announcement with the words: "A handsome baby has been born into my household." Despite this euphoric summingup, the implementation of the Punjabi Suba had left many rough edges behind. Issues the allocation of the city of Chandigarh, adjustment of some of the territorial claims of the Punjab and the distribution of river waters were issues which remained unresolved ,continue to rankle in the Punjabi consciousness.