The Sikh Gurudwar Act was passed by the Punjab Legislative
Counclil in 1925.
The Act vested management of the shrines in the Shromani
Gurudwara Prabanthak Committee – S.G.P.C.
S.G.P.C. is elected by the restricted Electoral College
A Gurudwara Judicial Commission was also established,
charged with the responsibility of hearing cases, particularly
disputes relating to movable and immovable property
attached to Gurudwaras.
Before this act was passed, the Sikhs had to wage a
bitter struggle with the British. Nearly 400 persons
were killed, 2000 wounded, 32,000 were arrested , 500
junior officials were recovered as fines.
But undaunted, the Akalis carried on the struggle and
won their cause – the Gurudwara Act was passed.
Afterwards the Grurdwaras came under the influence of
‘mahants’ and priests. Discontent mounted up.
Then it was that the Akali Dal, described in Sikh history
as the ‘Immortals’ Army,’ launched a struggle to liberate
the Gurudwaras from the clutches of priests and mahants.
That was 25 years ago, and the Akali Dal succeeded in
liquidating the instutution of priests and mahants.
The Congress party hailed this struggle. Then Akali
Dalt became the most powerful factor in the Sikh Community.
Master Tara Singh became the moving spirit and the unquestioned
leader of the Sikhs.
Master Tara Singh enjoyed a long spell of power as president
of the S.G.P.C. His innate honesty, integrity and devoted
service to the cause of the Sikhs are the reasons for
the unassailable position that he has been able to hold
Master Tara Singh stood up always to fight for the legitimate
rights of the Sikhs.
He gave unstinted support to the Congress during those
dismal days of communal bickering.
But when he found influential section in the Congress,
bent upon working for ‘Hindudom’, to the detriment of
the Sikh tradition and culture, he began to mobilize
the Sikhs, to safeguard their rights.
This led to many struggles and in each one of them Master
Tara Singh exhibited energy, sincerity and a spirit
The Congress leaders, modelling their tactics on that
of the Britisher began the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’.
Whenever the Congress was able to get ‘stooges’, it
placed them in power and ignored the accredited leader
of the Akalis.
But unable to withstand the struggle, the Congress had
to come to agreements from time to time.
The Congress-Akali alliance was one such agreement.
Mr. Bhimsen Sachar was the sponsor. But as Chief Minister,
he wanted his power felt.
He issued a ban on slogans. The Akalis defied the ban
and 700 persons courted imprisonment.
The Congress in its attempt to win over the Sikhs, organized
a conference at Amritsar with pomp and pageantry.
Master Tara Singh, to prove his hold over the Sikhs,
organized on the same day, a mammoth procession. It
was an eye-opener.
Akalis, led by Giani Kartar Singh, entered into a pact
with the Congress.
But the bulk of the Sikh community stood by Master Tara
The Congress, and that section of the Sikh Community
in alliance with the Congress, then set their eyes on
To control the Gurudwaras meant extraordinary influence.
Those who control the Gurudwaras would get the power
to disburse funds totaling 30 lakhs annually.
They could appoint a large number of priests, managers,
teachers and other employees in the institutions run
with the aid of the Gurudwaras.
To divest Master Tara Singh of his growing influence,
they thought that they should oust him from the S.G.P.C.
And this scheme was prepared by the Kartar group – with
the co-operation from the Congress top-men.
The Desh Bhagat Party supported Kartar group in this
scheme. The Desh Bhhagat party is supposed to be atheistic
and controlled by Communists.
So the Kartar group supported by the Congress and Desh
Bhagat group supported by the Communists joined hands,
and defeated Master Tara Singh last year by a narrow
margin of two votes.
Assured of the ample fund and influence of the Gurudwaras
the Congress-sponsored section amongst the Sikhs, thought
that they could crush Master Tara Singh’s influence.
But, Master Tara Singh’s influence did not abate a bit
– and though the S.G.P.C. came under the control of
the opposing group, Master Tara Singh was able to maintain
his unique position as the leader of the Sikhs.
The rival group has got political power, Patronage of
Delhi, and the :fabulous fortunes to be found in Gurudwaras
– but not the hearts of the Sikhs.
Master Tara Singh is enshrined in the hearts of millions
of the Sikhs.
He, then, launched an agitation against the attempt
of the Punjab Government to amend the Gurudwara Act.
There was struggle – the Centre taking sides with the
Kartar Singh group.
The Morchas and struggles organized by Master Tara Singh,
became more and more virulent. Repression failed to
thwart the onward march. Master Tara Singh was arrested.
Fearing chaos and crisis, he was released.
But he announced his determination to fast unto death
– from March16. The whole Sikh community stood by his
Sympathetic fasts, morchas, and demonstrations were
Pandit Nehru corresponded with Master Tara Singh.
After an interview lasing over 85 minutes, an agreement
was arrived at.
The Nehru – Tara Singh pact was implemented. Master
Tara Singh has given up his idea of ‘fast unto death’
and Pandit Nehru conceded the basic demand of Master
The entire Sikh community is jubilant and hails this
victory. Master Tara Singh has once again established
his claim as the unquestioned leader of the Sikhs.