Thursday, July 12, 2012

Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir: A Seasoned Politician and Scholar
-Dr. Ravindra Kumar   

“Cordial -hearted lives well always. The one who engages himself in righteous deeds and makes laughter a part of his life simultaneously, he makes it precious.” –Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir
Gyani Gurmukh Singh Musafir was one among those prominent figures who emerged on the socio-political scene of Punjab in the Gandhian era of India’s freedom movement. Besides being a leading freedom fighter, Musafir was a seasoned politician, an eminent Punjabi writer, scholar, poet and an orator. He could be listed as a known face combining the Congress-Akali politics in Punjab.          
Born on January 15, 1899 in a Sikh family of village Adhval in Campbellpur District, Punjab [now in Pakistan] Gurmukh Singh, after completing primary studies in his native village itself, was sent to Rawalpindi by his father Bhai Bhagat Singh for secondary level of education. Soon after his matriculation in 1918, he was appointed as a teacher in the Khalsa High School of Kallar [Kahar] in Chatwal Distict. He earned the epithet Giani after he passed an exam by this name.             
It was during his stint as a teacher at Kallar that two incidents of extreme atrocities and cruelties of the Colonial Government took place in Amritsar on April 13, 1919 and in Nankana Saheb on February 20, 1921, respectively. In both the incidents people agitating peacefully were subjected to murderous assaults. Gurumukh Singh Musafir could not remain a mute spectator to these acts of injustice; he quit his job and entered public life. He was in the forefront of the famous Guru ka Bagh Agitation in 1922. It was also in this year that he started composing poems imbued with enthusiasm and nationalism. These poems inspired many to join the freedom struggle. He is also credited with bringing in a new style in Punjabi poetry. His lines on the Jallianwala Bagh massacre reveal his pain for the tragedy:
“Tat tar goli chali wang holi,
Hoya khun da harh ravan ethe
Haddi walam te jussa dwat bania
Likehia khun sang baith paiman the”
[Meaning thereby: The firing started like Holi and there ran the flood of blood, with bone as pen and body as ink pot the pledge was written with blood] 
Giani Gurumukh Singh Musafir was a spirited freedom fighter who was very involved in the freedom struggle in as many aspects as he could. It was in fact this dedication and sincerity that propelled him to be one of the prominent leaders of the time. It was these qualities that helped him grace the highest religious chair in Sikhism –the Jathedar of Akal Takht. He was also appointed as the General Secretary of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee.
He also participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement, started by Gandhiji in 1930, the Individual Satyagraha [1940-41] and the Quit India Movement [1942]. He courted arrest on various occasions and was sentenced to prolonged imprisonment each time. While in jail for his involvement in the Quit India Movement, he received the news of death of his father, one of his sons and a daughter. Despite facing such tragedies, he refused to be released on parole. Such was the spirit of Giani Gurumukh Singh.   
Gyani Gurumukh Singh Musafir became a close friend of Jawaharlal Nehru after meeting him during the freedom movement of the country and they remained friends for a long. After independence, he was elected as the President of the Punjab PCC, a Member of the CWC and also to Lok Sabha in 1952, 57 and 62 respectively, and to Rajya Sabha in 1968. For a short period [1966, November 1-1967, March 8] he also occupied the office of the Chief Minister of the State of Punjab. While holding all these positions Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir worked for the welfare of common men. Moreover, harmony, unity and secularism were the foremost basis of his approach and work.
Along with nine volumes of collections of his poems, he published four biographical works –two each on Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru respectively. As a scholar and writer he participated in the International Writers’ Conferences in Stockholm, Sweden [1954] and Tokyo, Japan [1961].
Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir died in Delhi on January 18, 1976 at the age of 76. In recognition to his noteworthy national services, the President of India conferred the Padma Vibhushan honour on him posthumously.         

Sardul Singh Caveeshar: A Leading Freedom Fighter and Prolific Writer
Dr. Ravindra Kumar
 “Service is the most precious adornment of life. It is the essence of life. Life can be made worthy and purposeful only by serving the people. Till the last breath we must keep ourselves ready to serve the people…there is no other substitute to selfless service.”        -Sardul Singh Caveeshar
 Sardul Singh Caveeshar was one of the leading freedom fighters of the Gandhian era of national liberation movement from Punjab. He was a prolific writer, thinker, political leader, journalist, editor and a nationalist. For his great services rendered to the nation, and his radical-progressive views, he will be remembered by the countrymen for a long.
Sardul Singh was born in 1886 in a middle class Sikh family of Amritsar. After completing his primary and secondary levels of education, he graduated from the Punjab University, Lahore in 1909. His father Sardar Kripal Singh desired him to pursue higher studies, but Sardul Singh quit the college in 1919 while studying for post graduation, to participate in the freedom movement.
An incident that in fact brought him to the forefront was the agitation against British over demolition of an outer wall of Gurudwara Rikabganj of Delhi. Acting upon his call hundreds of volunteers marched to the site, but before they could assemble, the British rebuilt the wall. In 1913 he started the publication of The Sikh Review –a magazine from Delhi, which drew the attention of many –general and particular. The magazine carried articles against the Colonial Rule and promoted nationalism. The authorities in Delhi did not take this kindly and regarding it as a challenge for the Colonial Government not only banned it immediately, but also declared the activities of Sardul Singh as objectionable and expelled him from the City. Caveeshar then started publication of The New Herald and the Sangat –two new magazines in English and Punjabi languages from Lahore in the year 1919. Again the contents of both the magazines were scathing attacks on the British.
In 1921 Sardul Singh was elected as a secretary of the Punjab Prantik Congress Committee. It was in this year that the British killed many farmers who were agitating against the English in Nankana Saheb. Sardul Singh fiercely commented on this massacre through his articles. For this, he was arrested and imprisoned for a period of four years.
In 1927 Sardul Singh was elected to the Working Committee of the Indian National Congress. He was again in the forefront of the non-violent battle for country’s freedom under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, particularly during the Civil Disobedience Movement, started by the Mahatma by the breaking of the Salt Law at Dandi on April 6, 1930. He led the Congress as its acting president during 1932-33; for this too he was arrested four times and was sent to prisons for years.
Disagreeing to the Congress policy of accepting the offices of governments in provinces under the provision of the Government of India Act 1935, Sardul Singh Caveeshar resigned from the Party and joined the Forward Block founded by Subhas Chandra Bose in 1939. All this while he continued to stay in the forefront of the battle of country’s independence and for a period of more than four years [1941-45] he was imprisoned again.   
Caveeshar was a prolific and progressive writer. His works, Guru Nanak and World Peace, Guru Gobind Singh and National Movement, Guru Arjun’s Twelve Months of Love and Worship, Republicanism in Religion, The City of Joy, The Problem of Life, India’s Fight for Freedom and Non-Violent Non-Cooperation are particularly worth mention here. His works still inspire to those who long for creative writing, nationalism and service to humanity. This great soldier of India’s battle for freedom breathed his last in Delhi on March 26, 1963.
Sardul Singh Caveeshar always lived for the nation and to serve the people of the country remained the prime aim of his life. His following statetemet fills us with enthusiasm and encourages simultaneously working for the nation:
“Fortunate are they who live and die while serving and defending their motherland; blessed are they who wish to serve the people till the last breath…”