Tara Singh Malhotra - Clash With Unionists

Clash With Unionists

The 1937 elections weakened the position of the Sikhs in Punjab vis-à-vis the Muslim domination because the Shiromani Akali Dal was mainly considered to be the representative of the Sikh masses. The Dal in collaboration with other parties observed hartal (strike) on 1 April 1937 successfully all over the province against the new constitution. But at Kot Bhai Thaan Singh in the Campbellpur District an untoward incident took place, which confirmed the apprehensions of Master Tara Singh about his community's existence in the Punjab under the new set up. Some Muslim hooligans, on the pretext that their evening service was being chanted in louder-tones than usual, attacked a Sikh congregation in a Gurdwara. The police had to resort to gunfire, six persons were injured, out of whom one died later on. This incident was fresh in the minds of the Sikhs when a mob of Muslim hooligans attacked a peaceful Sikh diwan at Ahla in the Gujrat district resulting in the death of Bhai Sunder Singh Ragi and injuries to a number of Sikhs. The Punjab premier, Sir Sikander in a speech held the Sikhs responsible for these disturbances. The stand taken by the Unionist government over these issues reinforced the doubts of Master Tara Singh.

In the first year of his rule in July 1937 Sir Sikander called a 'Unity Conference' of leaders from all political parties for the purpose of maintaining communal harmony in the province. Master Tara Singh took part in it as a representative of the Shiromani Akali Dal. On the question of playing music before mosques, Master Tara Singh and Sardar Sunder Singh Majithia exchanged hot words and the 'Unity Conference' ended in a failure. Master Tara Singh became a thorn in the eyes of the coalition government also because he refused to compromise on the issue of possession of Shahidganj Gurdwara. The issue of Shahidganj Gurdwara created tension and bad blood between the Unionist and Master Tara Singh and dominated the Punjab's politics for two years.

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