Tara Singh Malhotra - Punjab State

Punjab State

Tara Singh was the eldest leader and guide of the demand of the Shiromani Akali Dal and other Sikh groups for a state where Sikhs would be the majority, and Gurmukhi would be the official script. Tara Singh adopted this demand ever since 1947. He was aware that millions of Sikh families had suffered a lot and were uprooted in a matter of days from newly formed Pakistan by Muslims, he wanted a secure political space in India for Sikh communities.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, there were a series of demonstrations, especially when after 1957 the Union government began re-organizing state boundaries and creating new states on linguistic basis, but Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India was opposed to the creation of any state upon religious lines, fearing a repeat of partition and a degradation of Secularism.

However in 1966, with the political pressure coming to a climax following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, where thousands of Sikh officers and soldiers in the Indian Army had displayed tremendous valor in defending the country, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Nehru granted the demand.

Owing to the efforts of Master Tara Singh, a separate state of Punjab was created on 1 November 1966. The existing state was trifurcated into the Sikh-majority Punjab, which included the Sikh holy city of Amritsar. Hindu-majority areas were divided into the states of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. Many Akali Dal leaders believe it was a mistake dividing Haryana because majority of the upper districts were heavliy Sikh populated.

This was Tara Singh's last agitation. He died on 22 November 1967.

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