Tara Singh Malhotra - Relations With Patiala's Ruler

Relations With Patiala's Ruler

Next battle of Master Tara Singh's political life was fought with the Patiala ruler Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. Sardar Sewa Singh Thikriwala was an accused in the 'Akali Leaders Case' and was one of those who had refused to purchase their release conditionally. He was a subject of Patiala State. He had broadened the scope of the Akali movement in Patiala state by disseminating the Akali ideology to the peasantry. In fact, the Akali activities assumed wide ramifications after the Parja Mandal and the Tenants Movement joined hands with the Akalis. The Maharaja of Patiala had him transferred to one of his own jails and began to create trouble for him unless he begged a pardon from the government. When the Punjab government released all the prisoners unconditionally, the Maharaja treated Sardar Sewa Singh as an exception. 'It was a gross betrayal to a friend and a colleague', said Master Tara Singh, ‘to leave him alone in the jail when all others were released, either he should come out or they should join him behind the bars’. The Akalis therefore started their agitation for the release of Sardar Sewa Singh Thikriwala. They announced the holding of diwans in the State to protest against the continued detention of Thikriwala whom he addressed as Sardar Sahib. A deputation led by Baba Kharak Singh also met the Patiala authorities but to no avail. Patiala's Sikh ruler let loose a reign of terror on the Akalis and their sympathisers in the state. All leaders were put in the jail and any person wearing a black turban was dealt with severely. Properties of the Akali workers were confiscated and heavy fines and punishments were imposed.

It was a challenge to the Akalis who wished too put forth a strong retort, but with the memory of the recent deposition of the Maharaja of Nabha still fresh in their minds they decided not to resort to any direct action, which might put the existence of another Sikh ruled State in danger. After his election as vice president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Master Tara Singh along with Baba Kharak Singh started an agitation for the release of the remaining Akali prisoners. Therefore, Master Tara Singh decided to meet him through the medium of Press, as the editor of both the Urdu and Gurmukhi editions of Akali. He through his fiery editorials and articles exposed the misdeeds of the Maharaja. An Akali agitator daring to reveal the truth of the scandals of a Prince was by no means a small thing and it enraged the Maharaja. It is believed that the Maharaja once sent a gang of killers to kidnap and murder Master Tara Singh, but the plan proved un successful.

It was also a common tale among the Sikhs, that a blank cheque was placed before Master Tara Singh on behalf of the Maharaja, which was immediately torn to shreds by Master Tara Singh. Master Tara Singh even challenged the Maharaja to persecute him if he was proved wrong. The press propaganda by Master Tara Singh through the 'Akali' on one hand inspired hope and confidence to the suppressed Patiala masses while on the other hand it drew the attention of the government and of the All India State Peoples Conference. The government of India was obliged to conduct an inquiry into the Maharaja's conduct under the leadership of Fitzpatric. It was held at Dalhousie, but the Akalis boycotted the inquiry and the agitation continued till 1935. It was the first time that public agitation had forced an inquiry against a Maharaja.

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