MAṄGAL SIṄGH, SARDĀR (1892-1987), journalist, politician and parliamentarian, long had the epithet 'Akālī’ attached to his name for his prominence in Akālī affairs. He was born on 6 June 1892 at the village of Gill, near Ludhiāṇā, the son of Zaildār Kapūr Siṅgh, who had been granted by the British two squares (20 hectares) of land in 1898 in Chakk No. 208 in the newly developed canal colony of Lyallpur, to where the family eventually migrated. After passing the matriculation examination in 1911, Maṅgal Siṅgh joined the Khālsā College at Amritsar. As the First World War broke out in 1914, he left off studies and enlisted in the signals section of the University Officers Training Corps. For his war service which took him to Mesopotamia (present Iraq) and later Europe, he was awarded the honorary pass degree of Bachelor of Arts and was nominated a tahsīldār, a coveted position for beginners in the revenue department.
He was still under training when he quit to join the Punjabi daily Akālī, floated from Lahore in May 1920 by two Akālī leaders, Master Sundar Siṅgh and Harchand Siṅgh to espouse the cause of Gurdwārā reform. Maṅgal Siṅgh suffered prosecution for his anti-government writings and was sentenced to jail. By the time he was released, the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal and Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had been declared unlawful bodies and all leading Akālīs taken into custody. Maṅgal Siṅgh was chosen president of the ad hoc SGPC and in this capacity he took part in the deliberations and negotiations which ultimately led to the passing of the Sikh Gurdwārās Act, 1925. Maṅgal Siṅgh presided over the first meeting of the Gurdwārā Central Board constituted under the Act held on 4 September 1926, and acted as pro-tem president of the meeting held on 2 October 1926 at which Bābā Khaṛak Siṅgh was elected president and Master Tārā Siṅgh vice-president. Maṅgal Siṅgh himself was elected a member of the executive.
Maṅgal Siṅgh represented the Sikhs on the Motīlāl Nehrū Committee (1928) which drew up a draft constitution for India, commonly known as the Nehrū Committee Report. He put forward the view that the Sikhs were in favour of joint electorates but, if the Muslims were conceded separate electoral rights, one-third seats in the Punjab legislature and five per cent at the centre should be reserved for the Sikhs. The Committee, while recommending the abolition of separate electorates, agreed to reservation of seats for Muslims in some provinces and for non-Muslims in the North-West Frontier Province, but no protection was provided for Sikhs as a minority, which was the cause of much of resentment among them. For ten years, 1935-45, Maṅgal Siṅgh remained a member of Central Legislative Assembly as a nominee of the Indian National Congress. He was re-elected in 1945 as a candidate of the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal and served as a member of its planning committee, when the Central Assembly converted into the Constituent Assembly of India. During his years in the Central Assembly, Maṅgal Siṅgh enjoyed much prestige as a spokesman of the Sikhs. He withdrew himself from active politics in 1960 for reasons of health.
Maṅgal Siṅgh died at Chaṇḍīgaṛh on 16 June 1987.
Ajmer Siṅgh; Lohgaṛh