ACHCHHAR SIṄGH, JATHEDĀR (1892-1976), a Gurdwārā official and Akālī politician who twice held office as Jathedār (provost) of Srī Akāl Takht at Amritsar, was born on 18 January 1892 in a farming family of modest means at Ghaṇīeṅke, a village in Lahore district. The youngest son of Hukam Siṅgh and Gaṅgī, he learnt to read Gurmukhī letters and to recite the Scripture at the village gurdwārā. At the age of 15, he migrated to Burma, where he learnt Burmese and Urdu. As he grew up, Achchhar Siṅgh enlisted in the Burmese military police. During World War I (1914-18), Burmese military police was converted into a regular army battalion and drafted to Mesopotamia (now Iraq). Achchhar Siṅgh served there for about three years. At the end of the war in 1918, his unit was stationed at Ṭoṅk, in the North West Frontier Province, until its departure back to Burma in 1920. In 1919, Achchhar Siṅgh married Mahindar Kaur of Īchogil, a village in his native district of Lahore. He was promoted havildār, or sergeant, in 1920. The news of the Nānkāṇā Sāhib massacre on 20 February 1921 came as a great shock to him. He resigned from the army and, returning to the Punjab, he made a visit to Nānkāņā Sāhib to pay homage to the memory of the martyrs. He joined the Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān and plunged into the agitation for the reform of gurdwārā management. As the Akālī campaign at Jaito started, the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee and the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal were outlawed on 12 October 1923, and arrests began to be made all over the Punjab. Among those held were two successive jathedārs of the Akāl Takht-Tejā Siṅgh Akarpurī and Ūdham Siṅgh Nāgoke. Upon the latter's arrest, Achchhar Siṅgh was, on 10 February 1924, appointed to the high religious office. He, too, was taken into custody on 7 May 1924, was tried and sentenced to one and a half year in jail. Upon his release from the Central Jail at Miāṅwālī at the end of 1925, he resumed his office in Amritsar which he retained until Tejā Siṅgh Akarpurī was set free in September 1926.

        Amar Siṅgh, editor of the Sher-i-Punjab, who had been a co-prisoner in Miāṅwālī jail and who was now president of the Lahore gurdwārā committee, persuaded Jathedār Achchhar Siṅgh to take over as granthī at Gurdwārā Ḍehrā Sāhib in Lahore. For 14 years he served in this position. In 1940, he moved to Amritsar as agranthī at the Harimandar, and continued there until his resignation in 1962. From 1955 to 1962, he was also Jathedār of the Akāl Takht. During the Punjabi Sūbā agitation, he was arrested from the premises of the Darbār Sāhib on 4 July 1955, but was released two days later. He headed the Pañj Piāre named to judge if Master Tārā Siṅgh had not violated the vow undertaken at the Akāl Takht before starting his fast-unto-death for the realization of the Sikh political objective of a Punjabi-speaking state. The Pañj Piāre made a close investigation of the circumstances leading to the abandonment of the fast and on 29 November 1961 pronounced Master Tārā Siṅgh guilty of having perjured his pledge and blemished thereby the Sikh tradition of religious steadfastness and sacrifice. They had no comments to make on Sant Fateh Siṅgh's fast which, they said, had been given up under the orders of the Pañj Piāre and the saṅgat in general. He was, however, laid under expiation for having acquiesced in Master Tārā Siṅgh breaking his fast. Master Tārā Siṅgh was awarded a severer penance.

        As the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal split into two groups, one led by Sant Fateh Siṅgh and the other by Master Tārā Siṅgh, Jathedār Achchhar Siṅgh resigned the office of head of the Akāl Takht to join the latter. He was elected president of this party in November 1962. In his address at the 15th All-India Akālī Conference held under his chairmanship at Karnāl on 7 December 1963, he pleaded for unity between the two Akālī factions.

        Jathedār Achchhar Siṅgh died in the civil hospital at Amritsar on 6 August 1976 after a protracted illness.


  1. Sahni, Ruchi Ram, Struggle for Reform in Sikh Shrines. Ed. Ganda Singh. Amritsar, n. d.
  2. Gulati, Kailash Chander, The Akalis : Past and Present. Delhi, 1974
  3. Sukhdiāl Siṅgh, Srī Akāl Takht Sāhib. Patiala, 1984

Partāp Siṅgh Giānī