AMAR SIṄGH (1888-1962), who came into prominence in the Gurdwārā Reform movement, was the eldest of the three sons of Gopāl Siṅgh of the village of Jhabāl, in Amritsar district of the Punjab. His great-grandfather, Gulāb Siṅgh, had served in the army of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh and his grandfather, Harbhagat Siṅgh had been an aide-de-camp to Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh. Born in 1888, Amar Siṅgh was educated at the village school and at Khālsā Collegiate School, Amritsar. After passing the matriculation examination, he joined the police department and became a sub-inspector. Once as he saw police officials snatch away kirpāns from some Sikhs, he protested and told the superintendent of police that dispossessing a Sikh of his kirpānmeant violating his religious freedom. Demolition by the British of a portion of the outer wall of Gurdwārā Rikābgañj in Delhi, ban on the wearing of kirpān by Sikhs and incidents such as the Budge Budge firing led Amar Siṅgh to resign his appointment in the police. He got started on a political career by organizing and addressing, in association with Dān Siṅgh Vachhoā, a series of public meetings in his own village and in the neighbourhood. He defied orders of the deputy commissioner of Amritsar banning the meeting to be convened at Mañjī Sāhib, close to the Golden Temple, to protest against a robe of honour having been conferred by the manager of the Darbār Sāhib on General Dyer, who had ordered the firing in Jalliāṅvālā Bāgh. The meeting did take place and resolutions castigating the deputy commissioner as well as the manager were adopted.

        Following a public appeal by Sardūl Siṅgh Caveeshar for volunteers for a Shahīdī Jathā or martyrs' band to march to Delhi on 1 December 1920 to rebuild the Gurdwārā Rikābgañj boundary wall demolished by the British, Amar Siṅgh and his brother, Jaswant Siṅgh, made a hurricane tour of the Punjab addressing meetings and enlisting names. At one such meeting during the Amāvas fair at Tarn Tāran under the auspices of the Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān complaints were received about the mismanagement of Gurdwārā Bābe dī Ber at Siālkoṭ. Amar Siṅgh was deputed to visit the shrine and make a report. He was joined there by his brother, Jaswant Siṅgh, and by Tejā Siṅgh of Bhuchchar and Kartār Siṅgh of Jhabbar with their bands of volunteers. The government yielded to public pressure and the management of the Gurdwārā was handed over to a committee of selected Sikhs on 6 October 1920. Henceforth the Jhabāl brothers were recognized as a force in Sikh affairs. When the control of the Akāl Takht was taken over by the Sikhs and Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee formed on 16 November 1920, both of them and their third brother, Sarmukh Siṅgh, were included in it as members. Amar Siṅgh was nominated a member of the provisional committee to manage the Tarn Tāran Gurdwārā after it had been taken over from the priests by the reformists. He took a leading part in assuming possession of gurdwārās at Oṭhīāṅ, Tejā Kalāṅ, Chomālā Sāhib, Pañja Sāhib, Peshāwar, Ramdās and Jhabāl. For a public speech he delivered after the Nankāṇā Sāhib tragedy, he was arrested and imprisoned for six months.

        Amar Siṅgh presided over the third annual session of the Sikh League held at Lyallpur in 1922. He participated in the non-cooperation movement launched by the Indian National Congress as well as in the Akālī morchās for the reformation of the gurdwārās. On 16 July 1922, he was elected vice-president of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee. He suffered imprisonment again for making seditious speeches at the time of the morchā for securing release from the British of the keys of the Golden Temple toshākhānā. After the Sikh Gurdwaras Act was passed, Amar Siṅgh drifted more towards the Congress and remained for some time president of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee. He died on 28 March 1962 at the village of Dayāl Bhaṛaṅg, in Ajnālā tahsīl of Amritsar district, where he had been allotted lands after the partition of the Punjab (1947).


  1. Pratāp Siṅgh, Giānī, Gurdwārā Sudhār arthāt Akālī Lahir. Amritsar, 1975.
  2. Josh, Sohan Siṅgh, Akālī Morchiāṅ dā Itihās. Delhi, 1972.
  3. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983.
  4. Ganda Singh, ed. , Some Confidential Papers of the Akali Movement. Amritsar, 1965.
  5. Sahni, Ruchi Ram, Struggle for Reform in Sikh Shrines. Ed. Ganda Singh. Amritsar, n. d.

Jagjīt Siṅgh