DALĪP SIṄGH (1894-1921), who fell a martyr at Nankāṇā Sāhib on the morning of 20 February 1921, was born to Karam Siṅgh and Har Kaur in January 1894 at the village of Sāhovāl, in Siālkoṭ district, now in Pakistan. Two of his three brothers having died young, Dalīp Siṅgh was brought up by his parents with extra attention and care. He was educated at Sāṅglā, Ḍaskā and Gujrāṅwālā . While at school, he developed a keen interest in Sikh history and gurbāṇī utterances of the Gurūs, i. e. Sikh religious texts. He received the rites of Khālsā initiation, and lived a strict life. His fellow students called him 'Nihaṅg' for his orthodox ways. He passed the matriculation examination in 1908, and was married the same year. Instead of seeking government service, he took to farming combining with it social work in the district. At a dīvān in October 1920, when Punjab was seething with anti-British feeling following the passage of the Rowlatt Act and the Jalliāṅvālā Bāgh firing, Dalīp Siṅgh was much affected by the political temper of the speeches delivered. He discarded his old garments and wore khādī or homespun cotton never touching again dress made of imported cloth. This was in protest against the British rulers.

         Dalīp Siṅgh was among those who fully endorsed the resolution of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee to convene a dīvān at Nankāṇā Sāhib on 4-6 March 1921 to enter a protest against the control of the holy shrine by its mahant or chief priest, Naraiṇ Dās, who was charged with corruption and dissolute ways. On 18 February, while on his way to Amritsar to attend a meeting of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee, he learnt from Tejā Siṅgh Samundrī and Master Tārā Siṅgh, that Jathedār Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh and Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar, leaders of the Bār Khālsā Dīwān, had made a plan to occupy Gurdwārā Janam Asthān by surprise on 19-20 February when Naraiṇ Dās was scheduled to attend a Sanātan Sikh conference at Lahore. All of them disapproved of the plan and Dalīp Siṅgh, who was held in high esteem, was sent back to dissuade Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh, and his companions from marching towards Naṇkāṇā Sāhib. Dalīp Siṅgh met Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar and his associates at Gurdwārā Kharā Saudā at Chūhaṛkāṇā and pleaded with them not to take any precipitate action. They yielded to his argument and it was decided that Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh; who at that time should have been on his way to Nankāṇā Sāhib, be stopped as well. A hukamnāmā or command on behalf of the Panth was drafted, ordering Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh to proceed no further. Six leading Sikhs, including Dalīp Siṅgh and Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar, signed it, Dalīp Siṅgh undertaking to deliver it to Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh. He, along with a few companions, left Kharā Saudā at 9 p. m. The night was pitch dark and they were riding through uneven fields. At about midnight they reached Chandarkoṭ canal waterfall, the point where Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh's jathā was to meet Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar's. No jathā came. Deploying Varyām Siṅgh to comb the surroundings, Dalīp Siṅgh, tired and worn out, came over to the factory of Uttam Siṅgh, near Nankāṇā Sāhib railway station, to rest for a while before resuming the search. In the meantime Varyām Siṅgh had succeeded in intercepting Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh and his jathā, who were taking a shorter route. He delivered the hukamnāmā to them, but failed to persuade them to stop. They argued that they had said their ardās and could not go back on their pledged word. They went forward singing the sacred hymns, and entered the precincts of the main shrine. Naraiṇ Dās and his men carrying firearms suddenly fell upon them and started an indiscriminate carnage.

         Dalīp Siṅgh heard the sound of gunfire and ran towards Gurdwārā Janam Asthān, with Varyām Siṅgh following him. They found the main entrance gates bolted from inside. On the southern end they saw Mahant Naraiṇ Dās directing the bloody operations. Dalīp Siṅgh shouted and begged of him to stop the massacre of the innocents. But the Mahant, intent on murder, pressed the trigger of his pistol killing him and Varyām Siṅgh on the spot. The Mahant's men hacked their dead bodies with hatchets and hurled the pieces into a burning potter's kiln near by. Bhāī Dalīp Siṅgh met with his martyr's end on 20 February 1921.



  1. Shamsher, Gurbakhsh Siṅgh, Shahīdī Jīvan. Nankana Sahib, 1938
  2. Pratāp Siṅgh, Giānī, Gurdwārā Sudhār arthāt Akālī Lahir. Amritsar, 1975
  3. Josh, Sohan Siṅgh, Akālī Morchiāṅ dā Itihās. Delhi, 1972
  4. Teja Singh, Gurdwara Reform Movement and the Sikh Awakening. Jalandhar, 1922
  5. Mohinder Singh, The Akali Movement. Delhi, 1978

Rājinder Siṅgh