KHĀLSĀ DEFENCE OF INDIA LEAGUE was formed on 19 January 1941 at Lahore with the object of launching a movement among the Sikh masses for increased military enlistment for the defence of the country during the critical years of World War II and for maintaining and strengthening the special position of the Sikhs in the Indian army. A report prepared by a committee headed by an English General appointed by the British to look into the causes of the slow rate of Sikh recruitment sent to the Punjab Government was suppressed by the Premier, Sir Sikandar Hayāt Khān. The report had suggested that the good offices of Mahārājā Yādavinder Siṅgh of Paṭiālā be utilized to step up the enlistment of Sikhs --- a proposal which was not acceptable to Sir Sikandar for personal reasons. As the news leaked out, the Sikhs themselves took the initiative. A representative group of them waited upon the Mahārājā and requested him to lead a campaign among the Sikhs for recruitment so that their position in the army remained intact and the counsel of the British officers, who, in view of a few instances of insubordination, had recommended a total embargo being put on their entry into the army could be nullified. As a result of these parleys, the Khālsā Defence of India League came into being, with the Mahārājā of Paṭiālā as the President-General. The main body of the League was composed of 150 members, 118 from British Punjab and 32 from the Sikh states. Sardār Raghbīr Siṅgh Sandhāṅvālīā of Rājā Sāṅsī was elected president and Sardār Baldev Siṅgh, M.L.A. (later Defence Minister of India), Col Raghbīr Siṅgh of Paṭiālā and Sardār Bahādur Raṇjīt Siṅgh of Delhi vice-presidents. Among other office-bearers and those closely associated with the League were Sardār Beant Siṅgh of Gurdāspur (secretary), Malik Mukhbaiṇ Siṅgh, a judge of the Sikh Gurdwārās Tribunal, joint secretary, Sardār Kartār Siṅgh Dīwānā propaganda secretary, Sardār Joginder Siṅgh Mān, Sardār Jaswant Siṅgh Dānevālīā, Malik Hardit Siṅgh, Sir Jogendra Siṅgh, Sir Dātār Siṅgh and Bhāī Shubhsher Siṅgh, Raīs of Arnaulī.

         The League set up 22 branches in the districts of Karnāl, Hissār, Ambālā, Ludhiāṇā, Jalandhar, Hoshiārpur, Fīrozpur, Amritsar, Lahore, Gurdāspur, Siālkoṭ, Sheikhūpurā, Gujrāṅwālā, Sargodhā, Gujrāt, Jehlum, Rāwalpiṇḍī, Multān, Muzaffarābād, Montgomery and Lyāllpur in the Punjab, and Peshāwar in the North-West Frontier Province. An extensive campaign was launched across the Punjab to rally Sikh youths to join the defence forces. Representations were made to the government to encourage the Sikh intake. Pre-cadet training classes were started for college students at Khālsā College at Amritsar and Mohindrā College at Paṭiālā, which enabled a large number of young Sikhs to qualify for entry into the army as commissioned officers. With the end of War in 1945 ended the work of the League, and it ceased to function after November 1946.


  1. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983
  2. Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, vol. II. Princeton, 1966

B. S. Nijjar