LACHHMAṆ SIṄGH (1885-1921), one of the Nankāṇā Sāhib martyrs, was the leader of the jathā of more than one hundred Sikhs who were attacked in Gurdwārā Janam Asthān (birthplace of Gurū Nānak) by the custodian of the shrine, Mahant Naraiṇ Dās, and his accomplices, and killed to a man. Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh was born to Mehar Siṅgh and Har Kaur in 1885 at the village of Dhārovālī, in Gurdāspur district of the Punjab. Mehar Siṅgh who retired as a police inspector in 1888, had been awarded for his meritorious record six squares of land in Chakk No. 33 in canal colony in Sheikhūpurā district. Four years later, he shifted his family of four sons and a daughter to this village, which began to be called Dhārovālī after their original village. Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh passed his boyhood herding cattle and learning to read Gurmukhī and recite gurbāṇī. In 1901, he was married to Indar Kaur, daughter of Buddh Siṅgh Buṇḍālā of Chakk No. 64. In 1910, he joined Khālsā Parchārak Vidyālā, a missionary school at Tarn Tāran, and returned after two years' training to devote himself to the cause of education and to spreading Sikhism in the canal colonies. He started a girls primary school and a Khālsā orphange in his village with donations collected from the farmers.

         Reports about the corruption and licentiousness of Mahant Naraiṇ Dās, who was in control of the principal sacred shrine, Gurdwārā Janam Asthān, at Nankāṇā Sāhib, led Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh to call a public convention in his village, Dhārovālī, on 1-3 October 1920. The Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee, which was formed at Amritsar on 15 November 1920, also decided to convene a conference at Nankāṇā Sāhib on 4-6 March 1921 with a view to exerting pressure on the Mahant to reform himself and make over control of the gurdwārā to a democratically elected body. Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh learnt about the conspiracies Mahant Naraiṇ Das was hatching against the reformers. He and Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar, another equally dashing leader of the Bār Khālsā Dīwān, decided on 17 February 1921 that they would proceed to Gurdwārā Jānam Asthān and claim possession of the shrine on behalf of the Panth. The date fixed was 20 February when the Mahant, according to their information, was scheduled to attend a Sanātan Sikh conference at Lahore. Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh was to march with his jathā from Dhārovālī through the darkness of the night of 19 February and Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar from Sachchā Saudā was to join him with his comrades at dawn at Chandarkoṭ canal waterfall bridge, about 8 km north of Nankāṇā Sāhib. They sent a special messenger to Amritsar to secure the concurrence of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee. The Committee did not agree and deputed Dalīp Siṅgh of Sāhovāl to go and dissuade Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh and Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar from taking any precipitate action. Dalīp Siṅgh succeeded in contacting Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar and bringing him round to the viewpoint of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee. Then they drafted a hukamnāmā, signed by six prominent leaders including Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar, to be delivered to Jathedār Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh to stop him from proceeding to Nankāṇā Sāhib. Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh had meanwhile left Dhārovālī along with his comrades. They offered the ardās and prayed for the success of their mission. Volunteers from villages en route increased their number to more than 130. Taking a short cut, they went by the village of Mohlāṅ and not by Chandarkoṭ bridge, 3 km south, which was the rendezvous fixed for a meeting with Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar. Dalīp Siṅgh who was carrying the hukamnāmā combed the area round Chandarkoṭ till the small hours of 20 February but failed to locate Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh's jathā. Exhausted by his fruitless wandering, he retired for rest to Uttam Siṅgh's factory, about a mile away from Gurdwārā Jānam Asthān leaving his companion, Waryām Siṅgh, to continue the search. The latter did meet Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh and delivered to him the message commanding him to halt and go back with the jathā. The jathā was bound by the ardās it had offered before setting out on its march. So Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh refused to comply and entered, along with his companions, Gurdwārā Janam Asthān at 5.45 a.m. chanting hymns. All of a sudden bullets began flying in from the southwest corner of the roof of the Mahimānkhānā or guest house of Mahant Naraiṇ Dās. Those squatting in the compound below were killed in the shooting. The Mahant's men then descended and pounced upon their prey with swords, hatchets and other lethal weapons and made short work of the devotees. A bullet-hole was made in the silver-plated door of Chaukhaṇḍī, the sanctum-sanctorum, where Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh sat in attendance behind the Gurū Granth Sāhib. His companions stood in front in a row to protect the Holy Book from desecration. All of them including Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh fell to the bullets fired by the Mahant's men who had broken open the door. This happened on 20 February 1921.


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  2. Josh, Sohan Siṅgh, Akālī Morchiāṅ dā Itihās. Delhi, 1972
  3. Pratāp Siṅgh, Giānī, Gurdwārā Sudhār arthāt Akālī Lahir. Amritsar, 1975
  4. Ashok, Shamsher Siṅgh, Shiromanī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee dā Pañjah Sālā Itihās. Amritsar, 1982
  5. Sahni, Ruchi Ram, Struggle for Reform in Sikh Shrines. Ed. Ganda Singh. Amritsar, n.d.
  6. Teja Singh, Gurdwara Reform and the Sikh Awakening. Jalandhar, I922
  7. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983

Rājinder Siṅgh