PRĪTAM SIṄGH GOJRĀṄ, JATHEDĀR (1896-1976), born into a simple rural family, rose, without advantages of education and worldly means, to the position of president of the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal, to be distinguished from the Riyāstī Akālī Dal (representing only Sikhs living in the princely states of the Punjab), by his solid qualities of character. He was born Dalīp Siṅgh in 1896, the only son of Kishan Siṅgh Dhālīvāl and Partāp Kaur of village Gojrāṅ in present-day Saṅgrūr district of the Punjab. His father died when he was still very young and his mother remarried. Prītam Siṅgh grew up as a neglected child and in january1915 enlisted in the army. Contrary to the common ways of Punjabi youth, Prītam Siṅgh vowed, when still in the army, totally to abstain from the use of alcohol and flesh. After his release in 1920 from the army, his interest in religion became more pronounced. He in fact started studying the Sikh texts under royal tutors of Paṭiālā attached to Gurdwārā Motī Bāgh. This was the time when he was drawn towards politics as well. He joined the Akālī party which was the dominant political force among the Sikhs. He went through the rites of the Khālsā initiation in 1921 and received the new name of Prītam Siṅgh. He became a member of the Gurū Hargobind Jathā, a Sikh group active in the Sikh religious reform.

         For Participating in the Jaito agitation Prītam Siṅgh was jailed in 1923. In 1926, he took part in the agitation launched against the ruler of Paṭiālā for the release of the Akālī activist Sevā Siṅgh Ṭhīkrīvālā. He betrayed active interest in promoting the tour of the Akālī supremo, Bābā Khaṛak Siṅgh, in 1928 who was persona non grata with the ruler of Paṭiālā state.

         He was very unhappy when the Akālī Dal patched up its differences with Mahārājā Bhūpinder Siṅgh of Paṭiālā. He denounced the agreement between Paṭiālā ruler and the Akālī leader, Master Tārā Siṅgh, branding it as a sell out.

         Turning away from the Prajā Maṇḍal which had come to be dominated by communists and the urban elite, Prītam Siṅgh reverted to Akālī politics and focussed his energies on strengthening the Riyāstī Akālī Dal of which he had been the Jathedār (president) since its very inception. He supported the Baldev Siṅgh-Sikandar Pact made in 1942 between the Akālī Dal and the Muslim dominated Unionist Party of the

        Puṅjāb and the Āzād Punjab demand raised by Master Tārā Siṅgh in 1943. In 1944, he was elected president of the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal, the mainstream political party of the Sikhs. At the fifth All-India Akālī Conference held at Lahore on 14 October 1944, Jathedār Gojrāṅ raised the demand for a sovereign Sikh State in case the Muslim League demand for a separate Muslim State was accepted. When after independence, the Akālīs decided to join the Congress party (March 1948), Prītam Siṅgh stood by the side of Master Tārā Siṅgh opposing this move. Jathedār Prītam Siṅgh Gojrāṅ launched in 1946 a strong and widespread agitation against the excesses and misrule of Jīnd. In 1954, he was elected a member of Paṭiālā and East Punjab States Union Assembly in the mid-term poll.

         Wroth at the half-hearted implementation of the Regional Formula devised as a compromise between the Akālīs in the Punjab and the Congress party, Jathedār Gojrāṅ resurrected the demand for a Sikh State at a press conference in Jalandhar on 12 June 1958. He was an active supporter of the Punjabi Sūbā agitation, but dismayed at the intra-party wranglings between the Akālī leaders, Master Tārā Siṅgh and Sant Fateh Siṅgh, he withdrew himself from active politics in 1965 and retired to his native village of Gojrāṅ. Having lived the simple life of a recluse all these years he had raised no family nor did he own any property. The village Paṅchāyat (council) assigned to him a small portion of the shāmlāt (common land) for his residence and subsistence. In character with his saintly life, he willed the property to the village Pañchāyat


  1. Bajwa, Harcharan Singh, Fifty Years of Punjab Politics (1920-1970) . Chandigarh, 1979
  2. Gur Rattan Pal Singh, The Illustrated History of the Sikhs (1947-78) . Chandigarh, 1979
  3. Gulshan, Dhannā Siṅgh, Ajj dā Pañjāb te Sikh Rājnītī. Rampura Phul, 1971
  4. Jaswant Siṅgh, ed. Master Tārā Siṅgh: Jīvan Saṅgharash te Udesh. Amritsar, 1972

Surjīt Siṅgh Gāndhī