SĀKĀ PAÑJĀ SĀHIB, the heroic event which took place at Hasan Abdāl railway station, close to the sacred shrine of Pañja Sāhib on the morning of 30 October 1922 and which has since passed into folklore as an instance of Sikh courage and resolution. A non-violent morchā or agitation to assert the right to felling trees for Gurū kā Laṅgar from the land attached to Gurdwārā Gurū kā Bāgh in Amritsar district, already taken over from the priests by the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee after a negotiated settlement, had started on 8 August 1922. At first Sikh volunteers were arrested and tried for trespass, but from 25 August police resorted to beating day after day the batches of Sikhs that came. This went on till 13 September when, on the intervention of the Punjab Governor, the beating stopped and the procedure of arrests resumed. The prisoners were tried summarily at Amritsar and then despatched by special trains to distant jails. One such train left Amritsar on 29 October 1922 for the Attock Fort which would touch Hasan Abdāl the following morning. The Sikhs of Pañja Sāhib decided to serve a meal to the detenues but, when they reached the railway station with the food, they were informed by the station master that the train was not scheduled to halt there. Their entreaties and their plea that such trains had been stopped at other places for the prisoners to be fed went unheeded. Two of the Sikhs, Bhāī Pratāp Siṅgh and Bhāī Karam Siṅgh who were leading the saṅgat went forward as the rumbling sound of the approaching train was heard and sat cross-legged in the middle of the track. Several others, men and women, followed suit. The train-driver slowed down suddenly and brought the train to a screeching halt, but not before it had run over eleven of the squatters. The worst mauled were Bhāī Pratāp Siṅgh and Bhāī Karam Siṅgh, who succumbed to their injuries the following day. Their dead bodies were taken to Rāwalpiṇḍī where they were cremated on 1 November 1922. They were hailed as martyrs and, until the partition of 1947, a three-day religious fair used to be held in their memory at Pañjā Sāhib from 30 October to 1 November every year.


  1. Ganda Siṅgh, ed., Some Confidential Papers of the Akali Movement. Amritsar, 1965
  2. Mohinder Siṅgh, The Akali Movement. Delhi, 1978
  3. Teja Siṅgh, Gurdwārā Reform Movement and the Sikh Awakening. Jalandhar, 1922
  4. Sahni, Ruchi Ram, Struggle for Reform in Sikh Shrines, Ed. Ganda Siṅgh. Amritsar, n.d.
  5. Pratāp Siṅgh, Giānī, Gurdwārā Sudhār arthāt Akālī Lahir. Amritsar, 1975
  6. Josh, Sohan Siṅgh, Akālī Morchiāṅ da Itihās. Delhi, 1972

Gurmeet Siṅgh