Freedom is the birth right of every living person. It is a boon and an eternal blessing. Slavery or subjugation on the other hand is a stigma, shame and curse. Every living creature on this planet wants to enjoy the spirit of freedom. And every spirited Quam with living soul wants to break its fetters to attain freedom. Even a gold cage cannot lure a person with conscience to slavery.
Slavery has two dimensions – overt and covert. It is the physical slavery first and then there is slavery of the soul. History is a witness to those who, even after being shackled physically had their soul and spirit free. Epics and stories of resistance of such heroes became hallmarks of willpower and courage for the coming generations. Those who dared walk on this path shaped the future of their Quam.
On 14 August, 1947 the Union Jack that was ruling over India was split into two – a green coloured flag with crescent and a star, and the tricolour flag with Ashoka chakkra in the middle. Pakistan was thus born out of India. Although firanghees decided to leave India/Pakistan on the same day but thanks to the superstitious beliefs of the Indian leaders that they agreed to be occupied for a day longer because 14th was not regarded as an auspicious day. However, Pakistan got freedom on 14th August, and India a day after on 15th August, 1947.
Freedom came to India not because of the spinning wheel or as a fluke. It was dawned on India because of the innumerable sacrifices of the ’Ghadharites’, ‘Indian National Army’, the ‘Akalis’, ‘Babbar Akalis’, other revolutionaries and the stubborn resistance throughout India that inflamed the passion for freedom. In addition to this, World War-II and the trembling situation in England expedited the departure of the British from India.
It is a historical fact that during the freedom struggle there were three major political parties in India that were involved in negotiations with the British government. These were recognized as representatives of the three major nationalities living in the Indian peninsula. These were ‘Hindu Congress’, ‘Muslim League’ and the ‘Akali Dal’ representing Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs respectively. During the parleys, Congress and its godfather, Mahatma Gandhi, on many occasions, had asserted their opposition to the division of India on communal grounds, which according to them was akin dissecting the ‘Mother India’. Mahatma Gandhi had vowed not to accept the ‘two nation theory’ put forward by the Muslim League under any circumstances. On the other side the Muslim League had made its stand amply clear that they could no longer co-exist with the Hindus. They asked for partitioning the country into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan.
Then came the royal betrayal. Completely ignoring the Sikhs, Congress accepted the ‘two nation theory’ of Muslim League and presented Raja-Gandhi formula, thus accepting the demand of creation of Pakistan. Under this formula India was being divided in such a manner that the Pakistan boundary would touch Karnal. This division of India was splitting Sikhs into two parts. Half of them would come under the rule of Muslim Pakistan, and the remaining half under its arch enemy Hindu India. This death dealing situation meant the greatest ever danger to the Sikhs in their history.
Sikh leadership at that time was blessed by Rider of the Blue Horse with the wisdom and far-sightedness. Under the stewardship of Master Tara Singh, Akali Dal rejected this Congress-League conspiracy and made it clear that if India was to be divided purely on communal basis then the Sikhs, who are the legitimate heirs of Punjab, would demand their share in Punjab and asked for its division too. Hindus and Muslims asked for the division of India and a response to this was the division of Punjab by the Sikhs.
The present map of India is thus the gift from Sikhs to the free India. This demand was not only the biggest blow to the Congress’ dream to broke a deal on their own terms, but also to the Muslim League who wanted to bring the whole of Punjab and Bengal under their renewed notion of ‘Mughal Raj’.
Meanwhile realizing that now the division of Punjab was inevitable, both the Congress and Muslim League lured the Sikhs to stay in India and Pakistan respectively. But it was because of the determination of Master Tara Singh and his historic gesture outside Lahore Assembly, where he lifted the Sri Sahib and shouted ‘Pakistan Murdabad’, ‘death to Pakistan’, which devastated the obnoxious plans of Congress and Muslim League.
Then the Machiavellian propaganda was set into motion that Master Tara Singh had torn the Pakistan flag hoisted on the Lahore fort and also that the British were actually promising the Sikhs an independent homeland but the Sikh leadership of that time was lured by the Hindus to turn it down. Then injustice, discrimination, breach of promises, and atrocities committed upon Sikhs in independent India fueled this myth. The motive of this was clearly to create a wedge between the Sikhs and their genuine panthic leadership.
The contributions of Akali Dal under the great leadership of Master Tara Singh are unparallel in contemporary history. It is a shame that the contribution of the Sikhs and its leadership towards freedom struggle have been completely ignored by India and its people. As Indians celebrate their independence day every year, Sikhs can only hope that their unparallel sacrifices will finally get their respectable place in the hearts and minds of those who are now enjoying the essence of freedom.