Hero of Parja Mandal Lehar – Sewa Singh Thikriwal
Sardar Sewa Singh Thikriwala was the real hero of the Praja Mandal movement in Punjab. He was born on August 24, 1886 at the famous village Thikriwala of the Malwa region situated on the outskirts of Barnala City. According to his contemporary Sardar Basant Singh, his (Sewa Singh Thikriwala) birth year is 1882.
He was born to Mata Har Kaur and father Deva Singh, who was an official at the court of Maharaja Rajinder Singh. At that time village Thikriwala was under the princely state of Patiala.
As the family resided in Patiala, his education was completed in Patiala. He was fluent in Punjabi, English, Urdu and Persian. After completing his studies, he was appointed as a senior officer in the health department. While serving as a health officer at Barnala, he saved thousands of lives during the pandemic plague.
Despite being born into a rich family, Sewa Singh Thikriwala continued to be the voice of the common people. Acting as an active member of the Singh Sabha Movement, he emerged as a major social reformer. He made arrangements of Gurmukhi classes at Gurdwara Sahib to light the lamp of education in the village. Unable to dedicate time towards social well being due to his profession as health department officer, Sewa Singh resigned from the plum post to be amongst people and serve them.
The persecution of Sikhs at Hero Khurd village in Patiala state and the repression of Dhuri’s Gurdwara reform had shocked him deeply. During the Nankana Sahib massacre, he proved to be an angel helping people and raised the voice against injustice. He was arrested for wearing a black turban and wearing a kirpan and sent to jail.
During that time, Baba Kharak Singh established the Praja Mandal Movement and assigned Sewa Singh the responsibility of being president of the movement.
With the enactment of the Gurdwara Act, all Akali leaders were released but the Patiala police caught him in a false case of pot (Gadwi) theft and registered a case against him. He was not released even though the charges were proved to be false. Then Sewa Singh went on a hunger strike inside the jail against the misconduct of the jail authorities and was finally released.
Seeing the activities of the Praja Mandal movement and the growing resentment against the government, the Raja of Patiala summoned him for talks. He, however, demanded free elections in the state, so the talks with Raja went into vain.
He left for Shimla in 1931 to attend the third conference of the State Praja Mandal, where he discussed the problems of the people of the state with Mahatma Gandhi. He delivered a revolutionary speech while presiding over the Akali Conference held at village Khadial in Sangrur district. Later, at the 4th conference of the State Praja Mandal held in Delhi, he demanded for independence.
During the State Praja Mandal Conference held at Amritsar, it was decided to send a Jatha to Lahore. He was a part of the entourage whom the administration ordered to leave the city of Amritsar and at the same time restricted them from entering Amritsar and Lahore districts for two months.
Later on reaching his native village Thikriwala, he was re-arrested by the Patiala state police but he refused to put up defence in his case. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500 in the case of Khadial’s Akali conference. After almost six months in jail, he went on a hunger strike to protest against misbehavior of the jail authorities.
He attained martyrdom in the jail on January 20, 1935 after a hunger strike of almost nine months. Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala state sent his ashes with full honors to his native village of Thikriwal (Barnala).
This Son of Soil died fighting for others. In no way can Barnala of Punjab re-pay his debt.
Binder Singh Khuddi Kalan
District Research Officer
Mob No 9878605965