Friday, March 26, 2021

Akbal Singh of Gurudaspur

 Akbal Singh of Gurdaspur 

Kalupur Lat in Ahmedabad is my favourite place to buy groceries at very reasonable rates. It’s a market developed by the refugees of 1947 partition. On road side from Prem Darwaja to Kalupur, there are shops selling roasted gram and roasted peanuts. They are mostly owned by Muslims. But while parking the car besides the road, I saw a board, Akbal Shingh Achhar Singh. A Sardarji was selling roasted gram. Curiously I went to the shop and ask, you are a Sikh but the name Akbal Singh looks a Muslim name derived from name Iqbal. It is true, he replied. His grandfather came from Gurdaspur to Ahmedabad after the partition. His grandfather’s name was Lal Singh and had a Muslim friend Iqbal. When his marriage took place and there was traditional to not to call husband by his real name (name is mortal), he kept a dummy name Akbal Singh, that became his identity later. This is how Lal Singh became Akbal Singh, he explained. There was brotherhood and communal harmony amongst Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims those days, meeting one another with friendship and attending wedding ceremonies. Muslims used to attend and eat meals in Sikh-Hindu ceremonies, but Sikh-Hindu didn’t eat non veg of Muslim because of Halal v/s Jhatka near. The meat of an animal died in pain (halal) or died without realising pain (jhatka) makes difference in the quality of meat, they differentiate. He was explaining the cultural differences. Jhatka or Halal, in either of the cases poor animals are slaughtered for the hungry stomachs of humans, and you are differentiating and justifying your method superior, strange, I commented. 

Where did Iqbal go? I inquired. To Pakistan, he replied. We could’ve also ran away from Gurudaspur, if the mistake of British was not corrected by Nehru in 2.5 hours. Our district Gurudaspur went to Pakistan because it had Muslim majority, but Nehru realised that there was no way to approach Kashmir other than Gurudaspur by road, he pressed upon and within 2.5 hours, one Tahsil Shakargarh was given to Pakistan (became part of Sialkot district and now of Narowal district) and rest three Gurudaspur, Batala and Pathankot were awarded to India to provide a road link and practical land access to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was this route from where India could send soldiers, tanks and other support to Srinagar and prevented Pakistan from occupying Kashmir in 1947. The third generation of Akbal Singh was explaining the facts of history from a small shop of roasted gram. The confusion of 2.5 days were reduced to 2.5 hours in his memory. 

Radcliffe Award had given Gurdaspur district to India though it had Muslim majority. But till the award was published on 17th August 1947, there was confusion amongst the people of Gurdaspur district for two and half days (15-17 August). They felt that it went to Pakistan because it had muslim majority. Lord Mountbatten, Lady Mountbatten and Pandit Nehru may get some more credit points favouring India in those crucial hours if the records on partition of Punjab are opened.

The grandson of Akbal Singh remembered few historical facts of his native Gurdaspur, but how many people of the new generation know such details. Not many, I think. 


30 October 2020


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