Shaheed Darshan Singh Pheruman – a Unique Martyr

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The martyrdom of Sardar Darshan Singh Pheruman for the cause of Punjab state was a unique sacrifice. He gave his life while protesting. He lived for a cause and died for it and the impression he left in the hearts of his fellow men was of a great human being who never deferred from his duty. During his lifetime, he was involved in many causes like the freedom of the country, for which he worked tirelessly. Even after independence, he worked for other causes and left a lasting impression.

EARLY LIFE – Darshan Singh Pheruman was born at the village of Pheruman in present-day Amritsar district, on 1 August 1885. His father’s name was Chanda Singh and his mother’s Raj Kaur. After passing his high school examination, he joined in 1912 the Indian army as a sepoy. Two years later, he resigned from the army and set up as a contractor at Hissar. He was doing well as a contractor, when a taunt from his mother, who was deeply religious, led him to give up his business and plunge into the Akali movement for the reform of Gurdwara management.

First Arrest & Freedom for Struggle

In 1921, he was arrested in the morcha launched by Sikhs for recovering from the British deputy commissioner of Amritsar keys of the Golden Temple treasury he had seized, and was imprisoned for one year. In December 1924, he led the 14th Shahidi jatha to Jaito, and was jailed for ten months. He also took part in the non-cooperation movement launched by the Indian National Congress, serving a 14-month term in jail. In 1926, he visited Malaya where he was detained by the British on the basis of his political record in India. While in jail, he went on a fast in protest against the orders forbidding the wearing of kachha or drawers, one of the five symbols of Khalsa discipline. He continued the fast for 21 days, ending it only when he had won his point.

Returning home, Darshan Singh joined the Civil Disobedience movement and courted imprisonment thrice. He took part in the Quit India campaign during the Second World War. For a number of years, he was a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara parbandhak Committee and its general secretary for two terms. He was elected a member of the Rajya Sabha as a nominee of the Indian National Congress and retained his seat up to 1964. In 1959, he severed his connection with the Congress and joined the Swatantra Party of which he was one of the founders.

Hunger Strike

In August 1969, Darshan Singh resolved to lay down his life to atone for what he termed as resilement on the part of some of the Sikh leaders from the solemn pledges they had taken at Sri Akal Takht and to have their default in not being able to secure the inclusion of Chandigarh and some other areas in the newly-demarcated Punjab redeemed. So determined, he went on a fast unto death inside the central Jail at Amritsar on 15 August. He stuck to his vow and stubbornly refused to have any nourishment until his demand for the amalgamation with the Punjab of the Punjabi-speaking areas kept out of the new Punjab was conceded. Darshan Singh was a man of words and his hunger strike went for more than 70 days and ultimately on 27th October 1969 which was his 74th day of his fasting, he died.

For the supreme sacrifice he thus made to rewrite the sanctity of a Sikh’s plighted word, his name is honoured among the martyrs of the Sikh faith. His name is a shining example of supreme sacrifice, yet for the cause he died for, remains unfulfilled.

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