About Babbar Akali

Babbar Akali Movement was radical outgrowth of the Akali movement for the reform of Sikh places of worship during the early 1920. The incidents at Tarn Taran (January 1921) and Nankana Sahib (February 1921) in which many Sikhs lost their lives led to the emergence of a group which rejected non-violence and adopted violence as a creed. The members of this secret group called themselves Babbar Akali, Babbar meaning Lion. Their targets were the British officers and their Indian informers. They were strongly attached to their Sikh faith and shared an intense patriotic fervor.

The Sikh Educational Conference was held at Hoshiarpur from 19 to 21 March, 1921. Some radicals led by Master Mota Singh and Kishan singh Gargajj, a retired havldar major of the Indian army, held a secret meeting and made up a plan to avenge themselves upon those responsible for the killings at Nankana Sahib. In November 1921, Kishan Singh formed a secret organization called Chakarvarti Jatha and started working among the peasantry and soldier inciting them against the foreign rulers.

Towards the end of August 1922, the two Chakravarti Jathas resolved to merge together and rename their organization Babbar Akali Jatha. Kishan Singh was chosen jathedar or president, while Dalip Singh Daulatpur, Karam Singh Jhingran and Ude Singh Ramgarh Jhuggian were nominated members. A cyclostyled news sheet called the Babbar Akali Doaba had already been launched. The Babbar Akali Jatha had its own code.  The members were to recite regularly Gurbani, the Sikh prayers. The outer circle of the Jatha consisted of sympathizers who helped the active members with food and shelter. The movement was very active from mid-1922 to the end of 1923. Several government officials and supporters were singled out and killed. In April 1923 the Babbar Akali Jatha was declared an unlawful association under the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908. The arrests and deaths in police encounters of its members depleted the Jatha’s ranks. The movement virtually came to an end when Varyam Singh Dhugga was run down by the police in Lyallpur district in June 1924.The trial of the arrested Babbar Akalis had already begun inside Lahore Central Jail on 15 August 1923. Ninety One (91) Babbar Akalis were accused, two had died in jail during trial, 34 were acquitted, 6 including Jathedar Kishan Singh Gargajj were given death penalty and the remaining 49 were sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment.

The condemned Babbars were hanged on 27 February 1926. They were Kishan Singh Gargajj, Babu Santa Singh, Dalip Singh Dhamian, Karam Singh Manko, Nand Singh Ghurial and Dharam Singh Hayatpur. The Babbar Akali Jatha ceased to exist but it had left a permanent mark on the history of the Sikhs and on the nationalist movement of India.