Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh
This article is based on the information provided in the personal diary of Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh, official record and family information.
Sardhar Bahadur Gopal Singh Lobana – M.L.C.
Sardhar Bahadur Gopal Singh was born to Sub Major Dharam Singh and Bhaag Kaur alias Bhaago in 1862 at village Nurpur Lobana, District Kapurthala.
Sub Major Dharam Singh, the first Subedar Major of Lobana Sikh community was awarded the Gallantry Award I.O.M (Indian Order of Merit which equals the Paramvir Chakra/Victoria Cross), O.B.I (Order of British India) and given land of 150 acres at village Wagah in district Lahore, Pakistan in 1880. He passed away while he was in service in 1885.
Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh took his early education from Mian Mir Cantt, Lahore (Pakistan) and Nusshera Cannt (Pakistan). He was a middle class graduate and had good knowledge of English, Urdu, Farsi, and Punjabi languages.
He joined the army in 1882 in Rasala Regiment but had to leave the army after his father’s death in 1885. Thereafter, he looked after the Jagir of 150 acres awarded to his father and founded a village - Gopal Singh Wala which is situated just 500m from Police Station Wagah on the G.T. Road, also known as Labanwala locally.
At present, the government of Pakistan is running a primary school in this village (Govt. Primary School, Gopal Singh Wala, Lahore). He started to establish good relations with his neighborhood and became brother (Pagvat Bhara) of Zaildar Mota Singh of village Wagah, Sardar Bahadur Sunder Singh Majithia, nephew of Sham Singh Attariwala and father of Justice Mehar Singh. He was also a member of Chief Khalsa Dewan up to 1940 and used to attend every important meeting.
During World War I, Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh motivated Lobana Sikhs to join the army and helped in their recruitment. Most of these Lobana Sikhs were awarded land accord to their ranks after their retirement (1 moraba, 2 morabas, 3 morabas) which enhanced their social status in the community.
The British Government recognized his contribution, social service and loyalty to government and awarded him the title of Sardar Sahib and land of 2 morabas in 1918.
He was nominated as non-official member of first Punjab Legislative Council (8th January 1921 – 27th October 1923). As per the notification of Punjabi Legislative Council, his name is at Serial No – 48 (Gopal Singh Sardar Sahib Lobana) – non-official nominated.
The title of Sardar Bahadur was confessed on him in 1921 and was given a land of 5 morabas in Chak.No-4, Tehsil Okara, District Montgomery (Pakistan) and 50 morabas at village Bhunikirakh, district Lahore in 1928. Accord to History of Sikhs-II by S Khushwant Singh (Page 217 – 223), Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh was one of the six members who were nominated as non-official member from the whole of Punjab.
Upliftment of Lobana community
It is evident from the record of Census 1881, 1891m 1901, 1911 that Lobana Sikhs in Punjab were regarded as non-agriculturists to uplift the community. Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh had to put Question 14, 15, 16, and 17 in the Legislative Council on 23 Feb 1921 (Wednesday) and got assurance from the government that the profession of Lobana Sikhs in military service and agriculture which will be record on the census of 1921 The questions put up in the Legislative Council by Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh as under –
Q 14: Will government please state if Lobana Sikhs are notified as agricultural tribe throughout the Punjab except in the districts of Lyallpur, Jhang, Shahpur, and Montgomery?
Ans - The Hounrable Sardar Bahadur Sardar Sunder Singh Majithia: The Lobana Sikhs have been notified as an agricultural tribe in 11 districts only, namely – Ambala, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Lahore, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Sialkot, Gujrat and Gujranwala.
Q15: Sardar Sahib Sardar Gopal Singh – Will government be pleased to notify them as an agricultural tribe in these four districts also?
Ans - The Hounrable Sardar Bahadur Sardar Sunder Singh Majithia: There do not appear to be any Lobana landowner in Montgomery and in the other three districts mentioned, the number are few, as they all appear to be located in colony tracts, it is improbable that the Lobanas of any district, need protection should be first be represented to the local offices.
Q16: Is Government aware that the Lobana Sikhs follow the occupation of agriculture and military service and the classification in the census paper referred to is keenly resented by them?
Q17: Will Government be pleased to remove this grievance?
Ans - The Honorable Sardar Bahadur Sardar Sunder Singh Majithia: Lobana Sikhs will not be entered in the same category as Bazigars and other criminal cates in the census of 1921 (Punjab Legislative Council Debates – 8th January to 16th April 1921, Article – 1, Page 14 – 15).
For his efforts to uplift the community and being the first Sardar Bahadur of Lobana community, every rising Lobana Sikh paid him a visit as a mark of respect.
Keeping in view the guidelines of Singh Sabha Movement, education was at utmost priority. The Lobana Sikhs leaders – Sant Prem Singh, Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh and others opened Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa High School at village Tanda, District Gujrat in 1921. Sardar Bahardur Gopal Singh took keen interest to establish this school and gave lot of financial help to the school. In 1915, he helped to build a Bhunga at Nanakana Sahib (Pakistan) and constructed his own Bhunga at Baba Bakala Sahib in 1929 for the welfare of Lobana Singh community as Lobana Sikhs gather in large numbers during the Mela of “Guru Ladho Re” in the month of August.
He along with Sardar Bahadur Capt Mehtaab Singh, Capt Jawale Singh, Zaildar Surinder Singh and others succeeded in making separate Lobana Singh companies in the army and also joined the Sudhar Movement of Singh Sabha Lehar with the cooperate of Sant Prem Singh. In 1928, he arranged a conference of Sudhar Movement at Chak No-437 (37) Tehsil Putukee, District Lahore which was attended by all reputed members of Lobana Singh community – Maharaja of Pilibhit.
Key Morcha of Amritsar (Chabian Da Marcha - 1921)
S.G.P.C under the leadership of Baba Kharak Singh started a morcha to get control of the keys of Toshakhana of Harmandir Sahib from Deputy commissioner of Amritsar – Hanry Duffield Craik (02/02/1921 – 26/05/1921) and J.M. Dunnett (27/05/1921 – 14/11/1923). Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh was pressurized by the government to give evidence in favor of the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar but he did not oblige them with the request that he cannot go against his religion. In 1938, Hanry Duffield Craik became the Governor of Punjab and called Darbar of all Sardars of Punjab. He especially pointed out at Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh with the remark that you are not loyal to the crown. He called for the record of Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh and cancelled land of 50 morabas at village Bhunikeerakh, District Lahore.
According to Hans Raj Puri, brother in law of Bhim Sen Sacher – ex CM Punjab, when Lala Lajpat Rai was lathi-charged and critically injured in 1929, he was shifted to the hospital in the Bhagi (Horsecart) of Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh. Hans Raj Puri was present during the protest of 1929. Sardar Bahadur Gopal Singh was appointed as Arbitrator by Punjab High Court, Lahorer in some cases during 1929 – 1930 according to Justice Pritam Singh Safir who was legal advisor and lawyers to him before partition.
After partition, he came to his village Nurpur Lobana, District Kapurthala but suffered a setback and could not recover. His sons S Dayal Singh, S Kartar Singh and grandsons S. Kishan Singh, S. Bishan Singh, S Jagjit Singh Bassi (Member SGPC) and other members of the family were by his side when he breather his last on 2nd September 1947. His family was allotted land at village Bassi, District Kapurthala. This article is written by his great grandsons Capt. Makhan Singh and Tarlok Singh Sr Supat/AIG Jail who were to live with him for 13 and 10 years respectively (Mobile: 941-752-1039 / 347-446-3392)