Udham Singh Nagoke

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Udham Singh Nagoke (1894-1966), the son of Bhai Bela Singh and Mai Atar Kaur, was born in the fertile village of Nagoke in Amritsar district. Growing to be a broadchested, sixfooter, Udham Singh Nagoke seemed a natural for a career in the army and the army indeed was his first choice. But he stayed in the army only for a very short time. Irked by the strict army regimen, he took out his discharge in 1920.

The Nankana Sahib tragedy of 1921 opened many new doors, as many an ambitious youth sought a place in the political arena. Udham Singh took a special interest in shrine reform. During the Morcha Chabian the Akali agitation for the recovery of the keys of the Toshakhana (treasury) of the Golden Temple, he was arrested and sentenced to six months in jail.

Caving into the Akali demands that the keys be returned and all he protesters who had been arrested be released, Sir John Maynard, the Home Member announced the release of all Sikhs under detention. However, the Akalis refused to pick the keys up from the deputy commissioner. A government official eventually delivered the keys wrapped in a piece of red silk to Baba Kharak Singh, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee at the Akal Takht.

The Akalis' victory was hailed throughout the country. Mahatma Gandhi called it the "First decisive battle for India's freedom" had been won. Udham Singh was among the last to be released in the case. He was arrested again during the Guru ka Bagh agitation, suffering greatly at the hands of the police.

Jathedar of the Akal Takht

As Jathedar of the Akal Takht, he was scheduled to lead the first Shahidi Jatha (martyrs' column) on its way to the agitation at Jaito. However, the Government arrested him the night before (8 February 1924) and sentenced him to two confinement in the Central Jail at Multan. On his release in 1926, he was again appointed Jathedar of Akal Takht. By then the Sikh Gurdwaras Act had been placed on the statute book. In the elections held under this Act, he was elected a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and continued to be elected or co-opted to it till 1954. During this time he was a member of the Darbar Sahib Committee from 1930 to 1933, and saw the creation of the monumental building Guru Ram Das Nivas, the pilgrims' inn. He was elected president of the Shiromani Committee in 1948 and again in 1952.

President of the Shiromani Akali Dal

In 1929, Jathedar Udham Singh Nagoke spearheaded Punjab Peasants' protest against the increase in agrarian taxation and was imprisoned for one year. He participated in the civil disobedience movement started by the Indian National Congress and served another year in custody. In 1935, he was elected president of the Shiromani Akali Dal. The freedom campaign claimed another four years of his life (1936-39. Another term injail awaited him in March 1942 under the Defence of India Rules. In the "Quit India" movement he suffered jail for three years.

Punjab Legislative Assembly

After his release at the end of the Second World War, Jathedar Nagoke was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly in 1946. In 1952 he was appointed head of the Bharat Sevak Samaj, a front organization of the Congress Party.

Rajya Sabha

He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1953 as a Congress nominee, a position he held until 1960. He was also a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress executive during this period.

Punjabi Suba agitation

In 1960 he joined Rajagopalacharya's Swatantra Party and headed its Punjab Branch in 1960-61.

1960's Punjabi Suba agitation

In 1960 he joined Rajagopalacharya's Swatantra Party and headed its Punjab Branch in 1960-61. He served a term in jail in 1960 in the Punjabi Suba agitation. Bhai Sahib was a surefooted politician, never resiling from the resolve he had once made. He was famous for his ready wit and repartee and for his strong character.

Transition He lost his wife soon after his marriage in the village of Dhilvan, district Kapurthala, but he never married again. In spite of his very stout physique, his health deteriorated because of frequent terms in dark, damp jails. He gave up this life at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences at Chandigarh on 11 January 1966.

'The village Triumvirate of Nagoke

Udham Singh Nagoke was one of the three well known men of the so called - 'village triumvirate' of Nagoke that grew to have a great deal of influence in changing and shaping the events of Punjab and Sikh affairs, leaving their decisive imprint on the modern period of the Majha country (the Heart of the Punjab). The two other sons of Nadoke's 'village triumvirate' were Mohan Singh Nagoke and Giani Kartar Singh. Giani Kartar Singh migrated to the newly developed canal colony of Lyallpur where he almost completely identified himself with its concerns. Yet, these three sons of the 'soil of Nagoke' are still remembered among the proud products of Nagoke.