The Akali Dal under the feeble leadership of Harchand Singh Longowal half heartedly launched agitation in January and February 1981 simply demanding remunerative prices for food grains and withdrawal of hike in bus fares enhanced by Barbara Singh government which had come to power in June 1980 after defeating the Akalis in mid term poll.
Both Communist Parties, CP1 and CPI (M). also joined the agitation. This agitation created little impact on the masses, hence it withered away. Seeing the miserable plight of the Akalis both Communist Parties withdrew themselves from the Akali partnership. Now the Akalis were in search of a new issue which could attract the masses to join hands with them. They tried their luck in launching agitation against digging of Sutlej – Vamuna Link (SVL) canal which was supposed to carry waters of river Sutlej to Haryana at the cost of Punjab farmers.
They vowed to stop digging of canal near village Kapuri in Patiala district on 24th April, 1982. This agitation also failed to rally the farmers around the Akali leaders and hence it flopped. Repeated failures of the Akalis demoralised them and Longowal felf frustrated. Longowal failed to rouse the feelings of Sikh masses because he lacked alt the prerequisite qualities of leader-ship. He failed to give meaningful direction to the Sikh Panth because he lacked vision. He failed to set out specific demands which could appeal to the psyche of the Khalsa because he himself was a spiritless and uninspiring leader. Therefore his feeble leadership ihrpw the Akalis in wilderness. While Longowal was indulging in cock fighling in Punjab. Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi was fighting for Anandpur Sahib Resolution in Delhi, He shifted his head-quarters to Delhi on 13th April 1981, the Baisakhi Day and launched one-man Morcha for one demand, realisation of Anandpur Sahib Resolution.
He commenced his fight at Delhi and went to jail several times by repeatedly breaking prohibitory orders. He remained lodged in Tihar Jail till Sant Bhindranwale persuaded him in August 1982 to return to Punjab to join Dharm Yudh Morcha jointly launched by him and the Akali Dal at Amritsar. Talwandi agreed to join Dharm Yudh Morcha on the condition that his demand of Anandpur Sahib Resolution must find top place in the proposed list of demands set out by the Longowal Akali Dal as well as the demands of Sant Bhindranwale.
The Sant not only accepted this condition but he also assured Talwandi that he will adopt Anandpur Sahib Resolution as his own mission. Upon this Talwandi returned to Punjab and joined Dharm Vudh Morcha in September 1982, Why Talwandi was so much attached to the Anandpur Sahib Resolution? When Akali government under the Chief Ministery ship of Parkash Singh Badal was formed in 1977 Talwandi was the President of the Akali Dal. Annual general conference of Akali Dal was held at Ludhiana on 27th and 28th October 1978. While other so called moderate Akali leaders were hesitating to touch the Anandpur Sahib Resolution Talwandi considered as a hard-liner, pushed through it and got it adopted in the open session on 28th October.
The Akali High Command was virtually forced by him to adopt the Resolution. Thus, in a way Talwandi was the second founder of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution though the original Resolution drafted in October 1973 at Anandpur Sahib was some what modified in 1978, the modified Resolution sought enough powers for Punjab so as to make it an autonomous stale, This Resolution envisaged that only four portfolios named, External affairs Currency and Communications should be retained by the Union government and the rest of the powers should vest in the states. This system of distribution of powers was quite sufficient to satisfy the aspirations of the Sikh Panth. This was the reason that later on Sant Bhindranwale made it his cherished mission of life and vowed to achieve Anandpur Sahib Resolution that had been adopted in 1973.
Akali Dal led by Longowal ultimately threw this Resolution to the wind and set out to accept political power. It was only Sant Bhindranwale and Talwandi who stuck to their guns. In mid July 1982 Sant Bhindranwale fell ill and doctor attending on him advised a week’s rest. In the meanwhile Bhai Amrik Singh, President of A1SSF and Bhai Thara Singh, Manager of Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash, both close associates of Sant Bhindranwale, were arrested by the police at Amritsar on l9th July 1982.
They were booked in a false criminal case and taken into police custody. This wanton act of the government compelled Sant Bhindranwale to fight for justice In spite of his illness he shifted his headquarters to Amntsar the same day and lodged himself in room number 47 of Guru Nanak Niwas.
He performed Ardas at Akal Takht for the success of his fight for justice and dispatched a Jatha of 51 Singhs to the residence of Deputy Commissioner to court arrest. The Jatha when not arrested squatted in the middle of the road in front of D.C.’s official residence till it was arrested late night on 19th July This was the start of Dharm Vudh Morcha.
The immediate demands set out by the Sant were unconditional release of Bhai Amrik Singh and Thara Singh and withdrawal of false cases registered against them. As these simple, demands were not met ‘Jail Bharo movement was launched. The Jathas were daily sent out from Manji Sahib lo court arrest.
Seeing the success the Morcha was achieving Longowal and his supporters found an opportunity to retrieve their impaired position. Longowal called an emergent meeting of his Akali Dal at Amrirsar on 25th July 1982 and in consultation with Sant Bhindranwale decided to join the Morcha formally on 4th August 1982.
The Sant being a selfless religious leader concurred to make Longowal as Dictator of the Morcha. This was merely a face saving device created for Longowal so as to fulfil his ego. As a matter of fact de fact Dictator of the Morcha was Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. To mark formal launching of Dharm Vudh Morcha on 4th August some Sikh youths led by Gajinder Singh hijacked Indian Airlines plane to Lahore. Another plane was hijacked by Musibat Singh (real name Manjit Singh) on 20th August 1982 to Pakistan but it was not permitted to land at Lahore because Indian Government had already lodged protest with Pakisfan.
The plane landed back at Raja Sanai Airport near Amritsar and the hijacker was persuaded to surrender but was shot dead treacherously by the police without trial by a court of law. This brutal act of the government angered Sant Bhindranwale who declared that it was a grave injustice against the Sikhs.
He retorted that two Pandey brothers had hijacked Indian Airlines plane in protest against arrest of Indira Gandhi when the Janata Party was in power at the centre. When Indira Gandhi came back to power in 1980 she rewarded both the Pandey brothers by giving them berths in Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly. This was a clear contrast of the case of Manjit Singh who had been gunned down in a similar act that was committed by Pandey brothers. None the less this tragic incident gave fillip to the Morcha which was further intensified.
In a short period of twit months all jails in Punjab were jam packed with Akali workers, Even temporary jails set up in the governmeni buildings were over parked. There was virtually left no room anywhere where the arrested Akali volunteers could be detained. The buses fully loaded with volunteers remained parked outside the jails waiting for accommodation for days and sometimes for weeks to-gether. But the flow of Akali workers continued unabated.
There was an unusual euphoria and sparkling enthusiasm among the volunteers young and old alike. The volunteers wearing saffron bands around blue turbans, women supporting saffron Dupattas, having daggers (Gatras) slung across their shoulders rent the Punjab state with traditional slogans “Raj Karega Khalsa” and “Degh Tegh Fateh.” It appeared that the whole Sikh Panth was on the move.
The Morcha was a splendid success in the history of Akali movements. When the Morcha was running in full swing a tragic incident took place on llth September 1982. A bus fully loaded with Akali volunteers dashed into a speeding train at an unmanned railway crossing near Taran Taran which left 34 Sikhs killed and a large number injured seriously. This incident was not a simple accident. It appeared to have been a deliberate act committed by the authorities at the behest of Darbara Singh, a cruel and cunning Chief Minister of Punjab.
He perhaps wanted to blunt the rising spirit and enthusiasm of the Akalis but he failed in his sinister design. His mean act proved as a counter productive. Sant Bhindranwale accused Darbara Singh publicly for his diabolic act and declared all the killed volunteers as martyrs. In order to register their protest against this wanton act the Akali leaders led the volunteers to Delh’i in order to take out a massive procession in Delhi on 10th and 11th October.
When Akali workers passed through Haryana they were harassed, obstructed, beaten and even fired upon by the police at the instance of Bhajan Lal a notorious Chief Minister of Haryana. In spite of all such hurdles the Akalis did reach Delhi and took out a massive procession. The police opened fire on the peaceful demonstration on 11th October when they were proceeding towards the Parliament House to present a memorandum of their demands. Haif a dozen Akalis were killed and more than a dozen were injured by police firing.
As the Parliament was in session Indira Gandhi was shaken. Under panic she ordered the release of all Akali volunteers lodged in the jails. In fact all the jails over flooded with the Akali volunteers and there was absolutely no room left anywhere in Punjab to accommodate their unending stream.
Indira Gandhi a crook and cunning Prime Minister, found an opportunity to ease the tension. There-fore under the pretext of assuaging the injured feelings of the Akalis she ordered the release of all detained volunteers but they refused to leave the jails. The Darbara Singh government disconnected electric connections and stopped supply of water to the detainees. It was a trick played to force them to vacate the jails but the detainees did not relent.
Sant Bhindranwale wanted them to stick to the jails but Longowal opposed his stand. In the capacity of a Dictator of the Morcha he directed the volunteers to leave the jails and they came out triumphantly Evidently it was a total defeat of the state and the Indian governments. This was the first round of battle won by the Akalis ostensibly under the leadership of Longowal but actually under the guidance and inspiration of Sant Bhindranwale. With this the first phase of Dharam Vudh Morcha was over