From H S Rao
London, Oct 25 (PTI) The government should confer Bharat Ratna, the countrys highest civilian honour, on Master Tara Singh for his contributions in the unification of India and the Sikh community, former lawmaker and Chairman of National Minorities Commission Sardar Tarlochan Singh has demanded.
Delivering the inaugural Master Tara Singh Memorial Lecture instituted by Pothohar Association, UK, Tarlochan Singh said: "Master Tara Singh is remembered for two things, steering Sikhs towards opting for India in 1947 and campaigning for the State of Punjab in Independent India."
India has "betrayed two people - Sheikh Abdullah, the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir after its accession to India in 1947 and later jailed and exiled Master Tara Singh. Both strove to see Kashmir and Punjab remained with India," Tarlochan Singh said on Friday night.
Referring to the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to UK from November 12, Tarlochan Singh appealed to NRIs, particularly the Sikhs based here to submit a memorandum to Modi "demanding that Bharat Ratna be conferred on Master Tara Singh." Describing Master Tara Singh as a "misunderstood and maligned leader", Tarlochan Singh said though he was born Hindu - Nanak Chand - from the day he became Sikh he devoted his life for the welfare of Sikhs.
"He went to jail as a Congress worker and stood for India. He was a regular journalist, writer and author of many books," he said.
Tarlochan Singh noted that Master Tara Singh started demanding division of Panjab and Bengal in 1930 as he visualised that Britishers would press for partition and inclusion of Muslim majority states in Pakistan.
Tarlochan Singh also noted Master Tara Singhs contribution in campaigning for the State of Punjab in independent India.
"I campaigned for installing the portrait of Master Tara Singh in Parliament House and the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee obliged us. A statue of Master Tara Singh was also installed outside the Parliament House. India has still to repay for what Master Tara Singh did."
Describing Master Tara Singh as a selfless leader, Tarlochan Singh said that he was honest in politics and never aspired to become MLA or MP. Chanchal Singh Chowdhry, General Secretary of Pothohar Association UK said: "Master Tara Singh showed remarkable courage and leadership in the freedom struggle. Mohammad Ali Jinnah offered him an independent Sikh state within Pakistan; however he declined his offer and thus brought the present Punjab, Himachal and Haryana within the Indian fold." PTI HSR SUA AKJ SUA