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Don't Break Up India

Don't Break Up India

Publication: www.shaheednanaksingh.com
URL: http://www.shaheednanaksingh.com/book.htm

The biography of Shaheed Nanak Singh is based on factual information collected from historical records, media publications and materials in the family's possession.

This story should inspire people all over the world to live together in peace and harmony eschewing the narrow mindedness of bigotry and intolerance.  Sardar Nanak Singh championed the cause of national unity throughout his life. [The Book Release By His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, High Commissioner Of India .On 8th August 2005 at Central Gudwara Shepherds Bush, UK]

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The book narrates the true story of Shaheed (Martyr) Nanak Singh, a committed patriot, prominent political leader and a social reformer, who, as a contemporary political leader along with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, opposed the creation of the Islamic State of Pakistan by breaking up India.  The decision by the British Government of the time to carve out a State on the basis of religion alone form within a secular and united India baffles the mind of every right thinking person even today.

Shaheed Nanak Singh championed the cause of India's independence after two centuries of British colonial rule. He wished to see an undivided, secular ad democratic United India, eschewing the division of India on the basis of religion, disregarding centuries of common bonds of culture, languages, dress, food, folklore, personal friendships and a shared common history amongst the people.  The beauty of the Indian social, cultural and religious fabric which has been in a delicate state of equilibrium for centuries, would be shattered. The book dispels the myth that everyone in India agreed to the break up of the country, especially when the same was done without ascertaining the wishes of the people through democratic means. e.g. by referendum.

The book explains in vivid detail Shaheed Nanak Singh's courage and patriotism, which cost him his life.  He was martyred at the prime age of 43 on the fateful day of 5th March 1947, when a peaceful procession of over 600 innocent students if DVA (Fayanand Abglo Vernacular) High School was attached with lethal weapons by pro-Partition religious fanatics.  He saved the lives of many students but tragically he lost his own. A jewel of a nation was lost forever.

The Shaheed Nanak Singh Foundation hopes that the book will throw a unique light on the life and sacrifices of the brave patriot who had dedicated his life and career for the integrity, honor and unity if the land of his birth, India.

Above all, it is hoped that the book will bring about a new awareness among the artificially separated people and guide them toward living together in peace and harmony following the enlightened role models of the European Union and the United States of America.


Writing a biography of an eminent and popular political leader of pre partition India requires a significant amount of time and effort to connect the events and their chronology with historical facts and political events at the time. It is even more challenging when the events occurred over half a century ago under unprecedented political upheaval that resulted in the mass exodus of over 35 million people and the slaughter of over one million innocent souls and in the break up of the country. Once peacefully settled in their own homes and in possession of their ancestral properties, millions became destitute, refugees, widows, widowers and orphans in just a short period of six months from March to August 1947.

The biography of "Shaheed" (Martyr) Sardar Nanak Singh of India is an attempt to look back closely at the violent and turbulent events of that time when he bravely made the supreme sacrifice of his life in order to save hundreds of innocent children from the clutches of religious fanatics.

Shaheed Sardar Nanak Singh left behind a young widow from an affluent family, Sardarni Harbans Kaur, with eight young children, to face the challenges of life and to fend for themselves in the politically and socially insecure environment of the time.

After the tragic and unexpected assassination of Sardar Nanak Singh, the family moved from Multan to Mian Channu where Dr. Sahib Singh, an uncle of Shaheed Sardar Nanak Singh, was Civil Surgeon at the local hospital. The cremation and last rites were performed there. Condolence letters from national and local politicians and prominent community leaders addressed to the father, Dr. Wazir Singh, were read out to the large gathering. This sad event was widely covered by the media and was reported the following day in the English and Urdu language dailies.

The family then moved to Gujranwala, a provincial town 45 miles north of Lahore, where Sardarni Harbans Kaur's parents lived in a village nearby. The threat of partition of India and more violence became imminent as Gujranwala was planned for inclusion in the newly conceived country to be called Pakistan. To avoid another bloodbath there, the family moved to Ferozepur.

A special refugee train to Ferozepur was announced. As this special train pulled alongside the railway platform, thousands of refugees rushed forward to fill the train and its roof tops within minutes. Many were hanging outside holding the door handles of the train just to escape the Pakistani designated areas and to reach to some safe place in India. Only the strong and the fittest could find any foothold. Many people desperately clinging on to the roofs of trains were killed when the trains passed under bridges with low head clearance.

Sardarni Harbans Kaur surrounded by her eight children, ranging in ages from 6 weeks to 15 years, could not attempt to get on the train. . She was helpless and as the train whistled and started to move, she broke down not knowing where to turn next. Touched by her pathetic situation, the driver stopped the train, came to her, and offered to seat the family on the coal, in the coal tender of the steam engine. She gratefully accepted the offer and the family arrived at Ferozepur . The family covered with soot and black coal dust, got off the train against the silhouette of the black railway engine. Here the family was received by Sardar Faujdar Singh and his wife Harbhajan Kaur, Sardarni Harbans Kaur's brother and sister-in-law respectively. Sardarni Harbans Kaur rushed to greet them but they could not recognize her at once because of the coal dust covering her face. They gave the family shelter and bestowed upon them their love and affections.

The massive floods in Ferozepur in September 1947 made the evacuation mandatory. Hiring a tonga (horse driven carriage) and loading whatever could be carried along, the family moved on till they reached the railway station of Sikh princely State of Faridkot and from there they traveled to another Sikh princely State of Patiala. Here, they were received by her sister, Mohinder Kaur and brother-in-law Sardar Shamsher Singh .

After arriving at Patiala, Sardarni Harbans Kaur took full control of her life. Her biggest challenge was to raise the young family. To start with, she got the children admitted in schools. The children, too, following the footsteps of their illustrious and brave parents, accepted the new challenges and did well in studies. With God's blessings and their mother's dedication, none of her children went astray. They all rose to high positions.

Inspired by the zeal of their father to serve their country, five of Shaheed Sardar Nanak Singh's sons joined the Indian Armed Forces. The eldest son, Rajinder Singh, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Service Corps in 1951, Rupinder Singh was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers, Devinder Singh was commissioned in the Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Kulvinder Singh was commissioned in the Regiment of Artillery and Brijinder Singh was commissioned in the Indian Air Force. Pritam Singh became a well known educationist in East Africa and later retired from Inner London Education Authority. The youngest son, Raminder Singh, became a prominent business man in the United Kingdom. The daughter, Surinder Kaur, pursued her career in Education and married an Army Officer, Saranjit Singh Sahney, in the Corps of Signals.

Sardarni Harbans Kaur was recognized by the Government of Punjab and was declared, "The Proudest Punjabi Mother" with five of her sons on active military service, dedicating their lives to safeguard India's frontiers in Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, North East Frontier Agency and North Bengal.

The biography of Sardar Nanak Singh is based on facts known and documented and as the events were reported in the media and in text references of various research and political publications as well as in scholarly books written by various well known authors. Sardarni Harbans Kaur was able to salvage some of the family photographs, newspaper reports, certificates of merit and letters conferring awards given by the British Authorities to her husband for exceptional services. She carefully carried these precious possessions during all her several moves within India and from there to England for over fifty years. In 1990, she attempted to write the biography of her celebrated husband in her own words and that was published in Gurmukhi script, in the Punjabi language. The present attempt draws heavily from the narration in this book, recollections of family friends who knew Sardar Nanak Singh personally and additional research and information gathered and collated since.

Sadly, many valuable communications between Sardar Nanak Singh and other national political stalwarts have gone missing or lost. It is fortunate that after a lapse of over half a century, the authors have still managed to put together a sufficient body of knowledge of the circumstances of Sardar Nanak Singh's martyrdom for the cause of a United India.

We, the sons and daughter of Shaheed Sardar Nanak Singh, are honoured to make this historic presentation to the politicians of India, visionaries and peoples across the world to reinforce the basic tenets of secularism, honour, equality and dignity of all, and selfless sacrifices for one's country and nation, as well as making a strong plea for national recognition of this brave son of India who ought to be adored and emulated by the coming generations. An engraving in Chetwood Hall at the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, reads:

"The safety and honour of your country come first, always and every time The safety and honour of the men you command comes next, always and every time Your own safety and well being comes last, always and every time.

Shaheed Sardar Nanak Singh paid the supreme sacrifice of his life at the young age of 43 in defending the sanctity of a United India where people of all ethnicities, cultures and religions could live side by side in peace, harmony and fraternity.

RUPINDER SINGH M.Eng. (Civil, Canada), M.Eng. (Engineering, Canada), M.Ed. (England), Ph.D. (U.S.A.)

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