Sikh Gurdwara Bill

Sikh Gurdwara Bill[edit]

The British Government considered the Akali movement to be a greater threat than Mahatma Gandhi‘s civil disobedience movement. A 1921 memorandum signed by D. Petrie, the Assistant Director of CID, Punjab states:[4]

Gandhi’s propaganda makes its appeal mainly to the urban classes, which lack both the stamina and physical courage to oppose successfully even small bodies of police; the Akali campaign is essentially a rural movement, and its followers are men of fine physique with a national history of which the martial characteristics have been purposely kept alive both by Government and by the Sikhs themselves.

— D. Petrie, Secret CID Memorandum on Recent Developments in Sikh Politics (11 August 1921)

In 1925, after further demands and protests from SGPC, a new “Sikh Gurdwara Bill” was introduced in the Punjab Legislative Assembly. It came into force on 1 November 1925, and awarded the control of all the historical shrines to SGPC. A tribunal was set up to judge the disputes, and all the Akali prisoners were released.[15]

By this time, an estimated 30,000 people had been arrested by the British Government; over 400 had been killed and another 2,000 had been injured during the movement.[15] The movement fueled the anti-British Government feeling among the Sikhs. It also led to an anti-Hindu sentiment among a section of Sikhs, who identified the pro-Udasi mahants such as Narain Das and their supporters with the Hindu community.[15]