KARTAR SINGH JHABBAR (1874-1962), famous for his spirited role in the Gurdwara Reform movement, was born the son of Teja Singh in 1874 at the village of Jhabbar, in Shcikhupura district, now in Pakistan. His grandfather, Marigal Singh, had served as a commandant in Maharaja Ranjit Singh`s army. Kartar Singh had no formal education, but somewhat late in life lie went through a course of Sikh religious learning and trained as a missionary at Khalsa Updeshak Mahavidyala, Gharjakh, which he attended from 1906 to 1909.

Upon completing the course, he took up preaching. In 1912, lie set up Khalsa Diwan Khara Sauda Bar at Gurdwara Sachcha Sauda, Chuharkana. He also opened in the town in 1917 a middle school. In 1919, Kartar Singh took active part in anti government demonstrations and addressed meetings protesting against the Jalliahvala Bagh massacre. For this he was arrested and was, on trial, sentenced to death on 22 May 1919.

The punishment was reduced on 30 May 1919 to transportation for life. He was, however, released from Andamans jail in March 1920 in the wake of royal clemency. In early October 1920, Kartar Singh led ajathdoi`Sikh volunteers to Sialkot to liberate Gurdwara Babe dl Bcr from the control of a corrupt mahant.w custodian. The shrine was taken possession of and a committee of lay Sikhs was formed to manage it, with Baba Kharak Singh as president.

This was the beginning of the Gurdwara Reform movement. Kartar Singh Jhabbar, along with Teja Singh Bhuchchar, got the Akal Takht released on 12 October 1920. Teja Singh was appointed jalheddr or provost of the Takht. Jhabbar was included in the 9mcmbcr committee set up for the management of the Golden Temple. He continued to be in the vanguard of reformist Sikhs` campaign for liberating historical shrines. The more important ones he helped to take possession of were Gurdwara Panja Sahib (November 1920), Gurdwara Sachcha Sauda (December 1920), Gurdwara Tarn Taran (26 January 1921), and Gurdwara Guru ka Bagh (31 January 1921).

Following the possession of Gurdwara Janam Asthan at Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, where about 150 reformist Sikhs had been murdered by the mahantand his men on 20 February 1921, Kartar Singh was arrested on 11 March 1921 and remained in jail for about six months. He was rearrested in June 1924 and sent to Campbellpore jail. In September 1925 he was transferred to Multan jail and in April 1926 to Rawalpindi. He remained in custody for more than four years and was released in December 1928.

After the control of the f^urdwdrdswcis, by government legislation of 1925, made ovcr to a representative board of the Siklis, Kartar Singh retired to a comparatively quiet life at his village. In January 1933 he faced a charge of murder following a clasli which took place at Nankana Sahib over the possession of a portion of the Gurdwara land, but was acquitted by the court. In 1937, he led a jathd to Kot Bhai Than Singh and convened, in defiance of the orders of the local Muslim chieftain, a Sikh divan. After the partition of Punjab in August 1947, Kartar Singh came over to what was then designated as East Punjab, and settled down at the village of Habn, in Karnal district, where he died on 20 November 1962.

References :

1. Narain Singh, ed., AkdR. Morr.he te Jhahhar. Delhi, 1967
2. Pratap Singh, Giani, Gurdwara Sudhar mthal AknK La/iir. Amritsar, 1975
3. Josh, Sohan Singh, Akdii Morchian du Itiluis. Delhi, 1972
4. Piar Singh, Teja Singh Snmundn. Aniril.sar, 1975
5. Mohinder Singh, The Aknii Movement. Delhi, 1978