SARMUKH SINGH (1893-1952), the middle one of the trio of the Jhabal brothers and the first president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, was born in 1893 at Jhabal, in Amritsar district of the Punjab. He received his education at Khalsa College, Amritsar, and started taking interest in social and religious reform while still very young. In 1918, he became a member of the Central Majha Khalsa Diwan. As the Shiromani Akali Dal was formed on 14 December 1920 to be a kind of volunteer corps of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for the refomation of gurdwara management, he was elected its president.
In this capacity, he toured extensively in the Punjab and organized Akali jathas in the districts. He was arrested on 24 November 1921 in connection with a morcha launched for reclaiming from the British keys of the Golden Temple to shakhana. He was arrested again on 26 August 1922 in the Guru ka Bagh agitation. When in April 1923, there occurred Hindu-Muslim riots in Amritsar, Sarmukh Singh placed Akali volunteers at the disposal of the government to help smooth the tempers. On 13 October 1923, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee as well as the Shiromani Akali Dal was declared an unlawful body.
The office bearers were taken into custody and prosecuted in the well known Lahore Akali case. After the Sikh Gurdwaras Act was passed in 1925, the Akali leaders who gave the court assurance that they would be willing to work by the provisions of the act were released on 25 January 1926. Those who refused to give any such undertaking continued in jail. Sarmukh Singh was among the latter. After his release on 27 September 1926, he gradually veered over to the Indian National Congress. He courted arrest during the Civil Disobedience movement in 1930 and again in the Quit India movement in 1942. After the partition of the Punjab in 1947, he shifted his residence from his lands in the Lyallpur district to Jalandhar where he died on 16 April 1952.
1. Pratap Singh, Giani, Gurdwara Sudhar arthat Akali Lahir. Amritsar, 1975
2. Akali Lahir de Mahan Neta. Amritsar, 1976
3. Josli, Sohan Singh, Akali Morchian da Itihas. Delhi, 1972
4. Ashok, Shamsher Singh, Shromam Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee da Pan/ah 5a/a Itihas. Amritsar, 1982
5. Ganda Singh, ed., Some Confidential Papers of the Akali Movement. Amritsar, 1965