MORCHA, in Persian murchah or murchal meaning entrenchments, fortification or battlefront, has, apart from its usage in military strategy, entered Indian political vocabulary via the Gurdwara Reform or Akali movement of the early 1920`s. In that prolonged agitation for the liberation of Sikh historical shrines from the control of a corrupt priestly order, the Akalis, as the reformers were then known, came into clash with the British rulers and mounted peaceful resistance fronts to assert their rights. These assuming the form of mass mobilization, meetings and marches to force the matter at issue, were styled morchds.

The movement broke out into several such campaigns. Among them were Chabiari da Morcha for the recovery of the keys of the to shdkhdnd (treasury) of Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, which had been seized by the British deputy commissioner; Guru ka Bagh Morcha to assert Sikhs` right over the lands attached to the local Gurdwara; Jaito da Morcha to win freedom of worship and of peaceful assembly`s right to manage its historical shrines. These heroic episodes involving courage and suffering made the term morchd popular. It was appropriated by political parties who began to use it for their own agitations.

For example, an agitation in 1938 against cut in canal water supply to peasants was called kisdn morchd or Harsa Chhina morchd, and agitations launched by protagonists of Hindi and another by patvdns (village level revenue officials) during the chief ministership of Partap Singh Kairori in early 1960`s were known as Hindi morchd and Patvari morchd, respectively. More recently political groups have started using the term as synonym of political front or grouping. Examples are Jan Morcha, a splinter group of Janata Dal, and Lok Hit Morcha, a party formed by some ministers and legislators of Haryana expelled from the ruling Janata Dal in 1989. A duly recognized independent political party is named Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.

References :

1. Josh, Sohan Singh, Akali Morchian da Itihas. Delhi, 1972
2. Pratap Singh, Giani, Gurdwara Sudhar arthat Akli Lahir. Amritsar, 1975
3. Mohinder Singh. The Akali Movement. Delhi, 1978
4. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983