AKALI, THE, a Punjabi daily newspaper which became the central organ of the Shiromani Akali Dal, then engaged in a fierce struggle for the reformation of the management of the Sikh gurdwaras and a vehicle for the expression of nationalist political opinion in the Punjab in the wake of the massacre of Jalliarivala Bagh in Amritsar (1919), followed by the annual session of the Indian National Congress. The first issue of the paper was brought out from Lahore on 21 May 1920 to honour the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Fifth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Arjan.

The paper was the brainchild of Master Sundar Singh of Lyallpur who had fanatically pleaded the need for a periodical in Punjabi dedicated to the patriotic cause.Borrowing the paltry sum of Rs 500 from a friend, he launched the newspaper under the masthead “Akali.” He had the support of Sardar Harchand Singh of Lyallpur, Teja Singh Samundari, Master Tara Singh, Professor Niranjan Singh, Sardul Singh Caveeshar and Bhai Dalip Singh who later fell a martyr at Nankana Sahib in the massacre of Akali agitators in 1921.

Sundar Singh persuaded Giani Hira Singh Dard to take over as editor of the Akali. Three months later Mangal Singh, a University graduate, then serving as a tahsildar in the revenue department of the government, resigned his post to join hands with Giani Hira SinghThey between them made the Akali very popular Hira Singh by his resounding patriotic verse and Marigal Singh by his enlightened and penetrating comment. A series of incidents such as the Nankana massacre, Guru ka Bagh brutality and the deposition by the British of the Sikh ruler of the princely state of Nabha further radicalized Sikh opinion.

The Akali came into conflict with the government on several occasions and suffered forfeiture and suppression. Once it had to seek asylum under a baker`s roof from where it was published clandestinely every morning. Passing through many vicissitudes and changing its name several times, it has survived to this day.In October 1922, it was merged with the Pradesi Khalsa, a daily run by Master Tara Singh at Amritsar. The Pradesi Khalsa was launched with funds provided by Sikhs settled in foreign countries, hence the name Pradesi (foreign). The Akali merging with this paper shifted to Amritsar and assumed the*new name Akali te Pradesi.

For a time, the Akali was published from Amritsartn Urdu, Persian script, simultaneously with the Akali te Pradesi (Punjabi). The Akali te Pradesi too went through a succession of suspensions and prosecutions by government.Yet it kept reemerging every time with renewed vigour and with a sharper militant message. In 1930 when it was banned under the Press Act, it was registered under the new name, Akali Patrika. It continued publication under this name from Lahore until 1939 when it reverted to the old name Akali. After the partition of the Punjab in 1947, it shifted back to Amritsar. These days it is being published from Jalandhar under the name of Akali Patrika.

References :

1. Suba Singh, Panjabi Pattarkari da Itihas. Chandigarh, 1978
2. Niranjan Singh, Jivan Vikas. Delhi, 1970
3. Harbans Singh, Aspects of Punjabi Literature. Firozpur, 1961
4. Barrier, N. Gerald, The Sikhs and Their Literature. Delhi, 1970