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Sardar Gurmukh Singh Musafir Chief Minister of Punjab

Sardar Gurmukh Singh Musafir was an Indian politician and Punjabi language poet and writer. He was Chief Minister of Punjab from November 1, 1966 to March 8, 1967. He was also a member of the All India Congress Working Committee. He was elected a member of the Lok Sabha successively in 1952, 1957, and 1962. Musafir was a member of the Indian delegation to the International Peace Conference in Stockholm in 1954, in Helsinki in 1965, and in Berlin he also led the delegations to the World Progressive Writers Conference in Japan in 1961 and the 1965 Indian writers Afro-Asian Conference in Baku. His published work includes 9 books of collections of poems, 8 books of short stories, and 4 biographies.

Sardar Gurmukh Singh (January 15, 1899-January 8, 1976) was born the son of the Sujan Singh at village Adhval, Campbellpore district, British Punjab (now in Pakistan). He attended the village primary school and went to the Rawalpindi to pass the middle school examination. He was trained as a junior vernacular teacher and took up in 1918, appointed at Khalsa High School, Kalara, where Master Tara Singh had been the Headmaster during 1914-1916. His four years there as a teacher earned him the epithet Giani “Musafir“, which was the pseudonym he had adopted.

Young Gurmukh Singh had been much affected by the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh (April 13, 1919) and at the Nankana Sahib (February 20, 1921) and in 1922, he gave up teaching to plunge into the Akali Agitation for Gurudwaras reform. He composed poetry full of patriotic fever and recited it with gusto at Sikh Diwans. For taking part in the Guru Ka Bagh agitation in 1922, he was imprisoned while still being involved in religious reformation. He started taking interest in nationalist politics and courted arrest in the Civil Disobedience launched by the Indian National Congress in1930. The same year he was appointed Head of Shri Akal Takht, the central seat of religious authority for the Sikhs. He held this office from March 12, 1930 to March 5, 1931. He also served for a time as Secretary of the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee as well as General Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal. He went to jail again in Satyagraha (1939-1941) and Quit India Movement (1942-1945). He became the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee in 1949.

Sardar Gurmukh Singh was also member of the All India Congress Working Committee. He was elected as a member of the Lok Sabha successively in 1952,1957, and1962. He did not complete his last term in the Lok Sabha and rejoined in 1966 to oversee as Chief Minister of the reorganized state of the Punjab on March 28, 1968. He reentered Parliament, as a member of the Rajya Sabha.

Musafir was awarded Sahitya Award in Punjab, given by Sahitya Academy in India’s National Academy of letters in 1978 for his short stories collection, Urbar Par, and has posthumously decorated with Padma Vibhushan, the second highest Indian Civilian Award given by the Government of India. He had a huge capacity for laughter. He fully enjoy the experience of living and mastered the art of being happy. He got on with people of all ages and occupations. He was gentle, humble, and utterly guileless. He was above malice. He was exempt from intrigue. In politics, the highest positions came to him, but he never manoeuvred for any. He was unambitious, yet he was from the beginning assured of his direction and identity. This was the secret of his strength and success. He died in Delhi on January 8, 1976.

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