Gaihal Singh from the village Chhajjalwadi, in the Amritsar district of Panjab, was a Sikh communist leader, who openly challenged the butchery of innocent Muslims during the ghastly outbreak of mob violence that engulfed Panjab province, as a result of the declaration of a new country called Pakistan, to be carved out of India in the summer of 1947 ce, supposedly on the basis of the religion of Islam. While Hindus/Sikhs and Muslims were engaged in the destruction of humanity in the total madness of revenge and when the colonial masters kept a blind eye on another holocaust that was unfolding under their nose, the communist activists from all the three communities, by forming the peace comities, were trying to stop the insanity of the fanatic outrage.

Gaihal Singh’s effective opposition to the heinous crimes of murdering, looting, burning, and raping at an unimaginable scale, which went on for a considerable period, was a serious obstacle in the eyes of the perpetrators.  As testified by his daughter, in an interview given to a local far-left Panjabi magazine of East Panjab, Surkh Rekha, The Red Line, (1983), and later in a leading Punjabi quarterly HUN’(2007), Gaihal Singh was gruesomely murdered by some of the leading ‘religious’ Sikh political leaders of the time.

While returning to his village on his bicycle, he was kidnapped by this gang of the faithfuls, who followed him on their jeep. They brought him to Amritsar, where he was tortured, and beheaded. Dismembered in pieces, his body was thrown into the fire of the Langar, the community kitchen of the Golden Temple. A rummer was spread that a muslmaan is being burnt in the Langar fire. This was the end of the great humanitarian, a true reformist.

The fearsome culprits, who were always known to the community, never faced justice.

I am feeling honoured to have the opportunity to pay my homage to this great soul through this portrait. 

- Kanwal Dhaliwal

Portrait of Gaihal Singh Chhajjalwadi, Oil on Canvas, 36X48 inches-2008