He left the world with a wish to see his home in Lahore once last time. Naunihal Singh, one of the trustees and former general secretary of Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall Committee (DBYHC, a memorial of the Ghadar movement), Jalandhar, breathed his last Sunday morning at YOL Camp, Dharamshala. He was 84.
He is survived by wife Trilochan Kaur, son and daughter.
Naunihal Singh had played a major role in preserving rare literature related to the freedom struggle and freedom fighters, as well as rare photographs of Komagata Maru incident. In the 1960s, he survived a parcel bomb blast while protesting in favour of labourers at Phagwara.
Though he had pledged for his body to be donated for scientific research to the Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), it could not be brought to Jalandhar due to the coronavirus outbreak, and was cremated at Chamunda Devi cremation ground.
While recalling his contribution, Gurmeet Singh, general secretary of DBYHC, said that despite his old age, he was a regular visitor to DBYH. He spoke to me a few days back and was to return to Jalandhar in the coming week, said Gurmeet Singh, adding that he had some health complications due to old age.
He along with the last Ghadari Baba, Bhagat Singh Bilga, (then 101) played a major role in saving the historic main lane to Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar — when the local administration was all out to destroy the historical monuments by demolishing the three lanes for widening the entry point for VVIP vehicles — in 2008 by protesting there said Gurmeet Singh, adding that he along with three others were injured while a labourer was killed in the parcel bomb blast.
In his interview with The Indian Express in August last year, Naunihal Singh had shared how, in June 1947, when he was just 11, the eldest among five siblings, he had left his home in Lahore to spend his summer vacations with his maternal grandparents in Sangrur, Punjab. His excitement and happiness knew no bounds. Little did he know that would never be able to return his home in Lahore again because of Partition.
His father Gurpal Singh was a charted accountant working in Military Accounts Services in Lahore. “My father was the first CA of independent India”, he had said.
“After 70 years of independence, when I look back, I don’t think that the two-nation theory could serve any purpose as both India and Pakistan are still bearing the brunt of Partition”, he had said during the interview.
Quoting Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, he had lamented: “Yeh woh seher to nahin, jis ki aarzoo lekar chale the” (this is not the dawn we hoped for dreamt).
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