Indian's struggle for freedom had its own characteristics. It had violent as well as non- violent forms. The national movement was contributed by every other movement. The main movements gone through different stages Doaba Contributed a lot to the national movement. District Nawanshahr had also contributed in different movements. Many famous leaders of National movement belonged to Nawanshahr.
This region contributed in national movement in Four ways
- The freedom movements were lead by those leaders who belonged to Nawanshahr.
- At the call of National movement, the people of this region widely contributed in it.
- It also contributed in many movements run at the state level.
- This region started and lead may movements.
The main movements in which Nawanshahr contributed a lot are as follows
- Kisan Lehar ' Pagri Sambhal Jatha; 1907.
- Garar Party Lehar 1914-15
- Babbar Akali Lehar 1921-22
- Congress Party's national movement.
- Communist Movement and Kisan Movement .
- Azad Hind Fouz
- Akali Lehar
- Arya Samraj Lehar
- Other welfare Movements.
Ajit Singh was one of the leaders of 'Kisan Sehar Stauted in 1907.In the leadership of Lala Lajpat Rai, the two brothers of S.Ajit Singh, Sardar Kisan Singh and Sardar Swaran Singh contributed a lot for the national movement .And after that Sardar Bhagat Singh set such an example of supreme sacrifice that made the village Khatkar Kalan world famous.
Gadar party Lehar was also contributed by the inhabitants of Doaba. There people were Rattan Singh Raipur Dabba, Amar Singh Sandwan, Gurditt Singh ' Daler" Mandali, Uttam Singh Herian, Beyant Singh Karnana, Ajit Singh Garh Padhana.
The names of so many people, who made supreme sacrifices for the country are unforgettable.
Baba Karam Singh Daulat pur was editor of 'Babbar Akali' newspaper and it was printed by Master Dalip Singh Gosal.This movement , unlike Mahatma Gandhi' Non-violent was based on violence. The supreme sacrifice of Sardar Bhagat Singh belonging to this movement Shook the whole country.
This region had set many examples of sacrifices which gave a lot of motivation to the whole country. In the national movements the people of Nawanshahr gave their valuable contribution .
The national movement was mainly controlled by Congress Party. Gandhi Ji lead Non-co- operation Movement, quit India Movement. Do or Die. People of Nawanshahr District widely contributed in these movements and went to jails, gave heavy fines, bore the extreme cruelties at the hands of British .The contribution of Master Kabal Singh Gopindpuri in the national movement was recognizable. He went to jails may times, fasted for 61 days and guided the people in everyway.
One more freedom movement was 'Kisan Lehar,' which was lead by communists. The main centres of this movement were Layalpur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Feroze pur , Lahore and Amritsar. The leaders of Nawanshahr who were involved in this movements were Harbans Singh Karnana, Preetam Singh Khan-Khana, Booja Singh Chak Mai Das, Ajit Singh Garh Bhadhana, Harnam Singh Bhawia, Baldev Singh Bedi Banga, Hari Singh Soondh, Nasib Singh Mehmood Pur, the list is very long.
At that time people used to contribute in every movement whether it was lead by Congress, Akalies, Communists, Arya Samajis or any other party. The reason was that their aim was common and that was to free India from the British rule.Our country can never forget the sacrifices done by Azad Hind Fouz .Its commander was Subhash Chander Bose who gave the stogen' Give me blood, I will give you freedom.' They fought many battles at Bumia Border. So many brave soldiers of Nawanshahr Doaba also fought in these battles. Their list is quite long.
If we see the above contribution of the people of Nawanshahr in the movements run for India's freedom , we can say that Nawanshahr contributed move than any other district of Punjab, in the struggle for freedom.
A Brief Description about Kookas in Nawanshahr
Kookas had their own contribution in the freedom struggle of the country. After brutal killing of Kookas in January 1872 British officials made long planning to keep a watch on the activities of Kookas. The list of main & influential Kookas was made and its copies were sent to a branch of central post office in Lahore, all the Deputy Commissioners of Punjab police, Commissioners of Culcutta police, Inspector of police Burma, so as to take necessary action against them. In that list there were the names of famous Kookas of Nawanshahr. Their names are given Below :-
Apart from this list another list containing the name of villages where Kookas were active was also made. The names of these villages was as follows
- Sarhaal Kazian
- Punnu Mazara
The first political insurrection in Punjab was started by Kookas. Outwardly it seems as if it was a religious movement but in reality it was a religious as well as political. This movement was initially started by Guru Ram Singh Ji. This movement brought political awareness among people in Punjab from a long slumber. This movement is known as "Kooka Lehar".
Baba Ram Singh was born in 1824 in Bhaini (Distt. Ludhiana). In his youth he joined Maharaja Ranjit Singh's military. But by nature he left his job and went back to his village. Where he started meditating.
Baba Ram Singh was moved by 1857's insurrection. He realized that people should be made aware of the cruelties of the british. So along with his spiritual discourses he started awakening the people so as to make them aware that they should free themselves from british rule. Like Mahatma Gandhi he also boycotted foreign goods and railway and telegram services as well.
One day some Kookas were passing through Amritsar. They saw there the slaughter-house, where cows were slaughtered. As they worshipped the cow they could not bear that and they killed all those who used to run those slaughter houses. They did all this at night and next morning they started going toward Bhaini. Some Hindus were arrested by the police. Guru Ram Singh heard the whole story. He asked them to go back and surrender and ask the police to free the innocent people. As a result they came back and surrendered and ultimately sentenced to death. With this incident people get excited. At that time there purpose was to establish sikh rule and also to protect cows. They regarded it as their greatest religious duty and they made efforts to do that.
On 13 January 1872 " Maghi Mela" was to be celebarated in "Bhaini". People were coming from far and near. A Kooka was passing through "Malerkotla". He had a quarrel with a muslim. As a result he was arrested and taken to police station. He was beaten severely and an ox was also slaughtered before him. He was very sad and reached "Bhaini". He told the whole story to other Kookas there. As a result they got excited and decided to take revenge. Thus the insurrection which was being planned secretly by Kookas was about to start before the fixed time due to this incident.
The leader of the Kookas, Baba Ram Singh was in fix at this decision. Neither he could stop them nor allow them to start the insurrection beforehand. Seeing no other option he informed the police about the insurrection. His thinking behind this move was that the police would stop them and things would be under control and they could start their insurrection some other time. But the police did not stop them because they wanted them to take some serious step so that they could be arrested and sentenced to death.
150 Kookas with the purpose of insurrection started their journey towards Patiala. For one night they stayed in the village "Raboon". On 14th January 1872 they attacked the fort of "Malde". This fort belonged to some sikh sardars. The reason for this attack was that they refused to help the Kookas in their move.
Next morning at 7 A.M. they reached "Malerkotla". British govt. had already informed the govt. of "Malerkotle". So the military was fully prepared. But these brave Kookas attacked them so bravely that they could not comprehend what to do. After attacking the military Kookas entered the palace. They tried to take the treasure of palace under their possession. But luck did not favour them. They broke the wrong door and thus wasted a lot of time. In the meantime military attacked them with full force. At the end they have to come back. In this fight 8 soldiers died, 15 wounded. They got some arms and ammunitions and some horses. The military of Malerkotla was chasing them.
A sort of running fight was kept along. Shots fired and many more Kookas were wounded till till both the parties reached the village "Rure" in the Patiala State. The Kookas carrying most of the wounded with them.
In the end they were so tired that they could not fight any more. 68 men were caught. This incident is called insurrection.
Next day these captives were brought to Malerkotla. Where they were tied to a cannon and shot one by one. Everybody was thus sacrificing his life saying "SAT SHRI AKAL". 49 people were shot. One of them was only a 13 years old boy. Deputy Commissioner asked him to feel sorry so that he could be released. As he bent down to ask the boy to feel sorry the boy got angry and caught his beard with his hand and did not leave it until his both hands were cut. Baba Ram Singh was sent to "Rangoon" with his four followers.
When the rest of the nation came to know it they were surprised as why were not informed by Baba Ram Singh to participate in that insurrection. Hundreds of people left their homes and started marching towards "Bhaini". Their number was 172. 120 were sent back to their homes by police. 50 were those who had sold their houses and land. They were sent to jail. Thus this insurrection was nipped and all the efforts of Baba Ram Singh failed. After that all the Kookas over the country were kept under strict observation. There were so many restrictions on them which were lifted in 1920.
Thus this was the history of the first efforts made by Kookas to free Punjab from british rule and establish sikh rule there.
Khatkar Kalan : A Historical Village (Shaheed-E-Azam S. Bhagat Singh)