H C Singh

Family Background of Harcharan Singh

My respected father Captain Kartar Singh was born in Peshawar cantonment in 1896. Both his parents died when he was just 10 years old. But he came from a renowned and illustrious family. His father Sardar Mool Singh had to leave his village and start business, a retail shop of edible goods and a flour mill. He had employed one of his relatives as assistant who after the demise of Sardar Mool Singh became the virtual owner as ‘Kartar’ was a young boy of only 10-11 year without any brother; only a sister about 3 years older who had been married off just before Sardar Mool Singh’s demise. So, young boy ‘Kartar’ became dependent. But he was determined to study and be someone who would  revive the memories of his noble father and ancestors. When his children had grown up he used to tell that his father’s grandfather and his young brother were in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army as Panjhazari ‘Ghurcharhas’ as valiant selfless soldiers of Khalsa Army who would be spear-heading all important campaigns of Khalsa Army in Kashmir, Ladakh, West Punjab and North Western Frontier Provience (NWFP) which was a then a part of Afghanistan. While Captain Kartar Singh’s great grandfather Sardar Kanihya Singh died fighting in Second Sikh War, his younger brother Sardar Gurmukh Singh did not surrender to the British army and remained unmarried on his horseback. Accordingly British Government confiscated ‘Jagir’ given to both the brothers by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. That is the reason our family in our village Mangwal and in the District Jehlam (now in Pakistan) was known as ‘Ghurcharhan Dee family’. The Muslims of that area were so scared that when their children cried they would silence them by saying ‘Keep quiet otherwise Mukha (Sardar Gurmukh Singh) will come.’

This was in brief ancestral background of the family of renowned Captain Kartar Singh. There was no high school in Peshawar Cantonment at that time. So ‘Kartar’ after passing middle standard refused to sit on the shop but joined Khalsa High School Peshawar City, which was about 4 mile from his home in Peshawar Cantt. For two years he walked up and down and ultimately was employed in the British Indian Army. As soon as the 1st World War started he was posted to Gilgit (now in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) where he spent 4 years in extreme cold below 10-20 degree temperature for six months of the year.

Sardarni Ishar Kaur had accompanied her husband with a 2-year-old son to Gilgit Traveling on horse back throughout Kashmir reaching Gilgit after a fortnight or so. There, despite extreme cold they lived happily as Sardar Kartar Singh was respected by all soldiers of Indian Army stationed in and around Gilgit because of his being incharge of all the supplies from food, clothing, etc for the entire regiment. Kartar Singh was respected by all because of his honesty, hard work and integrity.

After the end of 1st World War S Kartar Singh was posted back to Peshawar Cantt in ASC Department dealing with all types of supply and transport in NWFP. He worked directly under a British Major who was so much impressed by efficiency, hard work and honesty that in 1941 when he had risen to rank of Major General, he called his old Head Clerk from Peshawar Cantt and got him Commissioned as Lt. within a couple of months. He rose to rank of Captain in two years and acting Major in 1944 when during the war no Indian officer enjoyed the rank of above Major.

During stay in Peshawar Cantt from 1920 to 1941 Sardar Kartar Singh had become so popular that he was by rotation made President of Gurudwara and Khalsa School which in 1936 had become first High School in Peshawar Cantt, mainly because of his influence with British Officers and his dedication. In 1941 when he was transferred to Delhi, the entire Hindu and Sikh population and good number of educated Muslims, some of them were close friends, came to bid him farewell with garlands and flowers at the Railway Station. Even modern days Chief Ministers and Governors do not get such a hearty and affectionate farewell by thousands with no space left on platform. Many were overwhelmed and had tears of love and affection for Sardar Kartar Singh (Bhapa Ji) called by young and old out of sincere love.

Captain Kartar Singh was god personified for his children and grand children because he would never use harsh words towards anybody as he was totally following the gist of Sikh faith, reading Gurbani every morning and giving always 1/10th of his income for Charitable purposes as “Daswand”. During war when he was getting Rs. 1,700 per month he was particularly setting aside Rs. 170 pm. In contrast when in 1951 he got a meager pension of Rs.285 pm he set aside Rs. 28.50 for charitable purposes for which he had instructed the Bank of Patiala where his pension was credited.

His children and grand children have done well. His eldest son retired as major from the Indian Army. His second son became an honest and renowned businessmen in Cuttack (Orissa). His third son retired as Senior Administrative officer from Indian Council of Agricultural Research. His oldest daughter’s Children are settled abroad, one son is a Canadian Citizen, another Citizen of Holland and third a British Citizen. His second daughter was married to a brilliant young man who got 300 out of 300 marks in BA(Maths) but settled as a good businessman in Mandsaur/Neemuch in MP. Captain Kartar Singh’s third daughter Attarjeet Kaur was married to Sardar Kulwant Singh Suri son of illustrious father Sardar Nanak Singh Novelist, the greatest Punjabi novelist who was the first Punjabi Novelist to be awarded Sahitya Academy Award. His daughter-in-Law Professor Attarjeet Kaur Suri wrote more than 20 books in Punjabi and was awarded Punjab Sahitya Academy Award. Captain Kartar Singh’s fourth and youngest daughter after her MA was married to an Electrical Engineer Shri D.S. Chadha who retired as Chief Engineer MPEB.

His one grandson is an IFS officer – Navdeep Singh Suri who was first Secretary in Washington and is now Commissioner in South Africa. His another grandson Herman Prit Singh is an IPS currently IG, posted in West Bengal, was on deputation to UN in East Timor. His another grandson Simarprit Singh is CMD of Compare Infobase a Computer Software Company with offices in Delhi and Kolkata and San Jose in the US.

His grandchildren Herman Prit and Simarprit have already established a Charitable Foundation in the name of their demised mother as “G.K.Saberwal Foundation”. Within first six months this foundation has already allotted more than Rs.2 Lakh for orthopedic Centre. They have decided to set aside atleast Rs.2 Lakhs every year under “G.K.Saberwal Foundation” for poor and destitute.

On the same lines “Sardarni and Captain Kartar Singh Trust” was founded. It also sets aside Rs 1 to 2 lakhs every year for charitable purposes. Rs 50,000/- was paid for 84 riot victims through Sardar Phoolka, Senior Advocate looking after their welfare and Rs 50,000 to Parena welfare Society of Bhopal through my sister Hanwant Chadha and her husband Shri Chadha retired Chief Engineer MPEB who are looking after the Welfare of poor and starving without discrimination on the basis of caste and religion.

August 25, 2009 - Posted by | Introduction

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