Former SAD chief and former SGPC president Jagdev Singh Talwandi, who passed away here on Friday, was influenced by his father Chhanga Singh, who was a landlord of Mullanpur village in Lyallpur district of Pakistan and an activist in all Sikh morchas.
After Independence, Talwandi settled at Talwandi village in Ludhiana district and was unanimously elected sarpanch in 1955 and remained so for a decade. His role in early years of Akali politics followed by arrests in all Punjabi Suba morchas, along with his brother Master Dev Raj Singh, earned him the title of Loh Pursh (iron man). Being a part of the first jatha against the Emergency, he courted arrest on July 9, 1975 and spent 19 months in jail.
Talwandi was elected as an SGPC member in 1960 and remained so till 2011. He was elected as the SGPC president in 2000. His son Ranjit Singh said, “The first entrant to the SGPC from the family was my grandfather Chhanga Singh, followed by my father, and currently my brother Jagjit Singh.”
He was elected as a legislator in the Punjab assembly in 1967 from Raikot for the first time by defeating Pal Singh Roomi of the Congress.
He was minister of state for development and animal husbandry in the Gurnam Singh ministry and minister of state for jails, sports and transport in the Parkash Singh Badal ministry. He was elected to Lok Sabha in 1978 and represented Punjab in the Rajya Sabha from 1980 to 1986.
Talwandi twice became the SAD president -- in 1978 and in 1988.
Shifted base to Ludhiana
Talwandi was accompanying Sarv Hind Shiromani Akali Dal president Gurcharan Singh Tohra when militants attacked them near Sahnewal in Ludhiana district in 1991, and the then prime minister Chandrashekhar called up the then Ludhiana deputy commissioner to give him protection and a house in Ludhiana. Though, the family bought a house in Sarabha Nagar from a close relative.
Confusion over death
The condolence messages started pouring in on the social media soon after Talwandi’s life support system was removed in the morning. It is learnt that the chief minister also sent the condolence message followed by suspension of work at the SGPC office in Amritsar. However, the doctors later maintained that his heart was beating thus he couldn’t be declared dead. It was only after confirmation by Hero DMC Heart Institute chief cardiologist Dr Gurpreet Singh Wander, DMCH medical superintendent Dr Rajoo Chinna and the Ludhiana civil surgeon that he was declared dead at 11.10 am.
Badal expresses grief
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has expressed sorrow over Talwandi’s demise. He described the leader as “one of the tallest pillars of modern times and a great source of strength to him personally, to the SAD, to the Panth and to Punjab”.
Deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Badal said Talwandi’s death is an irreparable loss to the SAD.
SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar described Talwandi as a Panthic stalwart, saying the veteran leader had often provided guidance to the SAD. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Manjit Singh GK also condoled the death.