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Akali leader Umranangal passes away

JALANDHAR, Nov 7 (PTI, UNI) — Senior Akali leader and former Punjab Revenue Minister Jiwan Singh Umranangal died today at a hospital in Beas, family sources said here.

Umranangal (84) was admitted to hospital a week ago.

He was known for his steadfast stand against militancy in the state and had lost his son at the hands of terrorists in May 1987.

A recipient of Padam Bhushan, Umranangal was elected to the state Assembly in 1968, 1977 and 1980 and was Revenue Minister in the ministries of Gurnam Singh in 1968 and Parkash Singh Badal in 1977.

He won the SGPC elections thrice and remained on the executive committee of the premier body for management of Sikh gurudwaras for 12 years.

Born in 1914 at Dhaliwal village Bet of Kapurthala, Umranangal joined active politics in 1952 and later became Akali Dal general secretary and eventually its vice-president.

The veteran leader’s struggle against militancy in Punjab began in 1978 and reached its peak in 1986 when he undertook a three-year-long door-to-door campaign in the Majha region approaching families of terrorists to wean them back to the national mainstream.

Umranangal, who topped the terrorists hit list for a long time during the decade-long militancy, finally paid the price for his heart-felt conviction when his son Sukhdev Singh was killed in 1987, but that too failed to deter him in his mission.

He was awarded Padam Bhushan in 1991 and the National Amity award in 1996.

He was also honoured with the Maharana Partap award in 1987.

He is survived by his wife, three sons and three daughters, his fourth son Sukhdev Singh was gunned down by terrorists in May 1987.

He had won the last SGPC election in 1979 defeating all-India Sikh Students Federation president Amrik Singh, a candidate of fundamentalist Sikh seminary of Damdami Taksal headed by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Amrik Singh was killed with Bhindranwale in the Golden Temple complex during Operation Bluestar in June 1984.

The Jathedar, left the mainstream Akali Dal because of ambiguous stand of the traditional Akalis on violence unleashed by terrorists and set up his ‘‘Jagat Akali Dal’’ in 1992.

However, he rejoined the ruling Akali Party led by Badal on the eve of the February, 1998 Lok Sabha elections. The Jagat Akali Dal had contested three Assembly seats of Dhuri, Beas and Khadoor Sahib but failed to win any seat.

A matriculate from a Kapurthala High School and agriculturist by profession, Mr Umranangal rose from the ranks of a sarpanch and nambardar of his native village and also of village Umranangal which became his home later

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today expressed grief over the death of Akali leader Jiwan Singh Umranangal.

In a condolence message here Mr Badal said by the demise of Mr Umranangal, state had lost a seasoned politician and a noble person.

Mr Umranangal always worked for strengthening the forces of national integration, Mr Badal said pointing out his contribution to Punjabi Suba movement.

Finance Minister Captain Kanwaljit Singh and Minister of State for Information and Public Relations Sewa Singh Sekhwan also mourned the death of the Akali leader.

Mr Badal conveyed his heartfelt sympathy to the members of the bereaved family.

Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Local Bodies Minister, Punjab also mourned the death of Umranangal.back

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