Born on 15th January 1899 in Adhval village in Campbellpore district of Punjab (present-day Attock district in Pakistan), Gurmukh Singh completed his primary education in his village and then went on to Rawalpindi for his secondary schooling. After his matriculation, he trained as a junior vernacular teacher and was appointed as a teacher at the Khalsa High School of Kallar in 1918. During his four years of teaching, he earned the epithet ‘Giani’ and adopted the pseudonym ‘Musafir’.
Role in India’s Independence Movement
Giani Gurmukh Singh was deeply moved by the terrible Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 and the Nankana Saheb massacre in 1921, which led him to give up teaching in 1922 and join the freedom struggle. He became associated with the Akali movement, which was the political awakening of the Sikhs. His participation in the Guru ka Bagh agitation in 1922 led to his imprisonment, the first of the many that were to follow as a result of his participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement, the Individual Satyagraha, and the Quit India Movement. He became a member of the All India Congress Committee in 1930, and around the same time, he was also appointed the Jathedar (head) of the Akal Takht, the highest religious office of Sikhism.
Contribution to Constitution Making
Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir was a member of the Constituent Assembly from 1947 to 1950 elected from East Punjab on the Congress Party ticket. In the Constituent Assembly, he made interventions in citizenship and separate electorates.
He was appointed as the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee in 1949 and became a member of the Congress Working Committee in 1952. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Amritsar constituency in 1952, 1957, and 1962. In 1966 he resigned to serve as the Chief Minister of Punjab for a short tenure of five months. He also served as a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1968 to 1974.
He died on 18th January 1976 in Delhi. He was posthumously awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1976 and the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1978 for his short story collection.
Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir was a writer and poet. His published works include nine collections of poems, eight collections of short stories, and four biographical works, including one about his association with Gandhi, VekhyaSunya Gandhi, and one about his association with Nehru, VekhyaSunya Nehru.
- Musafir applauded the Constituent Assembly for rejecting separate electorates and for dealing with the question of minorities sensitively, quoting Mohammad Iqbal’s famous couplet in cupport of communal unity.
- On the question of language, he believed there should be a single national language, but could not choose between Hindi and Hindustani.