Harchand Singh Longowal (January 2, 1932-August 20, 1985) was the President of the Akali Dal during the Punjab insurgency of the 1980s. In 1962, he was named head of the important historical shrine at Damdama Sahib (Talwandi Sabo), but he took on the suffix “Longowal” which remained with him for the rest of his life. He was affectionately known as “Sant Ji”
In 1965, he became the president of the Akali organisation in Sangrur district and a member of the working committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal. In July 1975, all the senior Akali leaders courted arrest and Longowal took over the command of the agitation which continued till January 1977. In 1980, Longowal was recalled to preside over the Akali party. In this role, he organised large-scale campaigns of civil disobedience to win concessions from India’s Central government on the long-standing grievances of Punjab, and especially the Sikhs of Punjab.
Longowal announced that as of June 3, 1984 he would practice civil disobedience by refusing to pay land revenue, water and electricity bills, and block the flow of grain out of Punjab. The next day, the Indian Army began attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar to finish this disobedience at once. Longowal and Tohra and the rest of the Akali leadership were arrested when they surrendered and were imprisoned. Bhindranwala and most of his followers in the temple were killed.
Later, Longowal met the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Delhi and on July 23, 1985 signed an eleven-point memorandum covering all the major issues which had defied resolution since the Akalis had first presented their list of demands. Less than a month after signing the Punjab accord, Harchand Singh Longowal was shot and killed on August 20, 1985 near the gurdwara in village Sherpur, not far from Longowal, Punjab.
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