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Giani Zail Singh

Giani Zail Singh, was born on May 5, 1916 in village Sandhwan in Faridkot District in a family of artisans, taken to agriculture. His father Sardar Kishan Singh owned about fifty-six acres of land which was intershared by Giani Zail Singh and his two brothers. He comes from common stock and was born in a mud house in a remote village having no pull or patronage. Giani Zail Singh, whose ascendancy in the service of the nation can be traced from the humblest of origins, combines rare qualities of head and heart.

Date of Birth May 5, 1916
Date of Death Dec 25, 1994
Place of Birth Faridkot
Tenure Order July 25, 1982
Took Office July 25, 1982
Left Office Jul 25, 1987
Successor R.Venkataraman

The Giani's innings in public life have been long and varied - freedom fighter, social reformer, champion of the down-trodden, State Congress Leader, successful Chief Minister and Union Home Minister. Truly, he was a relentless fighter against princedom, feudalism and foreign domination in the pre-independence days, a tireless crusader against communalism, economic disparities and social injustice, a true friend of the down-trodden and the economically weak. The martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and his companions, valiant freedom fighters, on March 23, 1931, moved the young Giani who was then only 16. The story of Giani Zail Singh's ordeals started with setting up of the branch of the All India Congress in the State of Faridkot in 1938. Giani Zail Singh was proclaimed and treated as an ordinary criminal. The Maharaja regarded the opening of the Branch of the Congress as a challenge and the man who did it as an arch enemy. So it was that Gianiji having founded the Congress in the State of Faridkot found himself behind prison bars for five years. He was kept in solitary confinement throughout his imprisonment. Even after his release, Gianiji was harassed and he had to spend sometime outside the State. During this period he canvassed support for the freedom movement in his State. During the same period he was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's message of non-violence. Adventure of Giani Zail Singh's life. Giani Zail Singh was held guilty of leading the revolt against the Raja's Government and taken into custody. Then occurred the famous Jeep Episode - a tyrannical response to Gianiji's quest to end the princely and feudal tyranny. Gianiji was bound hand and feet to a jeep and was threatened that he would be dragged along the streets unless he relented. But ultimately good sense prevailed and the threat was not carried out. When Faridkot State was merged into the State of Patiala and East Punjab States Union, Giani Zail Singh made historic contributions in removing socio-economic injustice of farm labourers, small cultivators and tenants in his capacity as a Minister for Revenue and Agriculture. The conferment of proprietary rights on the actual tillers and the abolition of absentee landlordism and the legislative steps ensuring the security of tenancy and the rights of tenants to share the lands declared as "surplus" after land-ceiling, are all to the credit of Gianiji. The protection given in PEPSU against State ejectments by landlords is till today a shining landmark in the post-freedom history of agrarian reforms in India. In 1956, Giani Zail Singh became a Member of Rajya Sabha and the Senior Vice-President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. He injected new fervour among the partymen and struggled selflessly to ensure thumping victories for the Congress in Punjab in 1962 General Elections to Punjab Vidhan Sabha and the Lok Sabha. He was taken as a Minister in the Government headed by the late Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon but in 1962, he sacrificed that office when the Chinese aggression brought new challenges in its wake.