GUWAHATI, Nov 26 - There were very few Sikh people in Gauhati till the end of the 19th century AD. But after the expansion of the railway network to Gauhati from the western part of the country, many Sikhs came to Gauhati in search of livelihood, said noted writer Kumudeswar Hazarika.
Among those Sikh people, a former railway station master late Sardar Jivan Singh�s name is worth mentioning. He was the leader of the minuscule Sikh population of Gauhati.
Between 1902 and 1906, Sardar Jivan Singh planned to set up a Sikh temple in Phansi (Fancy) Bazar area of Gauhati and this temple has now grown as a famous religious institution of Guwahati city. The first president of Sri Gurusingh Sabha Gurudwara, Guwahati, was Sardar Alla Singh. He was another prominent Sikh of Gauhati.
Sardar Lal Singh, a prominent Sikh personality without naming whom the story of the Gauhati Sikhs would remain incomplete, was a distinguished citizen and a close associate of Assamese scientist late Lakshminath Das. He was one of the pioneers of industrialisation of Gauhati. His business establishment � Assam Engineering Works � was the first establishment, which started producing machine parts in Gauhati.
His Lal Singh Mansion still exists on the AT Road, near the Rupashree Cinema Hall. His son, late Dr Thirnarayan Singh was a judge of the Gauhati High Court. Sardar Lal Singh was a freedom fighter. His daughter, late Iqbal Singh was a well-known Assamese writer. The family of Sardar Lal Singh established the Kharghuli Lal Singh Academy, an Assamese medium high school.
Another prominent Sikh resident of Gauhati was Amrik Singh of Rehabari, who later became principal of the city�s Arya Vidyapeeth College.
In 1901, Basant Singh from the Punjab came to Gauhati. He was a road contractor. He was awarded the contract to build the Silchar-Haflong Road. With him, his son, Arjun Singh also came. But Arjun was sent back to pursue higher studies in the Punjab.
Arjun was a student of Gurdaspur Engineering College at the time of Amritsar�s Jallianwalla Bagh carnage (January13, 1919). He received bullet injuries to one of his legs on the fateful day of the massacre. He had good friendship with one of the friends of martyr Bhagat Singh. Due to this, he was brought back to Assam by his father after the Jallianwalla Bagh tragedy. Arjun Singh joined his father in his venture as a contractor.
Arjun Singh constructed a long stretch of the National Highway-37 between Dhupdhara and Gauhati and finally settled at Chaygaon and became an inseparable part of the Assamese society, of course, sticking to Sikhism.
Both Basant Singh and Arjun Singh made significant contributions towards building the Gauhati Sikh Temple. Arjun Singh�s son is Dr Bhupen Singh, a former principal of the city�s Pragjyotish College.
Other prominent members of the Gauhati Sikhs were Kishan Singh, Mahendra Singh and Balbir Singh. They came to Gauhati before Independence, said Hazarika.