BELĀ, pronounced bellā, means, in Punjabi usage, a jungle of tall grasses, reeds and assorted shrubbery along the banks of rivers and streams. The word also received a different connotation when an Udāsī saint and preacher, Banakhaṇḍī, established in AD 1818 a preaching centre on an Island in the River Indus near Sakkhar in Sindh (now art Pakistan) and named it Shrī Sādhubelā Tīrath. This created a new vogue and several other Udāsī centres adopted the name Sādhū Belā although they were nowhere near a river. Similarly, a Sikh ḍerā (habitation with a gurdwārā) established by a group of Sikh revolutionaries during 1927-33 was christened Siṅgh Belā. It was located about 12 km north of Bābā Bakālā along the Beās-Baṭālā road in Amritsar district. An innocent-looking place of worship, Siṅgh Belā functioned as the secret headquarters of the revolutionary group who planned and executed (on 8 December 1933) the retaliatory murder of a traitor, Belā Siṅgh, who had earlier shot dead, at the instance of a Canadian Immigration Officer, Bhāī Bhāg Siṅgh Granthī and another Sikh, Bhāī Batan Siṅgh, during a funeral service in a gurdwārā in Canada in 1914.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)