ĪSHAR SIṄGH JATHEDĀR, BHĀĪ (1870-1921), one of the Nankāṇā Sāhib martyrs, was the second son of Dafedār (cavalry sergeant) Hardit Siṅgh and Mātā Prem Kaur of Dhārovālī village in Gurdāspur district. He learnt to read the scripture in the village gurdwārā. He was married on 15 Phāgun 1942 Bk/26 February 1886 to Bibī Basant Kaur, daughter of Bhāī Harnām Siṅgh of Muhaddīpur village in Jalandhar district. The family later migrated to Chakk No. 33 Dhārovālī in Sheikhūpurā district in the Lower Chenāb Canal Colony. Īshar Siṅgh was of deeply religious temperament, and although he had taken the Khālsā pāhul at the hands of Bhāī Mūl Siṅgh Garmūlā, he was more impressed by his grandfather, Nauraṅg Siṅgh, who renouncing his home had joined a band of sādhūs and gone towards Haridvār. Īshar Siṅgh too after some time went to the Kumbh fair at Paryāg (Allāhābād) in search of his grandfather. For three years he roamed about the country with holy men, and ultimately reached Srī Abchalnagar Hazūr Sāhib, Nāndeḍ, in the then Hyderābād state. His uncle, Kesar Siṅgh who was serving in 30th Cavalry, then stationed at Nāndeḍ, recognized him and reclaimed him to the Sikh fold. Īshar Siṅgh took the pāhul again at Hazūr Sāhib and returned home accompanying his uncle when the latter was granted leave some six months later. He now settled down as a householder, but his religious zeal was undiminished. He joined hands with Bhāī Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh (who was a collateral nephew to him) in organizing the historic conference held at their village on 1 to 3 October 1920 for propagating the cause of Gurdwārā Reform. Together they mobilized support and enrolled volunteers for the liberation of Gurdwārā Janam Asthān, Nankāṇā Sāhib. On 19 February 1921, while Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh collected and led volunteers from villages in the immediate neighbourhood of Dhārovālī, Bhāī Īshar Siṅgh collected another 30 odd men from villages further to the west. These latter formed a separate jathā and chose Īshar Siṅgh as their jathedār (leader). During the night 19-20 February, this jathā, although supposed to join the other led by Bhāī Lachhmaṇ Siṅgh lost their way and were yet about one kilometre short of Janam Asthān when the other one had already been shut in and was being massacred by the Mahant's hirelings. Hearing the bangs of gunfire, these men ran forward to join their comrades. Jathedār Īshar Siṅgh being the oldest among them lagged behind so that when he reached near the Gurdwārā, he found the younger lot coming back on the run chased by the assassins. They told him that the situation was hopeless and they should go back, but he continued to run forward shouting that they had come to die and die they must. He faced the pursuers and bore a bullet from one of them on his chest before he fell down; the others hacked him to pieces and dragged his body to a burning pyre.
The Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee granted a pension to Bhāī Īshar Siṅgh's widow at Rs 150 per annum and also paid off the family's debt of Rs 1300.
Gurcharan Siṅgh Giānī