ĪSHAR SIṄGH MARHĀṆĀ (1878-1941), Akālī activist and Ghadr revolutionary, was born on 1 January 1878, younger of the two sons of Bhāī Jind Siṅgh, a Sandhū Jaṭṭ, and Māī Chand Kaur, of farming stock of the village of Marhāṇā, near Tarn Tāran, in Amritsar district of the Punjab. He learnt Gurmukhī in the village gurdwārā and recited avidly his daily hymns every morning and helped his father and elder brother, Āsā Siṅgh, with farming. As he came of age, he was married to Bībī Har Kaur, daughter of Bhāī Hīrā Siṅgh, of Khānpur village in Nakodar tahsīl of Jalandhar district. Īshar Siṅgh went abroad in search of better prospects, and, travelling through Singapore, Hong Kong and Panama, reached California (U.S.A.) in 1908. He came in contact with Vasākhā Siṅgh and Javālā Siṅgh, also Punjabi immigrants from Amritsar district. They formed a company and, hiring a 500 acre piece of land near Holt, started an agricultural farm which prospered. When Indian immigrants settled mostly in California and Oregan states formed the Hindustānī Association of the Pacific Coast, Īshar Siṅgh too became one of its members. This body later became the famous Ghadr party which planned a revolution in India during World War I (1914-18). The plan however aborted and the Ghadr revolutionaries were tried in what is known as Lahore conspiracy case. Īshar Siṅgh was one of those who got away with a reduced sentence of 7 years. By the time he came out of prison, Akālī movement for the reform of shrine management had got under way. He was automatically swept into it. In 1922 he set up a huge conclave of the Akālī reformists in his own village, Marhāṇā, where he delivered a forceful anti-government speech for which he was arrested, tried and sentenced to seven years' rigorous imprisonment which he underwent in different jails at Rāwalpiṇḍī, Campbellpore, Montgomery and Multān. On release in 1929 he was elected jathedār (leader) of the district Akālī Jathā of Amritsar. In 1930, he was elected a member and vice-chairman of Amritsar Darbār Sāhib Managing Committee for three years. Īshar Siṅgh also participated in the Civil Disobedience movement of 1930-31 for which he got six months in jail besides a fine of Rs 150. In 1933 he was elected a member of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee. He was re-elected in 1936 and was appointed chairman of Srī Darbār Sāhib Managing Committee in which capacity he worked until his death, after a brief illness, on 16 August 1941.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)