JAI SIṄGH (1712-1793), founder of the Kanhaiyā clan or chiefship, commonly designated misl, was a Sandhū Jaṭṭ of the village of Kāhnā, 21 km southwest of Lahore on the road to Fīrozpur. He had an humble origin, his father Khushāl (Siṅgh), earning his living by selling grass and wood at Lahore. Jai Siṅgh received amrit or initiatory rites of the Khālsā at the hands of Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh and joined the jathā or roving band of Amar Siṅgh Kiṅgrā. It is commonly believed that name of the band, Kanhaīyā, was derived from the name of Jai Siṅgh's village, Kāhnā, although another explanation connects it with the Sardār's own handsome appearance which earned him the epithet (Kāhn) Kanhaiyā, an endearing title used for Lord Kṛṣṇa. Jai Siṅgh seized a part of Riāṛkī comprising the district of Gurdāspur and upper portions of Amritsar. His first headquarters were at his wife's village, Sohīāṅ, 15 km from Amritsar, from where he shifted to Baṭālā and thence to Mukerīāṅ. His territories lay on both sides of the rivers Beās and Rāvī. A contemporary Muslim historian, Qāzī Nūr Muhammad, wrote in 1765 that Jai Siṅgh Kanhaiyā had extended his territory up to Paṛol, about 70 km southeast of Jammū, and that he worked in collaboration with Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā, both sharing between them the territory of Baṭālā. The hill chiefs of Nūrpur, Dātārpur and Sībā became Jai Siṅgh's tributaries. In 1774, Jai Siṅgh built a kaṭrā or bazaar at Amritsar called Kaṭrā Kanhaiyāṅ. In October 1778 he, with the help of Mahāṅ Siṅgh Sukkarchakkīā and Jassā Siṇgh Āhlūvālīā, drove away Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā to the desert region of Hāṅsī and Hissār. In 1781, Jai Siṅgh and his associate, Haqīqat Siṅgh, led an expedition to Jammū and received a sum of three lakh of rupees as a tribute from Brij Rāj Dev of Jammū.
According to Khushwaqt Rāi, Jai Siṅgh died in 1793 at the age of 81. Control of the Kanhaiyā misl passed into the hands of his daughter-in-law, Sadā Kaur, his son, Gurbakhsh Siṅgh, having predeceased him.
Sardār Siṅgh Bhāṭīā