JAVĀLĀ SIṄGH (1866-1938), one of the pioneers of the Ghadr movement of 1914-15, was born about the year 1966 at Ṭhaṭṭīāṅ, a village in Amritsar district of the Punjab. His father, Kanhaiyā Siṅgh, was a farmer of limited means. Javālā Siṅgh was an ambitious youth and left home in 1905 to seek his fortune abroad. Visiting China, Panama and Mexico, he reached California in the United States of America in 1908. He soon came in contact with Bābā Vasākhā Siṅgh of Dadehar, an old acquaintance of his, and they took on lease a farm of 500 acres of land near Sacramento, the capital of the state of California. Their hard work was rewarded and they made a reputation for themselves as growers of potatoes. The farm served as a meeting-place for Indian immigrants and all newcomers received here a warm welcome as well as hospitality. This led Javālā Siṅgh and his colleagues to plan for the establishment of a permanent centre to provide for the religious, cultural and social needs of the growing Sikh community. The centre appeared in the form of a gurdwārā at Stockton which became in course of time a centre of revolutionary activity.
Javālā Siṅgh was deeply impressed by the freedom and liberty the people of America enjoyed. With a view to spreading this spirit among his own countrymen, Javālā Siṅgh and Vasākhā Siṅgh set-up Gurū Nānak Educational Society and invited four students from India to come and study at American universities and offered to underwrite their expenses. His patriotic fervour earned him great popularity and he was elected vice-president of the California branch of the Hindi Association at its meeting held on 31 December 1913 at Sacramento. As the First World War broke out, Javālā Siṅgh along with some of his friends, toured the Pacific Coast telling their countrymen that the ill-treatment they met with in America was the direct outcome of their inferior political status and that they must rise against the British and free their motherland from their control. An organization, the Ghadr Party, was established to bring about an armed rebellion in India. The Ghadr newspaper which, besides English, was published in Punjabi and several other Indian languages, was the mouthpiece of its revolutionary ideology. Javālā Siṅgh was amongst the leaders of the first large group of Ghadrites which left San Francisco for India on 29 August 1914. At Yokohama, he visited Japanese traders and secretly secured from them some pistols. He attended a meeting in Hong Kong Gurdwārā where he was elected a member of the central committee finally to work out the details of the rising. At Singapore, Javālā Siṅgh and some other leaders tried to win over the Indian regiments to join the national revolt against the British. As soon as Javālā Siṅgh landed at Calcutta on 29 October 1914, he was taken into custody along with several others. He was tried in the first Lahore Conspiracy Case and was sentenced, on 13 September 1915, to transportation for life with forfeiture of property. According to the trial court, Javālā Siṅgh was one of the brains of the party. He remained in Jail for 18 years. After his release in 1933, he identified himself with the cause of Punjab peasantry and worked for the Punjabi paper, Kirtī which voiced their grievances. One of the founders of the Punjab Kisān Sabhā, he was elected its first president. He was again arrested in 1935 and sentenced to one year's imprisonment for his work in the Punjab peasants' movement. While he was on his way to Bengal to attend a session of the All-India-Kisān Conference, he met with a fatal accident and died on 9 May 1938.
Gurdev Siṅgh Deol