VASĀKHĀ SIṄGH (1877-1957), one of the Ghadr leaders, was born on 13 April 1877 at Dadehar, a village in Amritsar district of the Punjab. His father, Diāl Siṅgh, and mother, Ind Kaur, were a God-fearing couple. One of his ancestors, Mohar Siṅgh, is said to have received the rites of amrit at the hands of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh himself. Vasākhā Siṅgh grew up in a religious environment . As was usual in those days, he had his early education at the village gurdwārā and learnt to read the Sikh texts. He took the Sikh initiatory rites at the age of twelve. He was married to Rām Kaur while he was quite young. His wife died within four years, but he did not marry again. At the age of nineteen he joined the army which he left in 1907 to go to China. From China, he went on to the United States of America, where he had a partnership in a 500-acre farm with Bābā Javālā Siṅgh of Ṭhaṭṭiaṅ. Out of the income of the farm Vasākhā Siṅgh and Javālā Siṅgh set up Gurū Nānak Educational Society with a view to helping needy Indian students studying in America. He was also one of the builders of the Gurdwārā at Stockton. As the first issue of the Ghadr, the weekly organ of the revolutionary Ghadr party, carrying reports of the conferences of Indian immigrants held in the States of Oregon and Washington, reached the hands of Indians working on California farms, they felt deeply stirred. Vasākhā Siṅgh went to Sacramento to attend the party meeting held on 31 December 1913, and was elected a member of the central executive committee. He responded to the party's call to return to India and take part in the armed rebellion it had planned. But as he reached Madrās on 7 January 1915, he was taken into custody. He was put under house arrest and detained in his village.
He retained his links with the Ghadr party. When the plot was leaked out to the British by a spy, Vasākhā Siṅgh was seized by police along with several other Ghadr leaders. He was tried in the Lahore conspiracy case I (1915) and, on 13 September 1915, sentenced to transportation for life and forfeiture of property. He went on a strike for over a month in the Aṇḍamāns as a protest against maltreatment of political prisoners. After his release from jail as a result of general amnesty to certain categories of political prisoners, he reached his village on 14 April 1920 in a very poor state of health. He, however, continued working actively for the freedom of the country. To help political prisoners languishing in jails, he helped form Desh Bhagat Parivār Sahāik Committee of which he was elected president. In 1931, Bābā Vasākhā Siṅgh's movements were confined to the city of Amritsar, and in 1932, he was detained in his village for two years. He again went to jail in the years 1940 and 1942.
Bābā Vasākhā Siṅgh's was a revered name in Sikh piety. He led a jathā of 100 volunteers to court arrest in Gurū kā Bāgh morchā. He was one of the Pañj Piāras when the kār-sevā or cleansing of the holy sarovar at Tarn Tāran was commenced on 10 January 1931. He was also one of the Pañj Piāre who laid, on 14 October 1932, the foundation-stone of the new building of Gurdwārā Pañja Sāhib. He had the honour to be appointed, in 1934, Jathedār of the Akāl Takht at Amritsar.
He died in a hospital at Tarn Tāran on 5 December 1957.
Gurdev Siṅgh Deol