Bhag Singh, Bhikiwind (1872-1914)

Bhag Singh was a prominent leader in the Vancouver Sikh community and a victim of the Bela Singh shooting. He was the son of Narayan Singh and Man Kaur, and the third of four brothers. His village was Bhikhiwind, in a part of the Lahore district that fell within India in 1947 and that is now within the Amritsar district of Punjab. He served five years in the Indian army cavalry, a year and a half-year in the Hong Kong police force and also two and a half years on the Shanghai police force before he came to Canada in 1906. He became secretary of the temple management committee in Vancouver in October 1908. In January 1911, after a visit to India he returned to Vancouver with his wife and newborn child in the company of Balwant Singh and his family in a highly publicized challenge to Canada’s immigration policy. In Bhag Singh and Balwant Singh’s cases, the government permitted their families to stay, without conceding a right of entry to other families from India. Bhag Singh was a member of the Shore Committee at the time of the Komagata Maru and along with Husain Rahim took over the the ship’s charter from Gurdit Singh. While the ship was still in Vancouver harbour, he was arrested on the American side of the border with Balwant Singh and Harnam Singh who were together found to be carrying revolvers, but he was released and back in Vancouver shortly after the ship left. On September 5, 1914, he and Battan Singh were killed in the shooting of seven men by Bela Singh in the Khalsa Diwan Society gurdwara. Bhag Singh’s wife had died earlier that year following the birth of their second child, and the Khalsa Diwan Society assumed responsibily for the care of his orphaned children, Joginder Singh and Karam Kaur. 

Sources: Sohan Singh Pooni, Keneda de Gadri Yodhe (Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 2009); Harban Singh ed., The Encyclopedia of Sikhism (Patiala: Panjabi University, 4th edition, 2002); James Campbell Ker, Director of Criminal Intelligence, Political Troubles in India, 1907-17 (Published, Delhi: Oriental Publisher, 1973).