Munsha Singh Dukhi, Jandiala (c. 1890-1971)

Munsha Singh Dukhi was a tarkhan (carpenter caste) Sikh from the village of Jandiala in the Jallunder District. He had little formal education, but acquired proficiency in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, English, and Bengali. His father Nihal Singh had been a subedar (sargeant-major) in the Indian army. When he was eighteen Munsha Singh emigrated, instigated by an older brother who had written from Canada, but instead of going directly to Canada, he made his way via Honolulu to San Francisco, arriving in January 1910. In California he worked on a railway line with Muslims and began studying the Koran and performing Muslim prayers and he acquired the Muslim name Abdullah. His interest in Islam was a passing one; after a year he was a practicing Sikh, maintaining the Khalsa symbols. In January 1910 he arrived in Vancouver, where he was active in the gurdwara and prominent as a speaker (even though sometimes called Abdullah). He was strongly committed to the Ghadr cause and was among the first Ghadrites to leave for India at the outbreak of the First World War. He left from Victoria on the Empress of Russia on 6 August 1914—two days after England declared war on Germany. Hopkinson advised the Government of India of Munsha Singh’s departure and he was arrested in India in January 1915. He was tried for sedition in Lahore and sentenced to transportation for life on 4 January 1917, but served his time in Indian prisons, Hazaribagh, Lahore, Campbellpur and Multan, before being released under a royal amnesty in April 1920 and settling in Calcutta. He was briefly the assistant secretary of the Bengal Gurdwara Prabhandak (Management) Committee and active for years in Sikh circles in Bengal as an opponent of British rule. In 1927 he edited a monthly Gurmukhi poetry magazine with a pronounced anti-British message and he published many collections of  poetry.

Sources: Harban Singh ed., The Encyclopedia of Sikhism (Patiala: Panjabi University, 4th edition 2002);  Sohan Singh Pooni, Keneda de Gadri Yodhe (Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 2009); Struggle for Free Hindustan: Ghadr Directory, Punjab Section, 1915 (published Mehrauli, New Delhi: Gobind Sadan Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion, 1996); The Ghadr Directory, 1934, Compiled by the Director, Intelligence Bureau, Home Department, Government of India (Published, Patiala: Punjabi University, 1997).