KISHAN KAUR, MAI
KISHAN KAUR, MAI (1860-1952), known for her fearless role in the Jaito agitation, was the daughter of Suba Singh and Mat Sobhari of the village of Lohgarh in Ludhiana district of the Punjab. The family, goldsmith by profession, later migrated to Daudhar in Moga tahsil of present day Faridkot district. Kishan Kaur was married to Harnam Singh ot Kaorike village, near Jagraori, in Ludhiana district. He was a dafdddror sergeant in cavalry who later resigned from the army and migrated to Burma, where he died at the young age of 33.
Three children, two sons and a daughter, were born to Kishan Kaur but all of them predeceased their father.Kishan Kaur, now a childless widow, came back to live at Kaorike. She took the pahul or rites of the Khalsa in 1907 and decided to devote the rest of her life to the service of the Guru. She took a leading part, in 1912, in the construction of historical Gurdwara Gurusar, dedicated to Guru Hargobind, near her village.
Already over 60, she took active part in the Jaito agitation of 1923-24. The Government of India had forced Maharaja Ripudaman Singh, the ruler of Nabha state known for his independent attitude, to abdicate. The Sikhs of Jaito, which fell within his territory, planned to hold prayers for his well being and restoration.By order of the British controlled state administration, a posse of armed police entered Gurdwara Gangsar, where an akhand path or nonstop recital of Guru Granth Sahib was in progress, and not only interrupted the service but also virtually imprisoned the entire sangai gathered there denying them exit and permitting no provisions from outside to reach them.
Jathedar Dulla Singh and Suchcha Singh of the village of Rode organized a band of volunteers, popularly known as Durii Jatha, who collected the required rations and managed through feint and force to unload them inside the Gurdwara compound.Mat Kishan Kaur was a member of this band which later arranged rations for the Shahidi Jathas and the huge crowds that accompanied them. The first Shahidi Jatha, lit. band of martyrs, 500 strong and vowed to nonviolence, was to reach Jaito on 21 February 1924 in a bid to enter Gurdwara Gangsar at any cost and recommence the akhand path.
The state government was equally determined not to let them do so and had deployed armed police and military contingents with orders to open fire, if necessary. Mat Kishan Kaur and her companion, Bib! Tej Kaur, went to Jaito disguised as ladies of the Hindu trading class, collected intelligence about government`s plans and preparations, and rejoined the jathaio convey the information.The jatha accordingly rescheduled their march and instead of going straight to Gurdwara Gangsar, changed course suddenly and headed for Gurdwara Tibbi Sahib, half a kilometre to the north. State troops, however, barred entry even to that shrine and opened fire on the jatha.
Mat Kishan Kaur, with her small band of volunteers, at once busied herself attending the wounded. She along with 21 others was arrested and prosecuted. The trial commenced at Nabha on 17 May 1924. Kishan Kaur was sentenced to tour years rigorous imprisonment.
Released on 30 June 1928, she was accorded a warm welcome the following day at Amritsar, where a siropa or robe of honour was bestowed on her from the Akal Takht. Tlie Sikhs everywhere acclaimed her courage and sacrifice. Mat Kishan Kaur continued to serve Gurdwara Gurusar at Kaorike till her last day. She died there on 10 August 1952.
1. Pratap Singh, Giani, Gurdwara Sudhnr arthat Akali Lahir.Amritsar, 1975