Sikh Volunteers during the Jaito Morcha 1923-24
DURLI JATHA was an impromptu band of Sikh volunteers active during the Jaito agitation, 1923-24, to force their way through in contrast to the Akali jathas vowed to a nonviolent and passive course. Durli is a meaningless word: whatever sense it possesses is communicated onomatopoetically. At Jaito, on 14 September 1923, an akhand path (nonstop end-to-end recital of the Guru Granth Sihib) being said for the Sikh princely ruler of Nabha state, Maharaja Ripudaman Singh, who had been deposed by the British, was interrupted which, according to the Sikh tradition, amounted to sacrilege, and the sangat had been held captive, no-one being allowed to go out or come in, not even to fetch food or rations for those inside. Jathedar Dulla Singh and Suchcha Singh of Rode village, in Moga tahsil, then in Firozpur district, organized a small band of desperadoes, naming it Durli Jatha, who collected the required rations and managed to smuggle these in through feint or force. When large-sized shahidi jathas began to be sent to Jaito by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee from Amritsar, the Durli Jatha also mobilized support and sustenance for them en route. When the first Shahidi Jatha, sworn to non-violence, was fired at by government troops on 21 February 1924 resulting in 19 dead and 30 injured, the government in order to justify its action held fake enquiries by two magistrates, first by Lala Amar Nath and then by Balvant Singh Nalva, who gave the verdict that Durli Jatha personnel who had accompanied the Shahidi Jathi were armed and it was they who fired the first shot forcing the troops to open fire.
Twenty-two members of Durli Jathi including Jathedar Dulls Singh, Suchcha Singh and Mai Kishan Kaur were tried in the court of Lala Amar Nath, who had meanwhile been elevated to sessions judge, on 17 May 1924. They were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven years each.The Durli Jatha, however, remained active until the Jaito morcha ended successfully for the Akalis in August 1925.