A Kuka Leader
A Kuka leader (formally designated suba, i.e. governor or deputy, by Baba Ram Singh) who attempted to seek help of the Russians against the British, was born in 1806 at Chakk Pirana in Sialkot district, now in Pakistan, the son of Atar Singh Virk. He joined the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a trooper in 1833 and served the Sikh State up to its annexation in 1849. He was initiated into the Kuka faith about 1870 by the Kukd suba, Jota Singh, also of the Sialkot district, and shortly afterwards was himself appointed a subd. After the deportation of Baba Ram Singh to Rangoon in 1872, Gurcharan Singh travelled extensively preaching the Kukd creed and making converts. He got in contact with Russians after they had firmly established themselves in the central Asian region.
He knew Pashto and Persian languages and was fully familiar with Afghanistan and the territories beyond having visited Kabul several times. He possessed a strong physique capable of undertaking long and arduous journeys. His descriptive roll as given in the police records at the time of his arrest in 1881 was:
"Light complexion, large eyes, aquiline features, white beard and moustaches, height about 5 ft 11 inches, age 75 years; general appearance -a fine and handsome specimen of a Sikh."
In 1879, Gurcharan Singh carried a letter to the Russian authorities purporting to be from Baba Ram Singh, the Kuka leader. He reached Tash Kurghan in April 1880 where he was received by the Russian governor of Tashkent. The letter in Gurmukhi began with salams to the Russian emperor, the governor-general and other Russian officers and among other things went on to say that Ram Singh was the spiritual leader of 315,000 Kukas, all brave soldiers; that the tyrannical British government had imprisoned him in Rangoon; that the British were afraid of losing the Punjab to the Kukas; that Russians would go to India to expel the English and that both the Russians and the Khalsa would rule over all India. The Russian authorities showed keen interest in Gurcharan Singh’s mission, but they were non-committal and wished to proceed with caution. A letter was, however, given to the Kuka leader:
Greetings from the Commander-in-Chief and the Governor-General to Baba Ram Singh and Baba Budh Singh. The letter was duly received from Gurcharan Singh, careful consideration was given it, and the contents were gratifying to note. Thanks for the informative communication, but it is desirable to have details, more fresh news about the affairs and situation in India. The prophecy of Guru Govind Singh and Guru Baba Nanak was noted for information. Everything will happen according to the Will of God. The prophets know best when the hour will strike.
Gurcharan Singh reached Bhaini Sahib by a circuitous route via Peshawar and Rawalpindi and delivered the Russian letter with the accompanying presents to Baba Buddh Singh for onward transmission to Baba Ram Singh. The British government came to know about the movements of Gurcharan Singh and began to keep a strict watch upon him. He was soon arrested and sent to Multan jail. After his release in 1886, he was kept under police surveillance in his native village in Sialkot district.