Amar Singh Kingra or Sanghania was the founder of Kanhaiya Misal. Some of the valorous Sikhs rallied round him and accepted him as their leader. He established his own derah. He considered it absolutely necessary to baptise a person into a ‘Singh’ before accepting him into his derah
A Sandhu Jat cultivator, named Khushal or Khushali or Khushal Singh, lived at the village of Kanah, situated at some ten kos or about fifteen miles to the south of Lahore. His two sons, Jai Singh and Jhanda Singh left their village and first joined the derah of Amar Singh Kingra and then joined the confederacy of Kapur Singh Faizullapuria or Singhpuria about the year 1739, and took pahul from him. From the native village of the Misal’s leader, Jai Singh, the confederacy took its name it is also said that when the young Jai Singh went to Amritsar to be baptised as a Singh, the assembled Sikhs were so much struck with his beauty that they asked him the name of the village from which he had come. "I am of Kanah" he said. "Well is your village named Kanah" was the reply "for you resemble Kanaihya himself." Kanaihya is one of the names of the beautiful Lord Krishan.
The four real brothers: Haqiqat Singh, Mehtab Singh, Jiwan Singh and Tara Singh, who belonged to the village Julka, situated about two kos from the village Kanah, came and joined Jai Singh. on the death of Kapur Singh, Jai Singh and his brother Jhanda Singh retired to Sohian, the village of Jai Singh’s father-in-law, situated in the north-west of Amritsar, at a distance of seven kos or about nine or ten miles. Haqiqat Singh, along with his other three brothers and their companions, shifted to Sangatpur about three kos from Sohian. Jai Singh collected about 400 horses and in collaboration with Haqiqat Singh took posssesion of the surrounding areas. Five years later, in 1754, Jhanda Singh was killed in a fight with Nidhan Singh Randhawa at Rawalkot.
Jai Singh succeeded to his brother’s share in the estate, marrying his widow, Desan, by the rite of chadar pauna. Jai Singh became a powerful chief. He occupied Nag, Mukerian, Hajipur, Datarpur,Kerrot, Pathankot, Dharamkot,Sujanpur, etc.
Jai Singh had among his followers, many well-known persons as Amar Singh and Jhanda Singh Bakarpurias, Lakha Singh Kanhowalia, Amar Singh Khokhra, Budh Singh Dharamkotia, and Jhanda Singh Keroh. Jai Singh was known for his daring and dash. In the beginning of 1754, Jai Singh, accompanied by Charhat Singh Sukarchakia, entered Lahore through Shah Alami Gate, one dark evening, in the guise of a Muslim and dispossessed the rich merchants and jewellers of their money and valuables.
In 1759, Desan, the widow of Jhanda Singh and wife of Jai Singh, gave birth to a son. named Gurbakhsh Singh, who was betrothed at the age of seven and married at nine, to Sada Kaur, daughter of Dasonda Singh (Dhaliwal) of Alkolwala. Jai Singh had first married the daughter of Hamir Singh of Nabha.
Haqiqat Singh Sangatpuria was the leader of one great section of Kanaihya Misal. He was a friend and a close associate of Jai Singh and participated in many expeditions led by the latter. Jai Singh arranged the marriage of his associate Haqiqat Singh’s son Jaimal Singh to Sahib Kaur, daughter of Maharaja Amar Singh of Patiala. He occasionally visited Patiala to help in solving some of their problems. After Ahmad Shah Abdali’s retirement from the Punjab in 1763, the Kanaihva Sardars, allied with Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Hari Singh Bhangi and Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, attacked the Pathan town of Kasur.
According to Bute Shah, a Brahman woman was taken away by the Afghans of Kasur and forcibly taken in wedlock by one of them. Feeling dishonoured, the Brahmans of Kasur came to Amritsar and related the story of their woes to Jai Singh, Haqiqat Singh and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Bhangi Sardars. Enraged over the conduct of the Afghans of Kasur they decided to sack the ruler of Kasur and teach a lesson to the guilty. The Sikh Sardars besieged the kot (fortress) of Abdul Rahim Khan and occupied it shortly. Four or five hundred Afghans were killed and the chief of Kasur, Ghulam Muhay-ud-Din Khan, was also shot dead in the course of fighting.
Sikh Sardars imposed war indemnity of four lakh rupees on the Afghans which they accepted to pay. The Sikhs got huge booty from Kasur. According to Ahmad Shah Batalia, the allies plundered the town and the booty included cash, gold and silver utensils, various kinds of pearls and precious stones, very costly silk and pashmina clothes and valuable rugs. Jai Singh Kanaihya’s share comprised gold, silver, emeralds and richly studded ornaments which were carried with difficulty by four strong and sturdy persons. Similarly the Ramgarhias also received a rich share from the booty. It is said that most of the booty was buried in the jungle near the village of Begowal.
All the fourteen fortresses, built outside the walls of the town of Kasur, were occupied by the Sikhs. These were divided into four groups out of which two groups were received by the Bhangis, one group was taken over by the Ramgarhias and the fourth group was possessed by the Kanaihyas. And for many years to come the town of Kasur remained in the hands of the Sikhs.
Jai Singh Kanaihya and Jassa Siogh Ramgarhia were very friendly to each other and had jointly undertaken armed Operations against the Mughals and Afghans. But, after the sack of Kasur a dispute arose between the two Sardars, over the division of booty. Some time later, lai Singh quarrelled with Hari Singh Bhangi and they clashed near Eminabad, without a decisive victory for any of them. Jai Singh marched to Sirhind and participated in the battle where Zain Khan was defeated and killed on January 14, 1764. In 1765, Qazi Nur Muhammad wrote in his Jang Nama that Jai Singh Kanaihya had extended his territory up to Narol Iying in the southern parts of Jammu. He worked in collaboration with Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and both of them shared the territory of Batala between themselves.
Kanaihyas Occupied Kangra
The fort of Kangra was surrounded on three sides by steep and high precipices. It was a grand edifice of stone. The hill on which the fort stood was nearly 5 kms in circuit. With a view to dominating the Kangra hills the Mughal government had appointed an officer who resided in the Kangra fort. At this time, the fort was under Saif Ali Khan. During Ahmad Shah Abdali’s invasions Ghamand Chand Katoch had risen to power. His son, Tegh Chand, paid tribute to Jai Singh Kanaihya. In 1782, Ghamand Chand’s grandson, Raja Sansar Chand Katoch, became anxious to secure possession of the fort. He attacked Saif Ali Khan many a time but could not achieve his object.
On the death of Nawab Saif Ali Khan, the Muhammdan governor of Kangra, in 1784, Raja Sansar Chand Katoch laid siege to the famous fort of Kangra. But the Katoch chief was unable to occupy it. He, then, sought the help of Jai Singh Kanaihya. Jai Singh sent his son, Gurbakhsh Singh, accompanied by Sardar Baghel Singh and a considerable force. With the help of Khalsa forces, Katoch won over the Kangra.
In 1774, Jai Singh built a katra or Bazaar at Amritsar called Katra Kanhaiyan. In October 1778 he, with the help of Mahan Singh Sukkarchakkia and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, drove away Jassa Singh Ramgarhia to the desert region of Hansi and Hissar. In 1781, Jai Singh and his associate, Haqiqat Singh, led an expedition to Jammu and received a sum of three Lakh of rupees as a tribute from Brij Raj Dev of Jammu.
According to Khushwaqt Rai, Jai Singh died in 1793 at the age of 81. Control of Kanhaiya Misl passed into the hands of his daughter-in-law Sada Kaur, his son Gurbaksh Singh, having predeceased him.
Excerpts Taken From
"A History of Sikh Misals