Families of Karmuwala

Last Updated 22 Jan 2022 (Refer to Changelog at bottom of page for details)

Note: The Citation links may need to be copy-and-pasted sometimes to work.

Massa Singh Sandhu

Massa Singh Sandhu was born 1913 in Karmuwala, Tarn Tarn, Punjab, India to Bhan Singh Sandhu and Esher Kaur. He had one brother and one sister, Mehr Singh Sandhu (b. circa 1915) and <unkown> Sandhu. His partner was Kartar Kaur Mohar (b. 1918) from the village Tur, Khadur Sahib, Tarn Tarn, Punjab. He had nine children with Kartar Kaur Mohar.

Massa Singh arrived in Singapore from India in the late 1920s-1930 as a teenager and worked as a Prison Guard, Taxi Driver, Moneylender and  Watchman over the years [1]. 

Massa Singh joined the newly opened Singapore Changi Prison as a Prison Guard (PG 195) in 1939 and when the Japanese occupied Singapore during WW2, Massa Singh continued to work as a Guard in the Changi POW Camp and subsequently the Sime/Adam Road Internment Camp. As a guard he was kind and considerate to the interneees and helped them with food supplies at great risk to himself. After WW2, he received testimonial letters from at least 2 internees (Gwen Kirwan & M.S Almenda) expressing their gratitude for his help during their internment.

On 31 Aug 1980, he died of an heart attack while on a visit to Delhi, India, when he was only 67 years old [2]. His wife Kartar Kaur Mohar died in Singapore on 25 NOV 2010, 30 years after him.

Y-DNA Haplogroup: L-Y91197


[1] – New Nation, 12 April 1972, Page 2

[2] – The Straits Times, 31 August 1987, Page 30

Ancestor Chart

Hardit Singh Sandhu

Hardit Singh Sandhu was born in 1916 in Karmuwala (assessed) to Sunder Singh (alias Racha Singh) and Kishan Kaur. He had one brother, Bahal Singh. His partner was Balbir Kaur with whom he had six children. His father, Sunder Singh (b. 1871) had first started business in Singapore in 1894 [1] and was likely the first from Karmuwala to travel to Singapore.

It is not known exactly when Hardit Singh arrived in Singapore but it is likely to be in the early 1930s or the late 1920s.  He was first appointed as a member of the Singapore Sikh Advisory Board in 1936 [2] and subsequently became the Chairman in 1962 [3]. He became a member of the Indian Association in 1938 [4].

He was a well known financier and was also involved in the Azad Hind Fauj as a recruitment and training officer [5] and was also a member of the working committee in the Indian Independence League. Within the Singaporean Sikh community he had also held other positions such as being a treasurer for the Central Sikh Temple in 1951 [6] and the President of the Sikh Moneylenders Association (his father was a founding member).

He passed away on 11 Apr 1976 at the age of 60. His wife, Balbir Kaur, passed away on 18 Sep 1980, almost 4 years after him.


[1] – The Straits Times, 7 March 1951, Page 8

[2] – Malaya Tribune, 27 June 1936, Page 12

[3] – The Straits Times, 10 May 1962, Page 18

[4] – Morning Tribune, 3 October 1938, Page 3

[5] – Syonan Shimbun, 4 July 1944, Page 2

[6] – The Straits Times, 13 February 1951, Page 4

Ancestor Chart

Ranga Singh s/o Pal Singh

Not much is known of Ranga apart from the fact that he was born in 1902 in Karmuwala and  came to Singapore in the late 1910s (likely in 1916-1917) [1]. He passed away on 1 Aug 1984 at the age of 82 [2].


[1] – Oral testimony of one J Singh

[2] – The Straits Times, 2 August 1984, Page 40

Rur/Roor Singh


Rur Singh was born to Sunder Singh son of Wariam Singh. He had at least one brother named Puran Singh. He was brought to Singapore by Sunder Singh (Hardit Singh’s father). Not much is known about his life in Singapore but he passed away unmarried and left everything to his brother Puran Singh who remained in India. Puran Singh is the father of the present SGPC General Secretary, Gurbachan Singh Karmuwala.



 Mahinder Singh s/o Kesar Singh s/o Bisan Singh



11 Jan 2022 – Updated Massa Singh’s Haplogroup to L-Y91197 (https://yfull.com/tree/L-Y91197/)

6 May 2021 – Added Massa Singh’s joining of Changi Prison as Prison Guard and added 3 images : a letter to Supt and 2 Cargo Boat Licenses in Massa Singh’s name 

28 Mar 2021 – BigY700 Completed & Y Haplogroup for Massa Singh updated to be https://yfull.com/tree/L-Y33989*/

27 Feb 2021 – Added Massa Singh’s WW2 Interment Camp history and added testimonial letters from Gwen Kirwan & M.S Almenda

29 Jan 2021 – Added Rur Singh’s profile; Added Ram Singh as common ancestor of Massa Singh & Hardit Singh

21 Jan 2021 – Updated Hardit Singh’s profile (added Sunder Singh’s wife and brother)