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Charles Francis Massy Sir Lepel Henry Griffin.

The Panjab chiefs: historical and biographical notices of the ..., Volume 2 online

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succeeded to his appointment. Ram Chand was at this time
but twelve years of age ; but Maharaja Ranjit Singh took a
fancy to him and made him Chancellor, giving him charge of
his private seal. After the death of the Maharaja he took no
part in public life, residing at Akalgarh in receipt of a
pension of Rs. 2,400. The esteem in which Ram Chand was
held for his liberality and integrity was very great. He had
built large tanks at Ichra near Lahore and at Nankana, a
place of pilgrimage sacred to Guru Nanak. At Lahore he
maintained a doctor and a dispensary for the gratuitous
distribution of medicine to the poor ; he founded a Sanscrit
school at Anuitsar and a Sad^bart^ or poor-house, at
Banares.

Gurmukh Rai, brother of Nanak Chand, was an oflScer of
irregular cavalry under Diwan Mohkam Chand. He died in
1830 leaving two sons, of whom Davi Dayal, the elder, was
Multan agent at Lahore during the rule of his uncle Sawan
Mai. In 1849 he was appointed Magistrate of the whole of
the Jach Doab, and held this appointment until annexation.
In 1853 he was made Tahsildar of Ramnagar, but resigned
the next year. He was created Honorary Magistrate of
Akalgarh and Ramnagar in 1862, and was in the enjoyment



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156 IHE PANJAB CHIEFS.

of a pension of Rs. 2,300 until liis death in 1876. Ram
Sarup, the second son, became a Mahomedan, taking the name
of Ghulam Mohaindin.

The third son of Hushnak Rai was the celebrated Sawan
Mai, who was bom in the year 1788. He commenced public
life in the oflBlce of his brother Nanak Ohand, and in 1820 was
sent to Multan on Rs. 250 a month as head of the accoimt oflBloe
under Bhaia Badan Hazari, the Governor. The next year,
when Badan Hazari was degraded, Sawan Mai, whose abilities
were well known to the Maharaja, was appointed Governor
or Viceroy of half the province of Multan, and in 1829 he was
made Governor of the whole. The tract of country which
thus came under the rule of Sawan Mai was very extensive,
and comprised the districts of Multan, Leiah, Dera Ghazi
Khan, Khangarh and part of Jhang. It was at this time
almost a desert. For many years it had been the scene of
rapine and war. Life and property were insecure, and the
population, which had once been numerous and wealthy, had
become scanty and impoverished. But under the new
administration a great change was wrought. Diwan Sawan
Mai, by offers of land and protection, induced many of the
inhabitants of neighbouring districts to settle in the province ;
he excavated canals (in the Multan district alone of the
length of three hundred miles) ; he favoured commerce, and
acted in every way as a wise and beneficent ruler. It has
been often asserted that he regarded the Pathans, the late
rulers of Multan, with no favour. That, himself a trader, he
had no sympathy with the old aristocracy of the coimtry ;
himself a Hindu, he neither trusted nor loved the Mahomedan
portion of his subjects ; and that with these feelings he ousted
most of the Pathan proprietors from their holdings and
supplied their places with Jat Zamindars. But there is little
truth in these statements. The sympathies of Sawan Mai
were, it is true, with the Hindus, but he appreciated the fine



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GUJRANWALA DISTRICT. IS7

qualities of the Pathans, and these supplied his army with its
most distinguished and dashing officers.

During the reign of the great Maharaja, Sawan Mai was
little disturbed. Ranjit Singh saw the gradual increase of
the Diwan's power, but he knew that during his reign he
would not rebel ; and as the tribute was paid with the
greatest regularity there was no cause of complaint. But no
sooner was Ranjit Singh dead than the enemies of the
Diwan attempted to destroy him. Chief of these were the
Jamu Rajas, Gulab Singh and Dhian Singh, between whom
and the Diwan had always existed jealousy and the most
bitter hatred. It was proposed to demand from the Diwan
half a million sterling, and he was summoned to Lahore to
render his accounts. Had he refused to obey, it was the
intention of the Darbar to send troops to compel him ; but
Sawan Mai, knowing his power and believing that the Court
would not dare to proceed to extremities, came to Lahore in
September 1840, when amicable arrangements were made,
and he returned to Multan.

In March 1841, when Maharaja Sher Singh had just
obtained the supreme power, he directed both Sawan Mai and
Raja Dhian Singh to raise fresh troops, intending to
replace them with some of the turbulent Khalsa regiments.
In compliance with this order the Diwan began to raise
Mahomedan troops with the greatest activity, with the real
object of defending himself against Dhian Singh ; while the
Raja was not less energetic, hoping with his new troops, not
only to overwhelm Sawan Mai, but to defend Jamu both
against the Sikhs and the British.

In January 1842 the Mazari Biluch tribe, which had
always given trouble to the Sikh Governors, rebelled, and
made a descent upon Rojhan, hoping to plunder it before the
arrival of help. But Sawan Mai marched against them in
f orcci and they were compelled to retire*



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158 THE PANJAB CHIEFS.

When Raja Dhian Singh was assassinated by the
Sindhanwalias, Diwan Sawaa Mai was freed from the most
able of his enemies. But all the members of the Dogra
family hated him : Raja Gulab Singh, an able and influen-
tial rival and a better servant of the State than himself,
and Raja Hira Singh because Pandit Jala, his Minister and
master, hated him. The Pandit was a man of no limited
ambition. He hoped to be able first to destroy Raja Gulab
Singh by inciting the Kbalsa army to march against Jamu
and then to crush Diwan Sawan Mai. Were these rivals
removed, he would wield the whole power of the State. But
the Pandit was unable to control the army from which he
hoped so much, and was murdered by the troops in December
1844.

Through these years Diwan Sawan Mai had been
strengthening himself at Multan, There is every reason to
believe that he intended at some favourable opportunity to
throw off his allegiance to Lahore and declare his independ-
ence. It was with this intention that he expended so much
money and labour upon his fort at Multan that it was all but
impregnable to a native force. It was against the Sikh army
that the defences were prepared ; and though Sawan Mai would
have held them as a rebel, there will be found few to condemn
him. The empire which the genius of one man had founded
was falling asunder ; no efforts of the Diwan could avail to save
it ; and he had as much right as others to a share of the spoil.
Loyalty was not in question. To Maharaja Ran jit Singh he
had ever been a faithful servant ; but an hereditary claim to
devotion on the part of Maharaja Dalip Singh was, to all
who knew the history of the zanana, ridiculous.

But whatever were the intentions of the Diwan, he was
not destined to see them realized. On the l6th September
1844, at his morning Darbar, a soldier who had been caught
thieving was brought before the Diwan for trial. After



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CUJRANWALA DISTRICT. 159

investigation, the prisoner was remanded and placed in the
Deorhif or ante-cbamber, with a guard over him. The Diwan
transacted all his business, and towards evening went out
through the Deorhi to take the air. The prisoner, who had
hidden a pistol in his waistcloth, drew it and fired at the
Diwan, at a distance of five paces. The ball struck Sawan
Mai on the left breast and, passing roimd the ribs, came out
at his back and wounded an officer of the name of Didar Singh,
who was standing near, on the right arm. Sahib Singh and
Sarbaland Khan cut the assassin down, and the Diwan,
severely but not dangerously wounded, was carried into the
palace. For some days all went on well, and to all appearance
the woimd was healing, when a change for the worse took
place ; the woimd reopened and Sawan Mai gradually sank,
and died on the 29th of September 1844.*

Diwan Sawan Mai was the best of all the Sikh Qovemors.
During the latter years of Maharaja Banjit Singh's life, and
during the reigns of his successors, the Diwan was practically
irresponsible ; yet his great power was in no way abused. He
amassed great wealth, it is true, and upwards of a million
sterling was divided by his family after his death ; but this
was not wrung from the people by cruelty and oppression.
The Gk)venmient demand under both Sawan Mai and his son
never exceeded one-third of the gross produce of the land,

* Sir H. B. Edwardes, in his '' Tear on the Panjab Frontier," has given a di£ferenc
aoooant of the manner in which the Diwan met his death. He states that the assassin
was a soldier, who had served Sawan Mai faithfnlly, and who came to Darbar to ask
for his pay and discharge. That Sawan Mai refused to grant these just demands, and
cansed the petitioner to be stripped of sword and shield and tnmed oat of Darbar.
That in revenge for this grievous insnlt the soldier shot him.

This version is incorrect. Among the authorities for the account given in the text
may be mentioned Karam Narain, son of the Diwan, and Snkh Dayal, Sharishtadar in
the office of the Judicial Commissioner, who was standing beside Sawan Mai when he was
shot, and who was present in Darbar while the investigation into the theft case was
being conducted.

The Sikh Oovemors, whose names are most revered by the people, are Diwan Sawan
Mai of Multan, Mahan Siogh of Kashmir, and Misar Rup Lai of Jalandhar. Of these,
Sawan Mai was far the wisest and the best. Misar Rup Lai's assessments were Jight,
and the ponntry flourished under his rule ; but the people fancied him too fond of their
wives and their daughters. He carried to the grave with him a long scar on the left
shoulder, where he was wounded by the sword of a jealous Khatri, who caught him in
his house too late at night.



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i6o THE PANJAB CHIEFS.

and was generally only one-fifth or one-sixth. But it was
his impartiality which caused the people to regard Sawan
Mai with such love. It is said that one day a peasant com-
plained to him that some Chief had destroyed his crop by
turning his horses loose to graze in the field. Sawan Mai
asked the man if he could point out the offender in Darbar.
The peasant pointed to Ram Das, the Diwan's eldest son.
He admitted the complaint to be just, and Sawan Mai
ordered him to be imprisoned. The injured man begged for
his pardon, but for several days Bam Das remained in
confinement ; and his spirit was so broken by this punishment
that he fell ill and died shortly after his release.

Diwan Sawan Mai was succeeded as Governor of Multan
by his son Muiraj. Raja Hira Singh and the Court of Lahore
would have pref jarred some nominee of their own; but the
Multan family was too strong, both in fact and reputation, to be
put aside. Muiraj was at this time about thirty years of age.
He had served under his father, first as Kardar or manager
of Shujabad, and then as Kardar of the district of Jhang.
In both these places he was hated for his oppression and
avarice ;* and although when he succeeded to the Governorship
of Multan he much improved in disposition, yet he was always
unpopular with the people. Scarcely had Muiraj established
himself than the Lahore Darbar, having heard reports of the
vast wealth left by Sawan Mai, demanded a nazarana or
tribute of one million sterling. The state of his army was
also a source of great anxiety to Muiraj. Nominally part
of the Lahore army, the force at Multan was raised by the
Governor, who promoted or discharged men and officers at
his pleasure. He was only bound to keep up a certain force.
At this time, of the ten battalions at Multan eight were



• It WM a oommon saying in the coantry that Maltan wai bleand with Sawan
(the month of rain) } Leiah with Karam (kindnest) ; while Jhang was desolated bj
Hula (an inseot whioh destroys the oom). The allosion was to Sawan Mai, Goyem<» of
Multan ; GLaram Narain, his third son, Kardar of Leiah; and Mnlraj, Kardar of Jhaog.



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CUJRANWALA DISTRICT. i6i

composed of Malioinedans and two of Sikhs. The latter,
instigated, it was believed, by the Darbar, rose in mutiny on
the 24th of November 1844, demanding higher pay. They
were jealous of the Lahore army, in which the pay of an
infantry soldier was. eleven rupees eight annas a month,
while they only obtained seven rupees eight annas. Diwan
Mulraj and his brother Karam Narain, immediately on the
outbreak, attacked the mutineers and entirely dispersed them ;
and this victory so much baffled the Darbar and strengthened
the Diwan that he sent to Lahore to offer a very much smaller
nazarana than that demanded. Negotiations, however, went
on for some time longer, till Mulraj, believing that the Sikh
army on its return from Jamu would be marched against him,
agreed to pay eighteen lakhs of rupees. But in the very
month that this arrangement was made, Sardar Jawahir Singh,
the Minister, was murdered, the country became the scene of
anarchy and confusion, and the Khalsa army marched to the
Satlaj against the British.

During the war Mulraj made no effort to pay his tribute,
and on the return of peace the Darbar determined to press its
claims. The eighteen lakhs agreed upon were demanded,
with seven lakhs of arrears. Raja Lai Singh, the old
enemy of Mulraj, was now Minister at Lahore. He eagerly
desired the ruin of the Gk)vemor, and hoped to install his own
brother Bhagwan Singh in his place. With this object he in-
sisted upon sending troops to enforce the claims of the Darbar.
Mulraj had at this time no wish to oppose the Government,
and withdrew most of his troops towards Multan as the
Lahore force under Misar Ralia Ram advanced. However,
three miles from Leiah, a collision took place between
some irregulars of the Diwan and the advanced body of
the Lahore force. The latter, after a sharp skirmish, was
worsted, and its leader, Khazan Singh Cha^alia, taken
prisoner.



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i6t THE PANJAB CHIEFS.

But Mulraj was now anxious to make his peace with
the Darbar, and, knowing that no mercy was to be expected
from Raja Lai Singh, he appealed to Major H. Lawrence,
the English Resident at Lahore, through whose influence a
safe conduct was granted to the Governor, who arrived at
Lahore on the 9th October 1846, accompanied by Diwan
Dina Nath, who had escorted him from Multan. Mulraj tried
hard to obtain more easy terms than had been previously
granted ; and at the end of November an agreement was con-
cluded by which he was to pay eight lakhs of what was due at
once, and the remainder by instalments. The districts, includ-
ing portions of Leiah and Jhang, which had been recently
occupied by the Sikh troops, were to be retained by the
Darbar, and for the remaining portion of the province he was
to pay Rs. 19,68,000 per annum.

Both parties appeared satisfied with this arrangement, and
in November 1846 Mulraj returned to Multan, where for some
months all went on well. The eighteen lakhs were paid up, and
the Darbar had no just cause of complaint. But the Governor
was not long content. He had lost a portion of his Province,
and the new custom duties, though not as yet enforced in
Multan, were beginning to diminish his revenue. His power
was also less absolute, for there was now a strong Govern-
ment in Lahore, which held that justice was the first virtue
of an administration; and petitioners, bankers, merchants
and cultivators, had discovered that the road to redress lay
through Lahore. This was more than the Diwan could endure.
His father had been a King in all but the name, and had
bequeathed his pride and his ambition to his son. So the
Diwan returned in November 1847 to Lahore to endeavour
to obtain some modification of the terms of his agreement
and a promise that no complaints against him should be
received. Should these requests not be granted, he had
resolved to resign his charge. Mr. J. Lawrence was then



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GUJRANWALA DISTRICT. 163

acting Resident at Lahore. To him the Diwan unfolded Iiis
troubles and his wish to resign. Mr. Lawrence endeavoured
to dissuade him from doing so ; but told him he was at liberty
to act as he thought fit, so long as his resignation was given
in at a time convenient to the Government he served. The
Diwan still insisted on resigning, as he saw that the object
for which be had come to Lahore could never be attained,
and it was arranged that he should resign at the end of
April 1848 ; that for the present the Darbai* should not be
informed of his intentions ; and that two or three months
before his resignation two English officers should be sent
to Multan to be instructed by the Diwan in the state of
affairs, and ultimately to be placed in charge of the province.
A few days after this arrangement the Diwan left for
Multan. When Sir P. Ourrie, appointed Resident at Lahore,
arrived there at the beginning of April, he considered it right
that the Darbar should be informed of the intention of Mulraj
to resign. This was accordingly done, and the Diwan was
addressed on the subject both by the Darbar and the Besideat.
He was told that he was still at liberty to retain his charge ;
but he reiterated his desire to resign, on account of ill health
and dissensions in his family, and his resignation was accord-
ingly accepted by the Darbar. The appointment of Governor
of Multan was offered to Sardar Shamsher Singh Sindhanwalia,
but he was disinclined to accept it ; and it was consequently
given to Sardar Kahan Singh Man, an intelligent man, who was
to act in concert with Mr. Vans Agnew, of the Bengal Civil
Service, who was appointed Political Agent, with Lieute-
nant Anderson, of the Bombay Army, as his Assistant. These
officers proceeded to Multan, which they reached on the 17th
April, and the next day joined their escort under Sardar
Kahan Singh. They were received by the Diwan with great
civility, and it was arranged that he should accompany
them over the fort the next morning. Accordingly, on the



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i64 THE PANJAB CHIEFS.

momiDg of the 19th, they proceeded with the Diwan and
two companies of Gurkhas to make the inspection. Mr. Vans
Agnew left the Gurkhas at one of the gates, and made the
round of the fortress with the Diwan, who gave over charge.
As they passed out of the gate a soldier of the Diwan struck
Mr. Vans Agnew with his spear and knocked him off his
horse, and then attacked him with his sword and wounded
him severely. Lieutenant Anderson was also cut down, and left
for dead on the ground till found by some of the Gurkha
troops, who carried him to the Idgah, a strong building near
the fort, in which the English officers had taken up their
quarters, and where Mr. Vans Agnew had arrived before him.
When the assault on the officers took place at the gate of
the fort, the Diwan rode off to his own house ; and although
later in the day Mr. Vans Agnew sent to him, desiring him
to attend and prove his innocence by his acts, he never
came, alleging that his soldiers would not allow him to do so.
On the morning of the 20th the fort opened fire upon the
Idgah, which was returned by the Sikh artillery of the
escort ; but at night Colonel Ishra Singh, commanding the
artillery, went over to the enemy with all his men. The
Idgah was then assaulted by the enemy. No resistance could
be offered, for the unfortunate English officers were severely
wounded and deserted by those who had sworn to defend
them. They died like gallant men, and their heads, severed
from the mutilated bodies, were* taken in triumph to the
rebel Diwan, who rewarded the murderers with praise and
money. Almost the last words of Mr. Vans Agnew, spokcjn
to Sardar Kahan Singh, who remained faithful to the end,
may be recorded here, for they were words noble and '
prophetic, and neither England nor the Panjab should forget
them : " They may kill us two," he said, wounded and
hopeless of human aid ; " they may kill us two, but we are
not the last of the English. Thousands of Englishmen will



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•1

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GUJRANWALA DISTRICT. 165

come when we are gone, and will annihilate Mulraj and his
soldiers and his fort."

And so the die was cast* The Diwan knew that he could
not now retrace his steps, and prepared with energy and
determination for war. He strengthened his fort and laid in
supplies in anticipation of a siege ; he called to his side all
the disaffected in the province; and addressed the chief
Sardars, telling them that now was the opportunity they had
so long desired of freeing their country from the hated yoke
of the English.

It is impossible in a biographical sketch to follow the course
of the war that ensued, resulting in the annexation of the
Panjab. For some time the rebels at Multan remained un-
punished. The season was unusually hot, and Multan had a
bad reputation for unhealthiness, and the English Commander-
in-Chief did not feel justified in sending a European force
against it till later in the year. The Resident was thus
compelled to send a Sikh army, whose disaffection was
admitted by the Chiefs who commanded it, and whose sub-
sequent desertion to the enemy with its General, Raja Sher
Singh Atariwala, did not occasion much surprise. But the
rebel Diwan was not left unmolested. Through the summer
months Lieutenant H. B. Bdwardes, with a small native
force, had kept Mulraj in check and had gained important
victories over him, aided by the force of Bahawal Khan,
Nawab of Bahawalpur, which was directed and virtually
commanded by liieutenant E. Lake. Shekh Imamudin Khan,
one of the Sikh Generals who had remained loyal in the midst
of disaffection, also did admirable service; and when the
British army arrived before Multan in August 1848, Mulraj had
little upon which he could depend beyond the walls of his
fort.

The siege-train arrived before Multan on the 4th
September, and on the 6th opened fire. But Sawan Mai



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i66 THE PAWAB CHIEFS.

had not laboured in vain at the dcffences, and the reduction
of the fort was a matter of no small difficulty. The besieging
force was small ; and a large proportion of it consisted of
irregular troops, brave indeed in the field, but almost useless
for the operation of a siege. The defection of Raja Sher Singh
with his whole force on the 14th of September compelled
General Whish to raise the siege and wait for reinforcements.
The suspicious nature of Mulraj did not allow him to profit by the
desertion of the Sikhs. He thoroughly distrusted the motives
which induced them to join him ; and was much relieved when
the Baja, disgusted at the suspicions of which he was the object,
marched from Multan to join his father, Sardar Chatar Singh,
who was in open rebellion in the north-west of the Panjab.

The fate of Mulraj was not long delayed. Reinforce*
ments reached the British army, and on the 27th of December
the siege was resumed. During the interval Mulraj had
sought for help and allies in all directions. Dost Mahomed
Khan was ready enough with promises ; but Multan was too
distant for active aid. The Sikhs, whom the Diwan had
distrusted and insulted, would now have nothing to do with
him. They, too, had their own work before them. From
every quarter the heroes of Sobraon and Aliwal, the men who
had fought under the great Maharaja and under Hari Singh
Nalwa, were assembling to try once more the fortune of battle,
to be present at the approaching struggle, in which, at
Chilianwala and Gujrat, the Khalsa for ever fell and the
Empire of the Sikhs was lost.

After some severe fighting before Multan, the exertions
of the British troops were successful. On the 2nd January
1849 the city was carried by assault, and on the 22nd Mulraj,
who had shut himself up in the citadel, seeing further
resistance to be hopeless, surrendered at discretion. He
was conveyed to Lahore and brought to trial in the
month of June for the murder of Mr. Vans Agnew and



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CUJRANIVALA DISTRICT. 167

Lieutenant Anderson. He was ably defended by Captain
Hamilton ; but \?a8 found guilty and condemned to death.
The Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie, with whom the
confirmation of the sentence rested, accepted the judges'
recommendation to mercy, and commuted the sentence
to transportation for life. Mulraj was accordingly sent
as a prisoner to Calcutta, where he died the following
year.

It is not for history to praise an unsuccessful rebel ; but
a careful review of the Diwan's history will show him to have



Online LibraryCharles Francis Massy Sir Lepel Henry GriffinThe Panjab chiefs: historical and biographical notices of the ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 12 of 29)