Charles Francis Massy Sir Lepel Henry Griffin.

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

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Singh was a Dafadar in Hodson*s Horse. He was killed in a
skirmish with the rebels near Cawnpore in 1858.

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Sardar Lai Singh owned half Talwandi in proprietary
right, as also Shekh Bahlol. ' The proprietary right of the
other half of Talwandi is held by the descendants of Sahib
Singh. He was latterly an Honorary Magistrate at Batala.

Rasaldar Hira Singh is now at the head of the f anuly.
He acted for a few years as Inspector of Police at Gurdaspur
after the Mutiny. His eldest 8on« Gurbakhsh Singh, is a
Dafadar in the 11th Bengal Lancers. The Second son^
Hamam Singh, holds a similar rank in the 16th Cavalry.
The family jointly own about seven hundred ghujnaos of land|
of which one hundred were awarded for services rendered.

Sardar Hukam Singh, formerly a Tahsildar in the service
of the Maharaja of Jamu, is now with the Amir of Khairpur
in Sind on a salary of Rs. 1,500 per annum. Of his sons,
Sardar Thakar Singh is Zaildar of Talwandi. He was a Naib
Tahsildar for a short period. His brother Qttnda Singh is
employed as a Ziladar on the Sarhand Canal. A third brother,
Ram Singh, is a Kanungo in Gurdaspur, and a fourth,
Udham Singh, a Dafadar in the 5th Bengal Cavalry.

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ixmxi^ Mfthtab Singlu KnaJaSingh,


J VOehSinglu

JL I ' 1

OhiiiJaSiiigh Wsingh B.Oh»^Eitiir ^•^^^^ Kh«nBIiigh

I ' ' 1 KanwMT

p. 1870.* ■.18B0.

Vtm. Siiudi Bimvy Borax.

ChUab Bingh*

A considerable portion of the history both of the Kanhya
Misal and of Sardar Hakikat Singh has akeady been given at
some length, and does not repuire repetition here. Hakikat
Singh was the son of a Sindhu Jat cultivator of the village of
Julka, only a few miles from Kana, where Jai Singh Kanhya
was bom. Both Jai Singh and Hakikat Singh were in the
service of Eapur Singh Singpnria, and both on his death set up
as independent Chiefs. To the latter fell Kalanaur, Bura,
Dalbo, Kahangarh, Adalatgarh, Pathankot, Matu and many
other villages. Under him fought the Sangatpuria Sardars,
Sahib Singh Naniki, Dayal Singh and Sant Singh Dadupuria,
Desa Singh Mohal, Chet Singh Banod, Sahib Singh Tara-
garhia and many others. In 1760 Hakikat Singh, having
destroyed Churianwala, built on the ruins the village of
Sangatpuria and the fort of Fatehgarh, which he named after
his nephew. Mahtab Singh, who possessed a large share
of his brother's estates, built a fort hard by, which he named

Sardar Hakikat Singh died in 1782, and his only son
Jaimal Singh, a boy eleven years of age, succeeded to his
estates. This Chief did not do much to extend the Kanhya

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possessions, but lie held his own and did not lose any of them.
In 1812 he died, leaving no son, and Ranjit Singh determined
to seize the wealth supposed to be stored in Fatehgarh.
He sent thither one Ram Singh on a pretended mission
of condolence to the widow ; but no sooner was the officer
admitted, then he took possession in the name of the Maharaja.
Three months later, the widow of Jaimal Singh gave birth
to a son, and in favour of this infant, named Chanda Singh,
the Maharaja released a portion of the estate of the value
of Rs. 15,000-

A few months before his death Jaimal Singh bad married
his only daughter Ohand Kaur, a girl of ten years of age, to
Elharak Singh, son of the Maharaja and heir to the throne
of the Panjab. The marriage was celebrated with the
greatest splendour at Fatehgarh on the 6th February 1812.
It was attended by the Chiefs of Kaithal, Nabha and Jind,
and by Colonel Ochterlony, Agent of the Qovernor-Gteneral.
In February 1821 Chand Kaur gave birth to a son, who
was named Nao Nahal Singh, and on the death of the great
Maharaja in June 1839 her husband Kharak Singh ascended
the throne.

Eharak Singh was a man of strong passions and weak
intellect. Superstitious and regular in the discharge of his
religious duties, he was yet addicted to many degrading vices,
unforgiving and vindictive ; ho was entirely in the hands of
the favourite of the hour. His peaceful succession was in a
great measure owing to Raja Dhian Singh, who gave out
that Ranjit Singh on his death-bed had named Kharak
Singh to succeed him, and had chosen him, Dhian Singh,
as Minister.

Dhian Singh had been almost absolute during the last
years of Ranjit Singh's life, and he was determined that his
power should not now decline. It was thus essential for
him to have on the throne a Prince who would consent to

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be led by bis Minister, and wbo would not bimself aspire to
rule. Dhian Singb bad a still dearer ambition tban tbis.
His eldest son, Hira Singb, bad been tbe darling of tbe old
Mabaraja. He was allowed a cbair in tbe Presence, wben
all otbers, except two or tbree of tbe most boly Bbais, were
compelled to stand ; witbout bim tbe Mabaraja could not
go to sleep ; witbout bim be never went out to take tbe air.
Hira Singb bad tbus been brougbt up like tbe Mabaraja's
own cbild, and as sucb be was regarded by tbe Kbalsa
army. Was it, tben, too bold an ambition to bope tbat
some day be migbt rule tbe Panjab as King, witb Dbian Singb,
bis fatber, as bis cbief adviser, bolding all real power in tbe
State; witb one uncle, tbe gallant and debaucbed Baja Sucbet
Singb, Oommander-in-Obief, and tbe otber, Gulab Singb,
ruling all tbe bill country. Tben, in firm alliance witb tbe
Kabul Amir and tbe Court of Nepal, tbe Dogra family
of Jamu migbt become tbe most powerful in all India, and
found a dynasty for itself.

Mabaraja £[barak Singb was found more difficult to lead
tban tbe Minister bad imagined. He bated Dbian Singb,
and gave to Sardar Cbet Singb Bajwa all bis confidence.
Tbis favourite well knew tbat so long as Dbian Singb lived
bis position was an unsafe one, and conspired witb tbe
Prencb Generals, wbo were bitterly opposed to tbe Dogra
family, against bis life. But Dbian Singb was not to be
defeated on bis own ground of intrigue. He induced Rani
Gband Kaur and Nao Nabal Singb to admit tbe necessity
for Obet Singb*s removal by urging upon tbem tbat, sbould
bis conspiracy succeed, all power would fall into tbe bands
of Cbet Singb and the Frencb ; and it was determined to
assassinate tbe obnoxious favourite tbat very nigbt, Tbe
Raja won tbe palace guards over to bis side, and entering
tbe fort by tbe Bbaia Dayalwala gate one bour before
dawn» witb Prince Nao Nabal Singb^ Gulab Singb, Sucbet

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Singly Atar Singh Smdhanwalia, Fateh Singb Man and
some others, slew Chet Singh in the sleeping apartments of
the Maharaja himself.

After this murder, committed on the 9th October 1839,
Elharak Singh's reign was virtually over. It continued the
fashion for his son to ask his directions and orders, which
were carried out if the Minister and the Prince concurred, and
if not they were disregarded ; he was allowed to retain the
form and pomp of Kingship, and received Mr. Clerk, Agent
(Jovemor-Gteneral, in May 1840 with great state, covered
with jewels and wearing the famous Koh-irnur diamond ; but
all power was gone from him, and during the last four months
of his life he was never consulted on any matter of state,
and remained in the fort a prisoner in all but the

Baja Dhian Singh now found a new danger to his
power in Prince Nao Nahal Singh. This young man was
high spirited and bold and, though disliked by the Sardars,
was loved by the army, which hoped to see him rival the
military exploits of his grandfather. This, too, was the
Prince's own ambition. He does not appear to have shown
any particular ability, but he was headstrong and impatient
of control ; and Dhian Singh's influence over him decreased
day by day, and the Baja began to fear that when he succeeded
to the throne he might choose some new Minister whose
removal might prove more difficult than that of Chet Singh
had been. From the beginning of September the life of
Kharak Singh, who had always been of a weakly constitution,
had been despaired of by the physicians. During October he
rapidly sank, and on the 4th November he died, aged
thirty-eight. His end was accelerated, according to the
general belief, by poison administered by the orders of Dhian
Singh, and with the knowledge of his son. But, even if
Nao Nahal Singh had no such share as this in his father's


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death, lie had certainly hastened it by his undutif ul and
cruel conduct. To the last, the dying monarch had thought
of his son with love, and had sent message after message calling
him to his side. But Nao Nahal Singh never went. He was
eager for the time when the death of the father he despised
would leave him uncontrolled master of the State ; and when
the news reached him, when hunting atShahbilor, that the
Maharaja was dead he had not the decency to conceal his

The next day, the 5th November, the body of Kharak
Singh was burnt on the plain beyond the Roshnai gate of
the fort. With it were also burnt the beautiful Bani Ishar
Kaur, sister of Sardar Mangal Singh Sindhu, and three slave
girls. Nao Nahal Singh attended the ceremony ; but before
the body was entirely consumed, faint with the heat of the
sun, retired to perform his ablutions in the branch of the
river Ravi that flowed by the fort. He returned on foot
towards the palace, followed by the whole Court, holding
the hand of Mian Udam Singh, his inseparable companion,
eldest son of Raja Gulab Singh. As he approached the
gateway he called for water to drink. None was at hand,
and all the bottles of sacred Ganges water which had been
brought to sprinkle on the funeral pile were empty. The
superstitious Sardar whispered that this was an evil omen ;
but the Prince laughed and passed on. As he stepped
beneath the archway, down fell the battlements, beams,
stone and brickwork with a tremendous crash. It was all
over in a moment. Mian Udam Singh was extricated from
the rubbish with his neck broken, quite dead. Nao Nahal
Singh's left arm was broken and his skull fractured. He
breathed heavily, but neither moved nor spoke. Raja Dhian
Singh, who had been close behind when the catastrophe
occurred, and who was himself grazed by the falling mass,
called up a palanquin, of which there were many waiting,

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and placing the Prince in it had him carried into the marble
garden-house, where Ranjit Singh had been used to hold his
moridng Darbar, and the great gates of the Hazuri Bagh were
shut and locked. No one but Fakirs Azizudin and Nurudin,
and Bhais Bam Singh and Govind Bam were allowed to
enter, and within an hour Nao Nahal Singh had breathed
his last.

Baja Dhian Singh was not, however, at a loss. He
sent a message to summon Prince Sher Singh, who was
shooting at Kanhuwan, some eighty miles from Lahore, and
' placed relays of blood horses along the road to bring him in
with all possible speed. He sent information to Multan,
Peshawar, Mandi and elsewhere that the Prince was but
slightly hurt, and he wrote a letter to the Agent of the
Governor-Q-eneral in the name of the Prince and, as if
dictated by him, saying that he was much hurt but hoped
that he might recover; and on the 6th the Baja sent a Chief
to Amritsar to spread the report that the Prince was much
better. For some time the corpse lay in a tent of shawls
within the garden house, but was removed into the fort at
night, and placed in one of the inner apartments. Dhian
Singh made all arrangements for securing the forts of Lahore
and Govindgarh till, at noon on the 7th, Prince Sher Singh
arrived ; concealment was no longer necessary, and the death
of Nao Nahal Singh was proclaimed.

The death of the Prince* left two claimants for the
vacant throne. The first of these was Prince Sher Singh,

* The accoQOt of the death of Nao Nahal Siogh given in the text has heen taken
from the statements of Bai Mnl Siogh, Colonel Chet Singh, Bhai Fateh Singh, Diwan
Batan Chand and other eyewitnesses, and from the official reports sahmitted to
Govemment. Colonel Chet Singh was on guard at the spot where the accident
oooarred ; Bhai Fateh Singh, the chief priest of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's tomb, was
seated with Fakir Numdin on the roof immediately overlooking the gateway. He
saw the parapet fall, the Prince and the Mian strack down ; and he also saw Baja
Dhian Singh, who was only two paces behind, stmck by the falling bricks on the arm.
Diwan Batan Chand Darhiwala was walking in the procession bat a few yards behind
the Prinoe. He came np immediately the accident had happened, and saw ihe
Prince's head smashed in and the brain oozing from the woand and from his ear. He
was then insensible and dying.

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reputed son of Maharaja Banjit Singh. Sher Singh had,
however, been always acknowledged by the Maharaja,
and a large party were ready to support his claims to the
throne. He was at this time a man of thirty-three years
of age, handsome and well made ; a brave and dashing leader
in the field and popular with the army ; but of debauched
habits, irresolute and infirm of purpose, and without the ability
and energy needed to govern a people excitable as the Sikhs.

There are some well informed and able men, intimately acquainted with the
intrigaes of the time, who have openly aooosed Baja Dhian Singh as the murderer
of the Prince- It is asserted by them that the parapet was thrown down by his orders ;
that Udam Singh, his nephew, was sacrificed to give a greater appearance oi accident
to the catastrophe ; that the palanquin was in waiting to carry away the wonnded
or dead Prince ; and eren that Baja Hira Singh, seated on the top of the opposite
gateway, must hare given the signal for the parapet to be thrown down. It is also
said that the Prince was only slightly wounded by the fall of the parapet, and that
he was afterwards heard to ask for water ; thai he was hurried into the palanquin,
carried into the fort and locked up in an inner room, where only the physician and the
Baja were admitted, and that here the Prince was really murdered.

This story is unsupported by a shadow of proof, and the more attentively it is
considered the more impossible it will appear. It was natural of course to attribute
•o sudden a death of one so high in station to intrigue and conspiracy. Princes do
not die often by accident in native States. But there is no evidence to convict Baja
Dhian Singh of the crime. He hss enough blood on his hands without false accusations
being added. It may be admitted that the Baja had few scruples when his ambitious
schemes were in question ; and the fact of his nephew sharing the fate of his victim
would have g^ven him but little concern. But it is incredible that so great a master
of intrigue should have resorted to so clumsy and brutal an expedient as
throwing a parapet wall upon the Prince before the whole Court, when the subordinate
actors, in the conspiracy mast have been detected (for search was instantly made)
and the share of the Baja discovered. Were there not a thousand opportunities of
making away with the Prince by poison or dagger, when there would be no danger
of detection, and when the Baja would not be compromised by the help and knowledge
of others ? These methods would be sure ; the fall of a parapet was uncertain.
The signal given a moment too soon or too late, a step of the Prince backwards
or forwards, and the plot would have failed. With reference to the presence of the
palanquin, it may be mentioned that in u royal procession elephants, led horses and
palanquins were always in attendance ; that it was one of these the Baja summoned ;
that the Prince called for water immediately before the 'accident ; and this may have
given rise, in a time of excitement and distrust, to the story that he was heard to ask for
water after be had been stmck down.j

Those who assert that the Prince was at first . but slightly wounded, and that he
was murdered afterwards within the fort, must be aware that they thus accuse Fakir
Knrndin of being a sharer in the crime. He never left the Prince from the time that
the wall fell till his death. But to those who know the Fakir's gentle and amiable
disposition, his loyalty to the house of the great Maharaja, his devoted love to the
young Prince, such a supposition appears monstrous. Fakir Nurudin, too, at the
time was on bad terms ^nth the Baja. Chet Singh, whom the Baja had murdered, was
the friend of Fakirs Nurudin and Asisudin, and they never forgave Dhian Singh
or trusted him afterwards. Why, then, should Nurudin murder the Prince he loved to
ratify the Baja he hated ? The only others who were admitted into the Hasuri
Bagh were Bhai Bam Singh, Bhai Govind Bam and Fakir Azizudin. The two
former were brothers, and Bam Singh was the confidential Minister of the Prince
with whose life his power would cease. He was entirely opposed in policy to Dhian
Singh, as was his brother Govind Bam. Tet,if the Prince was murdered in the fort
theM miift have been the murderersi theee the accompUoes <^ the Baja.

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The second candidate for power was Mai Chand E^nr^
widow of Maharaja Kharak Singh. When the death of her son
took place she was at her ancestral village of Fatehgarh. She
returned to Lahore on the 6th November, only to find that Raja
Dhian Singh had outwitted her and had won over some of the
Chiefs to agree to the succession of Prince Sher Singh. Chand
Kaur, finding affairs thus unfavourable, attempted a compro-
mise. The first plan that she and ber counsellor Bhai Ram
Singh proposed was that she should adopt Raja Hira Singh,
son oE Dbian Singh, and place him on the throne. This was
declined by the opposite party, who proposed instead that
she should marry Sher Singh., This she rejected with
disdain, and offered to acknowledge Sardar Atar Singh
Sindhanwalia as her heir. This proposal was received, as
might have been imagined, with greater coldness than even
the former ones ; and the Rani then declared that Sahib
Kaur Qilwali, widow of her son Nao Nahal Singh, was three
months gone with child. This announcement changed the

The only reason for the mystery which shronded the death-bed of the Prince was
the neoessity which Dbian Singh felt for keeping the fatal news from being generally
known until the arrival of Sher Singh. If there had been an organized plot, the Raja
wovld have taken care that Sher Singh should have been present in Lahore at the
time of the catastrophe. The absenoe of Sher Singh proves the innocence of
the Baja.

The story of the conspiracy has originated in a belief that the death of Nao
Kahal Singh was necessary to the development of the Dogra policy. Bat, although
Hira Singh ooald never hope for the throne while Nao Nahal Singh was alive, yet
the death of the Prince at this time was in no wi^ desired by the Baja. The time
for Hira Singh to be broaght forward bad not arrived, and daring the intrigaes of the
three succeeding months, his name was only mentioned by the party opporod to the
Raja as a possible candidate for the throne- The Raja had some influence over Nao
Nahal Singh ; but at this time he had none with Sher Singh, who was a military leader,
popular with the troops, and who might be expected to be able to stand without his
aid. Besides it was an equal chance whether the party of Rani Chand Kaur might
not obtain power, in which case the Raja would have been mined. To say that the
Raja raised Sher Singh to the throne in order to destroy him later is a mere assertion.
Dhian Singh did not create difficulties to have the pleasure of conquering them, and
Sher Singh was eventually assassinated by the Sindhanwalias, the deadly enemies of
Dhian Singh. The death of Nao Nahal Singh was the greatest calamity that could-
have befallen the Raja. He extricated himself by the strength of his genius, but it
was nevertheless a calamity.

There are some who believe that a Nemesis pursues and punishes great crime.
These will not forget that it was when returning from the funeral pile of the father he
had treated with so much unkindness, and whose death he had hastened and longed
for, that Nao Nahal Singh was struck dowU} when wealth, power and the sovereignty of
the Pftnjab were within his very grasp.

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aspect of affairs. The question was now not of a sovereign,
but a regent, and it was doubtful whether the Rani or the
Prince would win the day.

On the side of the Mai (as Rani Chand Kaur was ; called)
were Bhais Ram Singh and Gk)yind Ram, Sardars Atar Singh,
Lahna Singh and Ajit Singh Sindhanwalia, Fateh Singh
Man, General Gulab Singh Povindia, Shekh Ghulam
Mohaiudin, Jamadar Khuahal Singh and General Tej
Singh. With the Prince were Sardars Fateh Singh Ahluwalia,
Dhana Singh Malwai, Sham Singh Atariwala, the three
Jamu Rajas, Dhian Singh, Gulab Singh, Suchet Singh,
Bhai Gurmukh Singh, Fakir Azizudin and the French
Generals Ventura and Court. Among the neutrals were the
crafty Dina Nath and the timid Sardar Lahna Singh Majithia.
Nor was the policy of the Chiefs above-named or their
adherence to their party at all constant or unwavering. The
Jamu Rajas, though their policy and their interests were
really the same, appeared now to adopt one side ; now the
other ; while Khushal Singh and Tej Singh were ever ready to
change to that party which seemed most able to enrich them.
Few of the Sardars had much interest in either candidate.
Mai Chand Kaur was not popular, as her chief adviser was
Bhai Ram Singh, who in the days of Nao Nahal Singh had
been so obnoxious to the Chiefs by reducing their jagirs and
increasing their contingents. Those who supported her did
so in the hope that with a feeble zanana government they
might retain that independence of authority, the love and
boast of a Sikh, which they had enjoyed during the last year
of Ranjit Singh's life. The Sindhanwalia Chiefs, who were
her firmest allies, were at the beginning of November
absent from Lahore ; Ajit Singh, who was said to be her
lover, being engaged in the Kulu and Mandi Campaign, and
Atar Singh being at Hardwar. The latter, shortly followed
by his nephewi arrived at Lahore about the 12th November,

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just after the Mai had proposed another scheme for uniting
the parties. This was that she should adopt Partab Singh^
eldest son of Sher Singh, thus attaching the Prince to her
Government, while it would remove the objection felt to him
on account of his spurious birth ; but this like every other plan
failed ; and the feeling in Lahore grew strong that a co-Regency
of the Prince and the Mai during the pregnancy of the y oxmg
widow was the only way of obtaining union, the acts of the
regents being controlled by a national council of Chiefs.

This arrangement was in some measure modified ; and on
the 20th it was agreed that Mai Chand Kaur should be the
chief authority in the State, that Sher Singh should be
President of the Council of Chiefs and have command of the
army, while Dhian Singh should be Minister. This clumsy
machinery could only break down, and every one expected
that it would. But Dhian Singh wanted to gain time, and
made all swear to maintain this form of government. A
week, however, saw its abandonmejit. It was found
impossible to be carried out in practice, and every day
brought with it the danger of a collision. Both parties
occupied the fort ; the Mai, the inner apartments ; the
Prince, the Hazuri Bagh and the outer portion. He
occasionally went out in state, and Chand Eaur more than
once thought of closing the gates against his return. The
mode of conducting business was equally anomalous. The
early Darbar was held in Sher Singh's presence in the
marble garden house in the Hazuri Bagh ; then the Ministers
retired to a conference in the Shish Mahal ; and, lastly^
waited on the Mai in the Saman Burj.

Raja Dhian Singh now appeared to be won over to the
side of Chand Kaur, it was said through the advocacy of
Raja Gulab Singh, \o whom the Mai had promised the
restoration of Manawar ; but the Minister intended to show
both parties how idle it was for them to hope to stand

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without his assistance. A final agreement was accordingly
drawn up on the 27th November, by which Sher Singh was
to retire to his jagir at Batala for eight months, leaving his

Online LibraryCharles Francis Massy Sir Lepel Henry GriffinThe Panjab chiefs: historical and biographical notices of the ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 3 of 29)