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Exploratory Expeditions and Conquest of Multan

Anglo-Gorkha War - 1814 A.D. - 1816 A.D.

War between the British and the Gurkhas continued without break from 1814 A.D. to 1816 A.D. In the beginning the British army was defeated once or twice. On this occasion Nepal's agent, Prithi Bilas, came to the Maharaja for help against the British. But Ranjit Singh flatly refused, and the agent returned disappointed. At the same time the Maharaja sent Faqir Aziz-ud-Din to Colonel Ochterlony at Ludhiana to enquire if the British were in need of his help. A message to this same effect was also sent to the Governor-General. The British Government expressed their gratitude to the Maharaja for this gesture.

Need for Reforms

The Maharaja had realised during the Kashmir expedition that a number of reforms were needed in his army set-up. Therefore he paid attention to military reforms without any loss of time. Fresh recruitment in large numbers was undertaken. This included raising of two Gurkha regiments. Many other reforms were also introduced.1

Diwan Ganga Ram and Pandit Dina Nath

It has been stated above that Diwan Bhiwani Das had organised the revenue department very well and had introduced the system of maintaining regular accounts of annual income and expenditure. Therefore the Maharaja greatly desired that some more capable persons of the type of Bhiwani Das be inducted into service. During this period, the kingdom of the Maharaja was expanding with great rapidity and the sources of income and expenditure remained constantly on the increase. Therefore during 1813 A.D., the Maharaja invited Diwan Ganga Ram a well-known financial expert, from Delhi, to join service with him. Diwan Ganga Ram agreed to join service with the Maharaja and soon after his arrival, he was entrusted with the charge of military accounts. Before long, it was discovered that the Diwan needed assistants to cope with the enormous task. Therefore, after two years, he was allowed to appoint a capable person as his deputy. Therefore Diwan Ganga Ram sent for Pandit Dina Nath to join his department. Later on, Pt. Dina Nath proved to be a very capable and shrewd officer and gradually rose to the position of the head of the revenue department. He received the title of Diwan and was later elevated as a Raja.

The Expedition of Rajauri and Bhimbar - 1815 A.D.

During the past year, the Maharaja's army had not been able to achieve any perceptible success in the Kashmir sector. Consequently, even the rajas of the hill region had begun to show signs of recalcitrance. Therefore, the Maharaja thought it necessary to chastise them. At the end of the rainy season and in the early part of the month of October, orders were issued to the Sardars to be present themselves along with their respective troops, at Sialkot from where they were ordered to proceed towards Rajauri, Bhimbar and to the foothills of Pir Panjal; for conquest. The Maharaja himself desired to advance via Wazirabad. Raja Aghar Khan, ruler of Rajauri, was not unaware of Ranjit Singh's intentions. He posted small detachments of his troops on all passes as also on different places along the routes, and himself took shelter in the fort of Rajauri. This fort was situated on a high hill-top. Therefore the Khalsa army faced great difficulty in reducing this fort. At last they thought of a plan and brought eight guns, loaded on strong-bodied elephants and started shelling the fort from the front and riddled the wall of the fort. Aghar Khan got frightened and, to gain time, he opened negotiations. While the negotiations were on, he escaped from the fort of Rajauri and took shelter in another fortress at Kotli. Maharaja's intrepid commanders, Diwan Ram Dayal, Phula Singh Akali and Hari Singh (Nalwa) occupied the fort of Rajauri. The Khalsa troops advanced towards Kotli and compelled Aghar Khan to take to flight. Thus the Rajauri region was occupied by the Maharaja. After that the fort of Bhimbar also came under the Maharaja's sway and both the hill rajas were taken to Lahore.2

Conquest of Nurpur and Jaswan - January 1816

The Maharaja returned from the Rajauri expedition on December 28, 1815 A.D. During that expedition the Maharaja wrote several times to Raja Bir Singh of Nurpur to present himself, in the Darbar but he kept on evading as he had not paid tribute since long. At last, he found himself helpless and presented himself in the Darbar-i-Khalsa in January 1816 A.D. and begged to be excused the payment of large amount of tribute. At this, the Maharaja asked him to abdicate as ruler of his state; to which he agreed. The Maharaja granted him maintenance jagir and established a Sikh police post at Nurpur.

After Nurpur came the turn of another hills state of Jaswan in whose territory fell two or three strong forts on which the Maharaja had kept an eye sing long. The Raja of Jaswan was also dispossessed on account of non-payment of tribute and he was granted a maintenance jagir worth ten thousand rupees.

Maharaja's Complete sway over the Kangra Valley

Gradually all small states of the Rajputs came into Maharaja's possession. Some of these Rajas became regular tributary vassals and the territories of some others were annexed to the kingdom of Lahore. The fort of Kangra which was the pride of the Valley had already fallen into Maharaja's hands. Raja Sansar Chand who had earlier remained active to expand his kingdom towards the plains had also chosen to accept the paramountcy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and pay the tribute. In this way, the Maharaja got complete sway over the Valley of Kangra.

Tour of Bahawalpur - March 1816 A.D.

The Nawab of Bahawalpur always put forth pretexts to avoid regular payment of annual tribute. Therefore, this year the Maharaja turned his attention to this affair and sent a very large force towards Bahawalpur, commanded by Misr Diwan Chand, who was showing signs of equaling late Diwan Mohkam Chand in intelligence and ability. On hearing about the arrival of the Khalsa forces, the Nawab opened negotiations with the Maharaja through his Vakils, Subah Rai and Kishan Das, and concluded a new treaty according to which he accepted to pay, seventy thousand rupees annual tribute and also promised to pay immediately eighty thousand rupees as arrears. The Maharaja appointed his reliable officers to affect recovery of the promised amount.

Siege of Multan

Misr Diwan Chand was ordered to proceed to Multan from Bahawalpur and to encamp at Tulambah where the Maharaja also joined him. Here, the Vakil of the Nawab of Multan presented himself before the Maharaja with valuable presents. The Maharaja demanded the entire arrears of tribute amounting to a little over one hundred-thousand. The Vakil promised to pay Rs. Forty thousand only at that time. At this, the Maharaja ordered his forces to advance. Misr Diwan Chand besieged the fort of Ahmadabad which the Khalsa army soon occupied. After that the Maharaja, himself encamped near Salarvan crossing the River Chenab at Trimmun Ghat (ferry). One detachment of the army was ordered to proceed towards the city of Multan. Akali Phoola Singh’s Jatha of Nihang warriors accompanied them. These Nihangs were extremely fearless and warlike soldiers. They started pillage and plunder around the city. One day Phoola Singh's contingent in their frenzy charged at the city-wall. At this, the Nawab thought it expedient to make peace. He paid eighty thousand rupees immediately and promised to pay the balance within two months.

Tour of Mankera Region- April 1816 A.D.

Having achieved his mission at Multan, the Maharaja turned his attention towards Mankera. The Maharaja's forces had hardly reached Mankera when Nawab Mohammad Khan died and Sher Mohammad Khan assumed Nawabship. The Maharaja talked to him about the tribute, and demanded one hundred and twenty thousand rupees including arrears, but the Nawab was prepared to pay only twenty thousand and thus intended to put off the Maharaja. At a signal from Ranjit Singh, the army movements started. There were many forts like Mahmudkot, Khangarh, Mohammadpur, Leya, Bhakkar, etc. in the Mankera territory. The Khalsa army besieged Mahmudkot and perforated its wall with heavy gun fire. On the other hand, Phoola Singh Akali's Nihangs began to plunder and devastate Khanpur. Hard pressed, Nawab Sher Mohd.Khan at last agreed to pay Rs. fifty thousand. On the other hand, the Maharaja was also feeling the pinch of excessive heat. So he accepted the above amount and returned to Lahore.

Tour of Chaj Doab - May 1816 A.D.

The Lion of Punjab crossed Chenab River at Trimmun Ghat and entered Jhang. Nawab Ahmad Khan Sial, ruler of Jhang had already accepted the paramountcy of the Maharaja and had been regularly remitting tribute to the Lahore Darbar for many years. But for the last few years, his payment of tribute had fallen in arrears. The Maharaja demanded the total amount of tribute up to date. The Nawab put forward excuses to express his inability. On the other hand, the Lion of Punjab had set his mind on the conquest of Multan and for that he intended to create proper atmosphere and facilities. He considered it necessary to first establish his total control over the country around Multan. Therefore, the Maharaja dispossessed Nawab Ahmad Khan from Jhang territory which yielded revenue worth four hundred-thousand rupees per year and annexed it to his Kingdom.

Acquisition of Uch Territory

While Ranjit Singh was busy with the affairs of Jhang, Sardar Fateh Singh Ahluwalia went to conquer Uch territory, and defeating Nawab Rajab Ali Shah, he occupied Kot Maharaja and its surrounding territories. The Sajda Nashin of the Muslim religious seat of Uch was granted suitable jagir for maintenance, and a police post (Thana) of the Maharaja was established there.

Dairah-i-Din Panah

The Maharaja had hardly reached Lahore after settling the administrative affairs of Uch when the chief of Dairah-i-Din Panah, Sardar Abd-us-Samad Khan, tired of the oppression of Nawab Muzaffar Khan, came to him accompanied by Diwan Ram Dayal to seek asylum. The Maharaja welcomed him warmly and accommodated him in Mubarak Haveli which had once remained the abode of Shah Shuja'-ul-Mulk. The Maharaja wanted Nawab Abd-us-Samad Khan to stay with him because he thought that he would perhaps prove useful in his conquest of Multan.

Prince Kharak Singh and Bhayya Ram Singh Summoned

Bhayya Ram Singh had been Prince Kharak Singh's tutor since his childhood. The Maharaja had conferred jagir upon the Prince and as the Prince grew up his jagir, too, went on growing. Bhayya Ram Singh looked after the jagir of the Prince and he also was considered its administrator. Ram Singh was a constant attendant on the Prince. Therefore he exercised great influence on the Prince and had direct access to him. The Maharaja suspected that Bhayya Ram Singh was taking undue advantage of his position. Accordingly, the Prince and his tutor were summoned to the court, and were asked to present complete details of the income and expenditure of the jagir accounts. The Maharaja sent the Prince away with a mild rebuke and put Bhayya Ram Singh under-detention. His (Bhayya Ram Singh’s) jeweller-cum-banker, Uttam Chand was called from Amritsar, on the scrutiny of whose accounts, it was discovered that there was a credit balance of four hundred-thousand rupees in Ram Singh's personal account and besides that a casket containing precious stones worth one hundred thousand rupees belonging to Ram Singh was also in the custody of the same jeweler. All this and the entire money was confiscated and Ram Singh was dismissed from service.

Anointment of Prince Kharak Singh as Heir Apparent

During the navaratras (first nine nights of the brighter half of the lunar month) in October 1816 A.D., Maharaja Ranjit Singh performed the anointment ceremony of his eldest son Prince Kharak Singh as his heir-apparent. The Maharaja was a very clever man. He had got annoyed with the Prince only recently and had terminated the service of his Diwan, Bhayya Ram Singh. Now, Ranjit Singh wanted to appease him and also desired that as far as possible, the Prince should be introduced to the task of responsibilities of State craft. He had granted him jagirs to create within him an essential instinct for governance. Ranjit Singh also considered Prince Kharak Singh’s participation in important affairs of the kingdom very necessary. It was with this end in view that Kharak Singh was declared heir-apparent. Tents were erected in the vast open ground near the Anarkali tomb3. All the high ranking officials presented themselves in the Darbar in glittering robes. They offered presents to the Prince, and in the afternoon session of the Darbar, the Prince was formally appointed to issue edicts in an open session of the Darbar.4

Annexation of the Possessions of the Ramgarhia Misl

Sardar Jodh Singh Ramgarhia died in September 1815 A.D. and a dispute arose over his succession amongst his relations, Diwan Singh, Vir Singh and Karam Singh, etc. They began to coerce each other and also harassed the widow of the late Sardar. Ranjit Singh thought it to be a golden opportunity to liquidate this misl. He sent for all the claimants to Lahore, put them under detention, and annexed the vast territory of the Ramgarhia misl to the kingdom of Lahore. Its annual income was about four hundred-thousand rupees and there were more than one-hundred forts in this territory. The Ramgarhia forces were also merged into the Khalsa army. A maintenance jagir worth thirty thousand rupees was granted to the near relations of Sardar Jodh Singh.

End of Sikh Misls

Here is a minor example of the unique personality of the Lion of the Punjab. The primary aim of the Maharaja was to put an end to the Sikh misls and to establish a Sikh kingdom, a task which he accomplished successfully. He was helpless with regard to interference in the cis-Sutlej Sikh misls. But on the trans-Sutlej side no Sikh misl could now cLalm independent existence. The Maharaja was fully utilising the resources of the Ahluwalia misl because of his friendship with Sardar Fateh Singh. One branch of the Kanheya misl had already been merged into his possessions; the other branch dominated by his mother-in-law, Sada Kaur, had for all practical purposes come under the sway of the Maharaja who knew full well that after Sada Kaur's death the entire Kanheya territory would become a part of his kingdom. Therefore he did not like to trouble the old Sardami during the last span of her life. And he had no need of doing that either, because the resources of that misl remained at his disposal. The territories of the Nakai Misl had been annexed earlier. Besides this, he had already brought the chiefs of Sialkot, Daska, Sheikhpura, Wazirabad, Akalgarh, etc., under his subjugation and had put an end to their independent existance by granting them jagirs.

Attack on Mitha Tiwana - 1817 A.D.

Misr Diwan Chand and Sardar Dal Singh were ordered in 1817 A.D. to attack Mitha Tiwana. As such the army with some pieces of artillery marched thitherwards. But the Tiwana Chief, Ahmad Yar Khan shut himself in the strong fort of Nurpur and got ready to fight. The Khalsa army surrounded the fort. Ahmad Yar Khan escaped from there and took refuge in the Mankera territory. Maharaja's post was established in Nurpur fort under the command of Javand Singh Mokal. Ahmad Yar Khan tried to take the fort back but could not succeed. Thereupon he made submission before the Maharaja. The Maharaja gave the rank of an exalted jagirdar to Ahmad Yar Khan by bestowing on him a jagir worth ten thousand rupees of annual income with permission to maintain sixty Tiwana horsemen.

Sacrifice of Sardar Nihal Singh Attariwala

Once, during the summer of 1817 A.D., the Maharaja went following the chase to village Vaniake and got unwell due to some minor indulgence. Back at Lahore, the sickness prolonged. Suddenly one day fear for the life of the Maharaja gripped the grandees of the court. Sir Lepel Griffin writes in his book, The Punjab Chiefs, that a tradition is well-known in the Attariwala family that when the Maharaja's condition got critical and the courtiers were scared, Sardar Nihal Singh established an unparalleled example of faithfulness and of being true to one's salt. He went thrice around the Maharaja's sick-bed, offered prayers before the Akal Purkh with a true heart, and said aloud, "May my remaining life be got by the Maharaja for the sake of the progress of the Sikh Rule, and may his disease catch me!" His prayer was granted. The Maharaja's health began to improve and Sardar Nihal Singh fell sick. After a few days the Lion of Punjab became absolutely healthy and the Attariwala Chief left this world forever.5

Treaty with Nawab of Mankera - September 1817 A.D.

It was a usual practice with Ranjit Singh to invade the territories of a neighbouring Sardar or Nawab and exact tribute from him. Thereafter he expected to receive the same amount of tribute every year. On the other hand, the respective Sardar or Nawab would think that the calamity had passed for ever and he hardly thought of payment of annual tribute. Then the Maharaja would invade again and try to get a treaty signed for the annual payment of tribute. Whenever he got a chance, he did not hesitate to establish full sway over the territory and grant maintenance jagir to the dispossessed Nawab or Sardar. It has already been mentioned that during the past year a tribute of fifty thousand rupees had been exacted from the Nawab of Mankera. This year the same amount of tribute was demanded again. The Nawab had no choice but to accept Maharaja’s conditions. Therefore, he agreed to pay an yearly tribute of seventy thousand rupees along with two good horses and camels.

Bhayya Ram Singh

The tutor of Prince Kharak Singh, Bhayya Ram Singh, who had been imprisoned during the past year for misappropriating the jagir funds of the Prince, was released, this year. There are scores of instances where the Maharaja punished his officers and subordinate rank-holders and pardoned them later. The aim of his punishments was reform and not malice or vindictiveness. The Maharaja did not want to lose an able man, he came across but wanted to extract the best out of him by divesting him of his bad habits. So, on August 27, 1827, Bhayya Ram Singh was summoned to the Court, and was given a costly robe. The guard posted at his house was lifted; and he was appointed to administer the annexed Ramgarhia territory.

Expedition of Hazara

Mohammad Khan, ruler of Hazara, had been paying five thousand rupees as annual tribute to Maharaja Ranjit Singh from the day the Maharaja had occupied the Attock Fort. But this year; Sardar Hukma Singh Chimni the fort commander of Attock, demanded Rupees twenty five thousand instead of five thousand. Mohammad Khan refused to pay this exorbitant amount and consequently hostilities began. Reinforcements sent from Lahore also included the famous Nihang con­tingent of Phoola Singh Akali. Phoola Singh during this war displayed innumerous feats of bravery. Mohammad Khan was killed in battle. The chiefship of Hazara was conferred upon his son, Sayyad Ahmad Khan who agreed to pay the enhanced amount of yearly tribute.

Invasion of Multan - 1817 A.D.

In the beginning of 1817, the Maharaja dispatched an army detachment to receive tribute from the Nawab of Multan. The Maharaja knew that the Nawab would dispute the payment of tribute and reinforcements would have to be sent later. This year, the Maharaja was hell bent upon conquering Multan. So it happened as he had thought. A large army followed the first detachment and complete arrangements were made for sending supplies of rations and war-material. This army laid a siege to the city of Multan. Shelling of the wall began; even two or three towers were knocked down and crevices were created at many places. If the siege had continued, Multan would have probably fallen, but it resulted in failure because of neglect on the part of senior officers of the army.6

Departure of Reinforcements

But the Maharaja, whom nature had blest with a large heart and strong determination, was not a person who would accept failure because of these commanders. He was determined to conquer Multan and was ready to bear the severest of ordeals. He gave his total attention towards the Multan expedition and sent a strong contingent of twenty five thousand young men under the command of Price Kharak Singh. In fact the army was commanded by Misr Diwan Chand because he well understood the finer military strategies. But the Maharaja apprehended lest his Sikh commanders might hesitate to work under Diwan Chand. Ostensibly he gave the command of the army to Prince Kharak Singh but the real command remained with Misr Diwan Chand.

Maharaja's Preparations

The Maharaja himself remained fervently busy in making full preparations for the expedition. For the purpose of sending munitions and rations for the army, all boats at the various ferries on the rivers Ravi, Chenab and Jehlum were reserved and government guards were appointed over them. Express written orders were issued to officials of all territories regarding the collection of com and gunpowder. Senior officers were entrusted with these duties who would themselves collect the required war-material, get it loaded in boats and send it to Multan under their own supervision. The Big Gun alias Bhangian di Top, which was fed with a one maund (about 100 pounds) heavy shell, was sent for from Amritsar to Multan. In addtion to the normal strength of beldars, available with the army, five hundred extra beldars were sent to Multan for preparing trenches and digging tunnels for mines. Elaborate arrangements were made for conveyance of mail. Hundreds of couriers were stationed at short distances who carried the mail from Multan to Lahore several times a day. The Maharaja himself used to send detailed instructions for the guidance of the force commanders. In this way he knew every moment the condition of the siege of Multan and how it could be improved.

Siege of Multan

In accordance with Maharaja's instructions, the Khalsa army, after brief encounters occupied two of the Nawab's forts viz. Khangarh and Muzaffargarh, and then it turned towards the siege of the city of Multan. This time, the Nawab of Multan, too, was fully prepared to give a tough fight. He had spread his agents in the country side to arouse religious frenzy. More than twenty thousand crusaders (jehadis) had gathered under the Nawab's standard. He had also further strengthened the fort of Multan. When the Sikh army reached near Multan, the Nawab came out to give a fight. A fierce battle ensued. After the daylong combat the Khalsa held the upper hand, and the Nawab, along with his army, was compelled to take refuge within the four walls of the city.

On the second day Diwan Moti Ram besieged the city. The Nawab and his sons with their massive army were ready to defend the city from all sides. The siege lasted several days. The Khalsa had established twelve positions at different places around the city, and they started shelling the city wall with guns, light cannons and balloons with the result that small holes were created in the wall at two places. The Sikhs prepared to go in with full excitement but they had to retreat in the face of fierce firing by the Afghans. After this, pits were dug beneath the wall and filled with explosives. With explosions one or two towers and upper portion of the wall were demolished. Yet the Nawab's army held their ground very bravely and did not allow any Sikh to enter the city. At last, after many days the city was bombarded incessantly, followed by a very bloody battle during which the Nawab had to retreat and take shelter in the fort.7

Siege of the Multan fort

The Sikhs now took positions in front of the fort and started shelling. The fort of Multan was famous for its strength and was considered to be impregnable. It was situated on a high mound below which there was a deep and wide moat which remained always filled with water. Therefore the Sikh guns did not have any effect on the fort. The Khalsa army tried to charge once or twice, but all such attempts proved futile. The entire month of March passed like that. But in the beginning of April the Bhangianwali Top (Kalan) arrived which created crevices in the wall of the fort at two places.

Talks for Peace

The Nawab got somewhat nervous, and he sent his Vakils to Kharak Singh. He offered to pay a cash tribute of two hundred thousand rupees and promised to present to the Maharaja three hundred horsemen under the command of his son. These terms offered by the Nawab were conveyed to the Maharaja. Ranjit Singh wrote back in reply that he wanted to take the fort only. If the Nawab vacated the fort, he would be given appropriate jagir and his own fort Kot Shuja'abad for his residence. This message was delivered to the Nawab, who expressed his willingness to accept the terms offered and sent his Vakils Jami'at Rai, Sayyad Mohsan Shah, Gurbakhsh Rai and Amin Khan to Prince Kharak Singh for a formal treaty with the request that if the forts of Khangarh as well as Kot Shuja'abad including territories were given to the Nawab for subsistence, the forts of Multan and Muzaffargarh would be handed over to the Maharaja; also that two or three senior officers be appointed to evacuate the Nawab and his family safely out from the fort. Thereupon, Kharak Singh sent Diwan Bhiwani Das, Punjab Singh, Qutb-ud-Din, former Nawab of Qasur, and Chaudhri Qadir Bakhsh to settle the terms with Nawab Muzaffar Khan.

Sudden Change of the Situation

When the news regarding these developments were conveyed to the Maharaja at Lahore, his happiness knew no bounds. Gun salutes were fired in the city and illuminations were held at different places at night.8 However, when the time for the treaty arrived, Nawab's advisers and relatives imprecated him for this cowardly act, and said that death is better than such slavish life. They also tried to implore him to hold on and assured him that they were ready to fight to the finish. ‘Who were the Sikhs’, they said, ‘to occupy the fort as long as we are alive’? Thereupon the Nawab refused to vacate the fort, and the Maharaja's Vakils returned without success.9

Conquest of the Fort

When the Maharaja received these news, he at once sent Jemadar Khushal Singh to Multan with the message to the commanders of the army that "if despite so much army, munitions and complete preparation, the fort is not conquered, it would be totally against your glory and a reason for my wrath. It would also be a big blot on the Khalsa kingdom." As soon as this message from Ranjit Singh reached the Khalsa army, it got greatly infuriated and at once besieged the fort. The Khalsa army began advancing from different directions and tearing through the raining enemy fire; and it reached near the moat of the fort and set up positions there. Many a Sikh youth were killed there. At last due to constant pounding from guns and baloons, two big cracks were created in the wall near the Khizri Gate. But the intrepid Nawab came there at once and he got the cracks filled with sand bags. However, the gunny bags fell down with one or two shells of the Great Gun (Bhangian Vali Tope). The Khalsa did not let this chance go, and a small band of Akalis under the command of their brave leader Sadhu Singh advanced and crossing the ditch reached close to the crack.10 Seeing this unique bravery of Sadhu Singh the rest of the Khalsa soldiers got excited and hundreds of Sikh youngmen furiously jumped towards the cracks. They were just about to enter the fort when the Nawab with his sons and near and dear ones arrived at the spot, and they showed such feats of courage that they won admiration of even their enemies. At last, the Nawab along with two of his sons and one nephew fell fighting.

Possession of the Fort

Immediately after the assassination of the Nawab, the Khalsa army entered the fort and occupied it. Sarfaraz Khan and Zulfiqar Khan, the Nawab's younger sons, were captured alive and brought to Lahore. The Maharaja extended respect and hospitality to them and endowed them with jagir of Sharaqpur which remained in their possession for a long time. The Maharaja held great celebrations to express his happiness at the victory. A messenger from Sardar Fateh Singh Ahluwalia brought this happy news to the Maharaja who gave him a pair of gold bangles, five hundred rupees in cash and a robe of honour. And to Sahib Singh, courier in charge of the Multan dak, he gave six hundred rupees in cash. Himself, he made a round of the streets of Lahore riding an elephant and throwing rupee-coins all around. At night there were illuminations in the city.11

Date of the Conquest of Multan

Munshi Sohan Lal has written the date of the conquest of Multan thus:

In a thousand eight hundred seventy and five

Was conquered Multan after spending the treasure.

Ganesh Das has given the following concluding verses :

On the eleventh of the light half of the lunar month of Jeth was Multan conquerred;

Know the year as Sammat eighteen and seventy five.

Plunder of the fort

The Maharaja knew that in the fort of Multan are buried treasures of several generations of the Afghan kings which must be having countless rare and precious things. He did not want that his army should plunder and destroy such rare things. He desired that all rare gifts of Multan be kept in the State treasury (Toshakhana) because only the State had right over them. He, therefore, issued strict orders to army commanders that everything that was found in the treasury or in the store house of costly or rare things (toshahkhana) are not the property of the Maharaja or of any commander or soldier, but of the State of Lahore. Therefore let no individual put any item of plunder to his personal use, but let all goods of plunder be sent safely to Lahore. But the soldiery had already entered the fort without the permission of their commanders and had started reckless plunder of the treasury and Toshakhana. These young men with a glow of victory were not to be controlled easily; and the Sikh Commanders were somewhat worried on this account. At last it was decided to entrust the security of the Toshakhana and the treasury to Diwan Ram Dayal.

Diwan Ram Dayal was a handsome, brave youngman of twenty two years. He had faced the brave Afghans alone during the Kashmir campaign. Besides his personal capabilities, being the grandson of Diwan Mohkam Chand, he commanded everyone's respect and admiration.

Diwan Ram Dayal got all the gates of the fort closed and ordered strict vigil to be kept on them. He himself remained present at the main gate. Every soldier going out was searched and, by making him understand and realise that all articles of loot were to be recovered from him. The goods thus recovered were collected and sent to Lahore. The articles of plunder including countless seals, diamonds and other precious stones, rare swords with grips inLald with gold, muskets, costly shawls, doshalas and carpets were deposited in the Maharaja's Toshakhana. According to Diwan Amar Nath's estimate their value was about two hundred thousand rupees. Besides that many good horses, camels and five big guns came into the Maharaja's hands. Similarly, goods worth about twenty thousand rupees came from Fort of Shuja'abad.

Administration of Multan

To start with the Maharaja appointed a cavalry regiment of six hundred horsemen at Multan to maintain law and order. Sardar Dal Singh Naharina, Sardar Jodh Singh Kalsia and Sardar Deva Singh Doabia were appointed its post-commanders. Two infantry battalions were stationed in fort of Shuja'abad. A sum of thirty thousand rupees was sanctioned for the repair of the fort and its moat.

Having made these arrangements, Misr Diwan Chand came to Lahore. The Maharaja conferred on him the title of Zafar Jang Bahadur as a reward for his services, and also gave him a very gaudy and costly robe. To other commanders and nobles also who had rendered distinguished service during this expedition, the Maharaja rewarded lib­erally with prizes and other favours.

Notes & References

  1. For details of military’ reforms see chapter XV.

All papers of the Sikh Government pertaining to the period 1812 A.D. to 1849 A.D. are available in the Record Office of the Punjab government (now Punjab State Arctives, Patiala). This writer had arranged them, a few years ago and had published their detailed list in English in two volumes. See Sita Ram Kohli, Catalogue of Khalsa Darbar Records, Vol. I & II.

  1. Munshi Sohan Lal says that in the occupation of the fort of Kotli; the Maharaja's army was greatly helped by a Rajput woman named Biwi. [Umdat-ut-Twarikh, page 182].
  2. Later barracks were raised for the army of the French general Ventura in this open space. Now-a-days offices of the secretariat of the Punjab government are housed in these barracks. For details see Munshi Sohan Lal's Umdat-ut-Twarikh, Daftar II, page 197.
  3. Sayyad Mohammad Latif writes the date of this Darbar as 5 Magh [mid-January], and Bhai (Baba) Prem Singh (Hoti) gives first of Baisakh [mid-April].
  4. Having read this story we are reminded of a tale associated with the name of Babur and Hamayun, by which we mean that people did believe in such things. We cannot say how far this legend is true because there is no mention of it either in Umdat-ut-Twarikh or in Zafamamah Ranjit Singh. Munshi Sohan Lal and Diwan Amar Nath do mention the sickness of the Maharaja, and at another place they also write about the death of Sardar Nihal Singh. It is quite strange that such an example of sacrifice did not come to the notice of any of the two great chroniclers.
  5. Diwan Amar Nath writes in Zafarnamah-i-Ranjit Singh that Diwan Bhiwani Das, who was in command of the siege, took bribe of ten thousand rupees from Nawab Muzaffar Khan and sabotaged the action.
  6. A contemporary poet, Ganesh Das Pingal describes the battle of Multan in chaste Hindi. A draft of it is available in the writer's personal library. He writes :
  1. All the Singhs with anger in their hearts took battle positions on the four sides; They reversed the situation and besieged Multan.
  2. They set-up fighting positions; fought in extreme anger; shouted very forcefully, having killed many... Turks.

He fires the mines filled with explosive

Raises dust upwards and fights powerfully.

He fires with guns and creates many gaps;

And. tampering irons, says : I have killed Turk and Rais.

  1. Sadlitt Singh Nihang fought a great battle: He shot arrows and fired muskets He always fights thus valiantly.

 

  1. See Umdat-ut-Twarikh, Dattar II, page 217. Regarding deputing of Qadir Bakhsh and Diwan Bhiwani Das to the Nawab for negotiating the treaty, Ganesh Das also writes in his verses: Send Bhiwani Das, the very wise attorney along with Qadir Bakhsh  so it was pleaded.
  2. Almost all historians have overlooked this incident. For reference see ‘Umdat-ut-Twarikh, Daftar II, page 217. Ganesh Das also points to this incident :

“Listen, Brother! We shall fight. The army which has come, we shall rally and kill. When the sharp edge of my sword strikes, you will watch a thousand Singhs die."

  1. Bhai (Baba) Prem Singh (Hoti) writes in his book that this Akali leader was not Sadhu Singh but he was the famous Akali Chief; Phoola Singh, and that all historians have made this mistake. In our opinion Bhai (Baba) Prem Singh is wrong and other historians are correct. Munshi Sohan Lal and Diwan Amar Nath mention the name of Sadhu Singh alone. To us it appears totally impossible that Sohan Lal and Amar Nath, who were the Darbar's newswriters, would have written Sadhu Singh in their books Instead of the name of as famous a leader as that of Phoola Singh Akali. The truth is that Phoola Singh was not present in the battle of Multan, but was instead posted on the Attock side. Of course on an occasion prior to this, he did display feats of bravery. Ganesh Das, too, mentions Sadhu Singh in this respect. He says :

"Sadhu Singh Nihang told them to sit without hesitation;

The next fight will hit the Turks.

Then he runs forward and fights raising noise and commotion;

Onward he goes, causes the Muslims to be consumed;

Near Bajal he moved very fast and killed equal to a hundred muskets;

With Sadhu Singh in the lead, followed by all young Singhs, mounted the tower and shook it from their standard. ”

  1. For detail see Umdat-ut-Twarikh, part II, page 220. Ganesh Das also describes this good news almost in the same way :

The Prince following the Singhs, Savs : go to Lahore,

Now they came running, their heads decorated with plumes.

When they arrived at Lahore, the Singh (Ranjit) was comforted to hear (the news); Guns were fired and he gives largesess to every one;

Gave costly gifts, whosoever came got something or the other;

Then came the turn of illuminations which increase heart's happiness.