History & Culture

The district of Sangrur was formed in 1948. The name of the district from its headquarters, Sangrur, said to be have founded by one Sanghu, a Jat, about 400 years back.The Sangrur District as of today comprises parts of a few erstwhile distinct administrative units, the Philkian States if Jind, Nabha and Patiala: the Mohammadan State of Malerkotla; and some parts of then district of Ludhiana. It is interesting to note that Sangrur itself was earlier a part of Nabha State. History of the district is, therefore, complicated, although it is traceable through its various components. In brief, history of the district is given as under.

Ancient Period

The excavations carried out by the Archeological Department, Punjab, at the various places of Malerkotla Tehsil of Sangrur District, give sufficient proof that the district is quite rich in ancient history. From the close of scrutiny of the available data, the researchers have traced the ancient history of the district from the pre-harappan period. Almost the whole of the excavated places fall in Malerkotla Tehsil of the Sangrur Deistrict. The important sites so far excavated in the Malerkotla Tehsil are as under

(1) Rohira
(2) Mahorana
(3) Bhudan
(4) Bahwa
(5) Bhasaur
(6) Dhingri
(7) Jandali
(8) Malaud Rorian (Theh Loharan)
(9) Mohammadpur

It lies about 6 Km From Mandi Ahmadgarh and about 13 km from Malerkotla. It is situated along the line of depression which follows the ancient course of river Saituj. It is worthwhile to mention here that it was near Rohira that thousanids of Sikhs were massacred by Ahmad Shah Abdali in a great holocaust known as Wada Ghallugghara, in 1762. Recently, an exiting discovery of a pre-Harappan settlement - a pre-cursor of 'the Indus Valley of Harappan civilisation has bcen made at an ancient mound at Ruhira which has now emerged as tJie second important pre-Harappan site in. India. Kalibaugan in the Sriganganagar area of Rajasthan was the first site to reveal an important pre-Harappan settlement after 10 years of continuous excavation, Experts believe that from the Kalibangan area, pre-Harappan people started moving in the northern or northern -eastern direction along some of the streams which have now dried up. The ancient water courses are marked by ranges of sand dunes. The different stages of this movement towards the Satluj have remained uninvestigated so far.

The mound is 10 metres above the surrounding fields, Originally it cuveredl an area of more than 30 acres. However, onJy 15 acres of it is now left, the rest having been brought under cultivation. Out of this, an area of 900 sq. meters has been taken up for excavation.

The earliest settlement at the site is believed to have begun around 2,300 B.C Attracted by the fertile soil and availability of water, people from Sind and Baluchistan started moving and following the path of the Satluj or the Ghagger settled at Rohira.

They started living in thatched huts on the virgin soil, Before long they started building houses of sub-dried bricks. The houses were well laid out and were fairly spacious.

A large number of beads of terra-cotta, carnelian agate, bangle pieces of terra-cotta and bone styluses discovered there testify to the prosperity of the region and its trade relations with distant lands.

This period is designated as pre-Harappan. The finds at this place are comparable to those of Kalibangan(Rajasthan). Banawali (Bhiwani District) Balu (Jind District) and Kot Diji and Amri in Pakistan

By about 2,000 B.C, a new set of people is believed to have settled at the site.. Their pottery was more Surdy and their equipment superior. There is no evidence of any upheaval

A citadel which possibly ran all-round the residential complex was constructed to guard against invaders

Houses of bead makers with a large number of finished and unfinished beads and two copper chisels have been recovered. These finds point to the advanced technology of the Copper-Bronze age. Certain finds of gold beads, attest to the prosperity of the people. They used fine, well baked pots, jars and troughs. Clay figurines of bull, terra-cotta. and idli-shaped cakes have been found in abundance. A well made of hated bricks has also been discovered. At least five phases of house construction have been found.

The most notable find is a terra-cotta seal depicting a mythological scene of ritual killing.The site was possibly desires by 1700 B.C and the newcomers 'Bara foJks1 (named after Bara site near Ropar), occupied it. The use; of culture pots, vessels and water jars gave a distinctive character to this culture. The use of com bins is a typical feature of this area.

The new people wluo made Rohira their abode from 1100 to 500 B.C. used the painted grey ware. They were- followed by people who used black ware (600 to 200 B.C.). Even though thcir regular habitation has not been found in the area under excavation, surface explorations and pits dug in the area indicate their presence at the site.

There is evident of Sunga-Kushan porttery. The area around the east has structures typical of Kushan bricks with finger marks. Some tcrra-cotta figurines including one of mother goddess, a few small coins of Indo-Pcrthian King Gondo Pharnese (first century A.D.) arid Iate Kusban coins have also been discovered, Since thc area of Sangrur lies in close proximity to the must known battlefield of Kurukshetra of epic times, there is the least doubt of its having been under the influence of vedic culture it must have been a settlement of the Aryans. The Rigwedaa is the earliest literary record of the socio-cultural development and affords us the First glimpse of the life of its people. The most important god of the Vedic period indra. A thorough analysis of the character of various Vedic gods reflects the heroic character of the Aryan Society. The heroic society of the Vedic period was tribal in character. The ideal of the hero is laid down in the Mahabharta: ':Fame is all that one should acquire here. That fame can be acquired by battle and by no other means." The ashramas of teachers and sages in forests were their military academies humming and throbbing with the activities of young athletes and cadets.

Further, the Mahabharata contains profuse and useful information on various aspects of the political and socio-culture life of the land. From the scrutiny ofihe Mahabharta, it is presumed that Yaudheyas, a martial tribe occupied the present area of Sangrur along with the allied tarritories in the proximity of Kurukshetra.. Yaudheyas were a gena community who were famous for their valour. Their coins have been found mostly in tlhe eastern Punjab and in the region between the Satluj and Yamuna.

The area of present Sangrur Distrct alongwith adjoining areas came under the Maurya Dyansty in B.C. 322. It was Chandragupta Maurya who established Maurya Dynasty After overthrowing the Nandas.

This area also enjoyed the blessings of the Gupta administration from the beginning of the 4th Century to the end of the 6th Century, Because of the efficient administration, Gupta era haa been known as the Golden age of Hindu period Chandragupta Vikramditya was the most famous king of the Gupta Dynasty.

In the beginning of' the 7th Century, Prabhakara Vardhana ruled over this area whose capital was at Thenesar. not far from the present area of Sangrur District, His brother Harsha Vardhana who rcduced anarchy to order in Northern India, and reigned for forty-one years, from AD 606-47. However, later on, Harsha Vardhana shifted his capital From Thanesar to Kanauj, because of the extension of the territory of the empire.

Early in the 8th Century, Thanesar ceased to exist and another line of kings, Tomar Rajputs, established itself in the South East Punjab. After about a century, the Tomars were supplanted by the Chauhans of Ajmer.

Medieval Period

During the last quarter of 10th century, Raja Jaipal ruled over Punjab including the present area of Sangrur District. His capital was at Bathinda close to the present area of Sangrur District.

Sunam was an important province during the Sultanate period. Balban's cousin Sher Khan was incharge of the governorship of Sunam. He was very energetic governor who successfully repulsed many incursions of Mongols, king Jalal-ud-din was the first Sultan of the Khiji Dynasty. During his reign, Mangols at least 100,000 strong invaded India in 1292, reached Sunam, but were defeated. Ala-ud-din Khilji was the most famous Sultan of this Dynasty who enforced very strong administration. He successfully dealt with Mongols who made several incursions into the Punjab, during the last decade of the 13th century, During his reign, Akhur Beg Tatak was the Governor of Sunam. The Sultanate of Delhi which held away in the Punjab for several hundred years until it was overthrown by the Mughals early in the 16th century.

During the times of Muhammad-bin-Tughluq, a rebellion took place in Sunam and the adjoining areas. The root cause of the rebellion was the refusal of the peasants to pay the land tax. They erected manduls (strongholds) and defied the authorities from their mandals. Muhammad-bin-Tughluq marched against them, captured the leaders, and brought them to Delhi where they were put to the sword.

During the Sultanate period, Sunam had strategic position and it was on the main route to Delhi. Muhammad-bin-Tughluq led expedition against Nagarkot, an ancient town in the Kangra District, via Sunam.

Under the Mughals, the Punjab formed important province of their empire with successive governors as heads of administration. Sunam and Sirhind were the important provinces during the Mughal Rule and the most of the area of the modern Sangrur District fell under them. In between the Mughal Rule, mention is also required to be made of Slier Shah Sun who gave efficient administration. Akbar, Jehangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb were the important rulers of the Mughal Dynasty. Akbar, the most illustrious king of the Mughals made marvellous achievements in the secular field. But the total reversal of his secular policy during the times of Aurangzeb, led to the downfall of the empire. After the death of Aurangzeb, Sikhism had become a militant power in Punjab. Banda Bahadur, the faithful disciple of the Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh shook the very foundation of the Mughal power in Punjab.

After the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire became weaker throughout India. By this time, Sikhism had become a militant power in Punjab. Banda Singh Bahadur, the faithful disciple of the Tenth Guru, Gum Gobind Singh shook the very foundation of the Mughal Empire in Punjab. The Sikhs from Doab and Majha came in large numbers under the banner of Banda Bahadur, to take revenge on Wazir Khan, the Faujdar of Sirhind who was mainly responsible for the endless sufferings to the Guru Gobind Singh and his sons. The Phulkian Sikhs who are known as such after the name of their common ancestor 'Phul' and who later on succeeded in establishing political power in Cis-Satluj Punjab, did not give much physical assistance to Banda Bahadur, but they gave much liberal financial assistance to him for fighting against the Mughal Rule. Wazir Khan was alarmed and he deputed Sher Muhammad Khan of Malerkotla to deal with the Sikhs coming from the north. Before they could join the main force of Banda Bahadur, Sher Muhammad Khan and his brother Khizar Khan joined against the Sikhs. At Ropar (now Rupnagar), Sher Muhammad Khan fell upon the Sikhs in the battle. Khizar Khan was killed. There prevailed a confusion in his ranks, and the Sikhs availing themselves of the situation, marched further to join the Banda's forces. In the battle of Chhapar Chiri (near Sirhind) in 1710, Sher Muhammad Khan and Khwaza Ali of Malerkotla who were assisting Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sirhind, were killed. After the fall of Sirhind, Banda sent out the Sikhs to occupy the country to the South, East and West. AH the Parganas in the north between Satluj and Yamuna including Sunam fell into the hands of Banda.

Thus Banda was the first empire builder for the Sikhs. He was an able and enterprising leader who led the Sikhs to victory and broke the charm of the invincibility of the mighty Mughal Empire. Though Banda reigned for a very short period in the province of Sirhind including Sunam and other areas of the district of Sangrur, he introduced many reforms. He was on the side of oppressed and down-trodden. He abolished zamindari system (landlordism) in his area and recognised the proprietary rights of the tillers of the land.

During the Fifth Afghan invasion in 1761, Ahmed Shah Abdali, after defeating Marathas at Panipat in 1761 fell upon Ala Singh of Patiala who had sold provisions to the Marathas at Panipat. He sacked Barnala, terrified Ala Singh and compelled him to pay tribute. Ala Singh could barely save himself from excommunication by pleading with Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.

During the Fourth and Fifth Afghan invasion, the Sikhs were able to plunder the retreating Afghan forces and were able mostly to relieve them of their spoils. Ahmed Shah Abadali this time had come only to teach a lesson to the Sikhs. In 1762 after re-occupying Lahore and receiving intelligence that great numbers of Sikhs had moved southwards, Abdali immediately set out in pursuit. He covered a distance of 150 miles in two days and caught up with the Sikhs at the village of Kup. It was an unequal fight. Most of the 30,000 Sikhs were non-combatants, old men and women and children. Sikh horsemen could not indulge in their favourite, hit-and-run tactics and had to engage Afghans, who outnumbered them, in hand to hand fight. Sikh soldiers put their women and children in the centre and moved down like a living fortress from Kup to Barnala where they expected Ala Singh of Patiala coming to their rescue. Afghan took a heavy toll of life. This holocaust is called vada ghalughara in which a large number of Sikhs were killed. Thereafter, Ahmed Shah Abdali reached Barnala. Barnala was a fortified town, within the territory of Ala Singh, the founder of the Patiala house. On reaching there, the Shah expected Ala Singh to come and pay him the homage. Paying of homage by Ala Singh at this juncture would have incurred the great displeasure of his co-religionists. In the circumstances, he preferred to remain aloof. This provided a chance to a number of his staunch enemies, viz. Lachhmi Narayan, the Diwan of Sirhind and the Nawab of Malerkotla who were already jealous of his growing power. Ahmed Shah Abdali marched on Barnala and pillaged its surroundings and burnt down the town. Ala Singh escaped, but later on he was taken prisoner. With the intercession of Shah Wali Khan, the grand wazir of Durrani, Najib-ud-DauIa, the Rohilla Chief, his life was spared on producing his allegiance and paying tribute of five lakhs rupees, and another amount of one and a quarter lakh to appear before the Shah with long hair and beard unshaven. According to Latif, Ala Singh's wife, Rani Fattu paid the invader another sum of rupees 4 lakhs to secure the release of her husband. Ala Singh had already paid one and a quarter lakh for maintaining his hair and his beard. Besides, the Shah himself is said to have been impressed much with the manly deportment of Ala Singh, so that he conferred a rich khilat upon him and dispatched a finnan to the Sirhind Governor to restore his jagirs. The title of Raja was also conferred upon him and after promising a tribute, Ala Singh secured his release and struck a coin bearing the Shah's name as the bestower of the kingdom.

Since the present Sangrur District contains areas of erstwhile Phulkian States of Patiala, Nabha and Jind, and Mohammedan State of Malerkotla, its history is linked with the history of the above States. However, its main link is with the Phulkian States. Sangrur proper was once the headquarters of the Phulkian State of Jind. Phul, whose name means 'blossom', was the grand common ancestor of the Phulkian Sardars. He was blessed by the Guru Har Gobind, and from him many noble houses trace their descent. He left six sons, of whom Taloka was the eldest, and from him descended the families of Jind and Nabha States. From Rama, the second son, sprang the greatest of the Phulkian houses, that of Patiala. The four other sons only succeeded to a small share of their father's possessions. Like other Phulkian States, the history of Jind State dates back to 1763 when the Governor of Sirhind, a protege of Ahmed Shah Abdali was defeated by the Sikhs and the province of Sirhind was partitioned among the Phulkian Sardars. Suklichain, the grandson of Phul was notable rural head who had Balanwali under him. After his death, Balanwali fell to Alam Singh, his elder son, Badrukhan, to his second son, Gajpat Singh and Dialpura to Bulaqi. Thus the first notable Chief of Jind State was Sardar Gajpat Singh who made Jind as his capital in 1746. He continued to be a vassal of Delhi Empire by paying tribute, In return, he obtained an imperial firman conferring upon him the title of Raja and the authority tocoin money in his name. His position was further strengthened by a matrimonial alliance with the chief of Sukarchakya Misl, in the Trans-Satluj region. In 1774, the marriage of Sardar Mahan Singh Sukarchakya was celebrated with Raj Kaur, the daughter of Raja Gajpat Singh, at Badrukhan. Now some historians believe that Maharaja Ranjit Singh was born at Badrukhan on 13 November 1780.

Immediately, after the above matrimonial alliance, there arose a quarrel between the two Phulkian houses of Nabha and Jind. Sardar Hamir Singh, the Raja of Nabha was got imprisoned by Sardar Gajpat Singh of Jind. Thereafter, the Raja of Jind attacked Sangrur, Nabha and Bhadson which were strong places in Nabha Territory. However, a strong defence was put up by Sardarni Deso, wife of Sardar Hamir Singh, for four months. At the same time, she begged the Raja of Patiala to interfere. The Raja of Patiala interposed with other Sikh Sardars, compelling Raja Gajpat Singh to restore Amloh and Bhadson, and release Hamir Singh. Sangrur was retained and had since been included in the Jind Territory.

Raja Gajpat Singh was a constantly of the Patiala Chief and accompanied him to many of his expeditions. The town of Jind was much enlarged by Raja Gajpat Singh who built a large fort on its northern side. He died at the age of fifty-one in 1786 at Safidon. The possessions of Gajpat Singh were divided between his sons, Bhag Singh and Bhup Singh, the latter taking the estate of Badrukhan, and the elder, Jind and Safidon, with the title of Raja. Raja Bhag Singh was twenty-one years old when he became chief. he was first, of all the great Cis-Satluj chiefs to seek an alliance with the British Government. Raja Bhag Singh had shrewdly been held aloof from the combination against the British ; and when Scindia's power in northern India was ultimately broken, he was obliged under the treaty of 30 December 1803 to surrender his possessions of west of Yamuna. Lord lake awarded Bhag Singh by confirming hit title over Guhana. He afterwards accompanied Lord Lake upto Beas in pursuit of Jaswant Rao Holkar and persuaded his nephew Maharaja Ranjit Singh not to aid the Marathas in their fight against the English. His mission was a success. Holkar was obliged to leave Punjab for Indore without entering the territory of Phulkian Chiefs. For this, Bhag Singh was awarded the Pargana of Bawana to the southwest of Panipat, as his reward from the British.

In the time of Raja Bhag Singh, a dispute arose between Patiala, Nabha and Jind and therein meditation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was sought. Raja Bhag Singh gained in territory by his nephew's (Maharaja Ranjit Singh) visit and during the expedition of 1806 he received from the Maharaja the following estates : Ludhiana, consisting of twenty-four villages worth Rs 15,380 a year ; twenty-four villages of Jhaadiala from the same family, worth Rs 4,370 two villages of Kot, and two of Jagraon, worth Rs 2,000 a year all taken from the Rani of Rai Alyas of the Muhammadan Rajput family of Raikot ; while from the widow of Miah Ghos he acquired two villages of the Basia District, During the expedition of the following year, the Maharaja gave him three villages of Ghungrana, conquered from Gujar Singh of Raipur, and twenty-seven villages of Morinda in Sirhind, conquered from the son of Dharam Singh, and all together worth Rs. 19,255 a year. Thus Raja Bhag Singh gained much through his relationship with Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the lion of Punjab.

British Period

The active British influence in the erstwhile State of Jind was visible during the rule of Raja Bhag Singh when he alongwith other Phulkian Sardars approached the British Government for seeking protection against the rising power of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. There is no doubt that Ranjit Singh was very moderate towards the Phulkian Rajas and he was never hesitant to solve their intricate problems whenever such situations occurred. But, in due course, with the rising power of Ranjit Singh, they became suspicious of his designs and hence sought British protection. Accordingly, the leaders of the Cis-Satluj Sikh states including the rulers of Patiala, Nabha and Jind decided in a conclave to send a deputation to the British Resident in Delhi, Mr. Seton. Consequently, a delegation consisting of the Raja of Jind, Bhag Singh, Bhai Lal Singh of Kaithal the Diwan of Patiala, Sardar Chain Singh and the confidential agent of Nabha Ghulam Hussain was despatched to Delhi and presented their memorandum to the British Resident on 1 April 1809, They pledged their loyalty to every succeeding power in Delhi and formally sought protection of the British. The British were very glad to entertain their offer and accordingly they made a treaty on 25 April 1809 with Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Maharaja agreed not to carry his military exploits in the Cis-Satluj territories. Thus the hope of the Maharaja to unite the whole Sikh nation met with a disaster. According to Prof. Sinha "his (Ranjit's) failure to absorb the cis-Satluj states was a tragedy of Sikh militant nationalism and the success of the cis-Satluj Sikhs with the aid of the British Government marked the disruption of the great creation of Guru Gobind Singh".

The order to defend the cis-Satluj states, the British took the area of Ludhiana from Raja Bhag Singh and made there a permanent cantonment. With the lapse of time the values attached to a thing undergo a change. Paradoxically the Malwa Chiefs carved out independent states out of the Mughal territories. For the fulfilment of this object, they ware assisted by the peasantry who had borne the brunt of Mughal atrocities. Strangely they again were made tools in the hands of their chiefs and were used to their advantage. The peasantry made them strong and independent but these chiefs again enslaved them. By the treaty of 1809 with the British, as soon as the Cis-Satluj states were free from the fear of Ranjit Singh, they tried to demolish and rob each other. Hence, the British found another excellent opportunity to meddle in their affairs and issue another proclamation on 22 August 1811 to protect them against each other as well. This increased their power of interference, patronage, reprimand and even armed intervention, so that these states as time went on, became absolute dependencies of British rather than independent rulers in treaty alliance with the British power, of equal rank in law if not in fact.

After the death of Raja Bhag Singh in 1819, Fateh Singh became the next ruler of Jind State. His reign was very short and quite uneventful. He died in 1822, at the age of 33, leaving one son, Sangat Singh eleven years of age.

The installation of Sangat Singh took place on 30 July 1822, at Jind in the presence of all the Phulkian Chiefs. There was lot of deterioration in the sphere of administration during the period of Raja Sangat Singh. The usual results which a minority produces in native states, soon began to show themselves in Jind, The affairs of the Raja fell into the utmost confusion, the territory was ill-managed, the people discontented, and no attention was paid to the remonstrance’s of the Biritish authorities regarding grievances that he was called upon to redress. To such a point did this recklessness proceed, that the political Agent at length recommended that the monthly and quarterly cash payments received by the Raja on account of the Ludhiana Cantonment, should be suspended until the Raja should satisfy all just claims pending against his territory and subjects.

Raja Sangat Singh had very cordial relations with Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He made frequent visits to Lahore Court and received many presents and jagirs from the Maharaja, The British did not approve of these activities of the Raja. But it was almost impossible to prevent the cis-Satluj chiefs carrying on independent negotiations with Lahore, when almost every one of them had agents and Vakils at that Court.

The mismanagement of Jind continued to increase. Raja deserted his capital altogether. Further, the detention of British subjects in confinement without just cause by the Jind authorities, was in 1834, reported to Government by the Governor General's agent. The Raja was reprimanded by the British for his lapses. But the general inefficiency and oppression of the administration remained the same.

A short time afterwards, the Raja left on a visit to Lahore, to be present at the Dussehra festival to which he had been specially invited by Ranjit Singh with whom he seemed more anxious to remain on good terms than with the English Government, This visit gave just cause of dissatisfaction to British Government, occurring so soon after the censure which had been passed on the Raja for his unauthorised negotiations with the Lahore Court.

The natural faults of Sangat Singh's character were carefully encouraged by his ministers for their own ends. He squandered the money in a thousand extravagances, more especially in his expeditions to Lahore. The repeated extortions from all classes of his subjects made him very unpopular. The administrative duties were completely neglected, life and property became insecure, while the most faithful servants of the State sought, in British territory, an asylum where they might be secure from the molestations and oppressions of the Raja and his minister, Diwan Singh. Raja Sangat Singh shifted the headquarters from Jind to Sangrur in 1827 because of the place being nearer to Patiala and Nabha, the other two Phulkian states.

Raja Sangat Singh died at the young age of 23, without a heir to succeed. There were many claimants to his throne. The Raja of Nabha advanced a claim as the descendant, with the Jind house, from a common ancestor, but this claim was atonce disallowed, for his branch of the family had separated from that of Jind, previous to the founding of the principality of Raja Gajpat Singh. However, in this context, the right of Sardar Sarup Singh of Bazidpur having been admitted by the British Government the question arose, what principle should be held to govern the disposition of the several portions of the territory. This territory consisted of three distinct portions; that which was possessed by Raja Gajpat Singh, the founder of the family, through whom Sarup Singh claimed, and which comprised the districts of Jind and Safidon, the best portion of the territory ; secondly the grants made by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore to the Jind Chief, previous to the treaty of 1809, including Ludhiana, Basia, Morinda, and lastly certain grants made by the Maharaja subsequent to that treaty.

Raja Sarup Singh was formally installed in the presence of all the Phulkian Chiefs and the British Agent in April 1837. However, he was deprived of much of his territory, and Basia, Ludhiana and Morinda were taken away by the British. Since Raja Sarup Singh rose to power by virtue of the British support, he remained loyal to them. When the Second Sikh War broke out in 1849, Raja Sarup Singh proved his devotion to the Government, and offered to lead his troops in person to Lahore, to join the English Army. After the annexation of the Punjab, the Raja of Jind was one of the few chiefs permitted to retain independent powers, with the exception of the right of capital punishment, which was conceded to him after the mutiny. He showed himself deserving of the privileges granted to him, by endeavoring to reform his administration after the English System of revenue and police.

When the mutiny broke out in May 1857, Raja Sarup Singh was not behind the Maharaja of Patiala in active loyalty. At the head of his force, he reached Kamal where he undertook the defence of the city and cantonments. His contingent did not exceed 800 men, but it was orderly and well-disciplined, and its presence at Kamal gave confidence, and secured that station from plunder. Raja Sarup Singh was the only chief who was present with army before. In this respect, he was more fortunate, though not more loyal or courageous than the Maharaja of Patiala and the Raja of Kapurthala, both of whom desired to join the besieging force; but their presence was considered more useful elsewhere. The services of the Raja were duly appreciated by the British. The Governor-General, in his notification of 5 November 1857 declared that the steady support of the Raja of Jind called for the marked thanks of the Government. But Raja Sarup Singh received rewards more substantial than mere thanks. He was amply rewarded in territory and in this context, thirteen villages conveniently situated near Sangrur were also ceded to the Raja in perpetuity.

In recognition of his service in recapturing Delhi for the British, the confiscated house of the rebel Shahzada Mirza Abu Bakr, situated in Delhi, was bestowed on the Raja (Sarup Singh), and his salute was raised to eleven guns. Further, the Raja Sarup Singh was awarded the title of "Farzand dilband rasikhul itikad Raja Sarup Singh Bahadur Wali Jhind", (Beloved son, firm in loyalty, Raja Sarup Singh Bahadur, the ruler of Jind). Two villages, Badrukhan and Bumhamwadi, an issolated plot of land near Sangrur, were held by kinsmen of the Raja nominally in the Thanesar District, but really 80 miles distant from Thanesar. Raja Sarup Singh was allowed to purchase the interest of Government in these villages and hence the Badrukhan Chiefs became feudatories of Jind.

Raja Sarup Singh had been nominated a Knight Grand Commander of the Star of India in August 1863, but he was too ill to visit Ambala to be invested, and died before the honour could be bestowed. It was both strange and unfortunate that the three great Chief ships of Patiala, Nabha and Jind should have become vacant almost simultaneously.

Raghbir Singh, the son and heir of Raja Sarup Singh was in every way worthy of his father. He was, at this time, about 30 years of age, and had been thoroughly trained in judicial and administrative matters, in which the late Raja was an excellent teacher; for he had kept his territory in excellent order, and had been eminently just in his dealings with his subjects.

The installation of the new Chief took place on 31 March 1864 in the presence of Sir Herbert Edwards, the Agent of the Lt. Governor, the Maharaja of Patiala, the Raja of Nabha, the Nawab of Malerkotla, and many other chiefs. The principal residence of Raja Raghbir Singh was at Sangrur, but he did not neglect the administration of the distant parts of the estate. He was a man of excellent judgement and honesty, He made Sangrur a beautiful town, constructing bazar on the lines of Jaipur with pukka shops, gardens, tanks, temples and other public religious buildings, as also a metalled road around the town.

During the time of Raja Raghbir Singh, a revolt broke out in Dadri because of the new revenue assessment, which was on the lines of the British system. However, the Raja of Jind was able to crush the revolt. Raja Raghbir Singh rendered help to the British Government on the occasion of agitation launched by Namdhari Sikhs, also called Kukas. On 13 January 1872, there was a meeting of Kukas at Bhaini (District Ludhiana), and a group of about 150 of these, started off under the leadership of the Jats of Sakaraundi in the Patiala State territory. They were armed with axes, sticks etc. only, and were said to have declared that the town of Malerkotla would be the object of their attack. They went to Payal in Patiala territory (now in Ludhiana District) without causing any disturbance, and reappeared next day near to Malaudh (Ludhiana District), the seat of Sardar Badan Singh, on which they made a sudden onset with the idea, probably, of getting arms and money. In this attack, two men were killed on each side and a few wounded and the gang succeeded in securing three horses, one gun and one sword. They next proceeded to Kotla, and on the morning of 15 January 1872, made a sudden attack on the place and treasury of the Nawab, but were driven off when the Kotla guards had recovered from their surprise and pursued to Rurr in the Patiala territory (Patiala District) where they were captured and handed over to Malerkotla authorities. On getting the news of attack on Malaudh and Kotla, Mr. Cowan the Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana, started for the latter place, and telegraphed for troops, which arrived soon after. Mr. Cowan executed by blowing from guns at Kotla 49 of the captured men, and others were tried by the Commissioner (Mr, Forsyth) and executed on the following day. The Jind Chief showed loyalty to the British Government. On the request of Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, he sent two guns, a troop of horses, two companies of infantry to Malerkotla to supress the Kuka Movement,

Again during the Second Afghan War in 1878, he sent a contingent of 500 sepoys, 200 sawars with a large staff and 2 guns. The forces along with equipment reached at Thal in 1879 and rendred valuable services there. In 1882, during Egyptian attack, the Raja of Jind offered to help the British with troops and ammunition but his offer was declined. In 1887, Raja Raghbir Singh died. His only son Balbir Singh had died during his lifetime. His grandson Ranbir Singh who was born in 1879 was only a minor. He was put up under regency and full powers were vested in him in 1899. He ruled the Jind State till independence in 1947. Since major protion of the erstwhile State of Malerkotla is now included in the Sangrur District, it is worthwhile to narrate briefly here the history of erstwhile Malerkotla State.


Malerkotla State appears to have come into existence in 1454. In this year the founder of the State Sadr-ud-din, commonly known as Sadr Jahan, was married to Taj Murassa Begum, the daughter of Behlol Lodhi. Sadr Jahan was a saint, sarwani Afghan of Daraband of Khurason, who was a disciple of Pir Rukn Alam-a-Multani Pir and had settled at Bhumsi (Malerkotla Tahsil) a place which lay on a tributary of River Satluj. At this place, Behlol Lodhi was blessed by him. After conquering the areas of Delhi he had married away his daughter to the saint. In marriage, he gave 12 large and 56 small villages in dowry. Subsequently, Sadr Jahan contraced marriage with the daughter of a Bhatti Chief of Kapurthala. He is said to have died in 1515, leaving behind three sons Isa, Hassan and Musa by the Lodhi princes and a daughter from Bhatti lady. The royal family of Malerkotla descended from Isa. The descendants of Hassan became "Mujawars" the attendants of the shrine of Sadr Jahan. Musa died in the lifetime of his father. The Subah of Maler settled the dispute of the brothers and after giving a jagir to the descendants of Hassan left the remainder for Isa. Isa left a son named Muhammad Shah who succeeded his father whereas Hassan left two sons Sulimanand Mirza. One of the sons of Hassan killed the Subah of Maler as he had not felt happy at the decision given by the Subah. For committing this offence, he was expelled from the kingdom. His cousin Muhammad Shah had also to share the punishment and went to the Rai of Sunpat or Sunbat. In these days, Sher Shah had overthrown Humayun and Muhammad Shah purchased the territory after borrowing the amount from Rai of Sunpat which he paid to Sher Shah. His cousins had no share as they had not contributed anything. Muhammad Shah died leaving three sons of whom the eldest Khawaja Maudud succeeded in 1545. Khawaja had three sons, the eldest of whom was Fateh Mahammad Khan who was fifth in descent from Sadr Jahan, was the first to enlarge his family estates and founded Kotla near Maler in 165C. He frequented Delhi court and received from the emperor Aurangzeb in 1657 the paragnas of Kadrabad and Nawaagaon in jagir. He died in 1659 leaving four sons. The eldest Firoz Khan, succeeded him as Rais, He died in 1672. His eldest son Sher Muhammad Khan was a prominent general of his time. He served in the Bihar compaign and his services were rewarded by a jagir of 70 villages. He also served in Badaun aiding the imperial forces in the suppression of the revolt of the Ali Muhammad, the Rohilla. In his days, began the incessant warfare with Sikhs. He was deputed by the Subah of Sirhind to check the Majha Sikhs in crossing the Satluj but he was defeated Later on he was killed in 1710 in the battle of Chapper-Chiri (near Sirhind) in which Banda Bahadur routed the forces of the Subah of Sirhind.

It is to be noted that whereas the Sikhs under Banda destroyed Sirhind utterly, and butchered Wazir Khan and his entire family, they spared the State of Malerkotla altogether. It was due to the fact that when tender sons of Guru Gobind Singh were being bricked alive by Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sirhind, the only one to protest against this heinous crime was Nawab Sher Mohammad Khan of Malerkotla who said, "the sins of the father should not be visited upon the tender sons. If we could not defeat the Guru, why wreak venegeance on those poor little ones".

The next Rais, Gulam Hussain, was a timid man of a weak and peaceable disposition. In his life time, he excluded his sons from the chiefship and installed his brother Jamal Khan on the throne. A notable chief in his days, he had warfare with Sikh Chiefs. In the battle of Sanghera with the Raja of Patiala, he was defeated. He lost Sanghera ilaqa in pargana Ballian including Hadiya which Ala Singh made his capital. From this time onwards up to the end of 18th century, Malerkotla Afghans were all out in extending unstinted help to Ahmed Shah Abdali or his heirs or pleasing Sikhs for grinding their own axe. Abdali's help occasionally, paid them. Side by side, they had cultivated friendship with the house of Patiala, whereby a tiny Muslim State could exist in the centre surrounded by the misls.

Jamal Khan received robe of honour from Ahmed Shah Abdali in recognition of his services in suppressing the Sikhs. In 1747, after the departure of Ahmed Shah Abdali, Adina Beg joined hands with the Sikhs and took possession of Ropar. Jamal Khan went to expel insurgents but was kilted in an action. Strangely, Jamal Khan was a party in harassing Abdali forces in league with Ala Singh of Patiala while he was retreating from Punjab in 1747.

Jamal Khan left five sons, the eldest of whom Bhikhan Khan became Rais. He was a temporiser and at the same time a friend of Sikhs and Ahmed Shah Abdali. In 1762, he joined hands with Ahmad Shah Abdali and played significant part in routing Sikhs in a wada ghalughara in 1762. In 1763, he joined hands with the Suba of Sirhind. But the Suba was defeated at Harnaulgarh. Thereafter, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia slew Bhikhan Khan in an action.

Bhikhan Khan left two sons, Wazir Khan and Fateh Khan, who were infants. Bahadur Khan, a brother of Bhikhan Khan succeeded him. His reign was a series of disasters. He was killed in an engagement with the Sikhs in Jhal in 1766. Bahadur Khan also left two sons, Himat Khan and Delar Khan, again the chiefship went to the eldest surviving brother of Jamal Khan named Umar Khan. He had engagement with the Raja of Patiala in 1766 and fought a battle at Tibba but with the intervention of the Rai of Raikot the matter was settled. Raja Amar Singh of Patiala promised to hand over 116 villages to the Maler Afghan but in fact he made over only 74. Even then the Khan thereafter cemented his alliance by aiding the Raja of Patiala in the battle of Selba.

Gopal Singh Dr., A History of the Sikh People (1469-1978) (New Delhi, 1979), P. 307 After his death in 1782, Ata-Ullah-Khan, the eldest of five sons of Jamal Khan succeeded him. He fought a battle with Sardar Chuhar Singh of Bhadaur and recovered Kawanwala from him. At the instance of Diwan Nanumal, a dismissed Diwan of Patiala, Ata-Ullah-Khan, attacked Patiala but he was defeated at Khanpur. In 1794, Sahib Singh Bedi of Una, a benefactor of the Sikhs, attacked Malerkotla but with the intervention of Raja of Patiala he retreated. By 1788, Marathas had become prominent in the area between Yamuna and Satluj under the command of Soindia. But they were defeated by Lord Lake at Laswari. The Afghan of Malerkotla assisted Lord Lake. In 1808, Maharaja Ranjit Singh demanded one and a half lakh rupees from the Khan of Kotla. On his inability to pay the full amount, he deputed the Tahsildars and Thanedars to release the balance. By 1810, Malerkotla had come in under protectorate of the British who reinstated the dispossessed chief of Malerkotla and the staff of Maharaja was asked to go.

Meanwhile Wazir Khan, son of Bhikhan Khan made a representation to the British for the restoration of their rights over the throne. By that time, Ata Ullah-Khan was dead. There were many contestants alongwith the sons of Ata Ullah Khan but the balance was struck by the British in favour of Wazir Khan.

The claims of Ata-UIlah-Khan's son named Rehmat Ali Khan were ignored on the plea taken by the British to the effect that the law of primogeniture would prevail for succession. Wazir Khan's life was uneventful, as he swelled the rank of eulogisers and was most eager to extend help to the British in men and money. Among other activities inter alia, he assisted the British in the Gorkha War in 1814. He died in 1821 and was succeeded by his son, Amir Khan. He meticulously followed his father in governing his territory. He assisted the British in 1839 in the Kabul War popularly known as the First Afghan War. During the First Anglo-Sikh War, he fought on the side of the British at Mudki and Ferozeshah. In recognition of his service, he was awarded the title of Nawab and jagir of three villages. He helped the British in the Second Gorkha War and passed away in 1846. He was succeeded by his son Mehboob All Khan better known as Sube Khan. Like other Sikh chiefs, he sided with the British during the mutiny of 1857. He died in 18S9. His son Sikhander Ali Khan, spent most of his time quarrelling with his relations. Both of his sons died young. On this, Sikander Ali Khan nominated Ibrahim Ali Khan the eldest son of Dilawar Ali Khan as his heir. The Nawab attended viceregal Durbar in 1869 held in honour of Amir Sher Ali Khan of Kabul. He died in 1871. Ibrahim Khan succeeded Sikander Ali Khan at the age of 14.

During his time, Kuka incident took place, the reference of which has been made elsewhere. Ibrahim AH Khan attended imperial assemblage at Dehli in 1877. The next year, he sent a contingent in aid of the British for Frontier Service. The Nawab also supplied a number of transport animals for the British forces on their departure, to, and return from, Kabul. He attended the viceregal Durbar in 1880 held at Lahore and again at Ropar in 1882.

In 1884, the untimely death of his eldest son Sahibzada Ashiq Ali Khan and his Begum disturbed his mind and he withdrew from the wordly affairs. The State was put under the management of some superintendents appointed by the Government and this arrangement continued up to 1903. The Superintendents who managed were Kazi Ahmed Shah, Mr. G.E. Wakefield, the retired Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana and the Nawab of Loharu. In 1903, Sahibzada Ahmed Ali Khan took charge of the affairs of the State. He attended the Durbar at Lahore in 1905. He married the cousin of the Nawab of Rampur and had a son Iftikhar Ali Khan.

Lord Minto, Viceroy and Governor-General of India visited Maler-kotla State on 26 November 1906 when Mohd. Ahmed Ali Khan was acting as a regent. Nawab Ibrahim Ali Khan passed away in 1908 and Mohd. Ahmed Ali Khan became the Nawab of Malerkotla in 1911. He was invited to the Coronation Durbar at Delhi and attended the various functions in connection with the coronation of His Majesty King Emperor George V. At the outbreak of the great war against Germany in 1914, he placed his troops and all resources of the State at the disposal of the British Government . The Nawab of Malerkotla also helped the British during the Third Afghan War.

Nawab Mohd. Ali Khan of Malerkotla took keen interest in the administration of the State and welfare of his subjects. During his rule, various administrative reforms were carried out. Two revenue settlements took place under the supervision of Late Ch. Mohd. Din. Gram Markets at Ahmedgarh and Himmatana were also built. Education received special attention. In addtion to a High School, an Intermediate College was also opened where free education was given to the State subjects and to students from outside. Some new roads and buildings were also built. During his rule, the State administration was known for efficiency and the Chief Court was raised to the status of a High Court. Besides introducing administrative reforms, the Nawab also paid special attention to industry. Two steel rolling mills were established at Malerkotla which had always been a good iron market. Cotton ginning factories, expellers and cottage industries, and factories for producing cycle parts, which came into existence during Ms rule, provided more employment opportunities to the people. The rail line between Ludhiana and Jakhal was built during his rule. He also gave active support to the British during the Second World War.

Partition of India and creation of Pakistan led to the outbreak of communal riots and heavy loss of life on both sides of the border. However, due to communal harmony prevailing in the State and the personal interest taken by the ruler, no communal riot took place within the Maler-kotla State territory and all continued to live in perfect peace and harmony during this period of unrest. Nawab Mohd. Ahmed Ali Khan passed away on 18 October 1947 and Nawab Mohd. Iftikhar Ali Khan became the Nawab of Malerkotla who was already incharge of State administration as Chief Minister of the State.

The history of the Malerkotla State during first half of the twentieth century (upto 1947) is a history of unflinching loyalty to the British. The State helped the British with men, money and transport during the First and Second World Wars. The rulers of Malerkotla ruthlessly suppressed any freedom movement or anti-British movement if at all that happened within the State territory. The Nawab of Malerkotla, despite his meagre resources was always competing with his wealthy Sikh neighbourly princes in grandeur and lavish expenditure. He even legalized 'Satta' in the State.

The Nawab Mohd. Iftikhar Ali Khan of Malerkotla was held in high esteem by people of Malerkotla. He died issueless on 20 November 1982.

The Struggle for Freedom

The people of the Sangrur District were not under the direct control of the British Government. These were governed by the Phulkian Chiefs who owed their allegiance to the British. Hence the freedom struggle of the people was mainly the struggle against the princely rulers of Phulkian States of Jind, Nabha and Patiala, who were following a repressive policy promoted by the British. Still the national movements had their impact on the people of this area and they also contributed in the main struggle for freedom from the British Rule. The Ghadar Movement (1913-15) inspired some people of the area. Moreover, Punjab Riasti Praja Mandal Movement was a fight of the people against the despotic princely rulers. The Indian National Congress was carrying on the freedom struggle through the Praja Mandal in the area. A brief description of the freedom movement in Sangrur District is given in the succeeding paragraphs

The Ghadar Movement

The Ghadar Movement was the first purely secular movement which aimed to liberate India by force of arms. The rebellion was planned in the United States and Canada. Funds were raised from Indians living in foreign countries. The headquarters of the movement were at San Francisco. Sohan Singh Bhakna was the President and Lala Hardyal was the General Secretary of the party*. Pt, Kanshi Ram of Rupnagar District was the Treasurer of the Ghadar Party. A weekly paper called 'Ghadari (The Rebellion) was started with Lala Hardyal as Chief Editor. Through the journal, the organisation got wide publicity and in course of time came to be known as the Ghadar Party.

In the first issue of 'Ghadar' published on 1 November 1913, the objective of the party was stated in the following words: "Today, there begins in foreign lands, but in our country's language , a war against the British Raj What is our name? 'Ghadar'. What is our work?

'Ghadar'. Where will 'Ghadar' break out? In India. The time will soon come when rifles and blood will take the place of pen and ink.6"

Many articles and poems from 'Ghadar' were re-printed in booklets of which four became very popular, viz. (i) Ghadar-di-Goonj (Echo of the Mutiny) (ii) Ilan-e-Jang (Declaration of War) (iii) Naya Zamana (The New Age) and (iv) The Balance Sheet of British Rule in India. Echoes of the mutiny became very popular. The following extracts from ‘Gadar di Goonj' indicate that the Ghadrites were highly inspired persons.

Though Hindu, Mussulmans and Sikhs be, Sons of Bharat are we still, Put aside your arguments for another day, Call of the hour is to kill. (Vol. I No. 23) While we were all sunk in stupor, The foreigners took over our government, In pointless disputes we got involved, Like quarrel some whores our time we spent. Some worship the cow; others, swine abhor, The white man eats them at every place, Forget you are Hindu, forget you are Mussulman, Pledge yourselves to your land and race.

'Ghadar' printed occasionally the following advertisement in its "Wanted Columns":

WANTED ---- Enthusiastic and heroic soldiers for organizing
Remuneration ---- Death
Reward ---- Martyrdom
Pension ---- Freedom
Field of work ---- Hindustan

In the Gurudwaras in the United States, Canada, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, it became customary to recite poems from Ghadar and hold discussions on political problems after evening prayers. Within a few months, the Ghadar Party had the unanimous support of the entire Indian immigrant community of the Pacific Coast and had changed the Sikhs from the loyal British subjects to ardent revolutionaries'.

As war clouds gathered over Europe, leaders of the Ghadar Party began to talk of utilising the opportunity if Great Britain was involved in hostilities. Special supplements of Ghadar were published on 28 July and 4 August 1914, explaining to the readers their duty in the event of a war. Men were exhorted to volunteer for revolutionary service and funds were collected to pay for their passage. Several thousand men enlisted and there was a rush to catch boats leaving for India.

The Sikhs were also infuriated when the passengers of the ship 'Kama-gata Maru', mostly Sikhs, were harassed and were not allowed immigration to Canada. It also drew the attention of the world towards the plight of Indian immigrants in Canada. The Punjabis living in foreign lands became ready for the revolution in India.v

The first band of revolution sailed from San Francisco in August 1914 by the Korea. Ram Chandra, a leader of the party, addressed them in the following words: "Your duty is clear. Go to India. Stir up rebellion in every corner of the country. Rob the wealthy and show mercy to the poor. In this way gain universal sympathy. Arms will be provided for you on arrival in India. Failing this, you must ransack the police stations for rifles. Obey without hesitation the commands of your leaders".

But the Ghadarites soon discovered to their chagrin that the political climate in India was far from conducive to revolution. They made desper-rate efforts to get some base in the peasantry. They went to religious festivals at Amritsar, Nankana Sahib (Pakistan), and Tarn Taran (Amritsar District) and openly exhorted the people to rise. There was little response from the peasants and the revolutionaries had to fall back on their own resources, which were admittedly rather meagre. Being short of funds , the Ghadarites had to take recourse to dacoities. One such dacoity was committed on 29 January 1915 in a village (Thanvi) in the then Maler-kotla State. Plans were made to raid arsenals and government treasuries but they did not get much success in this respect. The Ghadrites were to equip themselves with bomb and hand grenades. Bomb factories were set up at Amritsar, Jhabal (near Ludhiana) and Lohat Badi (Maler-kotla Tahsil)."

In spite of the frantic efforts made by Kartar Singh Saraba, Pandit Kanshi Ram, Prithvi Singh and other revolutionaries, the Ghadar move-mentfailed because of the leakage of information by Kirpal Singh who had been planted by the British among the Ghadarites. But the eruption of the Ghadar brought about a complete change in the outlook of the Sikh community. The return of the Ghadarites was the first live contract that the Sikh peasants experienced with politics of any kind. It marked the beginning of the end of three quarters of a century of unquestioned loyalty to the British raj. Although the rebellion was suppressed and submerged in the enthusiasm generated by the war, it continued to ferment and erupted a few years later and gave the Akali movement its more radical aspect. Akali terrorists known as the Babbars were largely recruited from the ranks of the Ghadarites to avenge the excesses perpetrated on the Sikhs, The Babbars went about from place to place preaching sedition and spreading disaffection. Jathedar Kishan Singh was the moving spirit behind the Babbar Akali movement. And, when the Ghadarites returned home after serving their terms of imprisonment, they formed the nucleus of the left-wing political movement in the Punjab, whether Socialist or Communist.

A number of revolutionaries participated in the Ghadar Movement from the Sangrur District. Most of the participants were from village Thikriwala (Barnala Tahsil). Santa Singh s/o Badan Singh of village Kaleke11 and Dyal Singh son of Badan Singh of village Dirba (Sunam Tahsil) were the members of the Ship Committee of Kamagata Maru.

Following three persons of Barnala Tahsil were arrested on charge of joining the Kamagata Maru passengers at Budge Budge13 (Calcutta):

Name Father's Name Village
Mastan Singh Kahan Singh Moom
Chanda Singh Sarmukh Singh Thikriwala
Jai Singh Kala Singh Bihla

Santa Singh, son of Panjab Singh of village Kudri (Barnala Tahsil) was one of the passengers of the above ship who was presumed to be killed.13 Moreover in connection with the Gadhar Movement, the following persons of village Thikriwala (Barnala Tahsil) had to undergo different terms of imprisonment in the Sri Hargobindpur Conspiracy Case of Gurdaspur District".

Name Father's Name Penalty
Sher Singh Lehna Singh 7 Years' R.I.
Kesar Singh Jwala Singh 3 Years' R.I.
Gundoo Jwala Singh 3 Years' R.I.
Veer Singh Ganesh Singh 21 Years' R.I.
Atma Singh Arjun Singh 14 Years' R.I.
Bela Singh Jiwan Singh 7 years ' R.I,

Punjab Riasti Praja Mandal

There were certain movements, such as the Punjab Riasti Praja Mandal or the Kisan and Muzafa Movement which took place in the princely states. These movements had a little or no impact in the then Jind State, But in the areas of Sunam, Bhawanigarh, Barnala, etc. which were then part of the Patiala State but now form a part of the Sangrur District, these movements had considerable impact. The Punjab States Subject Movement came into existence in 1928 under the name of the Punjab Riasti Praja Mandal. This organization at that time co-ordinated the activities of other States in India to bring the specific organization on the democratic lines. Its first meeting was held at Lahore on 30 December 1929. The main objects of the Praja Mandal were to agitate against the princely rulers and request them to rule on democratic lines. They were also requested to end their tyrannical rule and also the undue harassment to the political workers and release political detenues. At that time, in Patiala State autocracy prevailed. Political leaders were arrested, never to be released. In Jind State, laws were enacted to the detriment and disress of the people. Attitude of the administration of Jind State was oppressive. Fifty respectable residents of the State were imprisoned for raising voice in favour of the above mentioned movements.

In the first meeting in 1929 of the Mandal, held at Ludhiana, it was narrated that the subjects of the States were coerced by the suppressive measures of the rulers. Anybody who wished to seek some sort of reforms in any branch of the State administration, was thrown in the jail without specifying the cause of his offence. False cases were often made against people involved in these activities. The princes bothered more to please political agents of the British Government than to care for the public. The second meeting of the Mandal was held in October 1930 at Ludhiana. The headquarters of the branches were made outside the State, such as at Ludhiana and Lahore, The Federal Scheme evolved in London at the Round Table Conference concerned only British territories and did not propose to give even a little of power to the people in the princely states. Whatever power fell to the share of princely state passed into the hands of the rulers. This scheme frustrated the Mandal, Even the Indian National Congress did not interfere much in the matters of the states. The All India States People's Conference was held in New Delhi in 1933. This conference discussed the difficult problems of the people of the princely states. It was stated that political activities were being curbed through unlawful means by the rulers. Fundamental rights were being denied to the people. The conference by passing the resolutions, and through speeches/ memoranda apprised the rulers and the British Government of the will of the people. By another resolution, the conference recommended the appointment of Non-officialEnquiry Committee consisting of leaders from other provinces to go into the alleged maladministration of Malerkotla.

Sewa Singh Thikriwala, popularly known as "Kirpan Bahadur", was the real hero of the Punjab Riasti Praja Mandal to raise the voice of the people against despotic rule in the princely states. He was able to organise the Muzara Movement, Kirti Kisan Sabha, Akali Agitation and Biswedari Movement. He belonged to Tahsil Anahadgarh now called Barnala. Ever since the abdication of the Ex-Maharaja Ripuda-man Singh of Nabha, he was actively organizing Akali agitation in favour of the exiled Maharaja against the British Government. False charges were framed by the erstwhile Patiala State against him and he was imprisoned many times, tortured and released at will of the administration. He was arrested for the last time in November 1930. He died in jail in 1934.

The death of Sardar Sewa Singh Thikriwala caused a serious setback to Riasti Praja Mandal Movement, yet the movement received a great impetus by the death of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh in 1938, The Congress Mandal also joined Praja Mandal. The first elections of Praja Mandal of Patiala State were held at Sunam.

The acting president of the Punjab Riasti Praja Mandal, alone had gone from Patiala State, to attend the meeting of All India Congress Working Committee at Bombay. On return, he wanted to start Disobedience Movement, but could not do so on account of poor response from the Mandal. At Sunam, a meeting in sympathy with the fasting Mahatma Gandhi was held in cemera but before any further programme could be finalised, the acting president of the Mandal was arrested by Ambala Police at Sunam railway station.

On 11 July 1936, the meeting of the Kisan Movement was held at village Longowal in the Sangrur District. Hira Singh Bhathal, with his wife and others again reached Longowal to join the conference, but they were forced to leave the village. For the third time on 24 July 1936, Karam Singh Mann, Bar-at-Law, Lahore, who was elected to preside over the conference, reached Longowal along with others. They were persuaded by friendly villagers to return as no conference could be held there, In 1937, Punjab Riasti Praja Mandal decided to hold Kisan conference shortly.

Accordingly, the First Kisan Conference was held in village Kamalpur, P.S. Jagraon, District Ludhiana, on 2 January 1938, wherein the zamindars were asked not to pay land revenue, etc. Consequently, the Praja Mandal workers set out for forming committee at district and tahsil levels, particularly in Sunam. By 1939, there were 866 members of Kisan Committee, out of which 782 were in Sunam District and 65 in Barnala District.

The Vice-President of the All India Kisan Sabha, N.G. Ranga, an-nouncedin 1939 to observe 1 September 1939 as "Fourth-All-India Kisan Day" but due to one reason or the other it could not be observed in the princely states. Another Kisan Conference was held at Bopa Rai Khurd in Raikot, Ludhiana District, on 9 September 1939. Thereafter the Kisan Movement and Muzara Movement so intermingled in their activities and objectives that they could be distinguished only in nomenclature.

The Muzara Movement was started by the discontented elements among the Muzaras (tenants) for the non-payment of batai (share of crop) to biswedars (landlords). It had its origin in Barnala District. Its main object was to incite the tenants against the payment of batai to the biswedars They voiced the grievances of muzaras against biswedars by holding meeting out-side the State, at Budhlada in Hisar District (Haryana). A Muzara Committee was formed and it was resolved to request the Maharaja Patiala through deputations to settle their outstanding disputes with biswedars. But the Maharaja did not pay heed to their demands. Accordingly, they were constrained to approach the British Government for redress of their grievances. Consequently, a muzara jatha started on foot towards Shimla. The members of jatha came back and only five of them set out from Chamkaur Sahib (Rup-nagar District) to meet the Resident, and the latter referred their case to the Patiala State. Accordingly, the deputationists met Revenue Minister, Patiala, who assured to redress their grievances. Thereafter, the deputa • tionists narrated the proceedings to their jatha. The Patiala State Government appointed a Commission, but the tenants were not allowed by land lords to present their case before the Commission.

Consequently, agitation was started for the non-payment of batai to biswedars. In view of these activities the authorities threatened the muzaras to be proceeded against legally, should they decide to meet the Resident. Under these conditions, the members of the jatha assembled at Budhlada and left for Kasu Begu by train and thereafter marched on foot to Lahore to present their case to the Resident. Again they were not allowed to see the Resident on the ground that their case was still under consideration of the Commission. They returned on 12 July 1939 to their villages.

During 1940-41, the muzaras held meetings at Budhlada (Hisar), Takhtupura (Firozpur) and Sehna (Ludhiana) and demanded the early publication of the Inquiry Report of the Commission. In 1942 muzaras with their leaders reached Patiala to lay their grievances before the Resident who happened to be there in connection with an industrial exhibition.

Thereafter the activities of the Muzara Movement and Kisan Movement fell into the hands of Communists. In 1942, the District Magistrate, Sunam, issued notices in connection with the banning of the Communist conference at Ugrahan.

The Kisan Conference was organized jointly by the Communist Party and the muzaras of the State in. general and those of tahsils Mansa (now in Bathinda District) and Sunam in particular, at village Rar (Tahsil Mansa) District Bathinda. Another Kisan Conference was held in 1945 to protest against the pre-planned looting and beating of Patiala State Muzaras by the State officials and biswedars.

Through public meeting, the Punjab Riasti Praja Mandal was voicing its demand for responsible Government. For the first time the people in the states were witnessing open criticism of the autocratic rule of the princes. According to the Praja Mandal, the only solution for all the ills was full responsible Government with the rulers as constiutional heads and the only way to achieve it was through a people's struggle.

India's Independence in August 1947 brought about little change in the attitude of the princes, at least in the East Punjab. The much awaited reforms were to wait for about a year more. The Praja Mandal and the Akalis continued with their demands and remained quarelling over the details of future setup. But after a very short interval, they patched up their differences, forged a united front and started demanding a responsible Government, The Akalis issued an ultimatum to the East Punjab States to introduce responsible government or face a morcha. The Praja Mandal had already been threatening a struggle. So the reforms could no longer be postponed.

The situation in other states was also showing signs of unrest. Of the six smaller states the three—Nabha, Jind and Faridkot—witnessed Praja Mandal—led satyagraha which gave lot of headache to the rulers and their administration. Kapurthala, Kalsia and Malerkotla remained comparatively quiet but there too the new post-war spirit of awakening was quite evident. In these states too, the Praja Mandal was very weak. The Muslims were predominantly on the side of the Nawab and the peasantry sided with the Akalis and the Communists. The State was an exception to the mass slaughter and emigration of the Muslim population in the wake of country's partition. In the towns of Malerkotla and Ahmedgarh where Hindus were in substantial numbers, some activity of the Praja Mandal was witnessed and the State promised to introduce constitutional reforms.

From the above account, it is clear that there was great upsurge among the people of nearly all the states, although political rivalries among various groups and parties were also growing. Now it was not the old simple battle between the rulers and the Punjab Riasti Praja Mandal. Instead it was a battle for supremacy also. Events were moving fast and the issue of constitutional reforms could no longer be shelved. In Malerkotla and Jind, the rulers promised to introduce these reforms at the earliest. The lead was given however, by the Maharaja of Patiala who announced constitutional reforms at his Birthday Durbar in January 1948. It was followed by other states.

All this showed that it was no longer possible for states to continue in their old ways. The Praja Mandal was on the war path. Administration was crisis-ridden and the Central Government at Delhi was none too sympathetic. In such a situation the movement for merger of these states gained ground. The Praja Mandal's stand was quite clear on this issue. A non-official poll taken by the Jind State Praja Mandal in Jind and Charkhi-Dadri (in Haryana) showed that people there overwhelmingly wanted merger with the Punjab. The traders were also anxious to move out of the oppressive atmosphere of the states and breathe in the free air of the Punjab where the political, economic and administrative conditions were better and far more satisfactory.

With the formation of the PEPSU, the Praja Mandal also changed its name to the PEPSU Pradesh Congress. All the princes in the East Punjab States except the Maharaja of Patiala were not given even constitutional position. Even the Patiala ruler was bo more than the constitutional head of the State and the real power passed into the hands of peoples' representatives. On 1 November 1956, on the reorganization of the states, the PEPSU was merged with the Punjab. With this even the constitutional position of the Maharaja of Patiala ended. This was in fact the end of one era and the beginning of another. The Praja Mandalists now claimed that they had achieved consumation of the great struggle which they had launched nearly thirty years earlier.

Shahid Udham Singh

Though the people of the States remained suppressed under the oppressive rule of their rulers, yet they played a significant role in the freedom movement of the country. The people of Sangrur District were not lagging behind in this respect. They are proud of Shahid Udham Singh, born on the soil of Sunam in Sangrur District, who played a commendable role in the freedom struggle along with many other heroes of this district and the country as a whole. A brief life sketch of this great martyr is being given in succeeding paragraphs.

Udham Singh was born on 26 December 1899 at Sunam. As ill luck would have it, both Udham Singh and his brother Sadhu Singh became orphans at a very tender age. One Chanda Singh, a resident of Sunam, took mercy on them and got them admitted to an orphanage in Putlighar (Amritsar). When Udham Singh was being brought up at the orphanage and receiving his education; the whole environment in the country was surcharged with revolutionary fervour. This type of atmosphere stirred up the revolutionary in Udham Singh to earn him a place of pride in history. The Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy on Baisakhi day in 1919 resulting in massacre of thousands of innocent people at the hands of General Dyer further hightened his resolve to play a significant role in the freedom struggle of the country. He resolved to avenge the death of thousands of his innocent compatriots who had gathered only to demand independence for their country at a public meeting.

In order to fulfill the cherished mission of his life, Sardar Udham Singh managed to reach England in 1923. But he had to leave England as he was recalled by Sardar Bhagat Singh to India. He took an active part in the anti-British activities at Lahore and as such was awarded rigorous imprisonment for the a period of four years. After his release in 1932, he again reached England to fulfil his mission. By this time, General Dyre had died of paralysis. Sir Michael O' Dwyer and Lord Jetland, the other two responsible for Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy were to participate in the seminar to be arranged in Caxter Hall on 13 March 1940, as representatives of Central Asian Society and East Indian Association. The hall was packed to the full and Sardar Udham Singh managed to reach near the stage. When Sir Michael O' Dwyer returned to his seat after delivering a very emotional speech, he was shot dead by Udham Singh, who did not attempt to run from the scene, but he voluntarily offered himself for arrest in order to warn the British Government against excesses with the Indian people. This daring step of Sardar Udham Singh gave a new spirit to the young revolutionaries of the country. Though Sardar Udham Singh was hanged on 31 July 1940, on the charge of murder, his spirit continued to inspire the minds of freedom loving people of this country. The remains of this great martyr were brought to Sunam, his home town on 31 July 1974 from England and were finally cremated with full State honours. In order to pay the deepest homage to Shahid Udham Singh, a memorial has also been raised at Sunam.

The Impact of the visit of Netaji Subhash Chander Bose

Since the area of Sangrur District fell in the princely states, it was not frequently visited by national leaders due to various restrictions imposed by the native rulers. Still from time to time, the national leaders of repute made short visits to inspire people for the noble cause of freedom. In 1938, Netaji Subhash Chander Bose, while going from Lahore to Hisar in a train, inspired the people of this area for a revolution. He made short but inflamatory speeches at stations when the train halted for some time- Such speeches were delivered at Dhuri, Sangrur, Sunam and Lehragaga in the district. At Sunam, Netaji addressed a very large gathering. He exhorted the people to be ready for great sacrifices and not to be afraid of princes, while struggling for independence. The visit of Netaji had much impact on the minds of the suppressed people of this area

Independence and its aftermath

At the time of Independence in 1947, Raja Ranbir Singh was ruling the Jind State with headquarters at Sangrur, Accordingly, with the rest of the country, the Jind State also became free from the British paramountcy. As in the rest of the country, people celebrated achievement of Independence with great enthusiasm. Among the states, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala played a significant role in the history of India by his sympathetic alliance and co-operation with the nationalist forces of the country and took a leading part in the negotiations with British Cabinet Mission in 1946. He so moulded the opinions of the ruling Princes as to bring them in line with the progressive leaders of the country and helped them achieve independence particularly in the crisis of 1947 when it was feared that some of them might play an obstructive role.

Under the independence Act of 1947, India was declared a free nation with Dominion status with effect from 15 August 1947. As a result of this epoch-making change, Punjab was partitioned. A part from the administrative divisions of personnel and assets, the most disturbing factor in the process which had not been clearly foreseen or provided for was the mass migration of the members of different communities from the West Punjab to the East Punjab and vice-versa. The intensity of disturbances was also felt in the Sangrur District alongwith adjoining areas. Though there was a lot of bloodshed during the partition period in the whole of the district, Malerkotla State was an exception to it. A great consideration was shown towards the Mohammedans of Malerkotla because of the fact, when Guru Gobind Sihgh's sons were bricked alive by Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sirhind, it was only Sher Mohammad Khan, the then Nawab of Malerkotla who condemned the heinous crime. Even though the wholesale transfer of communities had not been envisaged in the constitutional provisions, the force of circumstances compelled the people to be uprooted en masse and leave their hearths and homes to seek security and safety across the borders. The number of people moving with whatever they could collect, exceeded the wildest calculations of the respective Governments who were found utterly unprepared for the greatest exodus in history. The exodus of non-Muslims from all parts of West Pakistan into the East Punjab disrupted the whole economy and created a situation without parallel. Immediate measures had to be adopted for the relief and resettlement of the vast uprooted population suddenly reduced to a stage of utter penury and misery. Large number of refugees were completely demoralised on account of want and destitution. The partition found the entire Government machinery in a state of paralysis. In the face of the colossal problem, prompt action was taken by the State and Central Government to arrange for the speedy relief and resettlement of the refugees and restore ordered life in the state. Simultaneously a programme for their effective rehabilitation was launhed and was completed in phases over several years.

Formation of PEPSU and its Merger with Punjab

The Patiala and the East Punjab States Union, or the PEPSU as it was popularity called, had come into existence on 20 August 1948, with the integration of the Princely States of Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Faridkot Kapurthala, Kalsia, Nalagarh and Malerkotla. This union came into being under the active guidance of Sardar Vallabha Bhai Patel who was then Home Minister and incharge of Indian State Department. Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala was appointed as the Rajparmukh (Head of State). Similarly, Malerkotla, an independent erstwhile princely Muslim State, was declared a Tahsil of the Sangrur District. At this time, the Jind State with minor variation was changed into Sangrur District. Some of the parts of the erstwhile Jind State were ceded to Mohindergarh District (Haryana) and Sunam, Bhawanigarh, Tapa and Barnala area formerly a part of erstwhile princely state of Patiala were attached to the Sangrur District.

The States Reorganisation Commission which had been appointed by the Government of India on 29 December 1953, submitted its report in 1955 and recommended the merger of the PEPSU with Punjab. The Government accepted the Commission's recommendation and implemented it with effect from 1 November 1956, Thus, with this merger, the loss suffered by the Punjab due to the partition of the province, with 17 districts gone to Pakistan, was to some extent compensated.

The boundaries of the district further underwent a change on the reorganisation of Punjab in 1966. Jind and Narwana tehsils were transferred to the newly created State of Haryana. At present, the district has four tahsils, viz. Malerkotla, Sangrur. Sunam and Barnala

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