Desu Singh Bhangi, the ruler of the Bhangi Misl , appointed one Gujjar Singh Bhangi as his minister with whose intercession he concluded peace with Kanaihyas and returned to Amritsar. The fort of Pathankot remained in the hands of Tara Singh. Since the Misal came in the hands of the stripling, much could not be expected from him immediately. Many Misaldars who had earlier been giving all the military assistance expected of them, became independent. Jhang ceased to pay tribute. Muzaffar Khan, son of Shujah Khan, helped by the Bahawalpur chief, made a bid to recover Multan in 1777. He was, however, repulsed by Diwan Singh, the governor of Multan.
Timur Shah, successor of Ahmad Shah, on the throne of Kabul, was determined to recover his lost territories in the Punjab. He sent his general, Faizullah Khan, to Peshawar to collect forces and attack the Punjab. He assembled a large force of the Afghans, particularly from the Khyber tribes with the avowed object of punishing the Sikhs but entered into a secret conspiracy with Mian Muhammad, son of Sheikh Omar of Chamkanni, a sworn enemy of Timur Shah, to kill the Shah. He marched his forces to the fort of Peshawar on the pretext of parading his troops before the Shah. But on reaching the fort they cut to pieces the Shah’s guards at the gate and forced their entry into the fort. The Shah went to the upper story of the palace and conveyed to his personal body- guards the seriousness of the situation. Shah’s body-guards and the Durranis attacked Faizullah’s men and there ensued terrible slaughter. Faizullah and his son were also tortured to death.
Now, Timur Shah decided to take vigorous steps in regard to Sind, Bahawalpur and the lower Punjab. In 1777-78, he sent two detachments of the Afghan troops to drive out the Sikhs from Multan but with no success. The Afghans were beaten back with heavy loss and Haini Khan, the commander of the expedition, was tied to a gun and blown off by the Sikhs. 46 But in the end of 1779, the operations of the Shah against Multan were successful. The Shah’s troops, numbering 18,000, consisting of the Yusafzais, Durranis, Mughals and Kazalbashes, were under the command of Zangi Khan, the Durrani chief. The Sikhs were said to have suffered heavy casualties with 3,000, as killed in the batde-field and 2,000, drowned in the course of crossing the river. After the victory over Multan, it was placed under the governorship of Shujah Khan, father of Muzaffar Khan. The Shah subdued Bahawal Khan, the Abassi chief of Bahawalpur.
The decline of the Misal started earlier, continued under Desu Singh. Some places got out of his control but be continued receiving revenue to the tune of fifty thousand rupees annually from theSials.
Desu Singh was not on good terms with Mahan Singh of SukerchakiaMisl which was now becoming very powerful. There were occasional skirmishes between the troops of Desu Singh and
Maha Singh Sukerchakia, The stars of the Sukerchakias were on the ascendant in those days. Desu Singh could not add any territories to his Misal, rather he lost PindiBhatian, Sahiwal, Bhera, Isa Khel, Jhang and TakhtHazara to Maha Singh Sukerchakiaand a part of Kasur and some other areas passed into the hands of Nizam-ud-Din Khan of Kasur. 49
In 1782, Desu Singh marched to reduce Chiniot and had many skirmishes with the Sukerchakia chief, Mahan Singh. He died in action in the same year. He held the chiefship of the Msal for eight years.
- Thid Tarikb-i-Abmadi, p. 19, cited by S.M. Latif, History of the Punjab, (1891), p. 299.
- Muhammad Latif, op. cit., p. 299.
- Bute Shah, op. rit, IV, p. 15,
- Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 251.
- History of the sikhs by Hari Ram Gupta
- Bute Shah, op. cit., p. 15; Lepel Griffin, op, rt., p. 389.