Gujar Singh of Lahore was the son of Natha Singh, a Sandhu Jat Zamindar of village Bhuri Asal also called Borahsal situated near Khem Karan on the western border of district Firozpur. Natha Singh had four sons, Gujar Singh, Garja Singh, Nusbaha Singh, and Chet Singh. As young men still in their teens they were tempted to become Jat Sikhs. They went to their maternal grandfather Gurbakhsh Singh Bhangi of village Roranwala, 2 kms from Atari, took pahul from him and became Sighs. All the brothers were strong and well built. Gurbakhsh Singh gave cach of them a horse and recruited them in his band. Whatever booty they acquired, half of it was given to Gurbakhsh Singh, and the other half was retained for themselves. Gujar Singh was the cleverest of all the brothers, Gurbakhsh Singh was growing old and weik. He made Gujar Singh head of his band. Gujur Singh captured Amargarh and began to reside there. He united his band to the army of Maharaja Hari Singh Dhillon, head of the Bhangi misl. Gurbakhsh Singh had a daughter and no son. He adopted Lahna Singh as a son. On Gurbakhsh Singh’s death Gujar Singh claimed the whole state and property of the deceased. Lahna Singh offered him half of it. A drawn battle was fought between them. As both of them were of the same age, and both were equally brave, they became fast friends.

Occupation of Lahore, 1765

On the occasion of Baisakhi at Amritsar, both Lahna Singh and Gujar Singh planned the occupation of Lahore. At the head of 1,000 horsemen each, they reached Lahore in a dark night. Gujar Singh was the first to enter the fort through a drain of dirty water. They occupied Lahore jointly. As Lahna Singh was senior in relationship, being his maternal uncle, Gujar Singh allowed Lehna Singh to take possession of the city and the fort. Gujar Singh remained satisfied with the uninhabited eastern part of the city lying outside its walls. It was a jungle and the meeting place of thieves and robbers. Gujar Singh erected an unwalled fort there known as Qila Gujar Singh, Though the fort no longer exists there, the area still bearshis name. The main railway station of Lahore stands on the site of his fort. Then came Sobha Singh. He seized Niaz Beg village, and became the third ruler of Lahore. Gujar Singh invited people to live there. He sank forty wells to supply water. He established about a dozen brick kilns, and constructed 15 shops and 150 houses. Of these 20 were allotted to flower gatherers, 4 to grocers, 2 to general merchants, one each to a blacksmith, a carpenter and a barber, 8 to leather dressers and the remaining 128 to cultivators. A mosque was built for the Muslims, though no gurudwara or temple was erected,To the North-WestGujar Singh was not content with the occupation of this jungle land and by being a partner. He desired for new and independent lands. He appointed his eldest son Sukha Singh at Lahore and himself marched to the north-west at the head of a strong force. He seized Eminabad, 6 kms from Lahore. Fifeen kilometres farther was Gujranwala which was the headquarters of Bhatti Jat ruler Sirdar Charat Singh Of Sukerchakia. Gujar Singh did not touch Charat Singh’s territory. Charat Singh also did not like to quarrel with such a powerful chief supported by Dhillon Jat rulers Jhanda Singh and Ganda Singh. So both came to an understanding. It was agreed that they would work individually or jointly according to circumstances. They were to seize lands turn by turn in order to avoid any mutual conflict. Beyond Gujranwala the important town was Wazirabad 32 kms away. Gujar Singh assigned it to Warrich Jat ruler Gurbakhsh Singh Warrich of Chubhal village near Amritsar. Later on Sahib Singh Bhangi entrust edit to his own son-in-law, Jodh Singh of Pasrur. Gujar Singh seized Chakrali and Sodhra on the southern bank of river Chenab. The parganah of Sodhra contained Begowala, Bhopalwala, Kayanwala, Mitranwali and Sahowala. In all he captured 150 villages in Gujranwala district.

Conquest of Gujrat, 1765

On the other side of river Chenab, 8 kms distant from the riverand 114 kms from Lahore lay the town of Gujrat. It was an old city.It stood like a gem in the green woods of the region. It was a fertile place, though slightly cultivated. Afort built by Akbar was situated in the heart of the town, which was surrounded by mud walls. It had about eight thousand houses. Population mainly consisted of Muslim Gujars and Hindu Khatris. The place was fa nous for manufacturing of daggers, swords, matchlocks and other arms. The main road to Kashmir started from there. Gujrat was under Sultan Mugarrab Khan Gorkha. The gorkhas were a most powerful tribe. They had possessed great power for many hundred years. They dominated over a wide extent of country lying between Chenab and Indus rivers. They were a united people, It was their organisation that had enabled them to subdue other war like Muslim tribes such as Awans, Chibs, Gujars, Janjuas, Khatars, Khokhars, and others, On account of their superiority all the Gakhars, high and low, were addressed as Raja. Sultan Muqarrab Khan became the head of the Gakhar tribe in 1739 at the time of Nadir Shah’s invasion. He subdued Yusafzai Afghans of Hazara district. He defeated Jang Quli Khan Khatak. He seized Gujrat and established his headquarters there in 1758 after the death of Adina Beg Khan. He overran the Chib territory up loBhimbar in the north. He supported Ahmad Shah Durrani in his Indian invasions, and gave away his daughter in marriage to him,and received great consideration from him. Gujar Singh decided to capture Gujrat. Charat Singh agreed to support him. The two Jat sardars marched upon Gujrat in December,1765. Mugarrab Khan offered tough opposition first on western bank of river Chenab, and then outside the walls of the town. Having been defeated he shut himself up in the fort. The town was immediately besieged. In a few days supply of foodstuff ran short both in the town and the fort. The Gakhar chief decided to escape. In a dark night he made a sudden sally and cut his way through the besiegers. He was riding on an elephant. The Sikhs pursued him. Mugarrab Khan descended into the flooded stream flowing nearby. The elephant crossed it, but the chief was not on its back. The Sikhs thought he had been drowned. Riding a horse at the head of his womenfolk he dushed on. On the banks of river Jehlam, 50 kms away from Gujrat he was captured by his rival Gakhar chief Himmat Khan of Domeli, 30 kms to the west of river Jehlam, and was put to death. The two elder sons of Mugarrab Khan seized Perwala, and the two younger sons Wangli. Ganesh Das Wadebra says that the Sikhs first plundered the entire camp of Muqarrab Khan. Afterwards they fell upon Gujrat, Whatever they found in the town was carried away. Houses and shops were reduced to ashes by fire. The people fled away to Jalalpur, Shadipur, Akhnur and other places far and near. The Waraich Jats whoheld 170 villages in Gujrat district and 4l villages in Gujranwala submitted quietly.The Chaj Doab was divided between the two Jat Sardars, Gujar Singh’s territory extended from river Jehlam to Wiso Sohawa! Charat Singh’s share was from Kunjah to Mini. The most important places belonging to Gujar Singh in the Chaj Doab were Gujtat, Jalalpur and Islamgarh.

Kashmir expedition, 1767

Rahmat Khan of Jalalpur Jattan had helped the Sikhs in the battle of Gujrat. He had built a strong fort at Islamgarh and had appointed Islam Khan, the chief of the fort. He voluntarily submitted to Gujar Singh. Gujar Singh gave charge of Gujrat to his son Sahib Singh, and himself turned towards the Chibs. In Gujrat district they held fifty-one villages. Besides they possessed the tract of Khari Kharyalistretching from the forts of Mangla and Naushahra on river Jehlamin the hilly region upto the Chenab. Like Gakhars, they enjoyed the title of Raja. Gujar Singh could not subdue them and he failed to take the fort of Mangle. But the Chibs undertook not to create disturbances. About the same time Gujar Singh reduced to subjection the Muslim hilly states of lower Kashmir region. He defeated Sulaiman Khan, chief of Bhimbarl and made him his tributary. Mirpur, Kotliand Punchh fell afterwards. These successes encouraged Gujar Singh to conquer the valley of Kashmir which was under the Durranis. He advanced one stage ahead of Punchh. Up to this time the Sikhs had experience of only low hills, three to four thousand feet high. They had a great fear of snow, storms and cold winds, as well as of the enemy attacks in narrow gorges. Further there was the danger from Ahmad Shah Durrani who would have come to the rescue of his Kashmir governors. The Sikh Jat soldiers were half hearted in this adventure, and they did not like to be entrapped in formidablerountains. In an encounter with the troops of the governor of Kashmir,the Sikhs were defeated and most of their baggage and many horses fell into enemy hands. Gujar Singh returned to Gujrat with great difficulty (uftan wä khezän). Islam Khan,the zamindar of Islamgarh, came to sympathise with Gujar Singh. It was well-known that this chief being fond of horses had a large stable at Islamgarh. Gujar Singh planned to seize his stables by imprisoning him. (Az räh-e-daghäbäzi asir kardanashtajwiz namüd.) Islam Khan came to know about this conspiracy. He took to flight leaving his horses and other things behind.

During last Durrani invasion, 1766-67

During Ahmad Shah Durrant’s eighth invasion, Gujar Singh with other Sikh Jat sardars offered him a tough opposition. On January 17,1767, the Durrani commander-in-chief, Jahan Khan, reached Amritsar at the head of 15,000 troops. Gujar Singh, Charat Singh, Lahna Singh and Hira Singh fought with him. An intelligencer reported that five to six thousand Afghans were killed and wounded. The Shah wash alting at Jalalabad on the banks of river Beas. Leaving his baggage there he rushed to help Jahan Khan. The Sikhs carried off most of the Shah’s goods. Raja Ranjit Dev of Jammu had sent his tribute to the Durrani king. On the retirement of the Shah, Gujar Singh and Jhanda Singh led an expedition to Jammu, and imposed a fine on the Raja. In the summer of 1767 Gujar Singh and Charat Singh conquered Jehlam, 53 kms from Gujrat, and Rohtas, both of which went to Charat Singh. It was agreed that the whole region along the highway up to the Indus would belong to Gujr Singh. The western parts inthe Chaj Doab and Sind Sagar Doab, with the exception of those places already under Bhangis would be in the sphere of Sukerchakias.

Rawalpindi, 1767

The country between rivers Jehlam and the Indus was full of ravines.It was an arid area. Between Rohtas and Rawalpindi, a distance of about 100 kms Jherar, Jagatpur, Perwala and Pakoke Sarae were the strong holds of Gakhars. The Gakbars were a hardy and numerous tribe of great valour. Sultan Mukarram Khan of Perwala, 1 Karmullah Khan of Dhani, and Mansur Khan of Gheb submitted to Gujar Singh.The districts of Dhani and Gheb were famous for a fine breed of horses and mules. It enabled Gujar Singh to equip his forces in a better way. Pothohar also fell to Gujar Singh. It consisted of two parganahs, Wangli and Perwala. Wangli contained eight tappas with its headquarter at Kalra town. In addition to Gakhars there were other tribes such as Awans, Dhunds and Gulers. They were widely scattered over a large area. But their thickest population was in the districts of Jehlam and Rawalpindi. In Jehlam district they occupied the tract of Awan Kari lying across river Gabir. They occupied a strong position in Rawalpindi district. The Awan strongholds in Rawalpindi districts were at Chihan, Jand Bugdial and Sarwala. An Awan clan known as Guleras, notorious for marauding activities, lived to the north of Rawalpindi. The Dhund tribe, a lawless and refractory people, inhabited the hilly region to the north of Rawalpindi between Hazara and Murre. Their citadels were at Dewal, Kahuta and Murree. It was with such people that Gujar Singh had to deal with. Rawalpindi was an insignificant place in those days. It contained afew huts of Rawal Hindu mendicants. Gujar Singh realized its strategic importance, being situated at the junction of two highways,from Kabul to Lahore and from Kabul to Kashmir. Gujar Singh along with his son Sahib Singh captured Rawalpindi in the winter of 1767. Gujar Singh gave charge of Rawalpindi to Milkha Singh Thepuria. Gujar Singh proceeded farther to Hasan Abdal, 46 kmsfrom Rawalpindi, and entrusted it to Kala Singh Bhangi of the sweeper caste. He established his seat at Kali Sara nearby. Gujar Singh went ahead to Attock 53 kms from Hasan Abdal, and assigned the area between Hasan Abdal and Attock to a Brahman named Ran Singh Pada. His headquarters were also at Kali Sarae. Both the sardars had to work as a united team. Individually each was responsible for his own region, but jointly they were responsible for defence purposes. Milkha Singh’s wife exercised supervision over them. Milkha Singh had control over the whole area lying between Rohtas and Attock. Milkha Singh appointed Sadhu Singh to take up the duty of providing rations for the Sikh troops. Budh Singh was to supervise the collection of revenues. In the absence of Milkha Singh his wife commanded Sikh forces to suppress local rebellions between Rawalpindi and Attock. Tappa Tarali and Qila Rotala were given to Chet Singh brother of Gujar Singh. Kalra and Pothohar were assigned to Sidhu Jat chief Jodh Singh Of Attariwala Attock Between Rawalpindi and Attock there was Märgalla Pass. It separated Kälächitta and Khairimurat hills. At Attock there was not a single tree on the plain. It was as level as a sheet of water. The town was situated inside the fort. It lay on the spur of a hill sloping towards the river Indus. Hence its inside was visible from the western bank of the river. The mud fort of Khairabad situated on the other bank of the Indus opposite Attock commanded the full view of the fort of Attock. The western side of the fort was washed by the Indus.The fort was a triangle in shape, and its other two sides were surrounded by two ravines. Each side of the hill of Attock was about 3 kms long. There was no well inside the fort. Water was available from the Indus through a passage called Abduzd. The river washed the hills on two sides. The current of water in the Indus at Attock was about 80 metres wide, being the narrowest in the plains, and 20 metres deep. In 1800 the water rose to a depth of 23 metres.

Mushakhsa jagirs

The subjugation of the warlike tribes in the north-western Panjabwas effected by Gujar Singh Bhangi in about twelve years. The Awans, Dalals, Gakhars, Ghebas, Guleras, Janjuas, Jodras, Khatars, Runials and Tarkhelis of the Jehlam and Rawalpindi districts and the Salt Range, all gave way before him. In this difficult task he was assisted by Charat Singh Sukerchakia. By 1770 the Gakhars were completely subdued. In the parganah of Fatahpur Baorah the Gakhars owned 659 villages. Out of these 192 villages were granted by Milkha Singh, deputy of Gujar Singh, in jagir to the most notable tribes. These estates called Mushakhsa were subject only to a trifling tribute. The remaining villages were kept under his own direct management and were known as Khalsa. These jagirs were distributed as follows:

  • Gakhars of Anjuri – 2 villages
  • Gakhars of Chaneri and Mandala of the hillsof Murre and Phulgiran – 107 villages
  • Gakhars of Malakpur – 1 Village
  • Gakhars of Rawalpindi–7 Villages
  • Gakhars of Saivadpur- 22 Villages
  • Gakhars of Shaikhpur – 3 Villages
  • Goleras – 22 Villages
  • Janjuas of Dhanial – 18 Villages
  • Janjuas of Runial – 6 Villages
  • Pothials)Tumair – 2 Villages
  • Runials)Sayyids of Shalditta- 2 Villages
  • Total 192 Villages

The Jammu warfare, 1782In 1782 Gujar Singh participated in the Jammu warfare. Raja Ranjit Dev had died in April, 1781. He was succeeded by his eldest son Brij Raj Dev. Karianwala in Sialkot district belonged to Jammu. It had been seized by Bhangis. Brij Raj Dev was anxious to recover it. By exchange of turbans he had established brotherly relations with Mahan Singh Sukarchakia. He invited help from Mahan Singh in getting back this territory. The Bhangis were assisted by Kanhiyas. Gujar Singh was among them. They besieged the Dinpur fort of Jammu. Fighting continued for some time. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was invited to intervene, and he brought about peace between them.Last unhappy days Gujar Singh had three sons. The eldest Sukha Singh was at Lahore. In 1779 he was married to the daughter of Bhag Singh Ahluwalia. The Second son was Sahib Singh who lived at Gujrat. He was betrothed to Raj Kanwar daughter of Charat Singh Sukarchakia. On Charat Singh’s death in 1774 the marriage was performed by Mahan Singh in 1775. His second marriage took place with the daughter of Raja Hamir Singh of Nabha in 1779. The youngest son Fatah Singh managed the ancestral state at Rangarh, 30 kms from Amritsar towards Lahore. Of the three brothers Sahib Singh was the most ambitious and most selfish and had no filial and brotherly considerations. During the lifetime of Charat Singh relations with Gujar Singh Bhangi remained amicable. He died in 1774, and was succeeded byhis only son Mahan Singh. He was most ambitious and most unscrupulous. In diplomacy and intrigue he had no equal. He was the bitterest foe inwardly of Bhangis. He could not tolerate their territories intermingled with his own, and he wished to be the sole ruler west of the river Ravi. Besides he was jealous of the supremacy of Bhangis. Militarily he could not face the Bhangi misl in the field. So he resorted to diplomacy. He took advantage of his relationship with Sahib Singh, and instigated him to set himself up as an independent chief with his support against the authority of his father. Sahib Singh turned out to be a fool in the hands of his clever brother-in-law. He began to act independently against the instructions of Gujar Singh. Gujar Singh felt offended but he kept quiet. Mahan Singh the nincited Sahib Singh to seize Lahore from his brother Sukha Singh. He persuaded Sahib Singh to believe that the ruler of Lahore was superior to the ruler of Gujrat. Sahib Singh led an expedition against Sukha Singh who lost his life in the battle. Gujar Singh was deeply grieved. He marched to Gujrat. After some fighting Sahib Singh fled to Islamgarh. Mahan Singh brought about peace between them. Sahib Singh was allowed to remain at Gujrat and serve under Gujar Singh. After some time Mahan Singh attacked Rasulnagar. Ahmad Khan,the Chatha Pathan chief, fought bravely for some time. When provisions and munitions ran short, he escaped into Gujar Singh’s camp. Mahan Singh demanded his surrender. The request was flatly rejected. Sahib Singh secretly made the Pathan chief over to Mahan Singh’s men. He was conveyed to Gujranwala and was put to death. Gujar Singh was deeply shocked at this treachery. When he reprimanded Sahib Singh, he openly insulted and disgraced his father. In despair Gujar Singh retired to Lahore.In grief and sorrow he died a broken-hearted man at Lahore. Khushwant Rai places his death in 1788. Latif and Ganesh Das Wadehra follow him. Cunningham puts it in 1791. In view of Mahan Singh Sukerchakia’s siege of Sodhra, I place Gujar Singh’s death early in 1790. Gujar Singh was a good ruler. He maintained peace and order in the country and greatly encouraged agriculture and local trade and industry. He was a dashing soldier, and was the first sardar to establish Sikh supremacy at Rawalpindi and Bhimbar. He was the bestfriend of Charat Singh Sukerchakia, but fell a victim to the intrigues of Mahan Singh.

Sources :-

  • History of Sikhs -Vol. IV ,The Sikh Commonwealth or Rise and Fall of Sikh Misls By Hari ram gupta.
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