While Umrao Singh Majithia (1870 – 1954) was still there (Hungary), World War I (1914-18) broke out and he found himself stranded in an `enemy` country. Owing partly to his being a man of culture and intellect and partly on account of his wife not having abjured her Hungarian nationality, he was not interned. He had his sympathies with the India-Germany group, then conspiring against the British. The Germans aimed to use this group to raise troops to invade India through the northwest.

Raja Mahendra Partap Singh of Hathras(1886-1979) was chosen to head the movement. An expedition under Von Hentig, equipped with a personal letter from Kaiser William II (German Emperor) to the King of Afghanistan and letters from German Government to various ruling princes of India, was dispatched in 1915 along with Raja Mahendra Partap Singh, to travel overland to Kabul. Their plan was to win over Afghanistan and march a German Afghan army into India. Mahendra Partap Singh was in touch with Umrao Singh who was related to him through the Atari family.

In the autumn of 1915, the fortunes of the war hung in the balance evenly. From Baghdad (Iraq) Raja Mahendra Partap Singh wrote a letter to Umrao Singh which made him feel as if his friend had begun to waver. Umrao Singh wrote to him a long letter to lift his morale. The letter, unfortunately, fell into the hands of the British. The Germans had a liaison office at Shiraz (Iran). In the winter of 1916-17, the German party had to escape precipitately leaving behind all their baggage. Among the papers then seized by the British was Umrao Singh’s letter.

Complicity of Umrao Singh in anti-British activities could no longer be in doubt. Steps were initiated in India to confiscate all his estates. Umrao Singh returned to India in 1921, after the general amnesty had been granted by the King for political offences during the war.

References :-

  • Encyclopedia of Sikhism
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