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Rani Jindian

Rani Jindian

Rani Jind Kaur the mother of Dalip Singh, the ruler of Lahore kingdom, was the brain behind the rising of 1848-49 against the British authorities. She was known for her intelligence and intrepid spirit, Jindan was one of the few persons who was intensely disliked and also feared by the British.

Rani Jindan played a conspicuous role in the Punjab politics after her son’s elevation to the throne of Lahore kingdom. The British entered into a treaty known as the treaty of Bhyrowal with the Lahore kingdom in December 1846 which made the British the virtual masters of the Punjab. They had not only excluded the Rani from participating in the negotiations which led to the signing of the treaty but also of all share in the government of the Lahore Kingdom. She was removed from the Regency Council, which was to conduct the administration during the minority of Maharaja Dalip Singh. She hatched a plot to murder the British Resident and the members of the Regency Council who collaborated with the British. Prema, an old retainer of Gulab Singh, along with some other persons were to execute the plan. The plan however failed but the British could not take action against the Rani for lack of evidence. But they wanted to get ride of her and imposed restrictions on her movements. The chiefs of the Lahore Darbar were forbidden to see her.

The Queen had become a symbol of national dignity. She continued to urge the freedom fighters back in the Punjab to continue the struggle dauntlessly. Through her trusted band of servants, she continued to send letters and messages to Dewan Mul Raj, Sardar Chattar Singh and Raja Sher Singh, the chiefs of the rebellion.

As soon as the British came to know of the secret designs of the Rani, they transferred her to the Chunar fort on 6 April 1849. On the same evening, she escaped from the fort in the guise of her attendant and proceeded towards Nepal. She reached safely in the Nepalese territory on 27 April. The Government of India confiscated all her jewels and other property at Benaras and allowed her to stay in Nepal on a monthly pension of one thousand rupees.

In Nepal, Rani Jindan, carried through her secret plans for the expulsion of the British from the Punjab. She wrote letters to influential people both inside and outside Punjab to rise once again against the British. In the rising of 1857, she found a fresh opportunity to stimulate a rising in the Punjab. But her efforts were against rendered futile by the vigilance of the British.

Being sadly disillusioned, the Rani ultimately thought to seeing her son Maharaj Dalip Singh, who was then staying in England as a Christian gentleman. Her health was shattered and she became almost blind. The British Government allowed Dalip Singh to come to India and to take his mother along with him to England.

Disillusioned, her health shattered and almost blind she went to England to stay with her son Maharaj Dalip Singh. Rani resided in a separate house in England till her death in 1863. As per Rani’s last wishes, Dalip Singh brought her body back for cremation to India, but was disallowed by the Britishers to perform the last rites in Punjab. He therefore cremated her body at Nasik and returned to England.

Popularly known as Jindan, was, the last Sikh sovereign of the Punjab. She was daughter of Manna Singh of Gujranwala, who held a humble position at the court as an overseer of the royal kennels. Scant notice of Maharani Jind Kaur is taken either by the official Lahore diarist, Sohan Lal Suri, or the British records until 1838, when according to the former, a munshi brought the blessed tidings of the birth of a son to her. It appears that she and her son lived a life of obscurity under the care of Raja Dhian Singh at Jammu. In August 1843, the young prince and her mother were brought to Lahore. In September 1843, both Maharaja Sher Singh and Dhian Singh were assassinated.

Raja Hira Singh, Dhian Singh's son, with the support of the army and chiefs, wiped out the Sandhanvalia faction. Shortly after, Hira Singh captured the Fort of Lahore and on 16 September 1843, the army proclaimed minor Duleep Singh the sovereign of the State. Hira Singh was appointed the wazir. The political history of Jind Kaur begins from that date. Gradually, she assumed the role of regent to the minor Maharaja. Both Hira Singh and his adviser, Pandit Jalla, did not show her the courtesy and consideration she was entitled to. Her establishment was put under the control of Misr Lal Singh. Jind Kaur mobilized opinion at the Darbar against the dominance of the Dogras. She and her brother, Jawahar Singh, pleaded with the army panchayats (regimental committees) to banish Pandit Jalla and protect the rights of minor Dulcep Singh. "Who is the real sovereign?" she angrily asked the regimental committees assembled in council. "Duleep Singh or Hira Singh? If the former, then the Khalsa should ensure that he was not a king with an empty title." The council assured the Rani that Duleep Singh was the real king of the Punjab. The army panchayats treated Jind Kaur with deference and addressed her as Mai Sahib or mother of the entire Khalsa commonwealth.

The eclipse of the Jalla regime was a political victory for Maharani Jind Kaur, who had goaded the army to overthrow Hira Singh and install her brother Jawahar Singh as the wazir. She now assumed control of the government with the approval of the army panchityats who declared that they would place her on the throne of Delhi. Jind, Kaur proclaimed herself regent and cast off her veil. She became the symbol of the sovereignty of the Khalsa ruling the Punjab in the name of her son. She reviewed the troops and addressed them, held court and transacted,in public, State business. She reconstituted the supreme Khalsa Council by giving representation to the principal sardars and restored a working balance between the army panchayats and the civil administration.
Numerous vexatious problems confronted the Maharani. Pashaura Singh had bestirred himself again. An alarm was created that an English force was accompanying him to Lahore, and that he was being helped secretly by Gulab Singh. Second, the troops clamoured for a raise in their pay. The feudatory chiefs demanded the restoration of their resumed jdgirs, remission of fines and reduction of enhanced taxes and burdens imposed upon them by Hira Singh. Finally, it appeared that the diminishing revenues of the State could not balance the increasing cost of the civil and military administration.

Jind Kaur applied herself to the solution of these problems and secured to this end the assistance of a newly appointed council of elder statesmen and military generals. Kainvar Pashaura Singh was summoned to Lahore and persuaded to return to his jfgir. Early in 1845, a force 35,000 strong marched to Jammu for the chastisement of Gulab Singh. The council had accused him of being a traitor to the Panth and charged him with treachery and intrigue against his sovereign. In April 1845, the army returned to Lahore with the Dogra chief as a hostage. The pay of the soldiery was enhanced and Jawahar Singh was formally installed ruazir. Maharani Jind Kaur's choice of Jawahar Singh as wazirbecame the subject of criticism. To counteract the rising disaffection, Jind Kaur hastily betrothed Duleep Singh, in the powerful Atari family, opened up negotiations with Gulab Singh and promised higher pay to the soldiery. When Jawahar Singh was assassinated by the army panchdyats suspecting his hand in the murder of Kaiivar Pashaura Singh, Jind Kaur gave vent to her anguish with loud lamentation. Early in November 1845, she, with the approval of the Khalsa Council, nominated Misr Lal Singh to the office of ruazir.

Maharani Jind Kaur has been accused by some historians of wishing the Khalsa army to destroy itself in a war with the English. A much more balanced and realistic view will be obtained by a closer examination of the policies of Ellenborough and Hardinge and of other incidental political factors which led to a clash of arms between the Sikhs and the English in December 1845. The Ellenborough papers in the Public Records Office, London, especially Ellenborough's and Hardinge's private correspondence with the Duke of Wellington, disclose the extent of British military preparations on the Sikh frontier. The correspondence reveals the inside story of the main causes of ithe first Anglo-Sikh war - the republican upsurge of the Khalsa soldiery to save Ranjit Singh's kingdom from foreign aggression, the concentration of large British forces on the Sutlej, the British seizure of Suchet Singh's treasure, the intrigues of British political officers to subvert the loyalty of the Sikh governors of Kashmir and Multan, the rejection of Lahore claim to the village of Moran, and the extraordinarily hostile conduct otMajor George Broadfoot, the British Political Agent at the North-West Frontier Agency, towards the Sikhs, particularly the virtual seizure by him of the Sutlej possessions 'of the Lahore Government. In view of these factors, the theory that the Sikh army had become perilous to the regency and that the courtiers plotted to engage the army against the British becomes untenable. On the contrary, the Regent was the only person who exhibited determination and courage during the critical period of the war with the British.

In December 1846, Maharani Jind Kaur surrendered political power to the council of ministers appointed by the British:Resident after the treaty of Bharoval. The Sikh Darbar ceased to exist as a sovereign political body. The regent was dismissed with an annuity of Rs 1,50,000 and "an officer of Company's artillery became, in effect, the successor to Ranjit Singh."

Maharani Jind Kaur was treated with unnecessary acrimony and suspicion. She had retired gracefully to a life of religious devotion in the palace, yet mindful of the rights of her minor son as the sovereign of the Punjab. Henry Lawrence, the British Resident at Lahore, and Viscount Hardinge both accused her of fomenting intrigue and influencing the Darbar politics. After Bharoval, Hardinge had issued instructions that she must be deprived of all political power. In March 1847, he expressed the view that she must be sent away from Lahore.

At the time of Tej Singh's investiture as R ja of Sialkot in August 1847, it was suspected that the young Maharaja had refused to confer the title on him at the instigation of his mother. She was also suspected of having a hand in what is known as the Prema Plot - a conspiracy designed to murder the British Resident and Tej Singh at a fete at the Shalamar Gardens. Although neither of the charges against find Kaur could be substantiated on enquiry, she was removed to Sheikhfipura in September 1847, and her allowance was reduced to Rs 48,000. Lord Dalhousie, instructed Sir Frederick Currie, the British Resident at Lahore, to expel her from the Punjab. Currie acted promptly. He implicated Jind Kaur in a fictitious plot and sent her away from Sheikhupura to Banaras. She remained interned at Banaras under strict surveillance. In 1848, allegations were made by Major MacGregor, in attendance on her, that she was in correspondence with Mulraj and Sher Singh at Multan. A few of her letters were intercepted and an alarm was created when one of her slave girls escaped from Banaras. She was removed to the Fort of Chunar from where she escaped to Nepal disguised as a maid-servant.

Maharani Jind Kaur arrived at Kathmandu on 29 April 1849. The British Government promptly confiscated her jewellery worth Rs 900, 000 and stopped her pension. At Kathmandu, the sudden appearance of the widow of Ranjit Singh was both unexpected and unwelcome. Yet Jung Bahadur, the prime minister, granted her asylum, mainly as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Maharaja Ranjit Sinngh. A residence was assigned to her at Thapathali, on the banks of the Vagmati river, and the Nepalese Government settled upon her an allowance for her maintenance. The Nepal Residency papers relate the details of Jind Kaur's unhappy sojourn in Nepal till 1860. The British Residency in Kathmandu kept a vigilant eye on her throughout. It believed that she was engaged in political intrigue to secure the revival of the Sikh dynasty in the Punjab. Under constant pressure from the British, the Nepal Darbar turned hostile towards the Maharani and levied the most humiliating restrictions on her. But the forlorn widow of Ranjit Singh remained undaunted. She quietly protested against the indignities and restrictions imposed upon her by,Jurig Bahadur. Juiig Bahadur expelled from the valley one of her attendants, and the Maharani dismissed the entire staff foisted upon her by the Nepalese Government. She was then ordered to appear in person in the Darbar to acknowledge Nepalese hospitality, which she refused to do. The breach between her and Jung Bahadur widened. The Nepal Residency Records tell us that an open rift took place, and "several scenes occurred in which each seemed to have given way to temper, to have addressed the other in very insulting language."

Towards the end of 1860, it was signified to Maharani Jind Kaur that her son, Maharaja Duleep Singh, was about to return to India and that she could visit him in Calcutta. She welcomed the suggestion and travelled to Calcutta to meet her son who took her with him to England. Maharani Jind Kaur died at Kensington, England, on 1 August 1863.

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