Chatar Singh Atarivala
Commander & Governor under minor Maharaja Duleep Singh (D. 1855)
Commander and provincial governor under minor Maharaja Duleep Singh, was the son of Jodh Singh Atarivala. Jodh Singh had joined the service of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1805 when he received large jagirs in the Pothohar country. On the death of his father in that year, Chatar Singh succeeded to the jagirs, then amounting to over a lakh of rupees annually.
He devoted most of his time to farming and kept generally aloof from state affairs during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. When after the assassination of his son, Maharaja Sher Singh, in September 1843, his daughter, Tej Kaur, was betrothed to Maharaja Duleep Singh, he came into prominence politically. He was appointed governor of Peshawar in August 1846. In November 1847, the title of Raja was recommended for him by the Council of Regency, but was at his request conferred upon his son Sher Singh instead.
Chatar Singh was then transferred to Hazara, where as the governor of the province he came into conflict with the overbearing Assistant British Resident, Captain James Abbott, his assistant and adviser for the demarcation of boundary between the Punjab and Kashmir which had been given away by the British to the Dogra Raja Gulab Singh for his services to them during the first Anglo-Sikh war.
Since the Multan outbreak in April 1848, James Abbott had been continually reporting to the Resident at Lahore that discontent prevailed among the Sikh troops stationed at Hazara; in September 1848, he alleged that a conspiracy was being hatched by Chatar Singh, its Sikh governor, to subvert British power in the Punjab. He charged him with high treason, and leading the local chiefs and large numbers of Muslim levies he had raised he marched on Haripur to expel the Sikh governor. At this juncture, Commodore Canora, an artillery officer in the Fort, who was in secret communication with Captain Abbott, refused to move his battery, and was consequently shot down at Chatar Singh’s orders.
Under the orders of the British Resident at Lahore this Hazard incident was investigated by Captain Nicholson who in his enquiry report not only exonerated Chatar Singh, but also justified the defensive mea
sures he had taken to save the besieged capital of Hazara from Abbott’s Muhammadan mercenaries. Resident Frederick Currie, notwithstanding Nicholson’s report, issued orders which amounted to Chatar Singh’s virtual dismissal and the confiscation of his jagirs which drove him to open defiance.
The Hazara revolt now escalated into hostilities between the British and the Sikhs. After their defeat at Gujrat on 21 February 1849, Chatar Singh and his sons, Raja Sher Singh and Avtar Singh, were detained by the British in their village, Atari, and then imprisoned at Allahabad from where they were removed to Fort William At Calcutta to prevent them from establishing contact with the exiled Queen Mother, Maharani Jind Kaur. They were released in January 1854. Chatar Singh died in Calcutta on 27 December 1855.