Chet Singh Bajwa
Maharajah Kharak Singh’s Close Friend (D. 1839)
Maharaja Kharak Singh’s distant relation and old tutor who wielded considerable influence at the Sikh court. The Dogra minister, Dhian Singh, looked upon Chet Singh as a potential rival to his position.
The latter aligned himself with the Bhais and the Misrs at the court and sought the support of General Ventura and other Feringhee officers in open rivalry with the Dogra faction. The Dogras, on the other hand, won over Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh, the heir apparent, to their side. They spread rumours that Maharaja Kharak Singh and his favourite Chet Singh had decided to disband the Khalsa army and place the kingdom of Ranjit Singh under British protection. Forged letters supposed to have
been written by them to the British were produced in support of their contention.
Nau Nihal Singh, determined to assume supreme authority in the State, urged his father to dismiss Chet Singh. But Kharak Singh would neither abjure authority in favour of his son nor would he agree to dispense with his favourite. Dhian Singh in concert with Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh plotted to finish off Chet Singh.
In the early hours of 9 October 1839, Dhian Singh and Nau Nihal Singh, accompanied by 15 other sardars including Gulab Singh, Suchet Singh, Misr Lal Singh and Atar Singh Sandhanvalia, entered the palace in the Fort and forced their way into the royal chambers where Maharaja Kharak Singh and Chet Singh used to sleep. Chet Singh hid himself in an interior gallery, but the glint of his shiny sword in the dark corner gave him away. Raja Dhian Singh fell upon him and plunged his dagger into his heart. The assassination of Chet Singh was the prologue to a long-drawn drama of intrigue and murder at the Sikh court.