Surat Singh Majithia, Raja
Soldier, Commander and Notable Sardar of the Sikh Darbar (D. 1881)
Son of Attar Singh Majithia. Details of his early career and of his service under Maharaja Ranjit Singh are scanty. Surat Singh was commandant of the Sikh battalion posted at Peshawar during the first Anglo-Sikh war. After the peace settlement of 1846, he was retained in the Sikh army by British Resident Sir Henry Lawrence, and posted to Lahore. He fell foul of Wazir Lal Singh who became his enemy and ordered the resumption of his jagir.
Surat Singh played a prominent role in events leading to the Sikh national rising against the British in 1848. He commanded 2,000 men in the division sent under Sher Singh Atarivala to Multan to quell Diwan Mul Raj’s revolt. In September 1848, he as well as Sher Singh’s troops joined the rebels. His appeal to the Khalsa troops in the name of their sovereign, Duleep Singh, and his call to arms against the feringhees brought an immediate response. Many disbanded Sikh soldiers, religious leaders and laymen joined the standard of revolt. Mul Raj’s troops deserted and rallied round him. He moved northwards, plundered Chiniot and Jhang and fought the British at Sadullapur, Chelianvala and Gujrat along with Sher Singh’s force which had swelled to 12,000 men and 28 guns. At Sadullapur, 6 km from the town of Ramnagar, at a principal ford on the River Jehlum, the Sikhs nullified General Thackwell’s manoeuvre against their. flank and safely, crossed the river to join Chatar Singh’s force. At Gujrat, the force under Surat Singh was the last to yield.
After the annexation of the Punjab, Surat Singh’s jagirs were confiscated and he was removed to Banaras with an annual pension of Rs 720. He lived at Banaras in privation till 1857, when during the mutiny he helped the British and saved the Banaras treasury, which contained the jewellery of Maharani Jind Kaur, on 6 July 1857, he received a sword-cut on his leg which made him lame for the rest of his life. For these services, Surat Singh was allowed to return to the Punjab, his pension was raised to Rs 4,800 and he was granted a permanent jagir in Gorakhpur district. In his village of Majitha to which he came back in 1861, he was appointed an honorary magistrate and was invested with civil and judicial powers. In 1877, the titles of Raja and Companionship of the Star of India were conferred upon him. He died in 1881 at Majitha.