Hira Singh Dogra

From SikhiWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search

Hira Singh Dogra (1816-1844), prime minister of the Sikh kingdom of Lahore from 17 September 1843 to 21 December 1844, was born the eldest son of Raja Dhian Singh in 1816 at Ramgarh, about 25 km from Jammu. Dhian Singh, an influential courtier, introduced his son to his patron Maharaja Ranjit Singh who took very favourably to the young boy. From the very beginning the Maharaja treated him with great generosity , bestowing upon him the title of Raja in 1828 and, then, proclaiming him Farzand-i-Khas, (a favoured son). He granted him numerous jagirs which in total amounted to nearly five lakhs of rupees annually.

Resentments grow at Hira Singh's excesses of power

After the assassination of Maharaja Sher Singh and Raja Dhian Singh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh's five year old son was proclaimed Maharaja Duleep Singh on 17 September 1843. Hira Singh then assumed the office of prime minister. But, he failed to consolidate his position, and earned great unpopularity when he appointed Pandit Jalla as his deputy. He confiscated the fiefs of the Sandhawalia sardars who were responsible for the murders of Maharaja Sher Singh, Karivar Partap Singh and Raja Dhian Singh. Hira Singh had Bhai Gurmukh Singh, a revered Sikh divine, and Misr Beli Ram murdered for their having opposed his father's proposal to crown him Maharaja after the death of Karivar Nau Nihal Singh. He had Jawahar Singh, brother of the Queen Mother, Maharani Jind Kaur, jailed. He also exiled his own uncle, Suchet Singh Dogra, from Lahore. He considered both men, Jawahar Singh and Suchet Singh Dogra as rivals who might contest his new position.

Resentments come to a head with the death of Baba Bir Singh

At the insistance of his uncle Gulab Singh Dogra, who helped him concoct some false letters, he confiscated the lands of Karivar Kashmira Singh and Karivar Pashaura Singh, two of the surviving sons of Ranjit Singh. He also sent a force against them under Gulab Singh. This assault on the princes added greatly to the resentments among the troops who turned against the Dogra prime minister and forced him to restore the Princes' jagirs and release Jawahar Singh from captivity. Hira Singh's intrigues reached their culminating point in his designs against Baba Bir Singh, a soldier turned a religious saint, who had set up his own dera in a small village, Naurarigabad in Amritsar district, secluded from courtly machinations.

A 2nd Dogra plunder of the Toshkana ends in the deaths of Hira Singh and Pandit Jalla

Baba Bir Singh was a true wellwisher of the dynasty of Ranjit Singh and was deeply grieved at the disaster which had overtaken the royal family through the envy of their own courtiers. His personal influence greatly perturbed Hira Singh who sent troops to attack his citadel in the village, where Prince Kashmira Singh and Atar Singh Sandhawalia had taken asylum. The attack upon Baba Bir Singh and a subsequent attempt by Hira Singh's favourite, Pandit Jalla, to poison Maharani Jind Kaur aroused the ire of the Sikh army. Hira Singh abandoned Lahore, leaving with with 4,000 of his trusted troops and several cartloads of gold, silver and jewels removed from the treasury, but a Sikh force led by Jawahar Singh and Sham Singh Atarivala overtook him on the way, killing him along with his adviser, Pandit Jalla, on 21 December 1844.


1. Sun, Sohan Lal, `Umddt-ut-Twdrikh. Lahore, 1885-89

2. Smyth, G. Carmichael, A History of the Reigning Family of Lahore. Calcutta, 1847

3. Hasrat, B.J., Anglo-Sikh Relations. IIosliiarpur, 19()8

4. Fauja Singb, After Ranjit Singh. Delhi, 1982

5. Khiushwant Singh, The. Fall of the Kingdom of the Punjab. Calcutta, 1962