MUHKAM CHAND, DIWAN (1750-1814), a renowned Sikh army general of the early years of Maharaja Ranjit Singh`s reign, was born around AD 1750. Son of a small shopkeeper, Baisakhi Mall Khatri, of Kunjah, a village in Gujrat district, now in Pakistan, he trained as an accountant and served as a munshi under the chiefs of different misi sarddrs, rising to the position of a diwdn or minister under the Bhangis and the Atarivalas. In 1806, he took up service under Maharaja Ranjit Singh as military and financial adviser and remained until his death in 1814 the de facto commander in chief of his army. He had a major role in organizing the Sikh army on a regular basis and in the early territorial conquests of the young Maharaja.

His expedition into cis Sutlej territory in 1806 brought Zira, Muktsar, Kot Kapura and Dharamkot, totalling 102 villages, under the sway of the Sikhs. The same year in July he captured the estates of the two widows of Ilyas Khan of Raikot, comprising 311 villages and towns such as Ludhiana, Jagraori, Baddoval and Talvandi. In September 1807. he seized Naraingarh and Morinda, and in March 1808 Badhni and Patto, in the present Moga district. Soon thereafter he overran the Faizullapuria territory and added Jalandhar and Phillaur to the possessions of the Maharaja.

He was one of the principal advisers of the Maharaja at the time of negotiations with the British envoy, Charles T. Metcaife, which led to the signing of the Treaty of Amritsar (1809). In 1810, Muhkam Chand took part in the battle of Multan; the following year he was campaigning in the Himalayan foothills, subduing the states of Bhimber, Rajauri and Akhnur. In 1812, he reduced Mandi and Kulu.

In the Kashmir expedition, he was able to secure release from the custody of the Afghan governor of Shah Shuja`, the deposed king of Kabul, and bring him to Lahore. In 1813, when Fateh Khan, the Kabul wazir besieged the fortress of Attock, Muhkam Chand inflicted a crushing defeat on the Afghans at Haidru. Diwan Muhkam Chand died at Phillaur on 29 October 1814, and was deeply mourned by the Maharaja and his court. He was Ranjit Singh`s most trusted general and he received from him landjdgirsin Morinda, Faridkot, Sahneval, Ambala, and the Jalandhar Doab, worth over seven lakh of rupees annually. As well as being a good soldier, he was an able administrator and his management especially of the Jalandhar Doab brought him much popular acclaim.

References :

1. Griffin, Lepel, and C.F. Massy, Chiefs and Families of Note in the Punjab. Lahore, 1909
2. Cunningham,J.D., A History of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1955
3. Latif, Syad Muhammad, History of the Punjab. Calcutta, 1891
4. Chopra, G.L., The Punjab as the Sovereign State. Lahore, 1928
5. Khushwant Singh, Ranjit Singh, Maharajah of the Punjab. London, 1962