SUCHET SINGH, RAJA (1801-1844.), the youngest of the Dogra trinity who rose to high positions at the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was born on 18 January 1801, the son of MIari Kishora Singh. He started his career a^ a young age, appointed to the duty of laying public petitions before the Maharaja in the wake of his elder brother, Dhian Singh, assuming, in 1818, the important office of deorhidar or chamberlain to the royal household. He lacked the political and administrative ability of his brothers, Gulab Singh and Dhian Singh, yet he won the favour of the Maharaja by his handsome bearing and engaging manner. In 1822, he was created Raja of Bandralta and Samba.

He was also made the commander of the Charyari Sowars, Ranjit Singh`s crack cavalry brigade. He usually remained at the court performing sundry protocol duties. Foreign visitors to the Sikh capital have paid Suchet Singh generous compliments, describing him as `the beau ideal of a Sikh soldier,` a gay courtier and gallant soldier,` and `the great dandy of the Punjab.` Suchet Singh was also given assignments in the field. He took part in the Peshawar campaigns of 1834-35 and 1837 and was charged with the administration of Tonk and Bannu area in 1836. In recognition of his services in the Peshawar campaigns, Jasrota was farmed out to him in July 1835, Atalgarh and Kothi were given him as jagirin December 1836, and Nadaun worth 70,000 rupees in May 1838.

In 1838, he was assigned to administer (he territories of General Avitabile. During the lifetime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Suchet Singh betrayed no political interest but, after his death, he was involved in the murder of Chet Singh, Maharaja Kharak Singh`s favourite, in October 1839. After the deaths of Maharaja Kharak Singh and Karivar Nau Nihal Singh in November 1840, he supported Rani Chand Kaur against Karivar Sher Singh, but transferred his allegiance to the latter as he invested the Fort of Lahore in January 1841. He escorted Karivar Partap Singh during his meeting with Lord Ellen borough, the British governor general, at Firozpur in December 1842.

At one stage, on 15 August 1843, according to Sohan Lal, the court historian, Ajit Si^agh and Lahina Singh Sandharivalia, whd^ had planned the murder of Dhian Singh, proposed that Suchet Singh replace his brother as the prime minister. When with the installation of young Duleep Singh as Maharaja of the Punjab, Hira Singh was appointed Wazir, Suchet.Singh feltjealous. He conspired with Jawahar Singh, maternal uncle of the young Maharaja, to wrest the office of Wazir from his nephew. Gulab Singh, the eldest of the Dogra brothers, dissuaded him from opposing Hira Singh. He, in fact, took Suchet Singh with him when he left for Jammu on 5 December 1843, but the latter kept up communication with the army at Lahore inciting it against Hira Singh and his adviser, Pandit Jalla.

Encouraged by the response to his overtures, he ordered his Charyari troops to move to Lahore, himself reaching there with a small escort on 26 March 1844. Hira Singh encircled his camp with his artillery and Suchet Singh was killed in action on 27 March. Suchet Singh had amassed a vast fortune. He heldjag`its worth 3,06,865 rupees annually. I Ic had secretly kept a part of his treasure, worth about 15,00,000 rupees, at Firozpur in British territory, which later became a matter of discord between the Sikh State and the British Government.

References :

1. Suri, Sohan Lal, `Umdat ut-Twarikh. Lahore, 1885-89
2. Griffin, Lepel, Ranjit Singh. Delhi, 1957
3. Khushwant Singh, Ranjit Singh : Maharajah of the Punjab. Bombay, 1962
4. IIasral, Bikrama Jit, Life and Times of Ranjit Singh. Nabha, 1977
5. Charak, Sukdev Singh, Gulabnama of Diwan Kulpa Ram. Delhi, 1977