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. He treated him with great generosity from the very beginning, bestowing upon him the title of Raja in 1828 and, then, proclaiming him FarzandiKhas, i.e. the favoured son. He granted him numerous jdgirs which totally amounted to nearly five lakh of rupees annually. When after the assassination of Maharaja Sher Singh and Raja Dhian Singh, Ranjit Singh`s five year old son, Duleep Singh, was proclaimed Maharaja of the Punjab on 17 September 1843, Hira Singh assumed the office of prime minister.

But he failed to consolidate his position. What earned him unpopularity was the appointment of Pandit Jalla as his deputy. He confiscated the fiefs of the Sandharivalia sarddrs 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 also put in jail Jawahar Singh, brother of Queen Mother, MaharaniJind Kaur, and exiled from Lahore his own uncle, Suchet Singh Dogra, both of whom were considered rivals to his position.

At the instance 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 caused much resentment among the troops who turned against the Dogra prime minister and forced him to restore their jdgirs 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. He was a true well wisher of the dynasty of Ranjit Singh and was deeply grieved at the disaster which had overtaken it through the envy of the 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 Sandharivalia 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 with 4,000 of his trusted troops and several Cartloads of gold and silver 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.

References :

1. Sun, Sohan Lal, `Umddt-ut-Twarikh. 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