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ZAKARIYA KHAN

ZAKARIYA KHAN (d. 1745), who replaced his father 'Abd us-Samad Khan as governor of Lahore in 1726, had earlier acted as governor of Jammu (1713-20) and of Kashmir (1720-26). He liad also taken part in Lahore government's operations against the Sikh leader Banda Singh Bahadur. After tlie capture of Banda Singh and his companions in December 1715 at Gurdas Nangal, lie escorted the prisoners to Delhi, rounding up Sikhs lie could find in villages along the route. As he reached the Mughal capital, the caravan comprised seven hundred bullock carts full of severed heads and over seven hundred captives. After becoming the governor of the province in 1726, Khan Bahadur Zakariya Khan, shortened to Khanu by Sikhs, launched a still severer policy against tlie Sikhs and let loose terror upon them.

His moving military columns forced the Sikhs to seek shelter in remote hills and forests. Yet Sikh bands continued harassing tlie administration attacking government caravans and treasuries. Such was the effect of their depredations that Zakariya Khan was obliged to make terms with diem. In 1733, he decided to lift the quarantine forced upon the Sikhs and made an offer of a grant. His envoy, Subeg Singh, a Sikh resident of the village of Jambar, near Lahore, who was for the time kotwal or police inspector of the city under Muslim authority, reached Amritsar where the Sikhs had been allowed to assemble and celebrate the festival of Baisakhi after many years of exile, and offered them on behalf of the government the title of Nawab and of jagir consisting of the parganahs of Dipalpur,Kariganval and Jhabal, worth a lakh of rupees in revenue. 

But the entente soon came to an end, before the harvest of 1735, Zakariya Khan sent a force and occupied the jagir.The Siklis were driven away towards the Malva region by Lakhpat Rai, the Hindu minister at the Mughal court at Lahore. In the clashes that followed many officers of the Lahore army, including Lakhpat Rai's nephew Duni Chand, were killed. Zakariya Khan took the Held himself to reestablish his authority in the region. He had the fortress of Dalleval blown up and ordered village officials to capture Sikhs and hand them over for execution.

A graded scale of rewards was laid down a blanket for cutting off Sikh's hair, ten rupees for information about the whereabouts of a Sikh, fifty rupees for a Sikh scalp. Plunder of Sikh homes was made lawful; giving shelter to Siklis or withholding information about (heir movements was made a capital offence. Zakariya Khan's police consisting of nearly 20,000 men especially recruited for this purpose, scoured the countryside and brought back hundreds of Sikhs in chains. Prominent Sikhs including the revered Bhai Mani Singh and Bhai Taru Singh were, after the severest of torments, publicly beheaded at the Nakhas, tlie horse market of Lahore, renamed by Sikhs Shahidganj in honour of the martyrs.

Yet Zakariya Khan remained unsuccessful in his object of vanquishing the Sikhs. He died at Lahore on 1 July 1745 a dispirited man, bequeathing to his sons and successors chaos and confusion.

References :

1. Bhangu, Ratan Singh, Prachm Panth Prakash. Amritsar, 1914
2. Gian Singh, Giani, Twankh Guru Khalsa. Patiala. 1970
3. Ganda Singh, Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluvalia. Paliala, 1969
4. Gupta, Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs, vol. IV. Delhi, 1982
5. Gandhi, Surjit Singh, Struggle of the Sikhs for Sovereignty. Delhi, 1980
6. Bhagat Singh, Sikh Polity in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Delhi, 1978

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