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BHANDARI PAPERS, a large collection of sundry papers, letters and documents preserved in the Punjab State Archives, Patiala, and named after the collector, Rai Indarjit Singh Bhandari of Batala. Little is known about the life of Indarjit Singh beyond a conjecture based upon some of the letters in the collection itself that he was a descendant or a relation of one of the Sikh kingdom`s vakils or agents at Ludhiana, namely Rai Kishan Chand, Rai Ram Dial, and Rai Gobind Das. Bhandari collection is a huge miscellany of 4103 items, mostly letters in Persian exchanged between the Sikh government at Lahore or its agents and the officers of the British agency at Ludhiana.

They also contain some MSS., records of court cases, revenue and civil, documents such as promissory notes, mortgages, registered deeds, family papers, land grants and a vast variety of administrative notes. There is very little that sheds new light on important political events. Yet the documents in the collection may be useful in making a general assessment of relations between the Lahore Darbar and the East India Company and understanding the approach and attitude of both the powers to matters diplomatic and administrative. For example, a letter written by George Russell Clerk, the British political agent at Ludhiana, to Rai Kishan Chand on 24 December 1838 about the programme of Shah Shuja`s artillery moving from Kasur to Firozpur shows that the fugitive king was allowed to keep a private force of his own during his stay at Lahore.

A proclamation from the GovernorGeneral`s Council at Calcutta, dated 2 June 1829, forbids the offering of nazars or presents to British officers. There are letters to show strained relations between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Sardar Fateh Singh Ahluvalia as a result of which the latter approached the British, promising allegiance to them if his claims to cis Sutlej areas given him by the Maharaja were upheld. Some letters concerning the British campaign in Afghanistan contain complaints to the Darbar against Raja Gulab Singh for not giving them his full support. BJ.H.


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