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KHALSA DARBAR RECORDS

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KHALSA DARBAR RECORDS, official papers in Persian, written in a running shikasid hand, pertaining to the civil, military and revenue administration of the Punjab under the Sikhs covering a period of 38 years, Samvat 1868 to Chet 1906 (AD 1811 to March 1849). These documents, which came into the hands of the British after the annexation of the Punjab in 1849, lay in heaps on the shelves of the vernacular office in the Civil Secretariat in Lahore and remained in that state untouched until work on arranging and classifying them started under the orders of the Li Covcrnor, Sir Michael O`Dwycr (1912-19).

The task was undertaken by Sita Ram Kohli who, spending four diligent years on putting them into order, published in 1919 the first volume of his 3part catalogue. The records make up a total of 129 bundles, some of which contain several thousand sheets each. Tlie paper used is of the kind commonly known as Kashmirl or Sialkott and the sheets, as a rule, measure 5"x7.5". Supplementary to these bundles are 15 manuscript volumes, bound in leather, containing duplicates of the orders issued to various government officials and the voluminous correspondence between the Sikh Darbar and the Ambala and Ludhiana political agencies of the British.

The documents fall into four different categories: DafiariFauj, DaflariMdl, DaflariToshakhdnd and Jdgirdl. The DafiarFauj, i.e. papers concerning the army, comprises mainly the pay rolls of tile cavalry, infantry and artillery from which information can be obtained about the composition and strength of the Sikh army. Till 1813 the Punjabi or Jatt Sikli clement in it was, for instance, meagre, the bulk being made up of the Hindustanis, Gurkhas and Afghans. After 1818, tile Punjabi clement, i.e. Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, became predominant. Service in the Sikh army was, however, not restricted to any particular class or caste. In AD 1811, the strength was 2,852 infantry and 1,209 artillery.

By 1845, the figure had risen to 70,721th 53, 962 infantry, 6,235 cavalry and 10,524 artillery. The infantry and cavalry were 60 per cent Sikli, 20 per cent Muslim and 20 per cent Hindu, whereas the artillery regiments were predominantly Muslim, some commanded by European officers. Tile total expenditure amounted to Rs 1,27,96,482 which was about one-third of the annual revenue of the State. Names of various generals, colonels and commandants also figure in these papers.

The pay rolls reveal that a commandant`s monthly salary ranged between Rs 60 and Rs 150; an adjutant`s between Rs 30 and Rs 60; a major`s between Rs 21 and Rs 25; a subaddr`s between Rs 20 and Rs 30; a jamdddr`s between Rs 15 and Rs 22; a havilddr`s between Rs 13 and Rs 15; a ndik`s between Rs 10 and Rs 12; a sergeant`s between Rs 8 and Rs 12; and a sepoy`s between Rs7 and Rs 8. Even the pay rolls of belddrs, blacksmiths, etc., attached to the army arc also preserved. The date of transfer from one regiment to another or of removal whether by death, desertion or dismissal is invariably noted.

The pay rolls and the^ma`kharch (income and expenditure) papers show not only the expenditure on the three wings of the army, but also income from rents of shops in regimental bazars, sale proceeds of the property of men dying without heirs, and a return of the in`dms or awards bestowed upon infantry officers on the occasions of Dussehra and Divall. The DaflariMdl, i.e. papers concerning the revenue department, fall under three heads receipts and disbursements (awdfjd), adjustments (tauzihdt) and the daybook of disbursements (roznamchd). There existed in Sikh times a well organised system of collecting the revenue and maintaining accounts, including those relating to the expenditure on the royal household.

These records also provide information regarding the reorganisation of ta`all uqds or administrative units. A general summary settlement of each la`all wfd was undertaken and the areas of cultivable lands together with the liabilities and rights of the landlords over the paying tenants were recorded. The details of the districts and their subdivisions, the names of their kdrddrs and governors and the estimated annual income of the State from various sources are also given. Likewise, there are in the Records;papers pertaining to jdgirs of different kinds bestowed upon or assigned to civil and military officers, religious personages and shrines.

The to shakhdnd papers relate to the royal wardrobe and the privy purse and contain inventories of treasures as well of confiscated properties. Ranjit Singh was quick to take action against corrupt officers who were made to disgorge their illgotten wealth. These records were, after the partition of 1947, shifted from Lahore to Shimla, in what then became East Punjab. In 1959, they were brought to the Punjab State Archives, Patiala, from where they were taken to the Archives Cell, Ram Bagh, Amritsar. in 1984. B.j.H.

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