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SIKHS RELATIONS WITH JATS OF BHARATPUR

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SIKHS` RELATIONS WITH JATS OF BHARATPUR. Hindu Jats, who have ethnic affinity with the Sikh Jatts of the Punjab, had emerged, like the Sikhs, as a new political power in the region south of Delhi. Their first revolt in 1669 under their leader Gokul was ruthlessly suppressed by the Mughal audiority, but they soon found another leader in Raja Ram who continued the struggle till his death in July 1688. Churaman (d. 1721), his younger brother and successor to leadership, was an astute politician. He professed allegiance to Emperor Bahadur ShahI (1707-12) and received from him mansab of 1500 zat and 500 sowar. He joined the imperial campaign against the Sikhs at Sadhaura and Lohgarh in 1710

Suraj Mall, the adopted son of Churaman`s son, Badan Singh, was the real founder of the Jat state of Bharatpur. He was killed on 25 December 1763 in a battle near Delhi against Najib udDaulah, the Ruhila chief who had been appointed Mir Bakhshi and Regent at Delhi by Ahmad Shah Durrani after the battle of Panipat (1761). Suraj Mall`s son and successor Jawahar Singh (d. 1768), appealed to the Sikhs for help. The latter responded immediately. 40,000 of them under the overall command of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluvalia crossed the Yamuna on 20 February and plundered the country around it.

Najib udDaulah rushed back to save his own territories and the immdediate pressure on the Jats was removed. Jawahar Singh now made preparations to avenge his father`s death. Besides his own army, he hired 25,000 Maratha cavalry and decided to engage some Sikhs also, and fixed an interview with the Sikh sardars encamped at Barari Ghat on the east bank of the Yamuna, 20 km north of Delhi. He forded the Yamuna on an elephant and was led on foot into an assembly of about 10,0 Sikh sardars. The meeting began with ardas, the supplicatory Sikh prayer, in which they pleaded, "Jawahar Singh, son of Suraj Mall and a devotee of Guru Nanak, has sought refuge with Khalsa jio desiring redress for his father`s blood. So help us God!" Jawahar Singh enlisted 15,000 Sikhs.

The fighting went on for 20 days. Najib was defeated and forced to retire into the Red Fort on 9 January 1765. Within a month the Ruhilas of Najib udDaulah suffered another defeat at the hands of the Sikhs in the Nakhas or horse market and in Sabzi Mandi. Just at this time news arrived of a fresh invasion of the Punjab by Ahmad Shah Durrani, the Sikhs hastening back to protect their own homeland. Jawahar Singh`s Maratha allies later went over to aid his western neighbour, Raja Madho Singh of Jaipur, taking sides also with his stepbrother, Nahar Singh, who was in independent possession of Dholpur.

Jawahar Singh engaged 25,000 Sikhs under the command ofJassa Singh Ahluvalia to help him in his campaign against Jaipur, but the Rajput ruler made his peace with him. He then took into his pay a fresh force of 7,000 Sikhs and attacked Nahar Singh, who called in the Marathas to his help. The Sikhs defeated the Marathas in a fierce battle fought on 1314 March 1766. Nahar Singh took refuge with Madho Singh of Jaipur. Jawahar Singh seized Dholpur and the Sikhs captured several hundred horses of the defeated Marathas. Madho Singh of Jaipur attacked Bharatpur in December 1767. Jawahar Singh again engaged 10,000 Sikhs to fight for him, but was defeated on 29 February 1768 with a heavy loss of life.

He enrolled another 10,000 Sikhs making a total of 20,000 at 7,00,000 rupees per mensem. As he again advanced to meet Madho Singh, the latter retired without giving a fight. Jawahar Singh was assassinated in June 1768. His younger brother, Ratan Singh, was also murdered in April 1769. His two brothers, Naval Singh and Ranjit Singh, contested the succession. The former occupied Bharatpur while the latter invited the Sikhs for help. The Sikhs arrived near `Aligarh on 26 January 1770. Naval Singh proceeded to check their advance, but fled in panic without firing a shot.

The Sikhs chased him as far as Chunar where Walter Reinhard (1720-78), a European adventurer commonly known as Samru, tried to bring about peace. A fortnight`s negotiations commencing on 8 February 1770 ended in smoke and the Sikhs marched back plundering Jat villages on the way. Naval Singh, regrouping his troops, followed them. The Sikhs suddenly turned back on 24 February 1770 and surrounded the Jat advance guard under Rene Madec (1736-84), another European adventurer, and Gopal Rao Maratha. In the battle that followed, almost the entire Maratha cavalry was cut to pieces and Gopal Rao was wounded. Three of Rene Madec`s six companies were completely wiped out. On the approach of the main body of the Jats, the Sikhs withdrew.

References :

1. Bhangu, Ratan Singh, Prachin Panth Prakash. Am ri tsar, 1914
2. Gian Singh, Giani, Twarikh Guru Khalsa [Reprint]. Patiala, 1970
3. Ganda Singh, Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluvalia. Patiala, 1969
4. Gupta, Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1978-82

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