The abrupt death of Dhyan Singh ended the remarkable partnership of Dogra brothers through which they jointly controlled the political fluctuation in Lahore Kingdom. Along with Raja Gulab Singh and Raja Dhyan Singh, their younger brother Raja Suchet Singh was also an important Wazir of Lahore Darbar, but the partnership between the Raja Gulab Singh and Raja Dhyan Singh was the only factor of Dogras Raj’s success as both were well versed with military strategies and diplomatic structures. The assassination of Dhyan Singh was a major jolt for Raja Gulab Singh but he was the man of confidence and determination as the Dogras’ domination at the Sikh capital had not fully vanished with his brother’s demise and he could look forward to the future with a degree of confidence.
Without Raja Dhyan Singh the time was very crucial and difficult for Raja Gulab Singh and Dogra Raj. But as per the military quote ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ he marked himself out as the most remarkable man even in crisis. In diplomacy craft and finesse he had no equal and he was unbeatable on military, diplomacy and statesmanship front.
Endowed as he was with remarkable foresight and astuteness, he gave the proof of combining in him some of the rarest political virtues possessed by two most notable contemporaries in Europe Cavour and Bismark. Some of his actions were unfathomable, others not clearly intelligible to his contemporaries; but all of them brought out one towering trait of his character and ambition”.
On one side Gulab Singh’s youngest brother Raja Suchet Singh and nephew Hira Singh were not shrewd enough to comprehend the unpredictable Lahore Politics and on the other young Raja Hira Singh raised voice to avenge his father’s death. In a Darbar he said,” Now that my father is dead, I am left alone and fatherless. Either kill me or give me your support”. The appeal ignited the imagination of the soldiers who exclaimed in one voice ‘that they would not taste food until they take the heads of Sindhwalas”.
The call of Hira Singh motivated Maharaja Sher Singh’s soldiers, who also wanted to take revenge for the Maharaja’s death. Under the leadership of Raja Hira Singh, they stormed the fort in the evening. By the next day the fort was taken and Sindhwalas’ chief Ajit Singh and Lehna Singh and many others were hacked to death.
On very next day Dalip Singh was declared as the absolute ruler of Punjab as Maharaja and Hira Singh as his minister. But lawlessness and panic spread everywhere in Lahore. In this difficult time, only Raja Gulab Singh’s constant support to Hira Singh could save his position and restore order and discipline.
By Pankaj Khajuria