Ramgarhia Misl

RAMGARHIA MISL took its name from Ram Rauni, an enclosure of unbaked bricks raised in Amritsar during the time of Jassa Singh for the protection of Sikhs in the troubled days of thc eighteenth century. The fortresswas later reinforced by Sikhs and made into a fort called Ramgarh. Jassa Singh became famous in Sikh history as Jassa Singh Ramgarhla. He gained reputation as a soldier of daring and skill. He along with his brothers Jai Singh, Kushal Singh and Mali Singh took up service under Adina Beg,faujdar of the Jalandhar Doab, which he quit when the Sikhs taunted him with betrayal of the Panth. To begin with, Jassa Singh joined hands with Jai Singh of the Kanhaiya misl and within a short time they seized large slices of territory in four out of the five Doabs. Among their acquisitions was the fertile tract called Riarki to the north of Amritsar embracing the district of Gurdaspur. Within a decade Jassa Singh became one of the leading figures of the Dal Khalsa. In 1770, he led plundering expeditions into the hills. The local rajas sought safety in submission and Jassa Singh collected a tribute of 2,00,000 rupees from the Kangra hill states.Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, along with other Sikh sardars, fought many pitched battles against Ahmad Shah Durrani, the Afghan invader.

As the Afghan threat receded, Sikh sardars began fighting among themselves. The Ramgarhia Kanhaiya cleavage over their adjoining territories in the district of Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur widened. In the battle of Dinanagar in 177S, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia joined the Bhangi sardars against the forces of the Kanhaiyas and the Sukkarchakkias. Soon a rift appeared between Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Jassa Singh Ahluvalia as the latter wrested the town of Zahura, which fell within Ramgarhia territory, and conferred it upon Baghel Singh Karorsinghia. Jai Singh Kanhaiya sought the help of Jassa Singh Ahluvalia and the Ramgarhia Sardar had to flee the Punjab.

Driven out of the Punjab, Jassa Singh became a soldier of fortune. He took possession of Hissar and raised a large body of irregular horse, his depredations extending to the gates of Delhi and its suburbs, and into the Gangetic Doab. Once he penetratezd into Delhi itself, and carried off four guns from the Mughal arsenal. The Nawab of Meerut agreed to pay him 10,000 rupees an year on his agreeing to leave his district unmolested. Soon a body of 30,000 horse and foot under him and Karam Singh Shahid crossed into Saharanpur district, ravaging it at will. On the death of Jassa Singh Ahluvalia in 1783, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia returned to the Punjab and recovered his lost possessions. He allied himself with the Sukkarchakkias, and their combined forces broke the power of the Kanhaiyas.

At the height of its power, Ramgarhia misl's territories in the Bari Doab included Batala, Kalanaur, Dinanagar, Sri Hargobindpur, Shahpur Kandi, Gurdaspur, Qadian, Ghuman, Matteval, and in the Jalandhar Doab, Urmur Tanda, Sanh, Miani, Garhdivala and Zahura. In the hills Kangra, Nurpur, Manndi and Chamba paid tribute to Jassa Singh.

Jassa Singh died in April 1803 at the ripe age of 80, leaving two sons, Jodh Singh and Vir Singh, the former of whom succeeded him. Jodh Singh was a deeply religious person. He built the Rimgarhia Bunga on the premises of the Harimandir at Amritsar and supplied blocks of perforated marble that served as parapets on both sides of the causeway leading to the sanctuary. Jodh Singh's possessions were encroached upon by his more active cousin, Divan Singh, son of Tara Singh. In 1808, Ranjit Singh took possession of the territories of the Ramgarhia misl. The same year he captured the fortress of Rammgarh, destroying all the Ramgarhia citadels. Adequate pensions were provided for Divan Singh and Jodh Singh, the leaders of the once powerful Ramgarhla misl which had like many others collapsed under pressure of the new rising power in the Punjab.


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