Misl Shukarchakia

SUKKARCHAKKIA MISL named after the village of Sukkarchakk in Gujranwala district, now in Pakistan, to which its founders belonged, became ultimately the most important of the twelve eighteenth-century Sikh ruling clans. Desu, a Jaee. cultivator of that village, is said to have been administered the rites of initiation by Guru Gobind Singh. He received the name of Buddha Singh. Buddha Singh laid the foundation of the Sukkarchakha fortunes. His feats of endurance and daring in those days of adventure and plunder made him a legendary figure. Along with him his piebald mare, Desan, became famous too. Together they traversed the plains of the Punjab and swam its broad rivers in flood many times and, being inseparable, came to be known jointly as Desan Buddha Singh. When Buddha Singh died in 1718, there were scars of forty wounds by spear, sword and matchlock counted upon his body. He left his sons a few villages they could call their own and many others in the neighbourhood which paid them a fixed sum as protection tax. Buddha Singh's son, Naudh Singh, fortified Sukkarchakk and raised a jatha or body of men acquiring the name of Sukkarchakkias.

TThe Sukkarchakkias joined forces with other misls and engaged in skirmishes with Ahmad Shah Durrani. As the Afghans retreated, they took possession of parts of the land between the Ravi and the Jehlum. Naudh Singh was killed in a battle in 1752. Charhat Singh, who was eldest of Naudh Singh's four sons, moved his headquarters from Sukkarchakk to Gujranwala and erected battlements round the town. The Afghan governor of Lahore came to apprehend Charhat Singh but was repulsed by the Sardar and forced to retreat, leaving behind his guns and stocks of grain. Charhat Singh extended his domains by capturing the towns of Wazlrabad, Eminabad and Rohtas, but as Ahmad Shah Durran1 again came down from Afghanistan, he fled to the jungles. The Durranl pillaged his estates and had the fortifications of Cujranwala demolished. Charhat Singh more than settled his account with the Afghans by chasing them on their return march and plundering their baggage trains. He rebuilt the battlements round Gujranwala and reoccupied the neighbouring country. His last foray was into Jammu in 1770 where most of the wealthy families of the Punjab had sought shelter against Afghan depredations. The Bhangis disputed his right to plunder Jamm u and in one of the skirmishes Charhat Singh fell mortally wounded by the bursting of his own matchlock.

Charhat Singh's young son, Mahan Singh, inherited his father's spirit and ambition. He married a daughter of Gajpat Singh, the chief of Jind, thereby strengthening his own position among the misl sardars. Within the walled town of Gujranwala he built a fortress which he named Garhi Mahan Singh. He increased the number of his horsemen to 6,000 and launched upon a career of conquest and expansion of territory. He caw tured Rasulnagar from a Muslim tribe, the Chatthas, and took Pindi Bhattian, Sahival, 'Isakhel and Jhang. In 1782, he proceeded to Jammu whose Dogra ruler fled leaving the rich city to the mercy of his men. With the loot of Jammu, Mahan Singh raised the Sukkarchakhas from a position of comparative obscurity to that of being one- of the leaders of the misl order. Mahan Singh died in 1790.

At his death, his lO year Old son, Ranjit Singh, became the head of the Sukkarchakkia house. Young Ranjit Singh had inherited from his forefathers a sizeable estate in northwestern Punjab, a band of intrepid horse and matchlockmen, and an ambition that knew no bounds. In due course, he liquidated the mists north of the Sutlej and became the powerful sovereign of the Punjab.


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