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Jassa Singh Ramgarhia

Jassa Singh Ramgarhia ( 1723-1803 ) was a prominent Sikh leader during the period of the Sikh Confederacy. He became the Misldar of the Ramgarhia Misl ( army ). This period was an interlude, lasting roughly from the time of the death of Baba Banda Bahadur in 1716 to the founding of the Sikh Empire in 1801. This period is sometimes described as the age of the Misls.

Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was born into a Sikh family with the surname Bhambra in Ichogil village near Lahore. He had four brothers; Jai Singh, Kashal Singh, Mali Singh, and Tara Singh. He became the head of the family when his father, Giani Bhagwan Singh, died. His grandfather, Baba Hardas Singh was a resident of Sur Singh near Amritsar. He took Paul from the hands of Guru Gobind Singh and he became one of the Guru’s personal attendants. Baba Hardas Singh was only 5 years old when Guru Tegbehadur and his three companions bravely faced their tortuous executions in defense of the threatened Hindu Pandits of Kashmir, in Chandni Chowk at the order of Aurangzeb. His only son Sardar Bhagwan Singh then became the head of the family. He shifted to village Ichogil. He preached the Sikh faith in the neighboring villages. He joined the Imperial Mughal forces under the Governor of Lahore, Khan Bahadur as a Risaldar. Sardar Bhagwan Singh saved the life of Khan Bahadur, Governor of Lahore at the cost of his own. To reward Bhagwan Singh’s brave dead the Governor gave a village each to all his five sons ( villages Vallarta, Verka, Sultanwind, Tung, and Chubal ).

On the death of the Khan Bahadur in 1746, Sardar Jassa Singh, together with his followers, joined their Sikh brethren at Amritsar. In 1716 Ahmed Shah Durrani left Lahore, Adena Beg the Afghan Governor of Punjab was hunting for the heads of the Sikhs, they dispersed and scattered in all directions. Sardar Jassa Singh and others in the band took refuge in the mud Fort of Ram Raunni near Amritsar where they were surrounded and attacked during the ensuing period. In 1958 Adena Beg died and there was a power vacuum in Punjab and those who escaped from the Fort of Ram Nauni assumed the name of Ramgarhias and Jassa Singh became their head. The Misl was called Ramgarhia.

The main concentration of the Misl was in and around the Riarki area of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, and Batala. The Ramgarhia constructed and fortified the mud fortress of Ram Nauni just outside Amritsar. His Misl contained 10,000 cavalries who were always on the move, helping the Dal Khalsa whenever the Mughals of Afghans attacked. Whilst the Mughal administration controlled the cities, it was Sikhs who were in control of the villages. Banda Bahadur had havoc on the Mughal administration by abolishing all the taxes and the Zamindari system. Only a Dasvand ( 10 percent of income ) was levied on the Sikhs; as protection tax to pay for the army.

After the death of Adena Beg in 1758, Sardar Jassa Singh occupied the area of the North of Amritsar between the Ravi and Bias rivers. He also added the Jalandhar region and Kangra hills area of the state. He had his capital at Shri Hargobindpur. He was known as Maharaja as he occupied large areas in Punjab. Due to intra Misl wars, he lost the whole area and went to Amar Singh, ruler of Patiala. Amar Singh welcomed Sardar Jassa Singh in order to make use of his bravery, fighting skill, and ruling experience. He gave him the area of Hansi and Hissar. He entered Delhi in 1783 along with Bagahl Singh and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. Jassa Singh was 80 years old when he died in 1803. His son, Jodh Singh, developed good relations with Maharaja Ranjit Singh and they never fought.

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