March 31, 2023


SYLLABUS: General studies Paper 1

Recently, the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has announced on Eid that the former princely state of Malerkotla would be the 23rd district of the state.

  • It is the only Muslim-dominated town of Punjab.
  • Malerkotla owes its foundations in the 15th century to Sufi saint Sheikh Sadrauddin Sadar-i-Jahan.
  • The initial beginnings were humble with the settlement being called Maler which was bestowed by the Behlol Lodhi to the Sheikh whose lineage too was Afghan.
  • Kotla meaning, Fortress, was added later in 17th century with a collection of villages which formed a jagir which was awarded to Bayzid Khan a descendant of Haider Sheikh, by Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan.
  • Bayzid Khan supported Aurangzeb against his brother Dara Shikoh and thus gained favour with the emperor and added permanency to the rule of his family.
  • After the decline of the Mughal Empire, Malerkotlas rulers exercised greater independence and at the time of the invasion of India by Ahmad Shah Abdali from Afghanistan, they aligned with him.
  • According to historian Anna Bigelows work, Punjab Muslims, after Maharaja Ranjit Singh consolidated his rule in Northern Punjab in the early 19th century.
  • Malerkotla aligned itself with the neighboring Sikh states like Patiala, Nabha and Jind which too were feeling threatened by Maharaja Ranjit Singh consolidation of the Sikh Empire
  • These cis-Sutlej states accepted British protection in 1809 and were free from interference from the Sikh Maharaja.
  • Malerkotla continued under the British protection and the alliance with the neighboring Sikh states till 1947 when it became the only Muslim majority Sikh state in East Punjab.
  • After the dissolution of the princely states in 1948, Malerkotla joined the new state of PEPSU or Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU).
  • PEPSU itself was dissolved in 1954 and Malerkotla became a part of Punjab.
  • The special relationship between Sikhs and Malerkotla goes back to the period when the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, was engaged in a series of battles with the oppressive Mughal rules of the region.
  • Sher Mohammad Khan was the Nawab of Malerkotla at the time and though a supporter of Aurangzeb, has expressed his anguish at the bricking alive of two young sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Zorawar Singh (aged nine years) and Fateh Singh (aged seven years) , by the Subedar of Sirhind Wazir Khan in 1705.
  • The Haa da Naara or cry for justice was made by Sher Mohammad Khan before Wazir Khan when the order to brick the two young boys was pronounced.
  • Iftikhar Khan, the last Nawab of Malerkotla , has declared in his history of the kingdom that Malerkotla was spared because of Haa Da Naara.
  • It is documented that even after the Haa Da Na; the Malerkotla rulers continued their affinity with the Mughal rulers.
  • The Malerkotla rulers aligned with the Afghan invader Ahmed Shah Abdali once the suzerainty of the Mughals was on the decline.
  • Nawab Jamal Khan of Malerkotla fought against rulers of Patiala and also against Abdali before joining hands with him.
  • His successor Nawab Bhikam Shah is said to have fought on the side of Abdalis forces in a battle against the Sikhs in 1762 which is known as Wadda Ghallugara or the Great Holocaust.
  • In 1769, a treaty of friendship was signed with Raja Amar Singh of Patiala by the then Nawab of Malerkotla.
  • The Patiala princely state was often to the aid of Malerkotla especially in 1795 when Sahib Singh Bedi attacked Malerkotla over the issue of cow slaughter.
  • The Namdhari (a sect of Sikhs) massacre of 1872 in Malerkotla is an important incident in the historical annals of the town.
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