Baba Diwan Singh Sandhu of Qila Diwan Singh, Teh. Nokhar, Gujranwala, now In Pakistan

Fort at village Qila Diwan Singh

Baba Diwan Singh was a Sandhu jat Sikh, who adopted Sikh religion somewhere in 1730 AD, and may have accepted Pahul { Sacred water},either from Mata Sahib Kaur or from Nawab Kapur Singh. He was resident of village Kahna, near Lahore. During the freedom struggle, when attacks by Ahmed Shah Abdali were very frequent on India, the Sikhs rose against the attackers and many armed groups were formed, to combat the attackers. Diwan Singh also formed such a group and occupied few villages in District Gujranwala. He left his native village Kahna and settled in Distt. Gujranwala, where he constructed fort, which was named as “Qila Diwan Singh. “Even now the name of this village continues to be same in Pakistan. The villages under his control were Badangil, Ohak, Ohata and Kotgarh.

During the period, when Ahmed Shah Abdali, virtually had free hand to kill and loot people of India at his will, the Sikhs rose to the occasion to engage and combat with attackers. The small armed groups of Sikhs, formed in 1730s,had tasted the values of freedom, a path shown by Guru Gobind Singh ji and later by Banda Bahadur. They occupied territories in undivided Punjab and constructed forts. Later twelve Misals were formed by merging these groups to organise for bigger combats and get organised, under military commands of misaldars. Diwan Singh did not formally join any Misal but had deep friendship and understanding with Jai Singh of Kanhiya Misal and Charat Singh of Shukarchakiya Misal. Diwan Singh died in 1776 in battle against Noor Mohmd. Chatha and his brother on one side and Sikhs having Jai Singh and Charat Singh and many other prominent Misaldars on other side, a battle fought at Ramnagar, near Batala.

He was a great visionary and a leader. He was very brave, as has been described by famous Panjabi historian, Baba Prem Singh Hoti. He died of a bullet wound on his chest.

His son was Hukam Singh. He joined army of Maha Singh and upon his death, of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and remained as a brave associate of world famous General Hari Singh Nalwa. Hukam Singh took part in battles for Kasur, Kangra, jhajh, Multan and Yusufjai along with General ,Nalwa.In 1823,a battle was fought between Yusufjai,s of Afghan origin and Sikhs near Peshawar area.In this battle Maharaja Ranjit Singh, his son Khrak Singh,Akali Phula Singh, French General Ventura, Gorkha General Balbhdra ,Comdt. Maha Singh, General Hari Singh Nalwa participated. The war was fought on banks of river LUNDA. Whereas, the Maharaja, with his selected Generals, was to engage with main body of Yusufjai,s, General Hari Singh was assigned the task of engaging and combating Azim Khan, on the other side of river with the aim to prevent Azim Khan,s army not to join their main body since the Yusufjai,s would be greatly more in number than the Sikh army, if Azim Khan,s army joins main body.To accomplish this target, Nalwa engaged with army of Azim Khan. Hukam Singh fought along with Nalwa and defeated Yusufjai,s, who retreated to hills.In this battle Sikhs captured thirteen heavy guns from opponents. But the gunners were not giving possession of guns and few had clung their hands around guns. Most of gunners’ hands had to be chopped off to take possession of guns. In this hand to hand fight, Hukam Singh received a spear’s blow on his chest and he achieved martyrdom.

Gorilla warfare is a commonly talked method of warfare and in modern days many books have been written on this subject. But the Sikhs had adopted this unconventional method of warfare, from a early stage. Briefly, this low intensity method of war, entails, combating with a superior army of established regime by dedicated die yards, to secretly, attack, plunder weapons, food, inflict heavy casualties on enemy and to quickly disengage and disappear in jungles and hills. And this methodology worked very well with Sikhs, who constantly tormented the armies of invaders Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali. The means of travel by the invaders used to be horses, carts, elephants, bullocks and cows etc. The infantry , had to walk on foot. By night time all of them used to be tired and slept. The sikh gorillas will pounce upon them around midnight, launch a quick attack and disappear. These low intensity war continued for about 30 to 40 years, by which time the Sikhs had organized in to misals and were now ready for bigger combats. The Mughal empire in Delhi had weakened and Abdali had also died in late 1760 s and now the Sikhs had to deal with Muslim, governors, who had become powerful. Efforts of Sikhs resulted in establishment of a Sikh empire, under Ranjit Singh, in 1799.

Under Sikh empire,the Sikh leaders of prominence were bestowed Jagirs, that is power to collect revenue from the villages in Jagir and pay fixed revenue to emperor,s treasury and use rest money by jagirdar for his Jagir. Hukm Singh exercised his jagirdari over two villages namely Qila Diwan Singh and Kotgarh. Upon his death, these villages were confined to his son Sobha Singh in 1823.

Sobha Singh was also a very brave commander and he took part in battles of NW Frontier, Khaka, Bamba, Saidu,Teri and Peshawar. When Sikh empire ended in 1848,Sobha Singh remained loyal to British and two villages were maintained to him. Sobha Singh had three son Sarup Singh died in battle of Sabranwan. His other son, Rattan Singh lived on Jagir of Kotgarh and died in 1888 at the age of 90 years and upon his death his Jagir ended. Rattan Singh,s one son Wasawa Singh was Jamadar of orderlies to lieutenant governor of Bengal and the family migrated to Hong Cong, where his son served in police. Nothing more is known about their further generation. Third son of Sobha Singh was Gurdit Singh, who continued on Jagir of Qila Diwan Singh.

Ancestors of present day SANDHU’S are supposed to have ruled the region between Sindh and Jehlum in around 739 AD. Their King PUNDEV fought lots of battles with Arabs and eventually having been defeated and they moved from that area. Since they had originated from Sindh area, they came to be known as Sindhu and later Sandhu. Famous English historian, Sir L.Griffen believes that when once famine struck North-West Rajasthan, in the medieval period, the SANDHU’S moved to Punjab in search of greener pastures. Certain historians believe that this clan came towards India along with invading armies of Mehmood Gaznawi, but present day historians hardly believe in this theory. Some relate SANDHU’S to Sri Ramchander and some to Rajput dynasties. Some relate this caste to Raja Jaidrath Sandhu of Mahabharata era.

SANDHU’S is one of the largest caste of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims.In the modern history of this region,out of two companions of Guru Nanak,Bala was a Sandhu.He was childhood friend of Guru Nanak.Bhai Bala was son of Chander Bhan,who was Sandhu Jatt. He was born in 1466AD and lived till 1544 AD.Bhai Bala died at Khadur Sahib and a memorial plateform, with in Gurudwara Tapiana Sahib is supposed to be place where he was cremated.