3. The first Sikh Fort, Ram Rahni

In 1747, Salabat Khan became the commander. He placed police around Amritsar and built observation posts to spot and kill Sikhs coming to the Amrit Sarovar for a holy dip. Angered by this, the Sikhs decided to free Amritsar. Even though Sikhs were given a very heavy blow only a year before, Jassa Singh and Nawab Kapoor Singh lead the Sikhs to Amritsar. Salabat Khan was killed by Jassa Singh and his nephew was killed by the arrow of Nawab Ji. After great sacrifices, the Sikhs freed the holy city of Amritsar and celebrated their Diwali gathering there. By the year 1748, the Khalsa had many brave Jathedars. They decided to reorganize themselves under one command. On the advice of their aging Jathedar, Nawab Kapoor Singh, the Khalsa chose Sardar Jassa Singh as their supreme leader. They also decided to declare that the Punjab belonged to them and they would be the sovereign rulers of their state. It was at this time that Sikhs built their first fort, called Ram Rauni, at Amritsar. Its construction was a clear message to the government that their end had come and Sikh rule over Punjab would soon be a reality. However, a new wave of state terrorism against the Sikhs was soon started. Adina Beg, the Faujdar (commander and administrator of a tract under a Governor) of Jallandar, sent a message to the Dal Khalsa chief to cooperate with him in the civil administration, and he wanted a meeting to discuss the matter. But in essence, this was only a trick to disarm the Sikhs and keep them under government control. Jassa Singh replied that their meeting place would be the battle ground and the discussion would be carried out by their swords. Beg attacked the Ram Rauni fort at Amritsar and besieged the Sikhs there. Dewan Kaura Mal [Kaura Mal was called “Mitha Mal” by the Sikhs because of his friendship with them. In Punjabi, “Kaura” means bitter and “Mitha” means sweet.] advised the Governor to lift the siege and prepare the army to protect the state from the invader, Ahmed Shah Abdali. To win the good will of the Sikhs, Kaura Mal got a part of the revenue of Patti area allocated for the improvement and management of Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. Kaura Mal had to go to Multan to quell a rebellion there. He asked the Sikhs for help and they agreed to join him. After the victory at Multan, Kaura came to pay his respects to the Darbar Sahib, and offered 11,000 rupees. He also spent 3,000,000 rupees to build Gurdwaras at Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev. In 1752, Kaura was killed in a battle with Abdali and state policy towards the Sikhs quickly changed. Mir Manu, the Governor, started hunting Sikhs again. He arrested many men and women, put them in prison and tortured them. In November 1753, when he went to kill the Sikhs hiding in the fields, they showered him with a hail of bullets. He fell from his horse and the animal dragged him to death. The Sikhs immediately proceeded to Lahore, attacked the prison, and got all the prisoners released and led them to safety in the forests. There were twelve Misls of the Sikhs and Jassa Singh was the head of the Ahluwalia Misl and the leader of all the Misls, jointly called Dal Khalsa. It was with his guidance and brave handling of the leadership that the Khalsa got nearer to their goal of self-rule in the Punjab.