Prince Pashaura Singh (1821 – 11 September 1845) (also Peshawara Singh) was one of the sons of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. His mother was Rani Daya Kaur. After the assassination of Maharaja Sher Singh he made a bid for the throne of the Sikh Empire.
Emergence as a contender for the throneEdit
Little is recorded about the early life of Pashaura Singh during the reigns of Ranjit Singh and his first four successors. After the assassination, on 15 September 1843, of Maharaha Sher Singh and his vizier Raja Dhian Singh Dogra, the Khalsa proclaimed Duleep Singh as Maharaja and Dhian Singh’s son, Hira Singh Dogra, as vizier.
Later that year Pashaura Singh and his elder brother, Kashmira Singh, are recorded as having joined the camp of the holy man, Baba Bir Singh at Nauraṅgābād, near Tarn Tāran. The camp had become the centre of Sikh revolt against the dominance of the Dogras and was a base for several Sikh sardars and commanders and a volunteer army of 1,200 musket men and 3,000 horse. In May 1844 Hira Singh despatched a force of 20,000 men and 50 cannon under the command of Mian Labh Singh to destroy Bir Singh’s camp. Bir Singh told his men not to fight “How can we attack our brethren?” He was killed by a shell while meditating over the Holy Book. Kashmira Singh was also killed in the cannonade, but Pashaura Singh escaped.
Pashaura Singh visited Lahore later in 1844 in an unsuccessful attempt to form an alliance with Hira Singh, who, however had his own problems. He had lost favour with the Khalsa, because of several unpopular actions, including: his involvement in the death of Bir Singh, his confiscation of the jagirs of some of the army commanders, and his attempt to poison the Regent, Maharani Jind Kaur. He escaped from Lahore with several loads of gold and silver stolen from the treasury, but was pursued by the army, who killed him on 21 December 1844.
Renewed bid for the throneEdit
During the second half of 1844, Pashaura Singh travelled around the Punjab seeking support against the Dogras. He crossed the Sutlej River and visited the British cantonment at Ferozepur. However, the British were unresponsive, being already in negotiation with Gulab Singh Dogra, brother of Dhian Singh.
On learning of the death of Hira Singh, Pashaura Singh returned to Lahore on 1 January 1845. He was received with honour and goodwill in the court, and was offered presents of jewels, elephants and horses. Some of the army commanders proposed that he should be made Maharaja in place of the six-year-old Duleep Singh. However, some influential members of the Supreme Council of the Khalsa and the regimental committees supported the young Maharaja and his mother, Maharani Jind Kaur. They requested him to return to his estates, with a promise of an increase in his jagir, and the army ordered him to leave Lahore.
A new vizier, the Maharani’s brother, Jawahar Singh, was appointed on 14 May 1845 and immediately despatched artillery against a force being assembled by Pashaura Singh. The Prince capitulated, but was allowed to go free.
Two months later, in July 1845, Pashaura Singh took the fort at Attock with a handful of Pathan followers and declared himself to be the ruler of the Punjab. He raised fresh levies and, with the money that the fort yielded to him, tried to obtain help from the chiefs within the kingdom, from Jehlum to Khaibar, and even opened negotiations with Dost Muhammad.
After hearing of the rebellion in Attock, Jawahar Singh ordered Chattar Singh Attariwalla and Malik Fateh Khan Tiwana to recapture the fort and defeat Pashaura Singh. The prince was forced to surrender the fort on 30 August 1845 and place himself at the disposal of Chattar Singh, after receiving assurances of safe passage to Lahore and the retention of his estates at Sialkot.
However, Jawahar Singh considered that the Prince posed too great a threat to his nephew, the young Maharaja, and sent instructions that Pashaura Singh be disposed of immediately. The prince was secretly removed from his personal bodyguard on 11 September 1845, and taken back by Fateh Khan Tiwana to Attock where he was strangled. For his part in this, Jawahar Singh was speared to death by the army on 21 September 1845 in front of his sister, the agonised Maharani.
- Khurana, J. S. "Pashaura Singh Kanvar (1821-1845)". Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. Punjabi University Patiala. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
- Khurana, J. S. "Bir Singh Baba (1768-1844)". Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. Punjabi University Patiala. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
- Sukhdev Singh Charak. "Hira Singh Dogra (1816-1844)". Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. Punjabi University Patiala. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
- Khurana, J. S. "Jawahar Singh (1814-1845)". Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. Punjabi University Patiala. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
Pashaura Singh, Kanvar The Sikh Encyclopedia. Retrieved 9 November 2011.