The Rise of local powers: Rewari and Ballabhgarh

The Rise of local powers: Rewari and Ballabhgarh

 

Although a period of over all decline it marked the rise of local powers — especially of Rewari and Ballabhgarh in Haryana. The estate of Rewari, as stated earlier, was founded by Nand Ram, a Ahir leader of gadhi Bolni. His illustrious son Bal Krishna rose to the position of a mansabdar (maintaining two thousand troops) under Aurangzeb. During the times of Bahadur Shah and Muhammad Shah, Bal Krishna rose to still higher position, Sher Bachacha Samsher Bahadur as he was styled by Muhammad Shah, Bal Krishna with his five thousand followers laid his life in fighting Nadir Shah in the battle of Karnal. As noted by Man Singh, the author of Abhira Kula Dlpikd, his valour and bravery even drew the attention of Nadir Shah who paid rich tributes to him. He was succeeded by his younger brother Rao Gujarnial, an astute diplomat. As reward for the services rendered by his elder brother, Rao Gujarmal received the jegir of twelves villages from the Mughals, and was also appointed faujdar of Rewari and its adjoining territory. But he soon found himself in conflict with his neighbour, Dalel Khan, a favourite of Farrukhsiyar and hakim of the territory comprising most of the present Gurgaon district, Dalel Khan founded the city of Farrukhnagar which become the centre of his power. Gujarmal who proved stronger of the two, succeeded in adding Hisar-Jhajjar to his expanding estate. He soon liberated Kanod and Narnaul from the clutches of the rulers of Jaipur and also brought under his subjection other adjoining area. His territories now formed an extensive area comprising Hisar, Jhajjar, Hansi, Dadri, Bhiwani, K^nod and Namaul including of course Rewari which remained the capital.

 

Gujarmal had hereditary enemity with Bahadur Singh of Ghaseda whose predecessor Hathi Singh was murdered by Mian Singh, a brother of Gujarmal. In retaliation Bahadur Singh sought the help of Badan Singh, the Jat Chief of Bharatpur but did not succeed for the latter happened to be on friendly terms with Rao Gujarmal. Bahadur Singh thereafter tried another trick. With the connivance of his father-in-law Thakur Todarmal of Nimrana, he treacherously murdered Rao Gujarmal (1750). With the death of Rao Gujarmal ended the glorious period of the history of Rewari State. Bhawani Singh, the next ruler was an incompetent ruler under whom the state of Rewari was subjected to the encroachment of the neighbouring states – Jaipur, Farrukhnagar and Jhajjar further reducing it to a small jagir of about 23 villages.

 

Ballabhgarh, now a small kasha in district Faridabad, came to prominence after the death of Aurangzeb. Inhabited mostly by the Jats, it was then ruled by Gopal Singh, a local chief whose only profession was to plunder and raid the environs of Delhi. Unable to check Gopal Singh, Farrukhsiyar, the shadowy Mughal emperor, recognised him as the Chaudhari of Faridabad having right to one sixteenth (one anna in the rupee) of the revenue for his maintenance. His successor Charandas, a man of independent disposition, refused to pay the tax and to submit to the authority. Consequently he was arrested and imprisoned. His successor Ballabha Singh (popularly known as Balu) was a wise ruler who, with the help of Bharatpur ruler succeeded in effecting the release of his father. By his ability Ballabha Singh soon became the master of the entire territory between Delhi and Faridabad and then built the fort of Ballabhgadh to serve as his headquarters. He also maintained cordial relations with the Bharatpur house which further strengthened his position. Emperor Ahmad Shah, alarmed at the rise of this local power so close to the capital, asked his wazir Imad-ul-mulk to deal with Ballabh Singh. Accordingly a combined Mughal-Maratha force led by Aqibat Muhammad Khan, Imad’s chief agent, attacked Ballabhgadh (1753). Imad, fully aware of his enemy’s strength, also sent additional seven thousand troops with thirty pieces of light artillery. This show of force finally forced Ballabh Singh to come to terms and to agree to pay tax to the Mughals which was due on him. But the peasants in his territory refused to accept the terms because they were afraid that they might not be required to pay again to their master.” Consequently a second attack was then decided upon, but before it could materialise, in a heated argument with Aquibat Khan, the Mughal officer, over the realisation of the dues, Ballabh Singh along with his son, his diwan and nine others were killed (November 29, 1753). The Jats defended their stronghold heroically but they were soon outnumbered and the fort fell in the hands of the Mughals. Ballabhgadh was renamed Nizamgadh after Imad’s new title Nizamulmulk Asaf Jah and along with Faridabad was handed over to him as jagir}. Later cn, the successors of Ballabh Singh did succeed with the help of Raja Surajmal of Bharatpur in regaining some of their lost territories.

 

Towards the middle of the eighteenth century Haryana thus slipped away from the administrative control of the rulers of Delhi. It was mostly parcled out among the local chiefs and was also subjected to some extent to the encroachment of the neighbouring powers. Raja Surajmal of Bharatpur occupied Faridabad and its adjoining area; Madho Singh of Jaipur had taken possession of Kanod and Narnaul; at Rewari and Shahajahanpur ruled the Ahir rulers; Kamgar Khan Baluch, the governor of Farrukhnagar held a vast territory comprising the whole of the districts of Rohtak and Hissar, parts of Gurgaon, Jind and Patiala; Qutb Shah, wrongly called Ruhela (formerly a collector in Saharanpur) usurped parts of the Panipat and Sarhind district west of the Jamuna; Najabat Khan Ruhela held parts of Kurukshetra and Karnal (which included, Indri, Ajimabad, Pipli and Shahbad, i.e., a jagir comprising of about ItO villages); Muhammad Amin and Hasan Khan (originally belonging to the Bhattis) took possession of Fatehabad, Rania and Sirsa’ while Bahadur Khan (once a servant of Kamgar who later entered the services of Imad) was granted the jagir of Bahadurgarh. Other minor chiefs of Haryana Asadulla Khan and Hasan Ali Khan (brother and nephew of Kamgar Khan) were the rulers of Tauru and Jhajjar respectively.

 

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