Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Maharaja Dalip Singh and the house of captivity

Maharaja Dalip Singh Memorial Foundation organised a first-ever memorial programme “Vishal Utsav” in memory of last Sikh ruler Dalip Singh at Bassian Canal House, popularly known as “Kothi”. Bassian house is a 200-year-old monument of Sikh heritage on the outskirts of Bassian.

Here Maharani Jind Kaur popularly known as Rani Jindan and Maharaja Dalip Singh were kept in captivity before being sent to exile.

Five Namdharis, who participated in the famous Kuka Movement against Britishers, were imprisoned here before being hanged to death in 1850.

Harmohinder Singh, MLA from Raikot, presided over the programme, while Jagdev Singh Talwandi was the chief guest.

Speakers urged the state government to build a memorial on the site to preserve and protect the rich culture and glorious history of Punjab. A number of speakers, including Minister Hira Singh Gabria, Jagdev Singh Jassowal, Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Ranjit Singh Talwandi, Dr Shivraj Singh, Dr Sartaj Singh, a Sikh scholar from the UK addressed the gathering. The Bassian house was used as the recruitment centre for the police and the British army.

Britishers used to store arms, ammunitions and explosives in the house. It served as an advance supply depot of British military division based at Ferozepur.Surrounded by fields of 18-acre land, the place was virtually invincible by intruders.

At the time of First Anglo Sikh War, when the Sikhs attacked Britishers at Aliwal village on January 28, 1846,General Henery Smith was commanding the British Army and confronted the aggressive Sikhs led by Ranjodh Singh Majithia. The arms from this ammunition depot were used to repulse the attack. The war had left 589 Britishers and more than 3,000 Sikh warriors dead.

In 1981, Jagdev Singh Jassowal, during his tenure as a legislature from Raikot, tried to give the house a new look by installing new furniture and a portrait of Maharaja Dalip Singh after getting it painted by noted painter Kirpal Singh.

Rakesh Gupta, Tribune India, Raikot, March 14

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