BHAṆḌĀRĪ PAPERS, a large collection of sundry papers, letters and documents preserved in the Punjab State Archives, Paṭiālā, and named after the collector, Rāi Indarjīt Siṅgh Bhaṇḍārī of Baṭālā. Little is known about the life of Indarjīt Siṅgh beyond a conjecture based upon some of the letters in the collection itself that he was a descendant or a relation of one of the Sikh kingdom's vakīls or agents at Ludhiāṇā, namely Rāi Kishan Chand, Rāi Rām Dial, and Rāi Gobind Dās.
Bhaṇḍārī collection is a huge miscellany of 4103 items, mostly letters in Persian exchanged between the Sikh government at Lahore or its agents and the officers of the British agency at Ludhiāṇā. They also contain some MSS. , records of court cases, revenue and civil, documents such as promissory notes, mortgages, registered deeds, family papers, land grants and a vast variety of administrative notes. There is very little that sheds new light on important political events. Yet the documents in the collection may be useful in making a general assessment of relations between the Lahore Darbār and the East India Company and understanding the approach and attitude of both the powers to matters diplomatic and administrative. For example, a letter written by George Russell Clerk, the British political agent at Ludhiāṇā, to Rāi Kishan Chand on 24 December 1838 about the programme of Shāh Shujā's artillery moving from Kasūr to Fīrozpur shows that the fugitive king was allowed to keep a private force of his own during his stay at Lahore. A proclamation from the Governor-General's Council at Calcutta, dated 2 June 1829, forbids the offering of nazars or presents to British officers. There are letters to show strained relations between Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh and Sardār Fateh Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā as a result of which the latter approached the British, promising allegiance to them if his claims to cis-Sutlej areas given him by the Mahārājā were upheld. Some letters concerning the British campaign in Afghanistan contain complaints to the Darbār against Rājā Gulāb Siṅgh for not giving them his full support.
B. J. Hasrat