GULĀB SIṄGH (1792-1857), an influential courtier of the Sikh State of Lahore who was created the Rājā of Jammū, was born on 17 October 1792, the eldest son of Miāṅ Kīshorā Siṅgh Ḍogrā. Gulāb Siṅgh joined Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh's army in 1809 as a trooper on a daily allowance of three rupees. He soon won the approbation of the Mahārājā and was given a jāgīr worth 12,000 rupees, with a command of 90 horse. The family's fortunes suddenly rose when his father, Kishorā Siṅgh, was named, by the Sikh sovereign, chief of Jammū in 1820. Gulāb Siṅgh was allowed to remain with him looking after the administration. On the death of Kishorā Siṅgh in 1822, Raṇjīt Siṅgh conferred the title on Gulāb Siṅgh and presided at the installation ceremony held at Akhnūr, near Jammū, on 16 June 1822. Gulāb Siṅgh proved a firm and successful ruler and extended his authority over the neighbouring Rājput principalities. He was a fine soldier as well and he served his master in various campaigns in the Punjab hills and in Kashmīr. The official Lahore diarist, Sohan Lāl Sūrī, records the bounties and favours bestowed upon him by the Mahārājā from time to time in appreciation of his services. Besides the hill country, Gulāb Siṅgh held territory lying between the Chenāb and the Jehlum on farm for 25,45,000 rupees. In addition to his jāgīrs, amounting totally to 7,37,237 rupees, he had monopoly of the salt mines leased out to him for 8,00,000 rupees. Financially, he was the most highly favoured vassal and tributary of the Sikh State. Yet he remained humble and subservient during the lifetime of the Mahārājā, relying more on his brother, Rājā Dhiān Siṅgh, to promote the interests of the family. He had misappropriated the revenues of 22 districts assigned to him, and had usurped several of the hill states tributary to the Sikhs and had his eyes on Kashmīr since 1836. His designs against the Chinese Tartary were not encouraged by the British, though they countenanced him as a force countervailing the Sikhs. In 1841, Gulāb Siṅgh became the custodian of the jāgīrs of Khaṛak Siṅgh's widow, Chand kaur, and carted away to Jammū all of the Mahārāṇī's jewellery and valuables which he misappropriated. His intrigues against the Lahore government so infuriated the Khālsā army that in 1845 a force 35,000 strong was sent against him to Jammū. He was brought to Lahore as a hostage and was allowed to return to Jammū as he agreed to pay a fine of 68,00,000 rupees, with a promise of future good behaviour.
Gulāb Siṅgh retained liaison with the British and passed on military intelligence to Brigadier Wheeler at Ludhiāṇā on the eve of the first Anglo-Sikh war (1845-46). The British rewarded him obviously for his secret help during the war, and by the treaty of Amritsar, 16 March 1846, they made over to him and his heirs all the hill country with its dependencies situated eastward of the River Indus and westward of the River Rāvī, being part of the Sikh territory ceded at the end of the war to the British by the treaty of Lahore, 9 March 1846. For this Gulāb Siṅgh also became, according to another article of the treaty, a vassal of the British whose supremacy he acknowledged.
Gulāb Siṅgh died at Jammū on 30 June 1857.
K. Jagjīt Siṅgh