HĪRĀ SIṄGH ḌOGRĀ (1816-1844), prime minister of the Sikh kingdom of Lahore from 17 September 1843 to 21 December 1844, was born the eldest son of Rājā Dhiān Siṅgh in 1816 at Rāmgaṛh, about 25 km from Jammū. Dhiān Siṅgh, an influential courtier, introduced his son to his patron Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh who took very favourably to the young boy. He treated him with great generosity from the very beginning, bestowing upon him the title of Rājā in 1828 and, then, proclaiming him Farzand-i-Khās, i.e. the favoured son. He granted him numerous jāgīrs which totally amounted to nearly five lakh of rupees annually. When after the assassination of Mahārājā Sher Siṅgh and Rājā Dhiān Siṅgh, Raṇjīt Siṅgh's five year old son, Duleep Siṅgh, was proclaimed Mahārājā of the Punjab on 17 September 1843, Hīrā Siṅgh assumed the office of prime minister. But he failed to consolidate his position. What earned him unpopularity was the appointment of Paṇḍit Jallā as his deputy. He confiscated the fiefs of the Sandhāṅvālīā sardārs who were responsible for the murders of Mahārājā Sher Siṅgh Kaṅvar Partāp Siṅgh and Rājā Dhiān Siṅgh. Hīrā Siṅgh had Bhāī Gurmukh Siṅgh, a revered Sikh divine, and Misr Belī Rām murdered for their having opposed his father's proposal to crown him Mahārājā after the death of Kaṅvar Nau Nihāl Siṅgh. He also put in jail Jawāhar Siṅgh, brother of Queen Mother, Mahārāṇī Jind Kaur, and exiled from Lahore his own uncle, Suchet Siṅgh Ḍogrā, both of whom were considered rivals to his position. At the instance of his uncle Gulāb Siṅgh Ḍogrā who helped him concoct some false letters, he confiscated the lands of Kaṅvar Kashmīrā Siṅgh and Kaṅvar Pashaurā Siṅgh, two of the surviving sons of Raṇjīt Siṅgh. He also sent a force against them under Gulāb Siṅgh. This assault on the princes caused much resentment among the troops who turned against the Ḍogrā prime minister and forced him to restore their jāgīrs and release Jawāhar Siṅgh from captivity. Hīrā Siṅgh's intrigues reached their culminating point in his designs against Bābā Bīr Siṅgh, a soldier turned a religious saint, who had set up his own ḍera in a small village, Nauraṅgābād in Amritsar district, secluded from courtly machinations. He was a true well-wisher of the dynasty of Raṇjīt Siṅgh and was deeply grieved at the disaster which had overtaken it through the envy of the courtiers. His personal influence greatly perturbed Hīrā Siṅgh who sent troops to attack his citadel in the village, where Prince Kashmīrā Siṅgh and Atar Siṅgh Sandhāṅvālīā had taken asylum. The attack upon Bābā Bīr Siṅgh and a subsequent attempt by Hīrā Siṅgh's favourite, Paṇḍit Jallā, to poison Mahārāṇī Jind Kaur aroused the ire of the Sikh army. Hīrā Siṅgh abandoned Lahore with 4,000 of his trusted troops and several cartloads of gold and silver removed from the treasury, but a Sikh force led by Jawāhar Siṅgh and Sham Siṅgh Aṭārīvālā overtook him on the way, killing him along with his adviser, Paṇḍit Jallā, on 21 December 1844.
Sukhdev Siṅgh Charak