LĀL SIṄGH, RĀJĀ (d. 1866), son of Misr Jassā Mall, a Brāhmaṇ shopkeeper of Saṅghoī, in Jehlum district in West Punjab, entered the service of the Sikh Darbār in 1832 as a writer in the treasury. He enjoyed the patronage of the Ḍogrā minister Dhiān Siṅgh and, when in 1839 Misr Belī Rām had displeased the latter because of his sympathy with Chet Siṅgh Bājvā, he was promoted in his place DāroghahiToshākhānā, which position he held until the reinstatement of the former.
Lāl Siṅgh rose to power during the heyday of Wazīr Hīrā Siṅgh Ḍogrā's authority when he was given a minor military command for the maintenance of which a few districts were leased out to him. Lāl Siṅgh increased his influence by winning the favour of those in power. To this end, he engineered, in 1843, the murder of Belī Rām, his own benefactor, and Bhāī Gurmukh Siṅgh, both disliked by the minister. He displayed similar ingratitude towards Rājā Hīrā Siṅgh who had throughout been well disposed towards him. Besides confirming him as the controller of the Toshākhānā, Hīrā Siṅgh had appointed him young Mahārājā Duleep Siṅgh's tutor in place of Jawāhar Siṅgh and had also created him Rājā with grants of jāgīrs at Rohtās. But when Mahārāṇī Jind Kaur turned against Hīrā Siṅgh, he lost no time in joining hands with her and her brother, Jawāhar Siṅgh, to bring about his downfall.
By his beguiling manner Lāl Siṅgh won the confidence of Mahārāṇī Jind Kaur and became her closest adviser. In December 1844, he was appointed a member of the Council of Regency under her. He was made Wazīr on 8 November 1845 after the assassination of Jawāhar Siṅgh. As Wazīr and as a commander, Lāl Siṅgh proved disloyal to the Sikh Darbār in the Anglo-Sikh war of 1845-46. He in fact acted in conformity with the secret instructions received from the British officials. He supplied military information to Captain Peter Nicholson, at Fīrozpur, and two divisions of Sikh troops under his command remained entrenched at Ferozeshāh without attacking Fīrozpur. Brigadier Littler's garrison troops were thus allowed to escape from there and form junction with Lord Gough's army at Ferozeshāh. After the reverse at Ferozeshāh, Lāl Siṅgh fled to Lahore and offered to the Council of the Khālsā to relinquish his office. He was relieved of the office of Wazīr, but no change in the military command was made.
On the eve of battle of Sabhrāoṅ (10 February 1846), Lāl Siṅgh is alleged to have sent to Captain Nicholson a map of the Sikh entrenchment. During the battle, he kept his artillery battalions and the dreaded Ghoṛchaṛās away from the battlefield. He himself retired to Lahore. After the war, he was suitably rewarded by the British. He was confirmed as Wazīr of the State of Lahore under the Resident, Henry Lawrence. He, however, lost British patronage when it came to light that he had sent written instructions to Shaikh Imām ud-Dīn, the governor of Kashmīr, to thwart the occupation by Gulāb Siṅgh of the valley granted him by the British under a treaty signed on 16 March 1846. Lāl Siṅgh was tried by a Court of Inquiry and found guilty. He was removed from his high office and expelled from the Punjab with a pension of 12,000 rupees per annum. He was sent to Āgrā and then to Dehrā Dūn, where he died in 1866.
J. S. Khurānā