YĀHĪYĀ KHĀN, the eldest son of Nawāb Zakarīyā Khān, became governor of Lahore under the Mughals in 1745 after the death of his father. He continued his father's policy of repression against the Sikhs. During his regime, a fracas between a band of Sikh horsemen and the State constabulary resulted in the death of Jaspat Rāi, Faujdār of Eminābād and younger brother of Dīwān Lakhpat Rāi, who was revenue minister to the governor. The minister, bent upon vengeance, took heavy reprisals, rounding up Sikhs living in Lahore and having them executed at the nakhās, the local horse market, later renamed by Sikhs Shahīdgañj (martyrs' shrine). Lakhpat Rāi and Yāhīyā Khān proceeded in pursuit of Sikhs concentrating on the bank of the Rāvī, north of Lahore. The Sikhs retreated further northwards but the hill soldiers coming from the opposite side barred their way. Yāhīyā Khān's troops caught up with the Sikhs at Kāhnūvān in Gurdāspur district on 1 May 1746 and inflicted upon them a heavy defeat, with more than 7,000 of them killed in battle and 3,000 taken to Lahore as captives to be executed there. The disaster which overtook the Sikhs is known in history as Chhoṭā Ghallūghārā or Minor Massacre in contrast to Vaḍḍā Ghalūghārā, the Great Massacre, that took place later on 5 February 1762.
Shāh Nawāz Khān, brother of Yāhīyā Khān and governor of Multān, revolted against the authority of Yāhīyā Khān and hostilities between the two brothers continued through the winter months of 1746-47. In March 1747 Shāh Nawāz forced his way into Lahore, put Yāhīyā Khān in jail, and proclaimed himself governor of the Punjab.