ZAKARĪYĀ KHĀN (d.1745), who replaced his father 'Abd us-Samad Khān as governor of Lahore in 1726, had earlier acted as governor of Jammū (1713-20) and of Kashmīr (1720-26). He had also taken part in Lahore government's operations against the Sikh leader Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur. After the capture of Bandā Siṅgh and his companions in December 1715 at Gurdās-Naṅgal, he escorted the prisoners to Delhi, rounding up Sikhs he could find in villages along the route. As he reached the Mughal capital, the caravan comprised seven hundred bullock carts full of severed heads and over seven hundred captives. After becoming the governor of the province in 1726, Khān Bahādur Zakarīyā Khān, shortened to Khānū by Sikhs, launched a still severer policy against the Sikhs and let loose terror upon them. His moving military columns forced the Sikhs to seek shelter in remote hills and forests. Yet Sikh bands continued harassing the administration attacking government caravans and treasuries. Such was the effect of their depredations that Zakarīyā Khān was obliged to make terms with them. In 1733, he decided to lift the quarantine forced upon the Sikhs and made an offer of a grant. His envoy, Subeg Siṅgh, a Sikh resident of the village of Jambar, near Lahore, who was for the time kotwal or police inspector of the city under Muslim authority, reached Amritsar where the Sikhs had been allowed to assemble and celebrate the festival of Baisākhī after many years of exile, and offered them on behalf of the government the title of Nawāb and a jāgīr consisting of the parganahs of Dīpālpur, Kaṅganvāl and Jhabāl, worth a lakh of rupees in revenue. But the entente soon came to an end, before the harvest of 1735, Zakarīyā Khān sent a force and occupied the jāgīr. The Sikhs were driven away towards the Mālvā region by Lakhpat Rāi, the Hindu minister at the Mughal court at Lahore. In the clashes that followed many officers of the Lahore army, including Lakhpat Rāi's nephew Dunī Chand, were killed. Zakarīyā Khān took the field himself to re-establish his authority in the region. He had the fortress of Ḍallevāl blown up and ordered village officials to capture Sikhs and hand them over for execution. A graded scale of rewards was laid down ---a blanket for cutting off Sikh's hair, ten rupees for information about the whereabouts of a Sikh, fifty rupees for a Sikh scalp. Plunder of Sikh homes was made lawful; giving shelter to Sikhs or withholding information about their movements was made a capital offence. Zakarīyā Khān's police consisting of nearly 20,000 men especially recruited for this purpose, scoured the countryside and brought back hundreds of Sikhs in chains. Prominent Sikhs including the revered Bhāī Manī Siṅgh and Bhāī Tārū Siṅgh were, after the severest of torments, publicly beheaded at the Nakhās, the horse-market of Lahore, renamed by Sikhs Shahīdgañj in honour of the martyrs. Yet Zakarīyā Khān remained unsuccessful in his object of vanquishing the Sikhs. He died at Lahore on 1 July 1745 a dispirited man, bequeathing to his sons and successors chaos and confusion.


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Bhagat Siṅgh