CHAṚHAT SIṄGH (d. 1770), grandfather of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh, was the eldest of the four sons of Sardār Naudh Siṅgh. He took to arms while still very young and started taking part in the raids and expeditions led by his father. He also fought in the Sikhs' skirmishes with the Afghān invader Ahmad Shāh Durrānī. After the death of his father, he broke away from the Faizullāpurīā Misl and determined to acquire territory for himself. He left his ancestral village of Sukkarchakk and established his headquarters at Gujrāṅwālā, where he had gathered a considerable following within a short time. One of his constant companions was, Amīr Siṅgh, who was known in the area for his valour. In 1756, Chaṛhat Siṅgh married Desāṅ, the eldest daughter of Amīr Siṅgh. This united the resources of the two families and added considerably to the importance of the young Sukkarchakkīā chief.

         Chaṛhat Siṅgh attached Eminābād, killing the faujdār and plundering the town. He next captured Wazīrābād. His most significant victory was at Siālkoṭ, where in August 1761 he besieged Ahmad Shāh Durrānī's general, Nūr ud-Dīn Bāmezaī. He pressed the Afghān general hard and forced him to flee the town. He had now to face Khwājā Ubaid Khān, the Afghān governor of Lahore, who marched upon Gujrāṅwālā to chastise him. The town was besieged, but Chaṛhat Siṅgh fought with courage and surprised the besiegers by his night sallies. In the meantime, other Sikh sardārs, under the leadership of Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā, came to his rescue. Ubaid Khān was forced to retreat, leaving behind siege guns, ammunition and stores. In the Vaḍḍā Ghallūghārā or Great Holocaust of 5 February 1762, when the Sikhs were involved in a pitched battle with Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, Chaṛhat Siṅgh fought with great skill and courage.

         No sooner had Ahmad Shāh returned to Afghanistan than the Sikhs reappeared all over the Punjab. Chaṛhat Siṅgh and the Bhaṅgī sardārs sacked Kasūr in April 1763. In November 1763 he engaged at Siālkoṭ the Shāh's commander-in-chief, Jahān Khān, who had been especially sent to punish the Sikhs, and inflicted upon him a severe defeat. The Shāh who came out himself was forced to return home harassed by the pursuing Sikh bands.

         Chaṛhat Siṅgh swept across Rachnā and Chaj Doābs and reached Rohtās. The Afghān commander of the fort, Sarfarāz Khān, offered stiff resistance, but was overcome near Aṭṭock. Chaṛhat Siṅgh defeated. Sarbuland Khān, governor of Kashmīr, who was on his way to meet the Afghān ruler at Lahore. He followed these victories with the occupation of a large portion of Dhannī and Poṭhohār areas. He then took Piṇḍ Dādan Khān, and built a fort there. The Salt Range of Kheoṛā and Mīaṇī was the next to fall to him.

         Chaṛhat Siṅgh's rapid successes, especially in the Salt Range and Piṇḍ Dādan Khān, aroused the animosity of the Bhaṅgī sardārs who had always reckoned these areas within their sphere of influence. Their antagonism came into the open when Chaṛhat Siṅgh and the Bhaṅgī sardārs took up sides in the family dispute at Jammū. Its ruler, Raṇjīt Deo, wanted to pass on the succession to his younger son, but was opposed in this attempt by Brij Rāj Deo, the elder son, who managed to secure the active support of Chaṛhat Siṅgh and of the Kanhaiyās. Raṇjīt Deo enlisted the support of the Bhaṅgīs. The rival armies marched into Jammū in 1770. Chaṛhat Siṅgh was fatally wounded in the skirmishes that followed by the bursting of his own gun.


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Sardār Siṅgh Bhāṭīā