MU'ĪN UL-MULK (d. 1753), shortened to Mīr Mannū, was the Mughal governor of the Punjab from April 1748 until his death in November 1753. He took over charge of the province after he had defeated the Afghān invader, Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, in the battle fought at Māṇupūr, near Sirhind on 11 March 1748. In this battle his father, Wazīr Qamar ud-Dīn, prime minister to the Mughal emperor of Delhi, was killed. As governor of the Punjab, Mīr Mannū proved a worse foe of the Sikhs than even his predecessors Abd us-Samad Khān (1713-26), Zakarīyā Khān (1726-45) and Yāhiyā Khān (1745-47), and continued the witch hunt with much greater severity. According to Syad Muhammad Latīf, the Muslim author of the History of the Panjab, his first act was to storm the fortress of Rām Rauṇī, in Amritsar, where 500 Sikhs had taken shelter. He then stationed detachments of troops in all parts with any Sikh inhabitants to apprehend them and shave their heads and beards. This drove the Sikhs to seek refuge in the mountains and jungles. Mannū issued orders to the hill chiefs to seize Sikhs and send them in irons to Lahore. Hundreds of Sikhs were thus brought daily to Lahore and executed at Nakhās, the horse-market, present site of Gurdwārā Shahīd Gañj, outside of the Delhi Gate, within sight of crowds of spectators. However, under the influence of his Hindu minister, Kauṛā Mall, who was a sympathizer of the Sikhs, but more because of the threat of another invasion by Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, Mannū was led temporarily to halt his campaign against the Sikhs and make peace with them by granting them a jāgīr of twelve villages from the areas of Paṭtī and Jhabāl yielding an annual revenue of about a lakh and a quarter rupees. As Ahmad Shāh Durrānī entered the Punjab in December 1748, Mīr Mannū, receiving no help from Delhi, agreed to make over to the invader all territory west of the Indus and the revenue of Chār Mahāl or the four districts of Siālkoṭ, Auraṅgābād, Gujrāt and Pasrūr, assessed at 14 lakhs a year.

         In 1750, Shāh Nawāz Khān was appointed to the independent charge of the province of Multān by the Delhi rulers much to the chagrin of Mīr Mannū, whose authority was thus severely curtailed. He despatched Kauṛā Mall to Multān with an army including some forces of Adīnā Beg Khān and newly recruited contingents of Sikhs under the command of Jassā Siṅgh Āhlūvālīā. Kauṛā Mall defeated the Multān army, cut off the fallen Shāh Nawāz's head and sent it as a trophy to Mīr Mannū. A grateful Mannū bestowed upon him the title of Mahārājā Bahādur and made him governor of Multan. The Dīwān who believed that he owed his success mainly to the Sikh soldiers, rewarded them generously.

         By the autumn of 1751 the Punjab was rife with rumours of another Afghān invasion. Mīr Mannū had failed to pay the revenue of the four districts ceded to the Durrānī and, in the middle of November, advance units of Afghān army under General Jahān Khān crossed the Indus; Ahmad Shāh followed closely behind. Mīr Mannū summoned Kauṛā Mall from Multān and Adīnā Beg Khān from Jalandhar and made preparations to join battle. In December 1751, he crossed the Rāvī to check the Afghāns. Instead of joining Jahān Khān, Ahmad Shāh made a detour, and closed in on Lahore from the northeast. Mannū quickly retraced his steps and entrenched himself outside the city walls. Hostilities between the two armies opened on 5 March 1752. Kauṛā Mall fell on the second day of the battle while Adīnā Beg quietly disappeared from the field. Mīr Mannū fought as loṅg as he could, and then laid down arms. The Afghāns extracted an indemnity of thirty lakh of Rupees in cash from Mannū. By the terms of the treaty, ratified by the Mughal emperor on 13 April 1752, Lahore and Multān were ceded to Ahmad Shāh Durrānī.

         The death of Kauṛā Māll snapped the only link between Mīr Mannū and the Sikh sardārs. They had taken advantage of the conflict between the Afghāns and the Mughals to spread out in the Bārī Doāb, Jalandhar Doāb and across the Sutlej as far as Jīnd, Thānesar and beyond coming within 50 miles of Delhi. Mannū discovering how Sikhs had occupied large parts of his territory, now resumed his policy of repression. Prices were once again laid on their heads and strict orders were passed against giving refuge to them anywhere. Skirmishes between Sikh bands and Mannū's roving columns took place in different parts of the province. Mannū's musketeers combed the villages for Sikhs. The able-bodied from among them were killed fighting; the non-combatants including women and children were brought in chains to Lahore and slaughtered in the horse market. The fighting and reprisals went on until the death of Mannū on 4 November 1753 of an accidental fall from his horse. With Mannū's death ended yet another attempt to quash the rising power of the Khālsā. A Punjabi doggerel which became current among Sikhs in those days sums up how light they made of the atrocity Mannū heaped upon them.

        Mannū is our sickle,

        We the fodder for him to mow,

        The more he cuts, the more we grow.



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  2. Giān Siṅgh, Giānī, Twārīkh Gurū Khālsā [Reprint]. Patiala, 1970
  3. Lati, Syad Muhammad, History of the Panjab . Calcutta, 1891
  4. Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs , vol.1. Princeton, 1963
  5. Gandhi, Surjit Singh, Struggle of the Sikhs For Sovereignty . Delhi, 1980
  6. Ganda Singh and Teja Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs . Bombay, 1950
  7. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs . Delhi, 1983

Bhagat Siṅgh