SIKH JAMĪ'AT or JAMĪ'AT-I-SIKKHĀṄ, also called locally the Lāhaurī Fauj or Lahore army, was the designation given the Sikh force in the employment of the Nizāms or rulers of the former Indian state of Hyderābād. Jamī’at is an Arabic word meaning an assemblage or congregation. The Sikh Jamī'at came into existence during the rule of the third Nizām, Sikandar Jāh (1803-29), who raised it on the advice of Rājā Chandū Lāl, a Punjabi who rose to a position of great influence at the Nizām's court. The Nizām had in his service contingents of the Arabs and the Ruhīlās, and Chandū Lāl, conversant with the martial qualitites of Sikh soldiers, recommended a similar force composed purely of Sikhs. The Nizām sent an embassy to Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh with costly gifts (including a richly bejewelled canopy which the Mahārājā presented to the Golden Temple, Amritsar, where it was preserved until recently), to request him to send some Sikh soldiers to Hyderābād. The Mahārājā readily agreed. In order not to arouse British suspicions these soldiers travelled to Hyderābād in small batches. The exact number and the time of the arrival of the Sikhs in Hyderābād is not known but old records refer to the existence of a Sikh force in 1810. Its strength has been estimated at 1,200. On arrival they were stationed in Rām Bāgh-Kishan Bāgh area, afterwards known as Shhāonī Sujjgāṅ or the Sikh cantonment. Later they were divided into 12 chhāoṇīs or camps, each chhāoṇī functioning as an independent unit. Their main function was the collection of revenue from recalcitrant landlords and suppression of rebellions in the territory. They proved so efficient in the performance of their duties that they soon won the Nizām's favour and had their emoluments doubled. They also acquired the privilege of purchasing and inheriting property in the state and of joining service in other government departments. During the time of the fourth Nizām, Nāsir ud-Daulā (1829-57), another 1,000 Sikhs trickled into Hyderābād and joined the state army and police force.

        Sikh Jamī'at continued to exist till after India became independent in 1947. It was disbanded with effect from 1 May 1951 when each soldier of the force was given five years' salary as compensation and dismissed. A large number of the soldiers were however retaken into the police department. The Nizām, who was re-designated as Rājpramukh of the state, also retained 100 Sikhs under Risāldār Khem Siṅgh in his personal bodyguard, but the number was gradually reduced. In 1960, Risāldār Khem Siṅgh was appointed sarbarāh or head of the Gurdwārā Board Sachkhaṇḍ Srī Hazūr Sāhib, Nāndeḍ, constituted in 1956, and this last remnant of the Sikh Jamī'at faded away.

        The soldiers of the Jamī'at preserved their identity as Sikhs. Each chhāoṇī of the Sikh Jamī'at had its own gurdwārā. Although most of them married local women and settled down permanently in the South, they brought up their children as Sikhs. Later they intermarried among themselves and among other families of immigrant Sikhs. They not only adopted the five K's, religious symbols of the Khālsā, but also carried five weapons each, viz. two pistols, a sword, a dagger and a musket or, later, rifle. Moreover, they insisted on wearing their traditional dress comprising a cholā (long cloak), kachhahirā (drawers reaching down to cover the knees), and chakkar (sharp-edged quoits) over the turban. For over half a century they resisted the government's orders to put on regulation dress of the Western style. It was only in 1912, after the government had accepted their demand that the cost of the uniform be met from the public exchequer, that the Sikhs of the Jamī'at agreed to wear the prescribed dress. Even now the male descendants of the Jamī'at and other Sikhs settled in the former Hyderābād state and collectively known as Dakkhaṇī (from the Deccan) Sikhs are recognizable by their unshorn hair and kachhahirās that cover their knees.


    Bingley, Capt. A. H., Sikhs--- A Handbook for Indian Army. Calcutta, 1918

Nirvair Siṅgh Arshī