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Portrait of Jindan Kaur, the last queen of the Sikh empire

Jind Kaur Aulakh was born in Gujranwala in the year 1817. She was the youngest child of Manna Singh Aulakh, who was a supervisor of the Royal Kennel. Jind was a very beautiful and at the same time, intelligent woman. In fact, her intelligence impressed Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and he ended up marrying Jind in the year 1835. It must be noted that Maharani Jind Kaur was the last wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and she gave birth to their son Duleep Singh in 1838.

In the year, 1839 Maharaja Ranjit Singh died. After five years after his death, Duleep Singh was given the responsibility of the throne and kingdom. But, as Duleep was very young to understand the power of a throne, Maharani Jindan Kaur took this responsibility. It was then when she single-handedly operated the Kingdom her intelligence. In fact, during her reign, she even introduced some remarkable changes in the Revenue System.

Soon, when the British rule in India started, they announced an Anglo-Sikh war against the Sikh empire in the year 1845. Here, the British played a trick. They imprisoned Maharani Jindan Kaur after their victory and still considered Duleep as a ruler. In fact, the British even tried to defame Jindan by calling her a “prostitute". Even, they used to call the Maharani as “Messalina of Punjab" and referring her as the third wife of Roman Emperor Claudius who was promiscuous.

Jindan was of a strong mindset, and so she believed that if everyone becomes one, Indian rulers could oust the British. For the very same reason, she was in touch with Bhai Maharaj Singh, who tried to rebel against the British after the annexation of the Sikh empire.

Surprisingly, according to William Dalrymple and Anita Anand, Jindan break through the prison on April 19, 1849, from Chunnar Fort in Uttar Pradesh. The renowned authors said that “the Maharani dressed in beggars' rags and fled under cover of darkness, taunting her British captors as she went. Also, she scrawled a note for the guards to find: You put me in a cage and locked me up. For all your locks and your sentries, I got out by magic… I had told you plainly not to push me too hard – but don't think I ran away. Understand well, that I escape by myself unaided… don't imagine I got out like a thief.''

After escaping, Jindan went to Kathmandu on April 29, 1849, where she was given asylum by Jung Bahadur, the prime minister. But, even then she continued to reach out to rebels in Punjab and Jammu-Kashmir. Even her letters trying to contact rebels detained in Allahabad fort were intercepted by the British government. And, the British asked the Nepal prime minister to rein her in, but nothing of that sort happened.

Then, in April 1861, Jindan met her son, Duleep Singh at Calcutta, who at that time converted to Christianity. But, because of her influence, returned back to Sikhism. Also, the British by this time ordered that she must leave for London by May.

After long years of exile, the Maharani passed away in her sleep on August 1, 1863. Maharani Jindan Kaur was buried in west London as at that time, cremation was illegal in Britain.

Keywords: Punjab, Jindan Kaur, British, Colonialism, India, London.


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