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JIND KAUR (1817-1863)

Jind Kaur was a princess of the Punjab and a figure in the 1857 War against the British. She was the daughter of Sardar Manna Singh, a Jat of Chachar in Gujranwala district of undivided Punjab. Her father was very keen to marry her off to the prince of the Punjab and pestered him constantly. At last the old prince reluctantly agree and sent his ‘arrow and sword’ to the village, symbolizing his consent. This custom stemmed from the Sikh practice of symbolic marriage, originally a measure against sati. Jind Kaur became the last and seventeenth wife of Ranjit Singh and became his only surviving widow and guardian of Duleep Singh, his minor son, in 1839. Immediately the Punjab was thrown into a bloody war of succession. Ranjit Singh’s illegitimate son Kharak Singh first succeeded him, but died within months, apparently due to poison. His successor was crushed by a falling archway. Then Jind Kaur declared herself Regent for her son in 1843 and put men close to her in high positions; this did not save them from being assassinated by rival factions. In 1845-46 in the middle of this turmoil the British declared war on the Punjab. Jind Kaur lost, and the British deposed and banished her to a fort near Lahore. From there she was shifted to several locations, managed finally to escape from the fort of Chunar in Uttar Pradesh in 1849. She left a defiant note to the British claiming to have got out ‘by my magic’. The British confiscated her jewelry and rescinded her pension; but they could do little else as the King of Nepal had given her asylum, with a palace and a pension in Kathmandu. In 1860 she was eventually permitted to see her son Duleep Singh in Calcutta, and with him she travelled to London, where she died.
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