Days of maharajas
B. S. Thaur

Itehas Riasat Jind
by Krishan Betab. Mahan Printers, Sangrur. Pages 134. Rs 600.

THE book discusses the history of one of the Phulkian dynasty states, Jind, the other being Patiala and Nabha. All these princely states along with the states of Faridkot, Kapurthala and Nalagarh were made into one unit with the nomenclature of Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) in 1948.

Jind was not known for any eventful exploits or any unusual occurrences, politically or otherwise. The luxurious lives of Maharajas and their cohorts were a usual feature among the princely states. Compared to Jind, Nabha came to be known prominently due to the historic Jaitu Morcha, while Patiala was famous for the exuberantly lavish style of living and harem of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh.

The author has researched well and brought out things and events not commonly known with regard to Jind. One of them is its role in the restoration of the building of Gurudwara Sisganj, Delhi. It is said that the British rulers rewarded Sikhs the states of Patiala, Nabha and Jind for helping them during the 1857 War of Independence. Patiala got Zeenat Mahal, while Nabha a big haveli. Jindís Maharaja Saroop Singh, at the suggestion of his General Kahan Singh, opted that the place in Chandni Chowk Delhi where Guru Teg Bahadur attained martyrdom be given to the Sikhs as the Muslims had erected a mosque there.

The British rulers acceded to the demand and General Kahan Singh got demolished a mosque that stood there overnight. Later, the demolished structure was rebuilt. The Maharaja of Jind appealed to the Privy Council against the rebuilding and won the case. The Maharaja recaptured the place where the present Gurudwara Sisganj stands.

In the developmental activities in the state, a workshop to produce accessories for the construction work was established in 1876. Sangrur came up as a new town of the state. Many important religious places like Mandir Shivajee, a big tank in Safidon and several other buildings evidencing Maharajaís regards for all religions.

While the author has faithfully recorded the events and characteristics of the state giving accolades where deserving, he is also unsparing where the excesses were committed by the Maharaja.

The end of Kahan Singh, the most faithful general of the Maharaja, is a point in case. Due to a palace conspiracy, he was put behind bars where he languished along with a son of the Maharaja.

However, when the truth came to light and the Maharaja ordered that the General be released and brought out with military honours from jail, it was too late for the Maharaja. The General had ended his life by consuming poison. He probably didnít want to see the face of a Maharaja who could not value his dedication and loyalty .

The British poet John Betjeman says history must not be written with bias, both sides should be given even if there is only side. The author has upheld this famous maxim of history writing. Though the scope for readership of the book is not very wide, it is a significant contribution since no earlier account on the Jind state is known to have come about.

Betab is an established writer having already presented six collections of short stories and an autography. His new book is an important contribution to the history of the area.