Fazilka

 

            In 1800, this tract was almost uninhabited. There was no village where Fazilka (the headquarters of the tehsil of the same name) now stands. The riverside country was occupied only by 12 villages of Bodlas, Wattus and Chishtis, who had come over from the other side of the River a few years before. It was left for a long time to the Nawabs of Bahawalpur and Mamdot, who established some small forts. Their common boundary was ill-defined, but was approximately the same as afterwards became the boundary between the parganas of Wattu and Bahak. In 1844, the parganas of Wattu, so called from the principal tribe inhabiting it, and, comprising strip of land running down from the Danda to the Satluj, was ceded by the Nawab of Bahawalpur in exchange for a similar tract given to him on the Sindu frontier, and was attached to Bhattiana. This strip was acquired partly to permit the extension of the customs line to the River, and partly that a political officer might be stationed there to watch the surrounding foreign States of Lahore, Faridkot, Mamdot and Bahawalpur. In 1858, the pargana of Bahak, on the Satluj, lately confiscated from the Nawab of Mamdot, was transferred from the Firozpur District to the Sirsa District. It had been settled by  Brandreth in 1857-58 before its transfer. The Fazilka Tehsil was divided in the first Regular Settlement of the Sirsa District, into four parganas, viz (I) Malaut including 129 villages (consisting of the southern portion of the Tehsil, the chief village of which was Malaut, resumed from the Sikh Chief in 1837) (2) Mahajani including 45 villages (consisting of the tract immediately  south-east of the Danda or old bank of the Satluj, resumed from the Sikh chiefs in 1837); (3) Wattuan including 80 villlages (lying north-west of the Danda, down to the Satluj, ceded by the Nawab of Bahawalpur in 1844); and (4) Bahak including 39 villages (also between the Danda and  the Satluj above the pargana of Wattuan).

 

            Gradual Formation of the District. – At the close of the Satluj Campaign in 1846, were added to the existing District of Firozpur, as already described, the ilaqa of Khai, Bahuwala, Ambarhar, Zira, and Mudki together with portions of the following : Kot Kapura (District Faridkot), Guru Har Sahai, Jhumba (District Bathinda), Kot Bhai (Tehsil Muktsar transferred to the District of Faridkot), Bhucho (District Bathinda) and Maharaj ( District Bahinda). The other acquisitions of the British Government were divided between the districts of Badhni and Ludhiana. In 1847, the Badhni District was broken up, and the following ilaqas were  added to the Firozpur District : Mallanwala, Makhu, Dharamkot, Kot Ise Khan, Badni (Tehsil Moga, transferred to District Faridkot), Chuhar Chak (Tehsil Moga, District Faridkot), Mari (District Bathinda), and Sada Singhwala (Tehsil Moga, District Faridkot). In the same year, Sultan Khanwala was taken from the Faridkot State in exchange for a portion of Kot Kapura. The next addition took place in 1852, when a portion of the ilaqa as of Muktsar and Kot Kapura (now transferred to the District of Faridkot),  hitherto held in excess of his jagir in the same ilaqas by the Raja of Faridkot, was taken under direct management. This was an addition of about 259 sq. km.

 

In 1855, the eight villages constituting the ilaqa of Chirak (in Tehsil Moga, District Faridkot) were restored to the Sardar of Kalsia,  as the supposition under which they had been brought under the British control  that they were shared equally between the Kalsia State and Sardar Dewa Singh, British subject, was found to be incorrect. In 1856, the estates of the deposed Nawab of Mamdot were annexed, as has already been relatred. In 1857, nine village of the Makhu ilaqa were ceded to the Kapurthala State on account of river action, the deep stream having shifted so as to separate them from the Firozpur bank. Subsequently, the stream resumed its old course, but it had meanwhile been ruled that the deep stream rule did not affect the boundary in question, and Kapurthala, accordingly, retained the villages. In  1858, the Village of Sibian, one of those granted in exchange to the Faridkot State, was taken back on the ground that it was held as a revenue free life-grant by Sodhi Gulab Singh. In November 1884, on the partition of the Sirsa District, the western half, including the whole of the Fazilka Tehsil and about 40 villages of the Dabwali Tehsil, was included in the Firozpur District, the eastern half being attached to the Hissar District (Haryana).

 

            Development of the District --- The station of Firozpur in 1839, when as yet neither the Punjab nor Sindh had been annexed, was a species of ultima Thule, the farthest limits of the British Indian possessions. It was described as a dreary and desert plain, where very little rain was ever known to fall and an almost continual dust-storm was the normal condition of the atmosphere. The rich cultivation, assigned by tradition to the period of Muhammadan Empire, and still evidenced by numerous deserted sites of villages and wells, had long since disappeared. There were a few scattered patches of cultivation; but great wastes covered with low brushwood were the usual characteristics both of the Firozpur territory and of the neighbouring country. From the first, however, the humanizing influence of security for person and property began to tell upon country and people alike. Cultivation was extended, trees were planted and no effort was spared to replace the former misrule by an era of quiet and contentment.

 

            The immediate effect of a settled government established in close proximity to a border, such as that of the Sikh, is well illustrated in the country immediately around Firozpur. In 1841, Sir H. Lawrence ascertained the population of the town and military bazars), by a careful enumeration, to be 16,890.

 

            Lord Ellenborough, however, refused to develop the place as he considered it “a position in the air”, and the building of barracks, which had commenced, was stopped.

            Ten years later, in 1851, Brandreth found the population of the same tract to be 27,357, showing an increase of 10,967, at the rate of 64 per cent.

 

            Chiefships of Dharm Singhwala – For an account of the historical chiefships of Dharm Singhwala (Tehsil Zira)., refer to L.H. Griffin,  Chiefs and families of Note in the Punjab (Lahore, 1940), Vol. I,240-246.

II. The Great Uprising of 1857

 

            Events of Firozpur – At a court of inquiry assembled some time  previous to the Delhi Revolt, a native officer of the 57th Native Infantry at Firozpur declared that it was the purpose of his regiment to refuse the Enfield cartridge if preferred to them. This point raised a strong feeling the suspicion against the Corps, but the  45th Native Infantry, which was not on good terms with the 57th, was considered staunch. On 14 May 1857, as soon as the news by express from Lahore of the Delhi disaster reached Brigadier Innes, who had the previous day taken command, he ordered the entrenched arsenal to be immediately garrisoned by part of  Her Majesty’s 61st Foot and the Artillery. All ladies were also removed thither, and two  regiments of Nativer Infantry were ordered into camp in positions of about three miles (5km) apart. The way of the 45th  Native Infantry lay past the entrenchment. As they approached, their column insensibly swerved towards the glacis; the movement had barely been observed when they swarmed up the slope and attacked the position. The Europeans in an instant divined their  intent, and rushed to the ramparts with their bayonets. The attack was repulsed; but before the 61st could lead, the sepoys dashed for the gate, whence they were also flung back, and then with an air of injured innocence, they re-formed their column and marched quietly along with their European officers to the camp. During the night, the church, the Roman Catholic Chapel, the school-house, 17 officers houses and other buildings were burnt to the ground by the men of the 45th, but not before  the Chaplain, the Reverend R.B. Malatby, failing to obtain a guard of Europeans, had rushed unattended  through the infuriated  sepoys into the blazing church, and had succeeded in rescuing the registers out of it. On 14th May, the treasure was moved  into the entrenchment, and it was discovered that of the 45th Regiment, there remained only 133 men; the rest, with a large part of the 57th, had deserted. The remaining portions of these regiments were subsequently disbanded.

 

            Danger threatened the British authorities in this district from both north and south. To avert the impending incursion of the rebel troops from Lahores, the large ferries on the Satluj were guarded and the boats from the small ones were sent to Harike. To check the approaches of the wild tribes from Sirsa and Bhattiana, General Van Cortlandt, in a fort-night, raised a levy of 500 Sikhs – a force which, subsequently uniting with the troops of Raja Jawahir Singh and other bodies, sent down from time to time by the Chief Commissioner, rose to 5,000 men of all arms, and performed service in Sirsa and Hisar . Major Marsden received information at one time that a fakir, named Sham Dass, was collecting followers with a hostile intent. He promptly moved against the rebel, and coming upon him by surprise, attacked and completely defeated him and killed several of his men. Sham Dass himself was seized and executed. In the western division, 157 extra men were entertained in the police establishment, and the feudatory chiefs furnished a body of 200 horse and 40 foot. Every highway robber was executed at ones. On 11th July, the 10th  Light Cavalry was as a precautionary measure, dismounted and disarmed, but on 19th August, the men made a rush at their horses, cut loose about 50 of them, and seizing ever pony or horse they could find in the station, including many officer’s chargers, mounted and rode off for Delhi. With the connivance of the native horse-keepers of the Artillery, they also attacked the guns, but were repulsed, though not until they had killed three of 61st Regiment and wounded three, of whom one was female. They also cut down Nelson, the Veterinary Surgeon of their Regiment. Of the 142 rebels captured, 40 were executed and the remained, with 25 of the Artillery horse-keepers, were transported or imprisoned. In the jail, 18 persons, including the Nawab of Rania, who had been captured by Ricketts in the Ludhaina District, were hanged. The siege train was despatched from the arsenal on 18 August, and more than 2,000 cart-loads of munitions of war were sent to Delhi during the siege.

 

            Events at Fazilka --- Oliver, Assistant Superintendent of Bhattiana, was in charge of  the Fazilka outpost, which he had held since 1848, and had acquired great influenced over the people. The troops stationed there were a small detachment of the 57th Native Infantry and some irregular Cavalry. When a feeling of dissatisfaction appeared among the troops at Firozpur, the Fazilka detachment showed some inclination to breakout. The customs establishment collected at Fazilka from the outposts were bidding their opportunity, willing at any moment to join the disaffected troops, and loudly called for arrears of their pay. Oliver, though uncertain regarding the feelings of the population, called in the most uncertain regarding the feelings of the population, called in the most influential headmen, chiefly Bodlas and Wattus of the Satluj, and with their aid was able to disarm the guard of the 57th Native Infantry. Though their influence, the neighbouring population was prevented from rising and the number of matchlock men they collected and entertained in the service of the British Government overawed the customs peons and other disaffected parties, and with their assistance Oliver was enabled to protect the Town of Fazilka, and to punish and destroy large villages  which were in open rebellion a few days after the first outbreak. General Van cortlandt crossed the Satluj with some police and local levies from Gugera and marched towards Sirsa with Captain Robersion, the Superintendent, who joined him at Malout on 12th June. Order was then restored in the remainder of the District. Oliver tactfully kept down the excited feelings of the people and restrained them from rising again although they were constantly incited to do so by emissaries from ‘Haryana’ and although the troops at his disposal were few and the loyalty of some of them at that time was very doubtful.

 

The Struggle for Freedom

 

Namdhari Movement, 1872 --- With headquarters at the Village of Bhaini Arayian (popularly called Bhaini Sahib) in the Ludhiana District, the Namdhari Movement, or more popularly called the Kuka Movement led by Guru Ram Singh (born there in February 18176), got momentum in 1872. It was, however, ruthlessly stamped out by the British, consequent upon the blowing up of 60 persons with guns at Malerkotla on 17 and 18 January 1872, with arrest of influential members and with he deportation of their leader to Rangoon and later on to Mergui, where he died in 1885. The Movement had its impact also in the Firozpur District and it is briefly described below :

 

           In the early fifties, Guru Ram Singh left for Firozpur to help his cousin, Khazan Singh, his maternal uncle Hari Singh’s son, to supervise the repairing of the fort and some other buildings there. During his stay at Firozpur, he made a deep impact on all those who came into contact with him. Satguru Bilas (the life Satguru Ram Singh) gives a graphic account of his efforts. It tells “All had a common mess. The Holy Book (Granth Sahib) was always kept open and it was recited non-stop. There were both morning and evening service. The Asa di Var was regular morning feature which was attended by all. In the evening, there was a community hymn-singing programme conducted to the  accompaniment of musical instruments. Guru Ram Singh had his bath in the ambrosial hours of the morning. He himself recited the “Asa di Var”… recited the “Rahiras” in the evening and then the “Arti Sohila” and then the “Adras” (the Sikh prayer to God) and then would go to bed:. The life of prayer and meditation gave rise to certain legends that are still current in that locality. One of them is that when he would be absorbed in divine mediation early in the morning, a bright light could be seen surrounding his holy head.

 

           Guru Ram Singh launched a crusade for religious and social reform and revival. He showed the keenest interest in reaching out to the people to deliver his message personally to them. This practice, he thought, would impart a great momentum to the missionary activities of his subas and other functionaries. He, therefore, chalked out a programme of extensive tours through the length and breadth of the country. In this programme, visits to important sharines on the occasions of Bai-sakhi, Dewali, Maghi and Holi were given the topmost priority, as it was believed that the huge assemblies of people usually found at these places on such occasions would provide him with the much-desired opportunities of direct contact and communication with the masses.

 

           Guru Ram Singh started this programme in 1861 and, after visiting other places, he proceeded towards Muktsar to be present there on the occasion of the Maghi Fair. From Muktsar he returned to his headquarter at Bhaini. About the middle of 1863, he again visited the Firozpur District. Conscious of the prevailing poverty of the masses, he initiated the Anad Marriage (the ceremony according to Sikh rites) which could be performed at a nominal cost of a few rupees. It was readily accepted by the poor villagers who constituted the bold of his followers. This new practice was first introduced among the people in the first week of June 1863, at the Village of Khota (Tehsil Moga District Faridkot), where the daughter and grand daughter of Sammund Singh, a Kuka Suba, were married according to this simple ceremony. Once initiated, the practice became so popular that later on in 1909, it was given a statutory recognition by the passage of the Anad Marriage Act. One important, but incidental, result of the change effected was the breakdown of the professional Brahmin marriage-maker’s monopoly in so far as reformed Kuka fraternity was concerned.

           The rigorous of the caste-system were anathema to Guru Ram Singh. He refused to have any regard for the artificial caste barriers. His mission was for all castes and all religions. Inter-caste marriages were considered an essential factor in the emotional integration of society. A beginning in the friction was also made at Khota in 1863, when a few such matrimonial alliances were effected. In one case, the daughter of a carpenter was married to a member of an Arora family.

           The visit to the village of Khota was the end of the first round of Guru Ram Singh‘s tours, because it was here that the Government, alarmed by certain reports regarding his aims and activities, took him in custody preparatory to his internment later at bhaini Sahib.

           The rapid advancement of the Kuka Movement caused consternation to those whose interests lay in keeping the people benighted and stack up in the web of  complicated rites, ceremonies, customs and practices. Prominent among these people were the Sodhis,  Bedis and the other priestly  class, Brahmins and mahants. They were the reputed leaders of society. Their leadership was now put in jeopardy by the very deep impact made by the movement started by Guru Ram Singh on the minds of the people. Therefore wherever the Guru went, he received stiff resistance from the members of the these class. The pujaris of mahants also very often subjected the Kuka leader as well as the followers to humiliating  treatment. In 1861, on the occasion of the Maghi Festival, the priests of the Muktsar Gurudwara refused to pray for Guru Ram Singh, unless he agreed, by way of penalty for his “un-Sikh” ways, to pay the entire cost of the masonry for the local tank. In  1863, during his stay at Khota, the local Brahmins threatened self-immolation as a protest against his innovation of Anad Marriage. When this threat proved to be of no avail, they coaxed the local chowkidar to make a report to the Police-station of Bagha Purana that the Kukas were indulging in seditious talks. The report logged was to the effect that “For two or three days Ram Singh with 400 or 500 followers had assembled at his village and was behaving in a very  extraordinary manner. They talked sedition; said the country would soon be theirs and they would speedily have 1,25,000 armed men to back them;  that they would only take a fifth of the land’s  produce from the cultivators”. This report was the immediate cause of the arrest of Guru Ram Singh. It was verified and confirmed independently by a police sergeant of Bagha Purana and an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Firozpur. Both of them visited Khota and the neighbouring villages and recorded statements of the prominent people there. A report was then prepared by Lieutenant Hamilton, Superintendent of Police, Firozpur, and sent to the Punjab Government. Without any loss of time, orders were issued to Thomas, the Deputy Commissioner of the District, to go personally to Khota, convince himself of the case and take Ram Sing his custody forthwith, the if necessary. After carefully scrutinizing the whole matter, the Deputy Commissioner banned all meeting of the Kukar in the Firozpur District and ordered that “Ram Singh himself and his Chelas (disciples) were to be sent, station by station, to his home at Bhaini, in Ludhiana.

 

           The Khota affair created a great stir in the official circles. A clear indication of it may be found in the report of Major McAndres, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Lahore Circle, dated 7, June 1863. Soon after, the Punjab Government issued instructions to the Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police of all districts to keep a vigilant eye on Ram Singh and his  followers and to send confidential reports. The policy of strict vigilance having been, thus, introduced, all Kuka parties and meetings were carefully shadowed by the police and their secret agents.

 

           Immediately after the happenings connected with the Kuka outbreak in January 1872, Ram Singh was detained in the Allahabad Fort, from where he was soon after removed to Rangoon. His prominent and influential subs were also arrested and detained in the Allahabad Fort, also known as the Allahabad Central Jail. Among them those from the Firozpur District were  Jawaher Singh and Maluk Singh. After sometime, the former was removed to Moulmein and the latter to the Asirgarh Fort. The subas were next to the head of the  organization in importance. The vacancies caused by the incarceration of the eminent among them were, therefore, filled up by the appointment of new subas in their places. Thus Sammund Singh of the Village of Khota and Natha Singh of the Villlage of Gadriwala (Tehsil Zira) were appointed in the Firozpur District. 

 

           In 1867, a police officer, deputed to keep a watch on the activities of the Kukas, reported that, among other places, Firozpur had become a stronghold of the Kukas.

 

           On 18 July 1879, JP Warburton, District Superintendent of Police, Ludhinana arrested Nariana Singh, of the Village of Road (Tehsil Moga, District Faridkot). He had been deputed by a notable Kuka leader, Budh Singh, to contact Guru Ram Singh in exile at Rangoon, and he had just returned after paying him a visit. Original letters from Guru Ram Singh, covering 18 or 19 pieces of paper, large and small, bearing on different subjects, mainly anti-british activities, were found to be in his possession.

           On 17 March 1881, the police arrested 39 out of 150 Kukas who had assembled for the purpose of holding a secret meeting in the Dhak Jungle near the Village of Laton, not far from Bhaini, in the Ludhiana District. Among those arrested, the following belonged to the Firozpur District :

 

           (12)      Natha Singh

 

(2)          Sohel Singh

 

(3)          Rattan Singh

 

(4)          Sapuran Singh

 

(5)          Gulab Singh

 

(6)          Anup Singh

 

(7)          Dharmo w/o Anup Singh

 

(8)          Tara Singh

 

(9)          Chattar Singh

 

(10)Lal Singh

 

(11)Bholi w/o Lal Singh

 

(12)Wazir Singh

 

(13)Sunder Kaur w/o Wazir Singh

 

The arrested persons were released on bail. Many of them were required to furnish security of Rs. 1000 each.

 

            Out of 22 Kuka subas, the following functioned in the then Firozpur region.”

 

Narain Singh son Dewa Singh, of the Village of Roda (Tehsil Moga District Faridkot)

 

            Narain Singh functioned in the Muktsar and Firozpur region. In June 1879, he started for Rangoon and, on his return, was arrested on 17th July. Several letters purporting to be from Guru Ram Singh were found on his person. Probably, he was created suba by the order of Guru Ram Singh (from exile).

 

Jawahir Singh, of the Village of Balaspur (Tehsil Moga District Faridkot)

 

                        Jawahir Singh functioned in Firozpur and some adjoining places. He was deported along with Guru Ram Singh in 1872.

Sammund Singh son of Sadhu Singh, of the Village Khota

 

            Sammund Singh functioned in the Firozpur region. Guru Ram Singh renewed his title of suba from exile. He assisted the Kuka Sect from his own resources and was looked up to by the Kukar.

 

Maluk Singh

 

            Maluk Singh functioned in the Firozpur region. He became a Kuka in 1864, and after two year was made a suba. In 1869, a band of some 50 Kukas, having collected their goods and cash kept them in a place at Maluk Singh’s village, proceeded to Thiraj, a village on the borders of the then Sirsa District, and there declared the beginning of the Khalsa rule. Two British officers, with a party of police, apprehended Maluk Singh and other Kukas.

 

            The above-mentioned prominent Kukda sacrificed their properties, or gave up their settled lives or were arrested by the Government, or were called upon to furnish heavy securities; all for their faith and mission. Some lost their jobs, others auctioned all their assets to feed their Kuka brethren and to plunge whole-heartedly into the Movement, whereas  some were deported from India.

 

            Agitation against the Colonization of Government Land (Punjab Bill,   1906—07:- -- The Colonization of Government Lands (Punjab( Bill, which was introduced in the Punjab Legislative Council on 16 October 1906 and passed by it on 28 February, 1907, was very much opposed by the people, including the affected soldiers. During the agitation carried on against it, meetings were held in different parts of the Province to protest against it. One such meeting at Firzorpur is said to have been attended, among others, by some 300 serving soldiers from the local cantonment. Taking all the circumstances into consideration, particularly the resentment  among the troops, the Governor-General of India, Lord Minto, refused his assent to the bill on 26 May 1907. Popular agitation in India, thus, won its first victory.

 

            The Ghadar Movement, 1913-15 --- He humiliating and discriminatory treatment meted out to the Indian emigrants abroad, especially in the USA, produced in them a strong urge to free their mother-country. This urge led to the formation of the Ghadar Party, with its headquarters at San Francisco (USA), in 1913, to liberate India by force.

 

            The outbreak of the World War 1, 1914-18, offered these revolutionaries a favourable opportunity to achieve their object. The Ghadar Party sent revolutionaries back to the mother-country to stir up rebellion there. The Government of India were fully  informed of these activities and took necessary precautions. Nevertheless, a large number of Revolutionaries sneaked through enquiries under the Ingress Ordinance (of 5 September 1914) and contacted the local revolutionary leaders.

 

            Most important of all was the work in the Army. It was planned to overthrow the British Rule by infecting the India Army with the idea of revolt. The Army was already seething with discontent. The soldiers hated the idea of going abroad to strange land to die at the bidding of the British Government. Let the banner of revolt be raised by a band of determined revolutionaries, they argued, and thousands would flock to it. The revolutionaries, took full advantage of this state of affairs and secretly contacted the soldiers. The Indian garrisons at Firozpur, Rawalpindi  and Lahore (now in Pakistan) promised to revolt. The date of uprising fixed was 21 February 1915 and it was to begin in the cantonments of the Punjab and spread eastwards.

 

            Unfortunately, when the entire plan was ready, the secret leaded out. A spy, Kripal Singh sneaked into the Ghadar Party and informed the police of the projected rising. The Government took measures to nip it in the bud. Truckloads of white soldiers poured into the major cities of the Punjab. Together with police, they posted themselves at key points. On cantonments, too, the British soldiers took over the arsenals, the watch was increased and the military discipline was enforce more rigorously.

 

            The revolutionaries made a last-minute effort to revolt on 19 February. But the opportunity was irretrievably lost. The secret was out again. When early on the morning of 19 February, Kartar Singh Sarabha with this band of 50 revolutionaries, reached Firozpur, not all his eloquence could rouse the soldiers out of the torpor of despair into which they had sunk. They merely pointed to the white soldiers stiffly parading in the distance; other only wept.

 

            Thus all seemed lost. The dream cherished for year came to nothing. For a moment, tears stood in the eyes of even the young Sarabha. the fearless warrior, who had never known defeat and frustration.

 

            Now the real manhunt began. For the next two weeks, terror held the Punjab in its grip. Most of the revolutionaries were arrested. Under the Defence of India Act, Special Tribunals were set up for tying the revolutionaries. Ono such Tribunal was set up in the Punjab and, on 22 March 1915, the first Lahore Conspiracy Trial opened in the Central Jail, Lahore.

           

             Thus ended the efforts of the simple, and in most cases uneducated, people entirely in the foreign surroundings to contribute their little bit to the fight for the freedom of their motherland. At a time, when the leaders of the Indian National Movement were talking of “Self-government on the British Dominion model.” The heroes of the Ghadar Movement had dared to raise the banner of complete independence through armed revolt against imperialism. It has been the most powerful revolt planned since the Great uprising of 1857. The Firozpur District came to occupy an honourable place in this phase of the freedom struggle.

 

            Zira Bomb Case, 1930 – The high-handedness of the British rulers in suppressing the rising tide of the freedom movement in the country with the worst type of governmental barbarity produced its reaction in the growth and spread of revolutionary activity to avenge the wrongs done to the people. Ono such incident in the Firozpur District was the Zira Bomb Case of October 1930.

 

            The hero of this case, Gurdas Ram, son of Shri Hari Chand, was born on 14 July 1914 in an  Aggarwal family of eminent Hakims of Zira. He was related to the great national leader Lala Lajpat Rai.  As a young boy at school, Gurdas Ram was very active and popular and attracted the attention of his teachers for his outspoken views. During the Swadeshi Movement of 1924-25, he would, along with his associates, collect from  door to door clothes made of foreign  cloth and make a bonfire of them. He was too fearless to be dissuaded by his parents from anti-British activities. At the age of 14, Gurdas Ram, in response to the call of Mahatam Gandhi for non-cooperation, gave up his studies and pasted posters on the walls of his native town against the high-handedness of the British rulers.

 

            The death of Lala Lajpat Rai, caused by the reckless lathi-charge of the police on the historic boycott procession against the Simon Commission on its visit to Lahore in 1928, generated great resentment all over the country. In the entire history of our national struggle for freedom, extending over several decades, there was no event concerning the fate of one person which evoked so much mass indignation as the death of Lala Laj Pat Rai. Exposing as it did the beastiality of the imperial power, the tragedy stirred up the youth of the country deeply. An agonized cry came from the wife of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Dass of Bengal: “Does the youth and manhood of the country still exist ? I, a woman of the land, demand a clear answer to this”. Thus, cut to the quick, like the great martyrs Sardar Bhagat Singh and his comrades, the young Gurdas Ram of Zira, also resolved to avenge this national humiliation and seek retribution for the brutal act by the cult of bombs. He formed a revolutionary party at Zira and secretly learnt the art of manufacturing bombs from Shri Lal Chand, Vice-President of Congress Committee, Zira and from Shri Krishan Bharti who visited the town in the guise of a monk. On 31 October 1030, at 8.30 at night. Gurdas Ram, then only 16 years, along with his associates, threw a bomb at the police station, Zira. The party was subsequently arrested and famous trial of Zira Bomb Case formed the leading news of those days.

 

            A Special Tribunal was appointed under Act IV of 1930 to try Gurdas Ram (16 years) and his associates, viz. Puran Singh (17 years) Hans Raj ( 19 years), Gumukh Singh (30 years) and Lal Singh Singh (44 years). Gurdas Ram, the hero of this case, has the courage of his conviction and boldly declared his intentions. Th case was tried in the Central Jail, Lahore, and lasted for six months. Ultimately, on 1 April 1931, Gurdas Ram along with Puran Singh, was sentenced  to three years’ rigorous in prisonment. However, being political prisoners, they were provided with B Class jail facilities. When, from later police secrets, it became known that Gurdas Ram was connected with Sardar Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary party, all special facilities were withdrawn and he  became the special target of the jail authorities. He was insulted, beaten and tortured. He was made to grind flour for months together. Moverover, he was fed on diet unfit for human consumption and, as a protest against it, he went on hunger strike. All this adversely affected  his health and fell ill. Nevertheless, he was made to serve his full term of imprisonment. When released, he was a physical wreck. The best possible medical aid, which he was given, was of no avail and he died on 27 May 1934. His death anniversary is celebrated every year at Zira with great enthusiasm.

 

            The heroism and burning patriotism of such martyrs were, henceforth, to serve as a beacon for the youth of the country for all times to come. It was not the result of an impulsive reaction on the part of a handful of angry young men. In its broad and true perspective, their supreme sacrifice was in the nature of repayment of the debt which the youth of India felt they owed to a leader whose only passion in life was to make them feel conscious and proud of their national heritage and, eventually, to prepare them to redeem their national honour and glory.

(e) Independence and After

Exodus and its Aftermath

 

            The partitioning of the Punjab between India and Pakistan gave rise to the exodus of the non-muslims from the western Punjab and that of Muslims from the eastern Punjab. Soon after the announcement of the boundary award in mid-August 1947, the trickle of uprooted persons developed into a spate and they started pouring in and going out in an unending stream.

 

A large number of refugees from the Bahawalpur State and from Montgomery and Lahore districts entered India through the border along the Firozpur District. The refugees from the Bahawalpur State entered from the Fazilka and Abohar side whereas those from the Montgomery District, mostly belonging to the rural areas,  entered from the Fazilka side. Those from the Lahore District, mostly  belonging to the rural areas, entered from the Firozpur and Jalalabad side. According to the 1951 Census, 3,49,767 refugees from Pakistan settled in the Firozpur District (including the Moga and Muktsar tehsils transferred to the Faridkot District).

 

APPENDIX

 

List of Coins found at various sites in the Firozpur District.

 

Tehsil                                      Site                              Coins

 

 Firozpur                                  Channar A brass tankah(forced currency) of Muhammad-Bin-Tuglaq, struck atDelhi.

 

Fazilka                                    Abohar                         ‘Bull and horseman’ coins (king       

of Ohind about A.D.1000), one of Prithvi Raj, one of Alaud-Din-Muhammad Shah of Delhi, coins of Delhi Sultans (Muhammad-Bin-Sam, Shamas -ud-Din-Altutmish,, Balban,

Jalal-Ud-Din Firoz, Ala-Ud-Din

Muhammad, Muham-mad-Bin-

Tughlaq and Firoz Shah Tughlaq).

 

Zira                                         Janer                            Some coins were found, but the     

                                                                                    see  could not be obtanied for

                                                                                    identifica tion.

 

 

 

CHAPTER - III

 

PEOPLE

 

(a)   Population

 

(1)   Total Population

 

           According to the 1981 Census, the population of the Firozpur District was 13,07,804 (comprising 6,94,280 males and 6,13,524 females). Of these, 10,09,733 persons were rural and 2,98,071 urban.

 

           Growth of Population – The population of the District increased from 9,23,931 to 13,07,804 in 1981. The variation in the population during these eighty years is shown in the following table :-

 

 

Year      Persons      Decade        Percentage      Males       Females

                                                decade

                                                Variation

 

1901      9,23,931    ..                  ..              5,05,914      4,18,817

 

1911      9,27,434    +3,503       +0.38         5,20,798      4,06,536

 

1921        10,58,728         +1,31,294      +14.16       5,88,303      4,70,425

 

1931      11,14,178       +55,450      +5.24         6,13,258      5,00,920

 

1941      13,17,811       +2,56,633      +23.03       7,52,723      6,18,088

 

1951      7,20,511    --               --               --               --

 

1961      8,79,599      +1,59,088       +22.08             --               --

 

1971      10,44,936      +1,65,337      +18.80       5,57,266      4,87,670

 

1981      13,07,804      +2,62,868      +25.16       6,94,280      6,13,524

 

     

  (Census of India 1971, Series 17 Punjab, Part II-A, General Population Tables, P. 71, Statistical Abstract of Punjab, 1980, P. 37 and Director, Census Operations, Punjab.

 

            The decennium 1901-11 was marked by sever ravages of plague and malaria, which took a heavy toll of the population. During 1911-21 occurred the great influence epidemic, but the Firozpur District does not seem to have been affected by its. The decade 1921-31 was generally healthy, but the Firozpur District had several epidemics of plague and cholera. The population expanded fast during 1931-41. The decade 1941-51 bore the brunt of the holocaust of unprecedented communal trouble and mass migration of Muslim population to Pakistan I in the wake of the partition in 1947. The years 1951-61 were free from disease and the health measures taken by government considerably reduced the death rate, whereas the birth rate remained almost unchanged.

 

           Emigration and Immigration – Out of 16,19,116 persons enumerated in the District in 1961, as many as 8,33,831 persons or 51-5 per cent were born at the place of enumeration. Among the rural population, this percentage works out at 53.8 and in the urban areas at 42.2, denoting a higher degree of mobility in the towns of the District.

            Another interesting feature is the difference between the two sexes  in this respect. Among the males, as many as 60 per cent were born at the places where they were enumerated against 41.5 per cent in the case of the females. The low figure with respect to the females results from their leaving the ancestral places on marriage.

 

             Another 16.7 per cent of the population was born at other places within the District. This percentage is 10.6 in the case of the males and as high as 23.9 in the case of the females, because of the facts of marriage. Persons born in the Punjab district, other than Firozpur, numbered 1,80,225 or 11.1 per cent of the population. Even in this group, the percentage for the females is higher than that for the males.

 

            The Pujab-born persons formed 79.3 per cent of the populations of the District. The remaining 20.7 per cent came from areas shown below :

      Place                           Number      Percentage to the total

                                                            Population

Other States of India                 51,684             3.2

 

Pakistan                             277,677          17.1

 

Other countries                 2,557               0.2

 

Information not available           2,730               0.2

     

            (Census States of India, 1961, Punjab District Census Handbook.  No. 12, Firozpur District, pp 30, 256-57)

            Persons born in other Indian States were mostly from Rajasthan (26,562), Uttar Pradesh (14,958) and Delhi (1,968). Person from Rajasthan were counted mostly in the rural areas but from the other States, they were enumerated mostly in the towns.

 

            The persons born in western Punjab were those who migrated in wake of the partition of the country in 1947. The persons reported to have been born elsewhere were mostly children of the Punjabis who in their youth had gone abroad and had now come back or had sent their children home.

 

            The particulars regarding the persons who migrated from the District to other places in the country or went abroad are not available.

 

            Density of Population --- The following table shows the density of population in the District from 1881 to 1981 :

 

Year                                                                Density of Population

                                                                        per sq. km.

1881                                71

 

1891                                84

 

1901                                91

 

1911                                91

 

1921                                                              104     

 

1931                                109

 

1941                                134

 

1951                                125

 

1961                                161

 

1971                                176

 

1981                                223

                        (Census of India, 1951, vol. VIII, Punjab, Pepsu, Himachal Pradesh, Bilaspur, Delhi, Part I-A, Report, pp 8-9, 26; Census Handbook No. 12, Firozpur District, pp 25-26 Statistical Abstract, of Punjab, 1980, p. 44 and Director, Census Operations, Punjab.

            According to he 1981 Census, the Punjab had on an average 333 persons to a square kilometre, with the Jalandur District as most thickly populated (510) and Firozpur as most sparsely populated (223). The reasons for the sparse population are not far to seek. The southern. Tehsil of Fazlika partakes of the nature of a desert, with sandy soil and scanty rainfall, and wherever these disadvantages are not offset by irrigation, agriculture is a gamble with the rains and consequently the population is scarce. This Tehsil supported only 142 persons in 1961 on one square kilometre. Then the bet area along the Sutluj suffers from inundation during the monsoon season, aggravated by he shifting course of the River. The area where canal irrigation has been provided has developed waterloging and unhealthy conditions at some places. Another factor contributing to the sparse population is the area touching the Pakistan border, where conditions are not uniformly peaceful. The Firozpur Tehsil also suffers from these drawbacks in its western portion, but because of the location in it of the Firozpur Town and the Cantonment, the density works out at 175.

            Sex Ratio :-           According to he 1971 Census, out of the total population of 10,44936 of the district, 5,57266 were male and 4,87,670 females i.e. showing a ratio of 53.3 :46.7. As per the Census of 1981, the population of the Firozpur District stood at 13,07,804, with 6,94,280 males and 6,13,524 females, i.e. with a ratio of 53.1:46.9.

            In the Punjab, there were 886 females per 1,000 males and this figure was lowest among those with respect to the States of India. The corresponding figures with respect to the Indian union was 932 (1971). According to the 1971 Census, it was 875 females per 1,000 of the population for the Firozpur District and as per the 1981 Census it was 884 females per 1,000 of the population.

            During the seventy years from 1911 to 1981, there has been as improvement in favour of women as the following figures show :

 

Year                                                            Females per thousand males in the

                                                                    Firozpur District

1911                                781

 

1921                                    800

 

1931                                    817

 

1941                                    821

 

1951                                    850

 

1961                                     848

 

1971                                     875

 

1981                                     884

(Census of India, 1961, Punjab District Handbook No. 12, Firozpur District, p, 27; Census of India, 1971 Series 17 Punjab Part II-A, General Population Table, p. 42 and Director, Census Gperations, Punjab.

As per the 1981 Census, among the three tehsils, Ferozpur and Fazilka had 886 females per 1,000 males, followed by Zira (1977)

           The sex ration for the rural areas of the District works out at 885 and for the urban areas at 879: the corresponding figures in 1971 were 876 and 871 respectively.

 

            Age Competition – According to the 1963 Census, the population of the District (including the Moga and Muktsar Tehsils transferred to the Faridkot District in 1972)  is distributed  into various age-groups as under :

 

           With a view to comprehending the comparative strength of these groups, the totals have uniformly been taken as 1,000:

 

           The distribution of 1,000 persons of each sex by age-groups according to the 1971 Census in the Firozpur Distinct (including the Moga and Muktsar tehsils, transferred to the Fardikot District in 1972)

                                 Total Population                      Rural                              Urban

Age Group                      -----------------------       --------------------      ------------------

                                Persons   Males       Females        Males   Females             Males   Females

All ages                    1,000      1,000        1,000              1,000      1,000              1,000      1,000

0    9                          313.62    305.87      332.76            314.12    325.32            273.88    312.24

10  14                        119.91     120.31     119.44            121.90     118.76           114.14    122.27

15  19                      19.11        92.10       89.93              91.63       88.87             93.94      94.26

20  24                      84.81        83.97      85.70               78.48       83.14             105.25    96.72

25  29                      76.91        76.46      77.45              72.91        76.54             90.22      81.20

30  34                       61.88       61.87       61.90              59.26        61.37             72.00      64.07

35  39                      46.00                     45.59       46.47             43.46        45.93             52.87      48.71

40  44       47.32         47.11       47.57            46.31        47.56              50.19      47.58

45  49                     35.37        35.85       34.81            35.60         35.01              36.82      33.62

50  54                      38.96        41.69       35.75            42.86          36.29              37.15      33.53

55  59                     18.30       18.89       17. 61            19.01         17.88              18.42       16.47

60  64                     27.84       29.94       25.36             31.38         26.12              24.35       22.24

65  69                     10.33       11.32       9.15               11.70         9.39                9.85         8.18

70                             27.17      28.65       25.42              31.11         27.17             19.15        18.21

Age no stated         0.47         0.38         0.59                0.27           0.56               0.77          0.70

 

Too much reliance cannot be placed on the inference to be drawn from the figures given in the above table, since a district is a small geographical area and the inflow and outflow  of  population,  as a disturbing factor,  cannot be ignored.    With this  reservation,   some  inferences are mentioned below :

The age pyramid has a broad base and tapers  rather obliquely:   314  persons per thousand of the population are below  the  age of 10 and only 84 of the age of 55 years  and above.   Roughly speaking, four out of every ten persons are below the age of 15, five in the groups 15 years to below 55, and only one past the age of 55.

The males below the age of 15 year are 426  per thousand males :  the corresponding figure for the females is 442.   In the age-groups between 15 and below 55  year,  the males are  485 per thousand males but the females  are  480.  Covered by ages 55 years and above, the males, are 89 and the females are  only  78.   The   girls  in  the  rural  areas, unfortunately,  still  do  not receive the same care  as  the boys,  and  after marriage, they have the extra handicaps  of maternity troubles and the stress of domestic life.

It  is  a  daily observation that a large  number  of persons  shift  from the villages to the towns for  education and livehood.  The low-aid among them leave their families in their  village  homes  and live in the towns  by  themselves.  When past the age of useful work, some from among them return to  their  village  The effect of this type of  movement  is reflected  in  the  statistics  of the rural  and  urban  age composition.  For age-groups below 15, 15 to below 55, and 55 and  above, the distribution among the males is 436, 471  and 93 per thousand males in the rural areas, and 388, 539 and 73 in  the urban areas.  The corresponding figures for the females in  the  rural areas are 444, 475 and 81, and for  the  urban areas are 434, 500 and 66.

Martial  Status --- In the following table, according to  the 1961 Census, the persons in different age-groups in the  District  (including  the   Moga  and  Muktsar  Tehsils, transferred  to  the  Faridkot  district in  1972)are  further classified  according to their martial status.  To comprehend the  significance of these figures, one thousand males and one thousand  females, for the District, as a whole, and for  the rural  and urban areas, are distributed according to  martial status:

On thousand males and females, classified according to  their  martial  status, as per the 1961  Census,  in  the Firozpur.

District (including the Moga and Muktsar tehsils, transferred to the Fardikot District in 1972

                                   

                              Total                         Rural                        Urban

Matial Status                    --------------------      ---------------          -----------------------

                                Males      Females      Males    Females       Males      Females

 

Total                                1,000       1,000               1,000       1,000               1,000       1,000

Never  Married             586.51          510.60           593.03          511.15           561.19          508.31

Married                           373.96          423.61           365.85          423.60           405.04          423.67

Widowed                      38.04            63.98             39.57             63.38             32.13            66.44

Divorced or                  0.93              1.02               1.00               1.06                0.67             0.84

separated                              

Unspecified  Status       0.56             0.79                0.55               0.81               0.61             0.74

(Census  of  India,  1961,   Punjab  District  Census Handbook No.  12, Firozpur District, P.  28)

 

It  will be noticed that in the District, as a whole, 59  per cent of the males and 51 per cent of the females  are unmarried.   The higher proportion of the unmarried males  is due  to the shortage of females, which aspect has been  dealt with earlier.  Correspondingly, there is a higher proportion of the married among the females than among the males.

The proportion of the married males was higher in the towns than in the villages, but the proportion of the married females was almost  the same in the rural and urban areas.   This situation  might  have  been  due  to  the  better  financial position among the towns people, so that fewer persons had to defer marriage because of the lack of means.

 

Marriage  in India is universal and there is  always an  explanation for an old bachelor or an old spinster.   Out of  the  unmarried males and females numbering  5,13,997  and 3,79,241  respectively  in the District, in the  rural  areas there  were  only  35 males per thousand past the age  of  34 years  who never married and only 4 spinsters per thousand of the  females  past  the age of 24 years.   The  corresponding figures for the urban areas were 24 and 5 respectively.

(iii)  Distribution  of Population between Rural  and Urban Areas

 

According  to  the  1981   Census,  the   tehsil-wise distribution of the

Population between the rural and urban areas in the District was

as under :-

 

District             Tehsil             Persons          Males            Females

 

                                                                                                           

Total District                             13,07,804            6,94,280            6,13,524

 

                        Rural                10,09,733            5,35,609            4,74,124

 

                        Urban               2,98,071            1,58,671            1,39,400

 

Firozpur            Tehsil               4,36,655            2,31,582            2,05,073

 

                        Rural                3,14,014            1,66,614            1,47,400

 

                        Urban               1,22,641          64,968             57,673

 

Zira                  Tehsil               2,95,958            1,57,705            1,38,253

 

                        Rural                2,67,049            1,42,221            1,24,828

 

                        Urban               28,909             15,484             13,425

 

Fazlika             Tehsil               5,75,191            3,04,993            2,70,198

 

                        Rural                4,28,670            2,26,774            2,01,896

 

                        Urban               1,46,521          78,219             68,302

 

                                    (Source: Director, Census Operation, Punjab)

 

(iii) Displaced Persons

The  partition of the country in 1947 resulted in  an unprecedented migration of the minority communities from both sides  of the border.  The Muslims from the Firozpur District (including  the Moga and Muktsar tehsils, transferred to  the Faridkot  District in 1972) migrated to Pakistan, from  where the  Hindus  and the Sikhs migrated to India and  settled  in this  District.   Among all the districts in the Punjab,  the Firozpur   District  accommodated  the   largest  number   of the refugees  from  Pakistan.   Of  these,  about  four-fifths settled in  the rural areas and the rest in the urban areas of the District.

The  table given in Appendix on pages 98-99 shows the details  of  the  refugee population by the district  of  the origin in Pakistan, settling in the Firozpur District.

(b) Languages

According to the 1961 Census, there is an almost bilateral distribution in the District (including the Moga and Muktsar tehsils, transferred to the Faridkot District in 1972) in regard to the mother-tongue; two-thirds of the people gave it as Punjabi and one-third as Hindi. The Assamese, Malalyalam and Tamil languages were returned by some persons in the Defence service. The following table shows the distribution of persons by the mother-tongue :

 

 

Mother Tongue                     Number                       Per 1,000

 

Punjabi                                     10,83,807                    670

Hindi                                        5,27,940                      326

Urdu                                        1,643                           1

Tamil                                        1,238                           1

Assames                                   630                              1

Malayalam                                794                              1

Other Languages        3,064               --

 

 

(Census of India, District Census Handbook No. 12, Firozpur District, pp 30 252-53)

 

Under the Punjabi Official Language Act, 1967, Punjabi in the Gurmukhi script was introduced as the official language of the State on 13 April 1968. The Act

Provides that Punjabi shall be used for such official purposes of the State and from such dates as may be specified by notifications to be issued from time to time. For official work at the  district level and below, Punjabi has replaced English in almost all matters, except those relating to accounts, technology, etc.

For the promotion of Hindi, the Punjabi Government holds seminars, kavi sammelans (poetical symposia), etc. from time to time.

Contents             Next