It has been written by numerous British writers that Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa gave free land to farmers in Kashmir .
Chandigarh, Punjab: In the two and a half centuries that Afghanistan has existed as a nation, three super powers — the US, Russia and Britain have attempted to subdue the Afghans with little or absolutely no success. The Sikhs won the only real victories against them. Hari Singh Nalwas success has remained unmatched.
This was stated by Dr Vanit Nalwa, psychologist-turned-historian based in Delhi and a seventh generation descendant of the Sikh folk hero. Dr Vanit Nalwa delivered the talk Hari Singh Nalwa The Forgotten General here today. The talk organized by Kadam a forum for social justice saw participation from all walks of life.
Delivering the talk, Dr Vanit Nalwa, stated that Hari Singh was called Nalwa after he killed a tiger with a dagger. He joined the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a lad, participated in the battle of Kasur and rose to become the Governor of Kashmir in 1820 and the Viceroy on the Western Front (1822-31). In 1834 Nalwa became the Governor of Peshawar.
Hari Singh Nalwa effectively reversed the entire cource of history of Afghan Sikh relations. Afghans, who had been invading, looting and plundering the territory saw for the first time a reversal when Hari Singh established the Sikh kingdom in their domain. He effectively stopped the invasions forever.
While the Maharaja was busy with preparations for the marriage of his son, Nau Nihal Singh, Hari Singh Nalwa was guarding the North-West Frontier. He had a handful of forces with him when the entire Afghan army attacked them at Jamrud.
Nalwa was fatally wounded in the battle but his death was kept a secret till the arrival of reinforcements. The fear of his presence kept the Afghan army at bay for almost ten days. The delay in sending reinforcements is attributed to a conspiracy in the Court of Lahore about who would succeed an ailing Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
As a distinguished warrior, Nalwa commanded the respect of even his enemies, the Pathans. Ballads were composed in celebration of his bravery.
Nalwa also had a highly developed aesthetic sense. He built gardens in Srinagar and Amritsar. A town, Haripur (near Hazara, now in Pakistan), was planned and built by him. The various temples, gurdwaras and mosques he built bear testimony to his secular outlook.
He had four sons and he did not try to promote any of them at the court of Lahore. When he died, very little money was found in his toshakhana. It is said he gave most of his wealth in charity.
About the speaker: Dr Vanit Nalwa, a Ph.D. in neuropsychology from Delhi University, did post-doctoral research in Oxford University and won a Fulbright scholarship to train at the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland, US. She is not a historian by training. She taught at a Delhi University college for about a decade and then left the job to practise as a therapist for the corporate sector.