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Veer Singh Dillon

Veer Singh Dillon

Veer Singh Dillon

Born: 1792 Gurdaspore
Died: 1842 Gurdaspore
Rank: General of Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Battles: First Afghan War Battle of Kapurthala
Awards: Jallaha of Gurdaspore

Veer Singh Dillon (1792–1842) was a legendary Sikh who was born in Gurdaspore, Punjab. He was the general in the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and was the founder of one of the most highly honored Sikh warrior families.
Veer Singh was awarded the title Jallaha of Gurdaspore after his army single-handedly won the eastern areas of Punjab for the Maharaja. Later when the Sikh Empire fell to the British forces, the armies of the Jallaha of Gurdaspore (then under the son of Veer Singh) were not defeated due to their strong defenses. But later the British signed a treaty with the ruler in which his areas would come under the British Empire but the Jallaha would still remain the supreme commander of the military forces and also the chief administrator of the area.

Veer Singh was born in a Dhillon Jatt Sikh family, and was raised a Nihang. He was a master in the art of Gatka a Sikh martial art. At an early age his family was forced out of Gurdaspore (now Gurdaspur a district in Punjab) after the Raja of Kapurthala attacked the rather peaceful town. Later Veer Singh led his armies against the Raja, and won back Gurdaspore.

Military career
Singh participated in the following conquests: Sialkot, Kasur (1807), Multan (1818), Kashmir (1819), Pakhli & Damtaur (1821-2), and finally Gurdapore (1831). He served as the governor of Peshawar for a short period and was later Jallaha (duke) of Gurdaspore.

Almost every generation of Veer Singh\'s family made an impact on history of India. The army of Jallaha in Gurdaspore was the only army which sided with the Indian rebels in 1857. Subsequently, when the empire fell into the hands of the British throne, the royals of Britons did not want to lose the support of the Sikhs who by now had only the Jallaha as their leader. So in 1858 when the British Crown was ruling over India let the Jallha retain his title and position he enjoyed earlier thus avoided trouble in Punjab. But under the treaty the army of the Jallha would now consist of Royal British officers who later plagued the Sikh army. The army of Jallaha was officially included into the Royal British Forces in 1862 as the "The Royal Sikh Infantry" and "The Sikh Cavalry," (now called the Sikh regiment, part of the army of the Republic of India.) The Jallah was also officially given The Title of The "Duke of Gurdaspore" but the Jallaha preferred retaining Jallaha as his title so that he would be closer to his people. The Jallaha also refused British Army Rank of a General for himself.

He also retained the uniform for his forces, and the disc sword was retained as a part of the uniform. He urged the British officers of his forces also to wear the saffron colours on their uniform (which is still the uniform of the Sikh Regiment and the Disc sword is also still a ceremonial uniform of the Sikh Regiment in India. Veer Singh was a senior member of Ranjit\'s court. His sons posed a tough challenge to the British as they struggled to annex the Punjab. The armies of the Jallaha of Gurdaspore (now under the son of Veer Singh) were not defeated due to their strong defense. But later the British signed a treaty with the ruler in which his areas would also come under the British empire but Jallaha would still remain the supreme commander of the forces and also the chief administrator of the area.
The sons of Jallaha became a part of the British Forces but the later generations of the Jallaha were not content with the British rule did not serve the British in the armies, more famously Devinder Singh Jallah Gurdaspuriah formed an alliance with Subhas Chandra Bose and raised a Sikh regiment in the unofficial Indian National Army and named it Maharaja Ranjit Singh Regiment after his Grandfather\'s King\'s name. Incidentally this regiment later was merged into the Sikh regiment of the Indian Army which was raised by Devinder Singh\'s great grandfather. After this mutainy by Devinder Singh, the official title awarded by the British was reversed. But the people of Gurdaspore and its neighbouring areas were loyal to the Jallaha. Thus after this act by the British, most of the Royal Sikh Regiment walked out of the army and protected the Jallaha and his family. This is one reason why the British never could take control of the official residence of the Jallaha, in fear of death by the very own men they trained. But this act greratly helped the Indian freedom movement. Firstly it weakened the British forces, and secondly it put many of trained men on the Indian side of the conflict.
After independence from the British was reached, the Jallaha never involved themselves in politics, and also never asked for the official declaration of their title. The descendants of Veer Singh still live in Gurdaspore, (Gurdaspur) and are sill referred to as Jallaha Gurdaspuriaha, with the title being handed down by the people of Gurdaspur to the first of them in the generation. The Jallahas still serve in the armed forces in India and form a part of the elite Regiments of the Army of the Republic Of India. They are considered to be masters of the martial art of Gatka. The People of Gurdaspore(Gurdaspur) consider them as the saviours of their land and honour.

A very popular nineteenth century British newspaper, Tit-Bits, wrote
"It is surprising how the important honour is to Sikhs, even when the last of them were being killed and defeated, a Sikh gave down his territory only if the honour of his people and his family was kept intact, which forced the mighty British royalty to bow down and give into his demands...and now the British who have to serve in his regiment have to wear his Uniform!"

Later generations
Veer Singh\'s descendants live in his house in Gurdaspore.
The Jallahs of Gurdaspore still serve in the Army of the Republic Of India as a custom. They have been known as some of the best warriors of India and this falls true today. Also, they are the part of Elite Regiments in the Army of the Republic of India. The Jallahas have long stayed away from politics in India. The son of Devinder Singh was a war hero in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani conflict and has even won honours for the same, while his grandson is still actively serving in the Army of the republic of India and also played a role in the liberation of Freetown in West Africa on Behalf of the United Nations\' forces. Even after the official title was abolished by the British the Jallhas remained one of the most powerful families in Gurdaspore and still continue as such.

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