From 1752 to 1770, the Bhangis Misal continued to rise to a position of supremacy in the Punjab. With the intention of liberating their land from the Afghan powers, they fought a number of times with Ahmed Shah Abdali and his successors Timur Shah and Shah Zaman.
Ahmed Shah Abdali invasions of Punjab continued for eight times from 1748 to 1767-68 and in the year of 1798, Shah Zaman invaded Punjab for the last time. In nearly most of their expeditions, they were attacked by the Sikhs and they looted the baggage of Afghans. Therefore, the last three invasions of Punjab from 1762 to 1767 by the Ahmed Shah Abdali were carried out clearly to annihilate the Sikhs.
Hari Singh Bhangi the Chief leader of the Bhangi Misal had fought with Afghans a number of times. On November 1756, Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded Punjab for the fourth time and captured Lahore but soon he returned to Afghanistan leaving behind Timur Shah at Lahore.
By 1758, Adina Beg Khan (A Punjabi Arain) met the Sikhs and solicited their help to throw out the Afghans representative from Lahore. Soon Hari Singh Bhangi along with his son Jhanda Singh, Gujjar Singh, Lehna Singh built a combined front with Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Jai Singh Kanahiya, Charat Singh Sukerchakia and other Sikh Sardars. They allied with Adina Beg Khan and the Marathas and marched upon Lahore. Before their advent into Lahore Timur Shah fled to Afghanistan and they captured the city of Lahore without any great effort.
According to Elphinstone, “Timur Shah and Jahan Khan, who were already pressed by the Sikhs and distrustful of their Hindustanis troops, retired to Eminabad. The city of Lahore, which they evacuated, was taken by the Sikhs.
In February 1762 Ahmed Shah again invaded Punjab and the Sikhs suffered a heavy loss of life and property in the battle of Kup. These disasters setbacks and humiliations did not deter the Sikhs as is evident from their subsequent actions.
While Ahmed Shah Abdali stayed in Lahore, Bhangi Sardars Hari Singh and his son Jhanda Singh and Ganda Singh and other companions, along with the other Sikh Sardars continued to carry out their armed assaults against Abdali’s representatives in Punjab, such as Zain Khan, Khabiat Singh, Mehar Singh, Rai Ahmed Mashaih, Afghans of Malerkotla and Kotkapura and Zamindars of Faridkot Tahmas Khan Misakin, Tahmas Namah, and obtained tribute from them.
In December 1762, Ahmed Shah left Lahore for Afghanistan. After some time in Afghanistan Ahmed Shah received the news of the disturbance created by the Sikhs in Punjab, he at once deputed his general Jahan Khan to march upon Punjab and take punitive action against the Sikhs. Soon Jahan Khan crossed the river Indus, made straight for Sialkot. When the Sikhs came to know the arrival of Jahan Khan at Sialkot Bhangi Sardar Jhanda Singh, Gujjar Singh, and Lehna Singh joined with Charat Singh Sukerchakia and fell upon on the camp of Jahan Khan. They launched a ferocious attack against the Afghans and dispersed those inflicting heavy losses. Soon Jahan Khan himself took flight and all his camp equipage fell into the hands of the Sikhs.
In the course of two years after the departure of Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Bhangi Sardars threw out the Abdali representatives from Sirhind, Multan, Jhang, Chiniot, Kasur, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan and occupied them as their permanent territories.
Hearing of the failure of his generals and representatives in Punjab and the conquest of the Sikhs, Ahmed Shah Abdali again crossed the river Indus in October 1764, with an army of 18,000 soldiers. When he reached Lahore, he led some expeditions against the Sikhs but failed. Then he advanced towards Sirhind, from where he decided to return to Afghanistan.
Having stayed at Sirhind for a few days, Ahmed Shah marched back homeward and crossed the river Satluj, probably at Machhiwara. One morning when he had hardly gone 3 kilometers from the other bank of the river, the Sikhs fell upon his army. Ahmed Shah at once braced himself to face the challenge of the Sikhs, who had organized themselves in a regular battle formation as Hari Singh Bhangi, Gulab Singh Bhangi, Gujjar Singh Bhangi and Ram Das also called Ram Singh (belonging to the Bhangi Misal) was on the left; Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and Jassa Singh Ramgarhia with the other Sikh Sardars in the center while Lehna Singh Bhangi and Charat Singh Sukerchakia and Jai Singh Kanahiya were on the right.
The author of Jang Nama Qazi Nur Muhammad, who participated in many battles under Ahmed Shah Abdali against the Sikhs, talks about the nine prominent leaders in the Sikh army who had come to fight with Ahmed Shah. Out of these nine leaders, 5 leaders belong to Bhangi Misal, namely Hari Singh, Lehna Singh, Gujjar Singh, Gulab Singh and Ram Das. This account of Qazi Nur Muhammad confirms the facts shore that the Bhangi Misal was supreme in the Dal Khalsa at that time. These skirmishes went on for seven days. Later, when the Ahmed Shah Abdali was heading for the Beas, he was also challenged by the Sikhs under the command of Hari Singh Bhangi, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, and Bhagel Singh. Subsequently, Ahmed Shah crossed the river Ravi and returned to Afghanistan.
Consequently, after the departure of Ahmed Shah from Punjab, Gujjar Singh Bhangi, Lehna Singh Bhangi and Sobha Singh, marched towards Lahore in April 1765 and banished the Abdali envoy Kabuli Mal from Lahore and conquered territories all around the Suba of Lahore.
In the course of the next two years from 1765 to 1767, the Bhangi Sardars Jhanda Singh and Gujjar Singh extended their control over most of the Afghan legislature such as Gujrat, Wazirabad, Sodhera, Jalalpur, Shahpur, Akhnur, Islamgarh, Bahawalpur, Pakpatan etc.
To reclaim his lost territories, Ahmed Shah Abdali again crossed river Indus in December 1766 and reached Lahore. Before his arrival, the three rulers of Lahore Gujjar Singh Bhangi, Lehna Singh Bhangi, and Sobha Singh left the city, as they could not withstand the large armed force of Ahmed Shah Abdali.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Shah Abdali reached Lahore. The venerable members of the population, including Hindus and Muslims, informed him about the preparations and planning of the Sikhs with particular mention of Sardar Lehna Singh Bhangi. They told him that Lehna Singh possessed good administrative qualities and was a sympatric ruler, who suitable for people of Lahore. He had never made any distinctions between the Hindus and the Muslims. He bestowed turbans on the Qazis, Muftis, and Imams of the mosques on the festival of Id-ul-Zuha. He deals with the general public with great regard. The Muslims of the Lahore had no fear of the Khalsa and they had started looking upon them as their comrades rather than antagonistic enemies. Afterward, they request him to call Sardar Lehna Singh and appoint him as a Governor of Lahore in the place of his Muslim nominee.
The Author of Ibrat Nama, Ali-ud-Din Mufti says that “when Ahmed Shah Abdali, came to Know from the people of Lahore about the credibility of Sardar Lehna Singh Bhangi, he wondered how Lehna Singh a competent organizer could flee from the city”. On the other hand, the great Durrani leader had lost his youth and infirmity was creeping upon him. He had no man of genius like Adina Beg Khan to leave in charge of the province. Thus he resolved to conciliate the Sikhs chiefs.
Soon he sent a present of fruits to Lehna Singh and offered him the Governorship of Lahore. But Lehna Singh returned the fruits and declined the offer, asserting to accept a proposal of an invader was against the policy and the dignity of the Khalsa community.
Around this time Sardar Lehna Singh and Charat Singh Sukerchakia allied with the other Sikh Sardars and made a surprise attack on Ahmed Shah’s army and plundered their baggage. In the circumstances Ahmed Shah Abdali tried to buy peace with the Sikhs and on 15 January, 1767 when he was in the neighborhood of Nurud-din Kot wrote a Khundba (letters) to Jhanda Singh Bhangi, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and Khushal Singh Singhpuria the chiefs of the Sikhs, to effects that if they were desirous of entering his service they should come and join him, but if they any hostile intentions, they should meet him in the field. But in short, the Sikh Sardars declined the proposal of Ahmed Shah Abdali. Thereafter, Bhangi Sardar Jhanda Singh along with Gujjar Singh again moved towards Lahore with their forces, while small bodies of their men kept hovering all around the Ahmed Shah’s army in the sphere of about 20 kilometers. Several skirmishes took place between the Afghans and the Sikhs such as one with Jahan Khan, who was defeated at Sialkot by Jhanda Singh, Lehna Singh, and Gujjar Singh Bhangis; Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Charat Singh Sukerchakia, and many others. Another one took place with Najib-ud-Daula, who was defeated by Rai Singh Bhangi and his companions at Bari-Ghat (Jamuna).
With neither any chance of peace with the Sikhs nor any prospect of checking their rising power, Ahmed Shah Abdali speedily marched towards his native place Afghanistan in 1767, leaving the whole territory of Punjab, in the hands of the Sikhs. This was the inglorious end of the last invasion of Ahmad Shah. In spite of all his Herculean and constant efforts, he was ultimately unsuccessful in eliminating the powerful Sikh Sardars, who were not only closely knit together by affinities of race and religion but also possessed invincible courage and irresistible will.
After the disappearance of Ahmed Shah from Punjab, Gujjar Singh Bhangi, Lehna Singh Bhangi and Sobha Singh again captured the city of Lahore. In the course of the next five years, they completely threw out the Afghan representatives in Punjab and extended their control up to Multan, Rawalpindi, Jhang, Chiniot, Sialkot, Kasur, Bahawalpur and some portion of Jammu.
In 1772-73, Ahmed Shah Abdali died and was succeeded by his son Timur Shah. Now a greater calamity was awaiting the Sikhs because Timur Shah the successor of Ahmed Shah was resolved to recover his lost territories in the Punjab.
Accordingly, he sent his general, Faizullah Khan, to Peshawar to launch an attack on the Punjab. According to Syed Muhammad Latif, the general mustered up a considerable number of Afghans, Chiefly from the Khyber tribes with the avowed object of punishing the Sikhs, but instead entered into an undisclosed agreement with Mian Muhammad, son of Sheikh Omar, the Sahibzada of Chamkani and a declared enemy of the Ahmed Shah, to put an end to the king’s life. He marched his troops to the citadel of Peshawar on the pretext of parading them before the King; but when they reached the fort, they cut to pieces the guards at the gates and forced their way in. Timur Shah ascended the upper story of his palace and made his situation known to the guards. The Gholam Shahis, the King’s own bodyguards, and the Durranis attacked Faizullah’s men and a terrible slaughter ensued, ending in the arrest of Faizullah and his son were both tortured to death.
Timur Shah now took vigorous steps to execute his plans regarding Sindh, Bahawalpur, and the lower Punjab. In the winter season of 1777-78, Timur Shah dispatched an expedition under Haini Khan to recover Multan. In the battle seems to have been fought near Kali Sare, in which Hiaini Khan was defeated and captured by the Sikhs. He was tied to the mouth of the gun and was blown apart.
In 1778, Timur Shah again sent one of his generals named Baharu Khan in siege Multan. He entered the town by breaching the wall and ransacked the city and soon retired to Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Timur Shah sent his ambassador, Abdul Jabbar Khan, to Delhi. When he reached Delhi, on, March 12, 1778, and met Shah Alam-II. He assured him of his full co-operation to Timur Shah. Timur Shah thereupon determined to recover Multan himself and sent a contingent of 15, 000 horses as his superior protector. This force was opposed by Diwan Singh Chhachowalia, the Governor of Multan and his Bhangi allies on the bank of the river Indus and beaten back to Peshawar.
In view of the serious opposition from the Sikhs, the Durrani agents in Delhi tried to secure assistance from the notable Maratha chief Mahadji Sindhia, so that the Sikhs might be attacked from the two fronts. Mahadji cleverly put them off.
News dated September 12, 1779, near Karnal, stated that Timur Shah had arrived in Peshawar and his superior protector had crossed the river Jhelum. There it was revealed that a strong army of 60, 000 Sikhs intended to seize Dera Ismail Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, and Sind. At this news, Timur Shah was greatly alarmed. To check this grandiose scheme of the Sikhs, Timur Shah made up his mind, to recover Multan.
Timur Shah at first tried to recover Multan by diplomacy. He sent Haji Ali Khan as his agent to the Sikhs. When the agent reached Multan; he tried to intimidate the Sikhs by warning them about the impending conflict with the “Lion of Islam” and of the terrible consequences of the royal wrath. He endeavored to persuade them to retire from Multan voluntarily.
According to Giani Gian Singh, when Haji Ali Khan an agent of Timur Shah reached Lahore, he asked Gujjar Singh and other Bhangi Sardars (Those were coming to Multan for the relief of Diwan Singh) to submit before Timur Shah. However, Gujjar Singh replied that the Kingship was bestowed on them by God and they would not accept the overlordship of Timur Shah. The Sikhs, in the face of this challenge, held Gurmata and acknowledged that “here is an ambassador of the Timur Shah, but our king is Sat Guru. This man threatens us with the Timur Shah’s displeasure; we should, therefore, put him to death.” Thereafter the Sikhs commanded to tie Haji Ali Khan to a tree and shoot him dead. His companions were allowed to depart in peace to report to the Timur Shah. The Sikhs then fell back to Rohtas. On learning this sad news Timur Shah sent forth a contingent 18, 000 men, including Yusafzais, Durranis, Mughals and Qizabashes under Zangi Khan the Durrani general. Zangi Khan encamped at a distance of 25 kilometers from the Bhangis camp. Desa Singh Bhangi the Chief was at this time embroiled with the leaders of the rival Misals in Multan and was absolutely ignorant of their presence, considering them to be at Peshawar, nearly 300 Kilometers away. Next day early in the morning a little before daybreak, Timur Shah fell upon the Sikhs and gave them hot pursuit. About 3, 000 were slain, and 500 drowned in the river Jhelum in an attempt at crossing it; while 2,000 of them safely reached the opposite bank of the river. This news greatly encouraged Timur Shah and rekindled his hopes off to recover Multan. Soon a fierce attack was launched against the Sikhs by Zangi Khan near Leiah. Just at that moment, a storm began. Clouds of dust darkened the sky. A war drum of the Sikhs fell into the hands of the Afghans. It was forcefully beaten, the Sikhs on hearing the sound of their war drum ran towards it. They were all slain. The remaining Sikh army took to flight. In the meantime, Timur Shah joined with Zangi Khan and pursued the Sikhs up to the walls of Multan. The Sikhs took up their position in the fort and closed the city gates.
Early in January 1780, Timur Shah laid the siege to the town of Multan. Timur Shah expected reinforcements for the Sikhs garrison and in that event, he considered his own resources insufficient. He, therefore, marched towards Bahawalpur, to secure reinforcements for himself. The major portion of his army was left in Multan. The Nawab of Bahawalpur gave the Timur Shah 12,000 troops and Ghulam Ali Khan Letti paid tribute. Just at that time Gujjar Singh Bhangi and Lehna Singh Bhangi along with Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Haqiqat Singh Kanahiya, Bhanga Singh and other Sikh Sardars at the head of 15,000 horsemen arrived with reinforcement to the help of Diwan Singh Chhachowalia.
Timur Shah at once hurried from Bahawalpur towards Multan and confronted with the Sikhs at Shujabad, where a severe battle was fought on 8, February 1780. The Sikhs lost the day with 2,000 causalities and fled towards Lahore. Timur Shah dispatched a detachment of 20,000 strong soldiers in pursuit of them. This force overtook the Sikhs at Hujra Muqim Khan, 64 kilometers from Lahore. Timur Shah hurried to Multan to penalize the Sikhs and occupied the city of Multan, on 18 February 1780. After this victory, Timur Shah bestowed the Governorship of Multan on Shuja Khan, father of Muzaffar Khan, sir-named Safdar Jang, who retained it until being expelled by Ranjit Singh.
The Timur Shah then subdued Bahawal Khan the Abbasi Chief of Bahawalpur. The town of Bahawalpur was pillaged and many of its edifices were burnt. The Nawab’s arsenals, together with a portion of the fort, were blown up. The Nawab was compelled to pay an annual tribute and the Afghan troops withdrew. Timur Shah then reduced to subjection the Talpurs of Sindh, who also agreed to pay a subsidy. After this, he led several expeditions towards India but could not capture more territories and he died in, May 18, 1793.
Timur Shah was succeeded by his son Shah Zaman. He succeeded the throne of Kabul on 18 May 1793 and turned his attention to recovering his lost territories in Punjab. He initiated a series of Punjab invasions, in 1794 and marched up to Peshawar. In 1796 Shah Zaman again crossed the river Indus at Attock and marched towards Punjab. Soon he captured Rohtas which was under Sukerchakia.
Shah Zaman had stayed at Hasan Abdal for about a week but soon returned to Afghanistan to take punitive against Muhammad Khan of Herat and Aga Muhammad Khan Kajar who had revolted against him. He left behind a general named Ahmed Khan Shahanchibashi to stay at Rohtas. He also dispatched Bahadur Khan, Son of Faiz Ali Khan Shahnkarwala at the head of 12,000 horses to conquer Gujrat.
When Bahadur Khan reached Gujrat, Sahib Singh Bhangi son of Gujjar Singh Bhangi came out to oppose him. In the course of fighting Bahadur Khan was killed and the Afghans were defeated. Just at this time, Ranjit Singh sought help from Sahib Singh Bhangi to recover Rohtas. Both the Sikh Sardars along with Nihal Singh and Wazir Singh Attariwala, Jodh Singh Wazirabad and Karam Singh Dullu marched upon Rohtas, where Ahmed Khan Shahanchibashi was staying. No sooner did they reach the bank of the river Jhelum than, Ahmed Khan Shahanchibashi left Rohtas and fled away to Peshawar.
The Sikhs after defeating the Afghans captured the areas of Rohtas, Pothohar, and Gheba. Crestfallen Shah Zaman then opened negotiations with the Sikhs. He sent a special messenger to the Sikh Sardars asking them not to torment his troops and impede his progress to Delhi in the interest of their safety of life, honor and property. The Sikhs Sardars expressed their willingness to cooperate to and allow him a safe passage through the Punjab on the condition of the Shah Zaman commitment on the part with “a large portion of plunder” which he would bring from Delhi.
Shah Zaman left Kabul on 12 October 1796 and reached Attock. He sent a contingent of his troops towards Hasan Abdal under General Sher Muhammad, which was stopped by Milkha Singh Rawalpindi. The engagement lasted for a few hours and in the combat about fifty men on the both sides were killed. At last Milkha Singh was defeated and fell back into Rohtas.
On 19 December news arrived in Lahore that Shah Zaman was staying at Hasan Abdal and his advance guard marched towards Jhelum. Ranjit Singh had already left Rohtas and retired to Pind Dadan Khan from where he took up his position at Miani where he was joined by Milkha Singh and Sahib Singh of Gujrat.
Lehna Singh ruler of Lahore had always been the most famous Sikh chief with his subjects, particularly with the Muslims and whenever there was an invasion, the Muslmans always commended him to the Durrani monarch for more considerate treatment. On this occasion, Shah Zaman sent messengers to Lehna Singh Bhangi assuring him of the royal favor and retention in the Governorship of Lahore and advising him to shake off his apprehensions. Lehna Singh thanked the Shah Zaman for his kindness and regard but declined the offer on account of the hostile attitude of the Khalsa community. Later on, Lehna Singh offered to the Muslim leaders of Lahore to take charge of the city; “but was persuaded by their entreaties to stay two days more.”
The distance between the Ravi and the Chenab on the highway was about 100 kilometers. As the Shah Zaman was marching slowly, it was expected that he would take three or four days in reaching Lahore. On the second day, Lehna Singh delivered the keys of the citadel to Mian Chiragh-ud-din Shah Sultanpuri. Then he summoned Mian Chiragh-ud-din Shah Sultanpuri, Mir Ghalib Shah, Mian Muhammad Ashiq and other Muslim leaders. “Without manifesting any partiality for the Hindus”, he made over the city to their charge. He told them that he was leaving the fort in good repair without any damage done to it. He requested them to use their power with the Shah Zaman to secure lenient treatment to the people. Afterward, he got into a palanquin as he was growing old and was not in good health and accompanied by 100 horses, one field piece, and an elephant halted at the forte of Haji Said Khan.
On 31st December 1796, Wazir Share Muhammad Khan as the head of 12.000 troops entered into the city of Lahore. The leading Muslim citizens of the city delivered the keys of the fort to him. Just at that time arrived a letter from the Shah Zaman for Lehna Singh Bhangi promising him all concessions and favor. Another messenger brought a proclamation from the Shah Zaman prohibiting the Afghan soldiers from commenting any outrage on the inhabitants of the city. It was also declared that if any Afghan officer would live inside the city, he could rent a house with the consent of the proprietor. Ahmed Khan Shahanchibashi and the city Kotwal proclaimed security of life and property and in consequence, the shops which had been shut were reopened. Such were the strict orders of Shah Zaman that an intelligence from Lahore stated that “no outrage has been committed upon any individual during the Shah Zaman progress from Peshawar to Lahore” declaring that his troops “Put to death all the Sikhs who appear in arms against the Afghans, but spare the rest.”
Afterward, Shah Zaman entered Lahore on 3rd January 1797 and took the possession of the city. According to Syed Muhammad Latif, the city was illuminated for three successive nights in honor of its occupation by the Durranis. The deserted houses in the city were all occupied by the Afghan Sardars and nobles, while the parade ground, fronting the palace was swarmed with the followers of the Afghan army.
Following the policy adopted by his grandfather, Ahmed Shah, the invader dispatched Chapals, or light parties, in various directions into the country to persecute the Sikhs in their retreat by rapid marches, to seize their cattle, destroy their grain and harass them in all ways possible. He also wrote to the Sikh Chiefs that if they desired peace they should attend upon the Shah Zaman; else they would be punished by the imperial army. In February 1797, he left for Afghanistan leaving behind Ahmed Khan at Rohtas to look after the affairs of the country between the Jhelum and Sindh with Bahadur Khan, Muhammedzie, Bostan Khan, Durrani and Nueullah Khan, Khatak at the head of 7,000 horses as his subservient generals.
After the departure of Shah Zaman, the people of the city of Lahore invited Lehna Singh to come to Lahore and resumed the Governorship. At the behest of the general public Lehna Singh, Sahib Singh, and Sobha Singh returned to Lahore and occupied it. But Lehna Singh died in September 1797, leaving behind a son named Chait Singh. About the same time, Sobha Singh also died and was succeeded by his son Mohar Singh. Now the Sikhs again started recovering their lost territory. Milkha Singh joined with Sahib Singh of Gujrat and proceeded towards Rawalpindi, while Ranjit Singh marched towards Rohtas. Just at this time
Hayat Khan, son of Chaudhry Rahmat Khan Wariach of Jalalpur captured Islamgarh and raises the standard of revolt against Sahib Singh of Gujrat. In such state of affairs Ahmed Khan Shahanchibashi, made up his mind to drive the Sikhs from Gujrat. He made Islamgarh the base of his operations. His plan was to begin his campaign from Sialkot in the east and to drive the Sikhs from Gujrat towards Jhelum, surround them on the bank of the river and to force them to capitulate.
On hearing of the atrocities of Shahanchibashi, Bedi Ram Singh belonging to village Kotli Faqir Chand Bedian in Sialkot district joined with Jodh Singh and Diwan Singh Kalaswalia (belonging to the Bhangi Misal) and Mehtab Singh Bhangi of Wadala marched upon Sialkot, where Shahanchibashi’s troops were staying. Shahanchibashi deputed Kamil Din, Murid Khan, Asadullah and Ali Khan to meet the Sikhs. The first-day battle was fought at village Portain. The battle was fought over a tract of about 10 square kilometers, but neither could score a victory. Next morning the two sides again got ready for the fight. The Sikhs managed their forces in regular battle as under; Ram Singh was in the front, Behind him were Diwan Singh and Charat Singh of Klaswalia, Dharam Singh Jalalwala, Budh Singh Dodia, Karam Singh Gill, Mehtab Singh Wadala, Ram Singh Sare Kali, Jodh Singh Atariwala, Nar Singh Chimiariwala, Mansa Singh, Milkha Singh Rawalpindi (they were all the Bhangis), Jodh Singh Ramgarhia, Bhag Singh Ahluwalia, Natha Singh Shahid, Desa Singh, Sham Singh Sultanwind, Jaimal Singh Kanahiya and many more. A pitched battle was fought the whole day. Both the parties fell back in Daska and none of them was triumphant.
The major part of the Afghan army was under Shahanchibashi who was camping at some distance from Gujrat. At this time Sikhs advanced from the western bank of river Chenab. Sahib Singh Bhangi of Gujrat and Ranjit Singh and the other Sikh Sardars proceeded from the west against Shahanchibashi. A savage battle was fought between them about 7 kilometers from Gujrat. In the battlefield, Shahanchibashi was shot dead and the Afghan forces took to flight and a large booty consisting of camels, horses, and war material fell into the hands of the Sikhs.
The Sikhs knew that Shah Zaman was determined to repeat his exploits and they expected his invasion in the winter session of 1797. Some Sikh chiefs decided to meet in Amritsar on the day of Diwali and to concert measures to oppose the invader. They invited Sahib Singh the ruler of Patiala to be present at Amritsar, but he being a loyal subject of the Afghan monarch “declined the invitation to be present at the conference on the pretense that their plans this year would prove equally inefficacious like those of last season”. Sahib Singh of Patiala was in correspondence with Shah Zaman. He sent his messengers to the invader, when they meet in Peshawar, offering his submission and homage. They brought letters from the Shah Zaman and his Wazir for the Raja. Sahib Singh received these letters in full court and offers to apply them to his forehead and delivered them to his Munshi to be read out.
About this time The territorial distribution was as such: Milkha Singh was at Rawalpindi; but the farthest outpost on the north-west frontier at Sare Kali was held by his wife, Sahib Singh at Gujrat, Jodh Singh at Wazirabad, Jassa Singh Son of Karam Singh Dullu in Chiniot, Chait Singh son of Lehna Singh at Lahore, Bhag Singh, Nahar Singh, Fateh Singh and Jiwan Singh (belonging to the Bhangi Misal) at Sialkot, Gulab Singh Bhangi at Amritsar, Ranjit Singh at Pind Dadan Khan, Dal Singh at Ramnagar, Jodh Singh Ramgarhia at Tarn Taran, Tara Singh Gahiba at Nakoder and Jassa Singh Ramgarhia at Naduan.
The military strength of the various important Sardars was as follows:
1. Milkha Singh of Rawalpindi 2,000 horse
2. Sahib Singh of Gujrat 6,000 horses
3. Ranjit Singh 15,000 horses
4. Cahit Singh and Mohar Singh of Lahore 16,000 horses
5. Gulab Singh of Amritsar 6,000 horses
6. Jassa Singh of Ramgarhia 3,000 horses
It was, however, expected that the Sikhs would not allow the Shah Zaman an easy passage and that they would carry out Guerilla warfare, harass his troops and impede his progress.
On 13 October 1798 Shah Zaman again marched towards Punjab and reached Attock. Shah Zaman sent his advance guard under Madad Khan, who reached Sare Kali, which had already been evacuated by the wife of Milkha Singh. She managed to reach Rawalpindi, where Milkha Singh along with Ram Singh was already engaged in a battle with the Mulluka Zamindars of Sare Kali in Rawalpindi and had fallen back by 50 kilometers. Having been taken unawares the Sikhs lost the day in the skirmish and both the Sardar Milkha Singh and Ram Singh captured and were sent to Shah Zaman at Attock. They paid a ransom of three Lakhs of rupees to Shah Zaman, for their release.
On November 16, 1798, Shah Zaman reached Rohtas. On the other side Milkha Singh, Karam Singh Dullu, and Ranjit Singh were camping at Rasulpur while Sahib Singh was in Gujrat. On November 19, Wazir Wafadar Khan was attacked by Sahib Singh, Nahar Singh, Ranjit Singh and Sondhe Singh, somewhere between Gujrat and Wazirabad. In the battlefield, Waffadar Khan lost a considerable number of his troops. The victorious Sikhs returned to Wazirabad. Then the Sikhs came to Amritsar, here they held interviews with Budh Singh, Gulab Singh, Bhag Singh, Jaimal Singh and Bibi Sada Kaur. Further, they invited Tara Singh, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Gurdit Singh, Bhanga Singh Mehtab Singh and Rai Singh Jagadhari to join them in fighting against the Shah Zaman saying: “Victory is the gift of God. Let us make an effort to oppose him.
On 24 November Shah Zaman came to know about the presences of the Sikhs in Amritsar. He at once dispatched a contingent of 10,000 troops towards Amritsar. At this time Sahib Singh Bhangi and Ranjit Singh at the head of 500 horses, were patrolling around Amritsar. They clashed with Afghans and instantly engaged them in a fight. On hearing about this engagement Gulab Singh Bhangi, Jodh Singh and Budh Singh Klaswalia with 2,000 horses come to their assistance. The battle raged for three hours and about 500 men on each side were killed and the Afghan were ultimately forced to retreat to Lahore.
On November 29, Gulab Singh Amritsar, Chait Singh Lahore, Sahib Singh of Gujrat, Bhag Singh and Ranjit Singh with 10,000 horses marched from Amritsar towards Lahore to confront the Afghans. Shah Zaman reached Lahore on November 30, 1798. Consequently, the Sikhs encamped 16 kilometers from Amritsar on the Lahore road and disrupted supplies of grain to the Shah Zaman camp, from two directions, Kasur and Amritsar. The Sikhs further attacked the royal camp at Lahore and after carrying out a plunder of the merchants fled away.
According to Sohan Lal Suri, at this time Ranjit Singh himself rushed thrice upon the Samman Buraj of the Lahore fort with a few men, fired a number of shots, killed and wounded a number of Afghans and on one occasion even challenged the Shah Zaman himself to a single hand combat. ‘Come out you, o grandson of Ahmed Shah, “shouted Ranjit Singh to him, “and try two or three hands with the grandson of the great Sardar Charat Singh.”
At this time a moment development Afghanistan necessitated a Shah Zaman’s return. According to Ali-ud-Din Mufti, Shah Zaman left for Kabul after a month’s stay in Lahore as Mahmud Shah, in collaboration with Baba Qachar, had attacked Kabul in his absence.
The Sikhs were constantly in touch with the happenings in Lahore. Chait Singh Bhangi and Milkha Singh marched from Amritsar in the night between 3 and 4 January and encamped near Lahore. No sooner did the Shah Zaman cross the river Ravi both the Sikh Sardars entered Lahore and re-occupied the city. Most of the other Sikh Sardars also retired to their own territories.
Now the Sikhs decided to Shah Zaman on his way passage through the river Chenab. Torment acting on diplomatic lines, Ranjit Singh chose not to pose any threat to Shah Zaman on his march he rather facilitated his return so that he might not get annoyed with him and think of hitting back at him at the earliest opportunity. Ranjit Singh infects dissuaded the other Sikh Sardars from executing their designs and the Shah Zaman was allowed to return to Kabul unimpeded.
Since the Shah Zaman had to back hurriedly 12 of his guns sank in the river Jhelum that was in flood because of the rainy season. On the Shah Zaman request, Ranjit Singh extricated all the 12 guns from the river. He dispatched 8 of them to Kabul and added four to his arsenal. One of these was of iron and three of brass.
In the year of 1798, when Shah Zaman invaded Punjab for the last time, all the places in the Sikh occupation had been evacuated by them. In such a situation the Zamindars of Shahdara invited Nizam-ud-din of Kasur to take ownership of the forts evacuated by the Sikhs. He arrived there at the head of 400 horses. On his way march he captured the territories around Kasur including, Kankipur, Havali, Maruf, Atari, Nadian, Mahimoki, Khemkaran and Chunian which were under Tara Singh Cahinpuria who was a Bhangi Sardar. On November 18, 1798, Sahib Singh Bhangi son of Gujjar Singh Bhangi joined with Ranjit Singh and marched against Nizam-ud-Din of Kasur and defeated him with heavy losses.
After the departure of Shah Zaman from Lahore, three Sikh Sardars Sahib Singh, Cahit Singh and Mohar Singh again captured the city of Lahore. But they could not set up an alliance with each other. Finding the situation in Lahore fluid, Nawab Nizam-ud-Din of Kasur started toying with the idea of possessing Lahore. But in view of Ranjit Singh’s growing power, the Nawab of Kasur was obliged to drop the idea of occupying Lahore.