Published on: May 23, 2021
What is the news : Punjab Chief Minister declared Malerkotla as the 23rd district of the state on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.
How are new districts carved:
- The power to create new districts or alter or abolish existing districts rests with the State governments. This can either be done through an executive order or by passing a law in the State Assembly.
- Many States prefer the executive route by simply issuing a notification in the official gazette.
How does it help: States argue that smaller districts lead to better administration and governance. For example, in 2016, the Assam government issued a notification to upgrade the Majuli sub-division to Majuli district for “administrative expediency”.
History of Malerkotla:
- Malerkotla owes its foundations in the 15th century to Sufi saint Sheikh Sadrauddin Sadar-i-Jahan, also known as Haider Sheikh. The initial beginnings were humble with the settlement being called ‘Maler’ which was bestowed by the Behlol Lodhi to the Sheikh whose lineage too was Afghan, as was Lodhi’s, and they were said to be distantly related.
- ‘Kotla’, meaning Fortress, was added later in 17th century with a collection of villages which formed a jagir which was awarded to Bayzid Khan, a descendant of Haider Sheikh, by Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan.
- Bayzid Khan supported Aurangzeb against his brother Dara Shikoh and thus gained favour with the emperor and added permanency to the rule of his family. A hereditary succession began thereafter. After the decline of the Mughal empire, Malerkotla’s rulers exercised greater independence and at the time of the invasion of India by Ahmad Shah Abdali from Afghanistan, they aligned with him.
How were the relations of Malerkotla with neighbouring states:
- According to historian Anna Bigelow’s work, ‘Punjab’s Muslims’, after Maharaja Ranjit Singh consolidated his rule in Northern Punjab in the early 19th century, Malerkotla aligned itself with the neighbouring Sikh states like Patiala, Nabha and Jind which too were feeling threatened by Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s consolidation of the Sikh empire. These cis-Sutlej states accepted British protection in 1809 and were free from interference from the Sikh Maharaja.
- Malerkotla continued under the British protection and the alliance with the neighbouring Sikh states till 1947 when it became the only Muslim majority Sikh state in East Punjab.
- After the dissolution of the princely states in 1948, Malerkotla joined the new state of PEPSU or Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU). PEPSU itself was dissolved in 1954 and Malerkotla became a part of Punjab.
What is the background of the special status of Malerkotla with the Sikh community:
- This goes back to the period when the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, was engaged in a series of battles with the oppressive Mughal rules of the region.
- Sher Mohammad Khan was the Nawab of Malerkotla at the time and though a supporter of Aurangzeb and his lieutenants who governed Punjab at the time, he is said to have expressed his anguish at the bricking alive of two young sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Zorawar Singh (aged nine years) and Fateh Singh (aged seven years), by the Subedar of Sirhind Wazir Khan in 1705.
- The ‘Haa da Naara’ or cry for justice was made by Sher Mohammad Khan before Wazir Khan when the order to brick the two young boys was pronounced. This incident has been narrated over the years and has attained an image of tolerance of the Nawab towards the two young Sahibzadas and given placed Malerkotla a special place in the Sikh narrative