Love & legacy: From the memoirs of Faridkot Princess Amrit Kaur

Roopinder Singh

Graceful, soft-spoken and alert, 86-year-old Amrit Kaur, Rajkumari of Faridkot, is regal, as she must be. The eldest daughter of Raja Harinder Singh of Faridkot spent her childhood in her father’s palaces. Naturally, she was raised by governesses, who ensured that together with common schooling, she would additionally be taught singing, embroidery and taking part in the piano. The princess significantly remembers her governess, the Australian Miss Foley, who needed porridge for breakfast on daily basis. “Before the Partition, she went to Lahore and saw violence and killings there. She came back and packed her bags”.

College pals: (From left) Rajman, Amrit, Gursmat, Surjit and Ajit. Photo taken on the Kinsey Brothers studio, Shimla.

Amrit Kaur’s brother, Harmohinder Singh, and her sisters Deepinder Kaur and Maheepinder Kaur, all lived their early lives in Faridkot palaces of their father. Amrit Kaur has fond recollections of her father.

A princess remembers

“My father was a gentle person. If he wanted you to do something, he would sit you down and talk to you. On the other hand, my mother, Rani Narinder Kaur, was a strict disciplinarian. Clothes had to be folded and kept just so! She would check the cupboards to ensure that this was done!”

Her father ensured that she learnt how one can journey a horse. Like so many different newcomers, she fell down, and was promptly put again within the saddle! Soon she grew to become an excellent rider.

Raja Harinder Singh additionally had a legendary assortment of vehicles, and he taught her how one can drive, within the Raj Mahal, naturally. “He sat next to me in a small car and said, ‘Drive.’ I saw that my grandmother and mother had just stepped out for a walk, and I started looking at them to see if they were looking at me. I nearly rammed into a wall! I got a reprimand, recovered, and finally, I learnt driving. I didn’t have a licence. Eventually, my husband got me one.”

The mother and father ensured that their youngsters received standard schooling after house education. She did her Matric, after which enrolled for FA and BA at St Bede’s, Shimla. The nuns have been strict at this all-girls faculty. The boarders bonded, particularly her group of pals. “There were five of us, and we sat on one table for all of our meals.” They stored in contact with one another. Two of them, Gursmat Sandhawalia and Ajit Sanghera, reside in Chandigarh.

One time, they slipped out of the hostel, rented cycles and went to the Mashobra property of her grandmother, the place “the gardener was very kind. He gave us a bunch of roses.” Her massi (aunt), who was additionally in faculty on the time and had accompanied them, mentioned she would hold the bunch on her cycle. Unfortunately, she fell from the bicycle, the deal with hit her so badly that she nearly stopped respiration. Her pals Ajit and Surjit, being medical doctors’ daughters, took cost and pumped her chest. It labored, and shortly they have been in a position to full their journey, return the cycles, and make it again to varsity earlier than breakfast. “It was Sunday, so it was half-an-hour later, at 8 am”, she recollects. She performed the piano and engaged in extra-curricular actions. She graduated with a BA diploma from the faculty at 18.

A brand new starting

In 1952, she would marry Major Harpal Singh. We seek advice from the Faridkot Gazetteer of 1915 for his background: “The Sardars of Machaki are Sekhon Jats…. Colonel Sardar Harnam Singh, who is Commandant of the Faridkot IS Sappers, is now with the company at the Front….”

Col Harnam Singh had earned laurels in World War I. His son, Major Harpal Singh, served in World War II on the Burma Front. He joined the Faridkot Police in 1946, and on the time of their marriage, was Raja Harinder Singh’s aide-de-camp. Amrit Kaur’s household didn’t approve.

“That did not last long. My mother always had cordial relations with her brother and sisters, and we stayed at Kenilworth (in the Mashobra estate of Raja Harinder Singh) with our grandfather, in Faridkot and Delhi with the family and attended family weddings,” says Gurveen Kaur, Amrit’s daughter.

Harpal Singh was inducted into the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1954. The couple spent the following years in Jalandhar, Patiala, Kapurthala and Shimla, wherever he was posted. He served at numerous occasions as AIG Traffic, Deputy Director National Police Academy, Border Security Force (BSF), Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) Haryana Police, held a diplomatic project within the USA, and as Director-General of the Vigilance, Haryana State Electricity Board.

Starting with Faridkot as a state within the British-ruled India, he noticed the Partition, creation of Pepsu, which merged into Punjab, after which the trifurcation of Punjab into Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. He was allotted the Haryana cadre. Prof Karuna Goswamy recollects how he was near her uncle, Ashwani Kumar, the celebrated police officer. “He was a man full of energy, and my uncle relied on him,” she says.

As Amrit Kaur talks about him, her love and affection for her husband comes by with full drive. She remembers the postings, and takes satisfaction in recounting his skilled achievements and accomplishments. We take a look at the image of a UN General Assembly session on August 13, 1958, wherein he stands out together with his turban. The Indian delegation was led by Permanent Representative Arthur S Lall. “US President ‘Ike’ Eisenhower addressed the General Assembly. Later, it was remarked that ‘for a multinational gathering, the delegates (except for a bearded Sikh) all looked terribly alike in drab sack suits’,” she recounts fondly. The session was triggered by the US intervention in Beirut in July that yr and the deteriorating safety state of affairs in Lebanon and Jordan. They lived in a tony handle on 84 Street, off Central Park in Manhattan, New York.

A yr later, they have been in Rohtak! “We had three-four good friends there, and a year later, we took leave and went to Kashmir.” The Princess navigated many such vicissitudes in her life. From palaces to authorities lodging, the household made the perfect of circumstances. “She is a person of great refinement and has the ability to manage situations with élan,” asserts Prof Karuna Goswamy.

Their youngsters obtained the perfect schooling they might and did nicely. Their son, Jaskaran Singh was born in 1954 in Ambala. He enrolled in Mathematics Honours at St Stephen’s, Delhi. He was enrolled for the LLB course when he took an examination and joined the SBI with two of his faculty mates. Now retired and settled in Loughton, Essex, he has labored with Barclays and Lloyds banks.

Daughter Simar Negi, who retired as Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Delhi, too, was born in Ambala in 1955. The youngest Gurveen Kaur was born in 1962. A lawyer, she was Additional Advocate General, Punjab. She lives together with her mom and recollects that her first digital camera was gifted to her by her grandfather.

“Amrit Kaur is known to be very well turned out. She is chic, not skin-deep, but extremely nice,” says Prof Karuna Goswamy. The latest lockdown offered the household with one other alternative to be collectively. The daughters have been with their mom whereas Jaskaran, who had gone again to the UK from India simply earlier than the lockdown, is now together with his household there. However, the property of the Raja of Faridkot continues to be locked down. It is beneath litigation and Amrit Kaur politely declines to debate the case for the reason that matter is sub-judice.

Matter of honour

“I am not fighting for money, I am fighting for my honour, to show that my father could not disinherit me,” Senior Advocate Manjit Singh Khaira, recollects Amrit Kaur saying. “She fought for 28 years to prove her father’s love for her. The will was forged, and we proved it,” says Khaira, who led the case from the trial courtroom to the excessive courtroom.

Amrit Kaur is the one survivor of her technology. Her brother, the inheritor obvious, died in 1981. Her sister, Maheepinder Kaur, died in 2002. Both weren’t married. Deepinder Kaur, who lived in Kolkata and was the chairman of the Maharawal Khewaji Trust, died in 2018. She is survived by a daughter and son. The latter now heads the belief.

Amrit Kaur’s household has spent a very long time in Chandigarh. They are very a lot part of the social scene and preserve a discrete profile. In her faculty good friend Ajit Sanghera’s phrases, “She is a humble, generous person who is ready to help anyone.”

A lifetime of experiences and many years of litigation sit frivolously on the shoulders of the light woman who has carved a spot for herself in a world that has dramatically modified for the reason that time she was born because the eldest youngster of Colonel H.H. Farzand-i-Saadat-i-Nishan-i-Hazrat-i-Kaiser-i-Hind Raja Sir Harinder Singh, Brar Bans Sahib Bahadur, Raja of Faridkot, KCSI.



1989: Raja of Faridkot, Harinder Singh Brar dies. His purported ‘will’ is made public, bequeathing his properties to the Maharawal Khewaji Trust which his youthful daughter Deepinder Kaur heads.

1992: His elder daughter Amrit Kaur, who’s been stored out of the ‘will’, strikes courtroom in opposition to the ‘will’.

2013: Civil courtroom holds the desire as fraudulent. Maharawal Khewaji Trust and a nephew file appeals.

2020: The Punjab and Haryana High Court upholds the civil courtroom judgment, awards 37.5% share within the estimated Rs20,000-crore property to Amrit Kaur and Deepinder Kaur; 25% of the share goes to the descendents of Manjit Inder Singh, brother of Raja Harinder Singh.

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