Jagga Daku and His Exploits During the Days of the Raj
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Jagga Daku and His Exploits During the Days of the Raj

A dacoit who made a name for himself was Jagat Singh Sidhu. He belonged to the Jat clan and was born in 1902 at a village in Lahore District. Popularly called Jagga, legends about him encompass the length and breadth of Punjab as a man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. This fact is not substantiated anywhere, but with the passage of time an aura has built up around Jagga as a man who defied the Raj.

 

The Raj was a part of Indian history for close to 200 years. It brought with it many benefits for the people of India. One of these was the eradication Thuggery and Dacoity, so prevalent in India during the reign of the Mughals. Between 1836-48 the British enacted a number of laws that spelt the death knell of these gangs.

Dacoity is a term used in India to denote 'banditry' and forms part of the Indian Penal Code. Despite the laws passed by the British some Dacoits flourished. These men endeared themselves to the masses and struck a chord against the Raj. Many a time a righteous man was driven to dacoity by an insensitive lower police official.

One dacoit who made a name for himself was Jagat Singh Sidhu. He belonged to the Jat clan and was born in 1902 at a village in Lahore District. Popularly called Jagga, legends about him encompass the length and breadth of Punjab as a man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. This fact is not substantiated anywhere, but with the passage of time an aura has built up around Jagga as a man who defied the Raj.

Jagga's father died when he was still young and he was brought up by his mother and uncle. In his younger days he was fond of wrestling and thus became famous in all the villages as a man of strength. Jagga's mother married him to a girl Inder Kaur from a neighbouring village and the couple had a daughter named Gulab Kaur.

Jagga now began to entangle with the lower officials of the Raj. He beat up the Patwari (land Surveyor) for asking a bribe.  Many such acts reached the local police Inspector Asgar Ali and he arrested Jagga. Jagga served a sentence of 4 years and when he came out he was an embittered man.

In 1926 a theft took place in the village and Asgar Ali thought it a good time to harass jagga. He ordered him to report to the Police station. Sensing danger Jagga didn’t go to the Police station but snatched a rifle from a constable and ran away. This was the beginning of the legend. His childhood friend Banta Singh and some more joined Jagga and a gang became operational. They moved on horses and sometimes travelled a hundred miles in a night.

Jagga committed his first dacoity by robbing a goldsmith who was also a money lender near Lahore. The gold was looted and all the records of money lent were burnt. This was the beginning and for the next 3 years Jagga roamed the Punjab at will. He had many encounters with the police, but they just couldn’t catch him. The Punjab government offered a handsome reward for the death or capture of Jagga. There are reports that in the districts where jagga operated the Police locked themselves inside their police stations at night as jagga on his white charger was greatly feared.

Jagga knew he would not live long so he drank and lived his life to the hilt. The cook of Jagga named Lalu now decided to partake of the reward on Jagga’s head. In 1929 he gave drinks to jagga and when he was in an intoxicated state killed him with Jagga’s own gun. Thus ended the life of Jagga Daku.

Jagga’s wife lived on till 1983 while his daughter married the son of a friend of Jagga and still lives at Vanwaala village, Near Lambi in Sri Mukatsar sahib district. She is in her eighties. Her husband avatar Singh died in 2005.

Jagga Jat is now a folk hero of the Punjab. Many ballads are sung to his greatness and his exploits. Truly sometimes fiction oversteps fact. Bollywood has added to the legend by making two films on the life of Jagga, one of them starring Dara Singh

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