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Dhan Singh Gurjar

Dhan Singh Gurjar
Statue of Dhan Singh Gurjar in Commisionarie Chowk, Meerut
Born1820[citation needed]
Died4 July 1857(1857-07-04) (aged 36–37)[citation needed]
Meerut, British India
MovementIndian independence movement

Dhan Singh Gurjar, also known as Dhunna Singh, was the Indian kotwal (police chief) of Meerut, who participated in the 1857 rebellion and led initial actions against the British East India Company in Meerut.[1][2]

Early life

Dhan Singh was born in the Panchli or Panchali village.[3] The Gurjars in Meerut were traditionally a powerful pastoral community, who controlled land and cattle trade in the area. However, during the Company rule, much of the land they relied upon for grazing their cattle had been auctioned off to other groups such as the Jats. The British officials branded the Gurjars as habitual criminals under the Criminal Tribes Act, and described them as "cattle stealers by profession".[4]

Role in the 1857 rebellion

On 10 May 1857, a rebellion against the East India Company rule broke out in Meerut during the 1857 uprising. As the kotwal of the city, Dhan Singh's job was to protect the city. However, many of his officers deserted his force on that day, either to join the rebellion or to escape the rebels' fury. The city saw large-scale rioting, plunder and murder. When two of his chowkidars (guards) apprehended two Gurjar men for stealing horses, he asked them not to make arrests, fearing reprisals from the rebels. Around midnight, he was called to the house of a Bengali man, which was being plundered by a huge group of armed Gurjars. Dhan Singh's chowkidars arrested two of the plunderers, but Singh restrained them from using force against the Gurjars. He then released the two men with the loot, after the group agreed to go away.[4]

Dhan Singh and several other policemen later deserted the police force (kotwali).[4] He is believed to have led thousands of villagers from all across the Meerut district to the city's jail. According to the official records, the rebels released 839 prisoners from the jail. These prisoners were among the rebels who participated in the Siege of Delhi.[5]


  • Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police O P Singh unveiled the statue of Kotwal Dhan Singh Gurjar on the premises of the Sadar police station in Meerut. He announced that a chapter of Dhan Singh Kotwal would be included in police training, and a documentary would be made to "take his inspiring story of bravery and martyrdom to the public." He also proposed a separate section for Dhan Singh Kotwal in the proposed National Police Museum in Delhi [6][7]
  • "Dhan Singh Kotwal Community Centre", the campus community centre of Meerut University, is named after him.[8]
  • The Dhan Singh Gurjar Mahavidyalaya in Loni, Ghaziabad is also named after him.


  1. ^ Crispin Bates (26 March 2013). Mutiny at the Margins: New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857: Volume I: Anticipations and Experiences in the Locality. SAGE Publications. pp. 236–. ISBN 978-81-321-1336-2.
  2. ^ Uday Rana (9 May 2015). "Farmers, cops and sadhus who aided sepoys in 1857". The Times of India.
  3. ^ Henderson, Carol E. (2013). "Spatial Memorialising of War in 1857: Memories, Traces and Silences in Ethnography". In Bates, Crispin (ed.). Mutiny at the Margins: New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857. I. SAGE Publications India. p. 236. ISBN 9788132113362.
  4. ^ a b c Kim A. Wagner (2010). The great fear of 1857: rumours, conspiracies and the making of the Indian Mutiny. Peter Lang. pp. 162–165. ISBN 9781906165277.
  5. ^ Uday Rana (9 May 2015). "Farmers, cops and sadhus who aided sepoys in 1857". The Times of India.
  6. ^ "Police Museum Delhi".
  7. ^ "UP Police will read history of Shaheed Dhan Singh Kotwal". Hindustan team, Meerut.
  8. ^ "Meerut University". Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2010.