Resulted in the abrogation of the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab,
was virtually a campaign by the victors of the first Anglo-Sikh war
(1945-46) and since then the de facto rulers of the State finally
to overcome the resistance of some of the sardars who chafed at the
defeat in the earlier war which, they believed, had been lost owing
to the treachery on the part of the commanders at the top and not
to any lack of fighting strength of the Sikh army. It marked also
the fulfillment of the imperialist ambition of the new governor-general,
Lord Dalhousie (184856), to carry forward the British flag up to the
natural boundary of India on the northwest
According to the peace settlement of March 1846, at the end of Anglo-Sikh
war I, the British force in Lahore was to be withdrawn at the end
of the year, but a severer treaty was imposed on the Sikhs before
the expiry of that date. Sir Henry Hardinge, the then governor-general,
had his Agent, Frederick Currie, persuade the Lahore Darbar to request
the British for the continuance of the troops in Lahore. According
to the treaty which was consequently signed at Bharoval on 16 December
1846, Henry Lawrence was appointed Resident with "full authority
to direct and control all matters in every department of the State."
A Council of Regency, consisting of the nominees of the Resident and
headed by Tej Singh, was appointed. The power to make changes in its
personnel vested in the Resident.
Under another clause the British could maintain as many troops in
the Punjab as they thought necessary for the preservation of peace
and order. This treaty was to remain in operation until the minor
Maharaja Duleep Singh attained the age of 16. By a proclamation issued
in July 1847, the governor-general further enhanced the powers of
On 23 October 1847, Sir Henry Hardinge wrote to Henry Lawrence:
In all our measures taken during the minority
we must bear in mind that by the treaty of Lahore, March 1846, the
Punjab never was intended to be an independent State. By the clause
I added the chief of the State can neither make war or peace, or exchange
or sell an acre of territory or admit a European officer, or refuse
us a thoroughfare through his territories, or, in fact, perform any
act without our permission. In fact the native Prince is in fetters,
and under our protection and must do our bidding.
In the words of British historian John Clark Marshman, "an
officer of the Company's artillery became, in fact, the successor
to Ranjit Singh." The Sikhs resented this gradual liquidation
of their authority in the Punjab. The new government at Lahore became
totally unpopular. The abolition of jagirs in the Jalandhar Doab and
changes introduced in the system of land revenue and its collection
angered the landed classes. Maharani Jind Kaur, who was described
by Lord Dalhousie as the only woman in the Punjab with manly understanding
and in whom the British Resident foresaw a rallying point for the
well-wishers of the Sikh dynasty, was kept under close surveillance.
Henry Lawrence laid down that she could not receive in audience more
than five or six sardars in a month and that she remain in purdah
like the ladies of the royal families of Nepal, Jodhpur and Jaipur.
In January 1848, Henry Lawrence took leave of absence and travelled
back home with Lord Hardinge, who had completed his term in India.
The former was replaced by Frederick Currie and the latter by the
Earl of Dalhousie. The new regime confronted a rebellion in the Sikh
province of Multan which it utilized as an excuse for the annexation
of the Punjab. The British Resident at Lahore increased the levy payable
by the Multan governor, Diwan Mu1 Raj, who, finding himself unable
to comply, resigned his office. Frederick Currie appointed General
Kahn Singh Man in his place and sent him to Multan along with two
British officers, P.A. Vans Agnew and William Anderson, to take charge
from Mul Raj.
The party arrived at Multan on 18 April 1848, and the Diwan vacated
the Fort and made over the keys to the representatives of the Lahore
Darbar. But his soldiers rebelled and the British officers were set
upon in their camp and killed. This was the beginning of the Multan
outbreak. Some soldiers of the Lahore escort deserted their officers
and joined Mul Raj's army. Currie received the news at Lahore on 21
April, but delayed action. Lord Dalhousie allowed the Multan rebellion
to spread for five months. The interval was utilized by the British
further to provoke Sikh opinion. The Resident did his best to fan
the flames of rebellion.
Maharani Jind Kaur, then under detention in the Fort of Sheikhupura,
was exiled from the Punjab. She was taken to Firozpur and thence to
Banaras, in the British dominions. Her annual allowance, which according
to the treaty of Bharoval had been fixed at one and a half lakh of
rupees, was reduced to twelve thousand. Her jewellery worth fifty
thousand of rupees was forfeited; so was her cash amounting to a lakh
and a half. The humiliating treatment of the Maharani caused deep
resentment among the people of the Punjab. Even the Muslim ruler of
Afghanistan, Amir Dost Muhammad, protested to the British, saying
that "such treatment is objectionable
to all creeds".
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Herbert Edwardes, the Resident's Assistant at
Bannu, having heard of the Multan revolt, began raising levies from
among the Pathan mercenaries, and after summoning Van Cortlandt, the
local Lahore commander, marched on Multan and called upon the rebels
to submit. Although the British Resident approved of Edwardes' conduct,
Lord Dalhousie was furious at the audacity of a "subaltern officer"
to invest Multan without any authority and offer terms to Mul Raj.
He was severely reprimanded and ordered not to extend his operations
any further. However, Edwardes was not discouraged and ignoring these
orders, he crossed the Indus on 14 June; four days later, he inflicted
a crushing defeat on Mul Raj's forces at Kineri. Edwardes' action
turned Sikh national sentiment in favour of Mul Raj and there was
restiveness among the troops. British forces began to be moved towards
the frontier. The Lahore garrison was reinforced; likewise more regiments
reached Ambala and Frozpur. By June 1848, an army had been assembled
at the frontier-11,740 men in the Bari Doab, 9,430 in the Jalandhar
Doab; in all 21,170 men ready to go into action against Multan to
quell what was no more than a local rising.
Meanwhile, Captain James Abbott, the Resident's assistant at Hazara,
suspecting that Sardar Chatar Singh Atarivala, the governor of the
province, had been hatching a conspiracy to lead a general Sikh uprising
against the British, charged him with treason and cut off all communication
with him and marched against him the Muslim peasantry and tribal mercenaries.
Captain Nicholson who conducted an enquiry into Abbott's allegations,
exonerated Chatar Singh of the charge of treason, but offered him
terms which amounted to his virtual dismissal and the confiscation
of his jagirs. Chatar Singh rejected these. Abbott's treatment of
Chatar Singh, a chief of eminence and position since Ranjit Singh's
time and whose daughter was betrothed to the young Maharaja Duleep
Singh, was humiliating. Chatar Singh's son Raja Sher Singh, who had
steadfastly fought on the side of Herbert Edwardes against Diwan Mul
Raj, was greatly exercised, and he joined hands with the Diwan's force
on 14 September 1848.