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Annexation of Punjab



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Annexation of Punjab Ranjit Singh, the chief of the Sukarchakiya misl (one of the 12 misls or confederations of Punjab,) conquered in 1799. In 1805, he also snatched Amritsar from Bhangi Misl. He attacked the areas across the river Sutlej and brought many sikh chieftains under his suzerainty. Soon Ranjit Singh took over Multan, Kashmir and Peshwa also. However, he signed the Treaty of Amritsar, also called the Treaty of Perpetual Friendship, in 1809 under which he accepted the East India Company's greater right over the cis-Sutlej territories.

Highlights of Ranjit Singh's Administration
  1. Training of army on European lines with the help of French officers Ventura and Allard
  2. Setting up an artillery unit
  3. Introduction of payment of monthly salary to the soldiers
  4. Appointment of Fakir Aziz-ud-din, a Muslim, as Foreign Minister
  5. Appointment of Dina Nath, a Hindu, as Finance Minister
  6. Establishment of a special court at Lahore where Maharaja himself heard cases and passed judgements
  7. Establishments of a well organised state
  8. Shelter to the Afghan King, Shah Shuja, who had been pushed out of his country (the Afghan king gave Kohinoor diamond to Ranjit Singh.)

The death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in June 1839 was followed by political instability and rapid changed of government in the Punjab. Selfish and corrupt leaders came to the front. Ultimately, power fell into the hands of the brave and patriotic but utterly indisciplined army. This led the British to look greedily across the Sutlej upon the land on the five rivers even though they had signed a treaty in 1809.

The First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-1846): The decisive battle was fought at Sobraon on February 10, 1846 and the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh Majithia were routed. The English then crossed the Sutlej on February 13 and captured the capital of Lahore on February 20. The Sikhs were defeated due to treachery and half heartedness of their leaders. The war came to an end by the Treaty of Lahore which was signed on 9th March, 1846. This treaty left the Sikhs with no capacity for resisting the English. Another treaty was made with the Sikhs on 16th December, 1846, this treaty is known as Second Treaty of Lahore or the Treaty of Bhairowal

The Treaty of Lahore (1846)
  1. The territories lying to the south of the river Sutlej were given to the company
  2. The Sikh committed to pay 1.5 crore rupees to the company as war indemnity
  3. The company was given control over the mountainous areas between the Beas and the Indus river which included Kashmir and Hazarah
  4. Rani Jindan Kaur was made the Regent of the State and Lal Singh as the Wazir of the Maharaja. Sir Henry Lawrence was appointed as the Resident of Lahore.

The Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-1849): The second Anglo-Sikh war began in 1848 as the Sikhs were feeling humiliated due to their defeat in the first Anglo Sikh war. However, the immediate cause was the rebellion of Mulraj, Governor of Multan, against the company. This provided the new Governor General Lord Dalhousie, a chance to interfere in the affairs of Punjab and annex Punjab in the British empire. The English and the Sikh forces fought at Ramnagar, Chillianwala and Gujarat. The battle at Gujarat under the command of Sir Charles Napier was decisive. Punjab was annexed to the British dominion in March 1849. Dalip Singh, the minor son of Ranjit Singh, and his mother, Rani Jindan, were pensioned off and sent to England.

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