There have been two Anglo Sikh War in Indian history. In both these wars, the Sikhs were defeated by the British. They had to make a treaty with the British according to their arbitrary terms. The First Anglo Sikh War was fought between the Sikh state of Punjab and the British in 1845-46. As a result, some part of the Sikh state became part of the British Raj. The Second Anglo Sikh War was fought between 1848-49.
Beginning of British struggle with Sikhs
The British started taking interest in Punjab from the time of Ranjit Singh. Due to the diplomacy and power of Ranjit Singh, they could not achieve their goal. After the death of Ranjit Singh, he started the strategy of encircling Punjab by making Firozpur a military cantonment and capturing Sindh. The officers of the Sikh army actively participated in the war of succession and in the court arrangements. The succession war and struggle created chaos and disorder in Punjab.
The British took advantage of the anarchy of Punjab. They started gathering forces in the areas adjacent to the Sutlej to attack Punjab. In 1809, the Treaty of Amritsar was signed between the British and Ranjit Singh. In this treaty it is decided that the western areas of the Sutlej river will be ruled by Ranjit Singh and the eastern areas of the Sutlej river will be controlled by the English East India Company.
First Anglo-Sikh War: (1845 – 1846)
- After the death of Ranjit Singh, Kharak Singh, Navnihal Singh, Chand Kor, Sher Singh and Dilip Singh sat on the throne. After the death of Ranjit Singh, his descendants did not emerge as more efficient rulers.
- The English Governor General at that time was Lord Hardinge and the English Company started sending a large number of English soldiers to the border line of the Sutlej River in 1845. On 11 December 1845, the Sikh army crossed the Sutlej river between Harike and Kasur.
- On 11 December 1845, the Sikh army crossed the Sutlej river between Harike and Kasur.
- After which the British considered it a violation of the Treaty of Amritsar and on 13 December 1845, Lord Hardinge declared war. Due to which the First Anglo Sikh War was fought between the Sikhs and the English Company.
- In this war, the Sikh army was led by Lal Singh and Teja Singh.
- On 10 February 1846, the Sikhs were defeated in this war due to the betrayal of the chief generals of the Sikh army, Lal Singh and Tej Singh.
- After the war, the Treaty of Lahore was signed. This treaty took place between Maharaja Dilip Singh and the British.
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Treaty of Lahore (1846)
When the First Anglo Sikh War ended, the Treaty of Lahore was signed between Maharaja Dilip Singh and the British in 1846. The terms of this treaty are as follows-
- The British retained Dilip Singh as the king.
- The British retained Maharani Jindal who was Dilip Singh’s patroness in the same position, political situation was not changed by the British.
- The Sikhs were asked to reduce the number of their army and replace it with some English soldiers.
- The British had to pay war damages of 1.5 crores by the Sikh state.
- An English officer was appointed as a resident in Lahore. The entire cost of which will have to be borne by the Sikh state. Sir Henry Lawrence was appointed as the first resident
- The famous Kohinoor diamond of Sikhs was also sent to Queen Victoria after this war.
- The area of Jalandhar Doab between the Beas River and the Sutlej River was taken over by the British.
Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49)
- The President of the Punjab Council, Henry Lawrence, disbanded the Sikh army in large numbers, resulting in terrible anarchy in Punjab. This chaos prepared the background for the Second Anglo Sikh War. Whereas the Multan rebellion which could not be suppressed created immediate reasons.
- In order to suppress the rebellion of Multan, the governor of Multan, again attacked the Sikh Empire with the British army.
- On January 13, 1849 AD, the battle of Chillianwala took place between Sher Singh and the British under the leadership of Commander Gough. This war did not yield any result, but the British suffered immense losses.
- The second battle was fought in Gujarat on 21 February 1849 under the leadership of Charles Napier. The Sikhs were badly defeated in this cannon battle.
- After this, the whole of Punjab was annexed to the British state by a declaration by Lord Dalhousie on 29 March 1849.