Arrival of Lord Ellenborough

The stupefied Afghan projects of Lord Auckland forced the superiors sitting in England to recall him back to pavilion. He was succeeded by Lord Ellenborough in 1842. Lord Ellenborough remained Governor General of India for 2 and half years till 1844.

This pompous military general type of Governor, who was sent to “restore peace in Asia” ; had actually devastated Kabul on arrival and later conquered Sind for Britain. So Lord Ellenborough is best known for Conquest of Sind.

Annexation of Sind 1843

Since 18th century, Sind was being ruled by some Baluchi chiefs collectively known as “Amirs of Sind“. The East India Company, because of the strategic positions of the Ports of Sind had tried its hand as early as 1775 to open a factory out there. But they abandoned it in 1792.

In 1809, during the times of Lord Minto, an embassy was sent to these Amirs which resulted in the “Treaty of Eternal friendship” of 1809. Once becoming the friends of English, the Amirs stopped allowing French to the Ports of Sind. The British were able to renew this treaty in 1820 and now the foolish Amirs excluded the Americans also from Sind.

The story of winning Sind starts from a dispatch of Charles James Napier to Sind. Charles James Napier, a 60 year old British lion was appointed as Major General in the command of the army of the Bombay Presidency. By this time, Lord Auckland had been recalled and Lord Ellenborough, who loved military pomp, had his tastes gratified by sending him to “cure” the Muslim insurrections in this region. The loosely governed Sind, which was repeatedly targeted by the Sikhs in past, fell in the Battle of Miani & Battle of Dobo, wherein in which 3000 British troops defeated  12,000 Baluchis  in 1843 under Charles Napier.

The Amirs of Sind, their kith and kin were taken prisoners, and then these broken-hearted and miserable men were sent to Burma in exile. Whole of Sind was annexed to British Empire in 1843.

Napier’s sent a one word telegram which was a pun after this battle. The message in the telegram was a Latin word “peccavi means “I have sinned”. The meaning of this wordplay was “I have Sind”.

Succession of Lord Ellenborough and arrival of Sir Henry Hardinge 1844

In 1844 Lord Ellenborough was recalled by the court of directors. Actually, the Court of Directors differed from him on points of administration, and distrusted his erratic genius. He was succeeded by William Bird in 1844, who remained for a temporary time.

Finally in 1844 only a veteran soldier, Sir Henry Hardinge, who had entered the army in 1799, was sent to India as next Governor General of India.  This brave soldier had served England in the Peninsular War and the Waterloo campaign, and was knighted in 1815. It was felt in England that after overcoming all kinds of power in the region, the fall of a Great Sikh nation was near.

Successors of Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Maharaja Ranjit Singh died in 1839 and after that Sikhs started disintegrating. Lahore was torn by dissensions between rival princes, generals, ministers, and queens. These foolish successors ousted the skillful European generals, inducted by late Maharaja, from their commands in the Sikh army. The supreme military power of the time got vested in the Panchayats.

Maharaja was succeeded by his Son Kharak Singh, who was deposed within months of remaining in power. He was later poisoned to death and was replaced by his son Nihal Singh, who was also sent to hell by his close relatives, under mysterious circumstances.

Now the Panchayats had to play their roles. The Hindu Dogras and Sikh Sindhanwalias tried to place their own representatives on the throne. Thus one Raja Sher Singh came to power. But within months, he was murdered by his own cousin and the Dogras placed Jind Kaur, one of the widows of late Maharaja on the throne. But Jind Kaur ruled as a regent for his son Maharaja Duleep Singh, a young lad of 8-9 years, placed on the Throne of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Sikh Empire was very near to its end.

First Anglo Sikh War 1845-46

Meanwhile, the Sind was annexed and British were teaming with energy. They established a cantt. at Ferozpur. Amid accusations and mutual demands, the British Army invaded Punjab. The war was fought and victory was in the British side. The outcome of this war was a peace pact called Treaty of Lahore signed on March 9, 1846 between Lord Hardinge and 7 year old Maharaja Duleep Singh plus 7 members of the Lahore Durbar: –

  • Sikhs lost Jammu, Kashmir, Hazara and some territories in Jalandhar Doab.
  • Thus all claims south of Sutlej River were lost by Maharaja Duleep Singh.
  • 1.5 Crore was paid to the British as war indemnity.
  • The armies of the Punjab were now to be not more than 20000 horses.
  • King agreed that he would not appoint any European in service without the consent of the British.

The following people were recognized as masters of Punjab:

  • Maharaja Duleep Singh as King
  • Rani Jind Kaur as Regent
  • Lal Singh as Wazir.

A British resident was also kept at Lahore (Major Henry Lawrence).

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