THE BRITISH AND DOGRAS PLAN SUBVERTION OF LAHORE KINGDOM
The proposals of Henry Lawrence at Peshawar to entice some Sikh Chiefs and the negotiations of Sir George Clerk at Lahore served a double purpose of the British. They secured active support of the Sikh Government for operations in Afghanistan and bound Gulab Singh and Avitabile to their own political interests in the Punjab. They also drove a wedge between the Ruler (Sher Singh) and his Chiefs. The seeds of division and dismemberment of the Lahore Kingdom were thus sown with the Dogras already dreaming of the accession of their family to the throne of Lahore. This ultimately led to the murder of Maharaja Sher Singh, his son Pratap Singh and Dhian Singh Dogra on the same day (September 15, 1843) at the hands of Sandhanwalia Sardars. According to Sita Ram Kohli's Sunset of the Sikh Empire (page-41) 'Dhian Singh was responsible for a policy whereby the more violent elements in the army, very often Sikhs, were transferred from important military stations to others where scope for making trouble was slighter, and of recruiting new men, mostly non-Sikhs, from Jammu and the other Punjab hills. Between the months of June 1841 and February 1842, some six thousand of these hillmen were formed into 8 battalions of infantry and 3 units of light artillery. This, very naturally, aroused suspicion of him, both as disciplinarian and a Dogra'. This version is also supported by Dr. Ganda Singh in his, Maharaja Duleep Singh, Correspondence, (pages 18--19), when he writes, This has been confirmed by the Memories of Alexander Gardner, edited by Major Hugh Pearse, 1898. Gardner was a confidant of Raja Dhian Singh who had given to him a wife out of his own house. Through her and living always among the Dogas he knew and had he and a great deal about the intrigues then afoot. According to his Memoirs, pp. 212-13
It is thus crystal clear that rather than resolve to try their hand at the British territory after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in June, 1839', Maharaja Sher Singh, true to the treaty of friendship with the British, provided 15,000 Darbar troops to avenge the Afghan treachery and to force open the Khyber pass at a time when their position in Afghanistan was critical, when they could not relieve their besieged personnel at various places in the Afghan heartland without the active support of the Sikhs and when the 'repute of European arms was deeply smitten and the massacre resounded throughout the peninsula'. It is equally clear that while receiving active support of Sikhs in men and material in 're-deeming their name', the British were simultaneously planning intrigues and treachery to subjugate the empire of their saviors (the Sikhs) in Afghanistan.
Let us quote a few authorities in this respect
(a) Henry Lawrence wrote to Mr. J.C. Marshman on April 11, 1842 . * Life of Henry Lawrence by Edwardes and Merivale, P. 363.
(b) Writing to Queen Victoria from Benares, on 21-4-1842 Governor General Ellenborough Said, . 1
(c) In the official notification of April 19, 1842, the Governor General wrote .2
(d) General Pollock, in his despatch of 14th September, says,
Life of Henry Lawrence, Edwardes and Merivale, p. 407.
(e) And when the Sikh contingent, after covering 14 miles of rough mountains through a very much narrower defile reached Lala Chand on 6-4-1842, an hour or two later than the British contingent, who had followed the shorter and easier route and covered only seven miles, the Sikhs were accused, for political reasons, of . asks Major General Sir Herbert Edwardes. he asks again. Perhaps yet another massacre and disaster of bigger dimension.
(f) Writing about the help and friendship for the British, Cunningham says Lord Ellenborough (Governor-General) was also desirous of an interview with Sher Singh, and as gratitude was uppermost for the time, and added a grace even to success, it was proposed to thank the Maharaja in person for the proofs which he had afforded of his continued friendship. History of The Sikhs, page 229.
From the above, the part played by the Sikh forces in the second expedition to Afghanistan in 1842, that is, three years after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in avenging the Afghan treachery, is clear. How, then, did the Sikhs encouraged by the news from Afghanistan (Massacre of 1841) and restless after the death of their great leader, Ranjit Singh, resolve to try their hand at the territory of the East India Company ?
On the other hand the British plans for the occupation of Punjab, were long since in their mind. Sir Henry Fane, the British Commander-in-Chief, came to Lahore in March 1837, to attend the marriage of Prince Nau Nihal Singh. Writing about him Captain J.D. Cunningham, the illustrious Historian, who had held several important political posts from 1838 to 1846 and who had remained in close contact with Punjab affairs and who later had to pay with his blood for writing History of the Sikhs, says (page 193), .
Mrs. Henry Lawrence wrote to Mrs. Cameran from Subathoo on 26-5-1941,
And again on June 5 she wrote
Henry Lawrence by Edwardes and Marivale, pp. 216-17. John Ludlow writes
(British India, ii. 1841).
Within few days of his appointment as Governor-General, Lord Ellenborough, wrote to Duke of Wellington on 15-10-1841 3
Four days later, he again wrote to, the Duke
The Duke, in reply referring to an advanced post at Rani-KePul, wrote on 2-4-1842
5Writing to Lord Fitzgerald on 6-4-1842, when the Sikhs were forcing open the most difficult Khyber Pass for the British during the period of their second expedition to Afghanistan, the Duke of Willington said:
The Governor General thereupon started preparations and informed the Duke on 7-6-1842
Lord Ellenborough encouraged the Sikhs to occupy Jalalabad at the time of second expedition to Afghanistan in 1842, to which the Sikhs were a party, with a view to placing them in difficult position between the British on the East and Afghans on the West. He wrote
8According to Cunningham9George Campbell says10Cunningham again says, who goaded them to move to the Sutlej evidently with the knowledge, if not under the instructions, of Major Broadfoot. This view receives considerable strength from the letter of Captain Peter Nicholson, the Political Assistant at Ferozepore, addressed to his chief Major Broadfoot on November 23, 184511
It is thus obvious that it were the British who had planned the subjugation of the Punjab during the life time of Ranjit Singh and who manoeuvred and precipitated the Punjab crisis, after his death.
And the plans for occupation of the Punjab were based more on treachery and intrigue rather than chivalry or force of arms. Raja Gulab Singh Dogra had been detailed by Maharaja Sher Singh to help the British in the second expedition to Afghanistan in 1842. Meeting him on the other side of the Indus it occurred to Henry Lawrence in January, 1842 that
He proposed Life of Sir Henry Lawrence by Major General Sir Herbert Edwardes. Having completed the design of putting the Maharaja and the Dogra Chiefs against each other,
Lord Ellenborough, wrote in his letter of 11-5-1843
On 12-8-1843 he again wrote
And yet again he wrote on 20-9-1843
14 Maharaja Sher Singh, his son prince Pratap Singh and even Dhian Singh Dogra were all murdered on 15-9-1843, and the news must have been on their way to Calcutta, when Ellenborough wrote his last letter on 20-9-1843.
Lord Ellenborough again wrote to the Duke of Willington on 20-10-1843
He however complained, . 15
Though otherwise determined to attack and annex Punjab the British were doubtful about their justification in doing so. Sir Henry Hardinge now Governor General of India wrote to Ellenborough on 23-1-45
Even five days after the declaration of war by the British, the Governor General was not convinced of its moral justification. Robert writes
December 18th I rode behind the Governor General and we sat under a tree to, await the infantry. The Governor General remarked : 17
But by now the die had been cast and they were already in the midst of a war with the Sikhs.
|Besides aid in the form of soldiers, the Lahore Darbar had helped General Pollock and Brigadier Wilde in procuring a large quantity of supplies, provisions and draught cattle one item of many being somewhat more than 17,000 camels Cunningham,p.249, footnote|
|Ganda Singh, The British Occupation of the Punjab, Sikh History Society, Amritsar-Patiala, 1955, p30.|
|2||Ganda Singh (Ed.), History of the Freedom Movement of the Punjab (Vol. III), Maharaja Duleep Singh Correspondence, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1977, p. 16.|
|3||Ganda Singh (Ed.), History of the Freedom Movement of the Punjab (Vol. III), Maharaja Duleep Singh Correspondence, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1977, p. 19.|
|4||Ganda Singh (Ed.), History of the Freedom Movement of the Punjab (Vol. III), Maharaja Duleep Singh Correspondence, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1977, p. 19.|
|5||Ganda Singh, The British Occupation of the Punjab, Sikh History Society, Amritsar-Patiala, 1955, p35.|
|6||Ganda Singh, The British Occupation of the Punjab, Sikh History Society, Amritsar-Patiala, 1955, p35-36.|
|7||Ganda Singh, The British Occupation of the Punjab, Sikh History Society, Amritsar-Patiala, 1955, p36.|
|8||Ganda Singh, The British Occupation of the Punjab, Sikh History Society, Amritsar-Patiala, 1955, p36-37.|
|9||J.D. Cunningham, A History of the Sikhs, Ed. H.L.O. Garrett, S. Chand and Co., Delhi, 1955; p. 255.|
|10||Ganda Singh, The British Occupation of the Punjab, Sikh History Society, Amritsar-Patiala, 1955, p. 68|
|11||ibid., p. 70.|
|12||ibid., p. 40.|
|13||ibid., p. 41.|
|14||ibid., p. 41.|
|15||ibid., p. 42.|
|16||ibid., p. 60.|
|17||ibid., p. 70.|
:Anglo-Sikh Wars and its Inside Tale - Karnail Singh