Anglo Sikh War | First Anglo Sikh War (1845-1846) | Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-1849)


 Anglo Sikh War was a series of several wars and conflicts between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company in the mid-19th century. These wars composed an important chapter in the history of the Indian subcontinent, which shaped the political scenario of Punjab and eventually moved towards the British Crown's merger. 

The basic causes of Anglo Sikh Wars can be addressed by expanding policies of Sikh Empire under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who established a formidable empire in Punjab region. However, after his death in 1839, internal discorded and succession disputes weakened the Sikh state, which has the opportunity for British intervention.

Anglo Sikh War

First Anglo Sikh War (1845-1846) Flare due to British concerns on regional disputes and Sikh extensionism. Despite the initial Sikh successes, the struggle ended with the treaty of Lahore, which handed the important areas to the British and huge financial punishment on the Sikh Empire. 

The Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-1849) started with the desire to reset the continuous resistance and lost areas of Sikhs. Inspired by the better military technique and strategic alliances, the British defeated the Sikh army decisively, resulting in Punjab and Sikh sovereignty ended. 

Anglo Sikh Wars not only gave a new form of the political mobility of the Indian subcontinent, but also paved the path of British dominance in this area, which prepared a platform for the Indian rebellion and ultimately British rule after 1857. Let's understand these Anglo Sikh wars in a serial manner-

First Anglo Sikh War (1845 AD to 1846 AD)

The first Anglo Sikh war was the result of the ambition of Queen Jindan. Major Brandfoot instigated Lal Singh and Teja Singh of the Sikh army against the British. The Khalsa gave permission to the Sikh army to attack.

Thus, four consecutive battles took place between the British and the Sikh army. These four battles were Mudki (18 September, 1845 AD), Ferozshah (21 December, 1845 AD), Bahowal and Aliwal (28 January, 1846 AD) which were not decisive.

Only the fifth battle of Sabraon (10 February, 1846 AD) proved to be decisive. The main reason for the defeat of the Sikhs in these wars was the betrayal of Lal Singh and Teja Singh. The Sikhs were completely defeated.  The British army captured Lahore on 20 February 1846 and forced the Sikhs to sign the Treaty of Lahore on 9 March 1846. 

Read also : Battle of Buxar (1864)

Treaty of Lahore (9 March, 1846)

The main conditions of this treaty were as follows-

(1) The Maharaja left all his territories beyond the Sutlej forever.

(2) The Maharaja completely gave up his rights over all the forts situated between the Sutlej and Beas rivers, the Company took over these.

(3) The Sikhs had to pay Rs. 1 crore as war fine. Out of which they paid Rs. 50 lakhs from their anger and in return for the rest, they handed over the mountainous region between the Beas and Sindh rivers, which also included the provinces of Kashmir and Hazara, to the British. The British sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh in return for Rs. 1 crore.

(4) The number of Sikh soldiers was limited to 12 thousand horsemen and 20 thousand infantrymen.

(5) Minor Dilip Singh was accepted as the Maharaja. Rani Jindan was accepted as his guardian and Lal Singh was accepted as his minister. 

 (6) An English Resident was appointed in Lahore for one year under the leadership of Henry Lawrence. He promised not to interfere in the internal administration of Punjab.

(7) The king was not allowed to keep any European or American person in his service without the permission of the company. The English army was freely allowed to pass through the Sikh state.

Two days later, on 11 March, a supplementary treaty was signed. According to this, on the request of Wazir Lal Singh etc., the English army would remain in Lahore till the end of 1846 AD so that it could protect the people of Lahore and the Maharaja.

The Sikhs did not like the sale of Kashmir to Gulab Singh. Therefore, the Sikhs revolted under the leadership of Lal Singh. The revolt was suppressed and the Treaty of Bhairowal was again signed with Dilip Singh.

Treaty of Bhairowal (22 December, 1846 AD)

The main conditions of this treaty were as follows-

(1) The protectorate of Jindan was abolished and an annual pension of Rs. 112 lakhs was given to him.

(2) A council of eight Sikh chieftains was appointed for the work of governance under the chairmanship of the English Resident.

(3) The presence of a permanent English army in Lahore was approved, the cost of which was to be paid by Dilip Singh at Rs. 22 lakhs per year.  This arrangement was to continue till Dilip Singh became an adult, but even before that, during the time of Dalhousie, the Sikhs and the British came face to face. This resulted in the Second Anglo-Sikh War.

Read Also : Rise of Regional States during 18th Century 

Second Anglo Sikh War (1848 to 1849)

After the defeat in the first war, the Sikh army wanted to re-establish the Khalsa power. The Sikhs were opposed to Dalhousie's imperialist policy. The British treated Rani Jindan very badly. According to the Treaty of Bhairowal, she was to be given an annual pension of Rs 1 lakh, which was reduced to only Rs 48,000 annually. Not only this, many of her jewellery were taken away and spies were put on them and they were sent to Sheikhpura. The Sikhs and the public revolted because the British deposed Multan's governor Mulraj. Therefore, Dalhousie took an excuse and declared war. There were a total of three wars in this.

(1) Battle of Ramnagar (22 November, 1848)

In this war, the British army under the leadership of General Gough crossed the Ravi river and fought an inconclusive war at the place of Ramnagar.

 (2) Battle of Chillianwala (13 January, 1849)

Another indecisive battle was fought at Chillianwala under the leadership of Gough, but the British suffered heavy losses in this battle.

(3) Battle of Gujarat (21 February, 1849)

In place of Gough, the leadership of the army was now handed over to Charles Napier. He defeated the Sikhs in a cannon battle and the Sikh army surrendered. On 29 March, 1849, Dalhousie annexed the Sikh kingdom to the British kingdom. Maharaja Dilip Singh was given an annual pension of five lakh rupees and sent to England to get education. There he embraced Christianity and lived as a landlord in Norfolk for some time. Later he returned to Punjab and accepted his religion. The Kohinoor diamond was taken from Dilip Singh and placed in the British crown.

The administrative system of Punjab was handed over to a committee of three members.  Henry Lawrence had to look after the administrative system. John Lawrence was made the head of land revenue management and Khars Masal was made the head of the justice department. In this way, Punjab state became a part of the British Empire. 

Conclusion : 

Anglo Sikh Wars changed deeply to the direction of history in the Indian subcontinent, the end of Sikh sovereignty and British dominance started in Punjab. 

These conflicts gave new shape to political boundaries, resulting in the Punjab region by the British Crown. He highlighted the inequalities in military techniques and strategic alliances among the Sikh Empire and British East India Company. 

Ultimately, the Anglo Sikh Wars not only paved the path of British rule in India, but also left a permanent impact on cultural, social and political taunts of this region, which has shaped its trajectory for the coming years.

MCQs on Anglo Sikh War

1. What was the primary cause of the Anglo Sikh Wars?

a) Religious conflicts

b) Territorial disputes

c) Economic disagreements

d) Cultural differences

2. Who was the ruler of the Sikh Empire during the First Anglo-Sikh War?

a) Maharaja Ranjit Singh

b) Maharaja Sher Singh

c) Maharaja Duleep Singh

d) Maharaja Gulab Singh

3. When did the First Anglo-Sikh War take place?

a) 1839-1842

b) 1845-1846

c) 1848-1849

d) 1857-1858

4. Which treaty marked the end of the First Anglo-Sikh War?

a) Treaty of Amritsar

b) Treaty of Lahore

c) Treaty of Versailles

d) Treaty of Delhi

5. Who led the British forces during the Second Anglo-Sikh War?

a) Lord Dalhousie

b) Sir Henry Lawrence

c) Lord Hardinge

d) Lord Gough

6. Which decisive battle concluded the Second Anglo-Sikh War?

a) Battle of Sobraon

b) Battle of Chillianwala

c) Battle of Mudki

d) Battle of Ferozeshah

7. What was the outcome of the Second Anglo-Sikh War?

a) Sikh victory

b) British victory

c) Truce

d) Stalemate

8. Who became the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire after the Anglo-Sikh Wars?

a) Maharaja Ranjit Singh

b) Maharaja Sher Singh

c) Maharaja Duleep Singh

d) Maharaja Gulab Singh

9. What was the ultimate consequence of the Anglo-Sikh Wars for the Sikh Empire?

a) Expansion

b) Annexation

c) Independence

d) Liberation

10. Which event followed the Anglo-Sikh Wars, leading to the direct rule of India by the British Crown?

a) Indian Rebellion of 1857

b) Sepoy Mutiny

c) Partition of Bengal

d) Swadeshi Movement

Answers : {1- b; 2- b; 3- b; 4- b; 5- d; 6- a; 7- b; 8- c; 9- b; 10- a}.

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