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Consolidation of British Power

  • To consolidate its power, the British completed the task of conquering the whole of India from 1818 to 1857.
  • Conquest of Sindh
  • The conquest of Sindh occurred as a result of the growing Anglo-Russian rivalry in Europe and Asia and the consequent British fears that Russia might attack India through Afghanistan or Persia.
  • To counter Russia, the British Government decided to increase its influence in Afghanistan and Persia.
  • It further felt that this policy could be success, fully pursued only if Sindh was brought trader British control.
  • The commercial possibilities of the river Sindh were an additional attraction.
  • The roads and rivers of Sindh were opened to British trade by a treaty in 1832.
  • The chiefs of Sindh, known as Amirs were forced to sign a Subsidiary Treaty in 1839.
  • And finally, in spite of previous assurances that its territorial integrity would be respected, Sindh was annexed in 1843 after a brief campaign by Sir Charles Napier.
  • Conquest of Punjab
  • The death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in June 1839 was followed by political instability and rapid changes 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 indiscipline army.
  • The political instability in Punjab led the British to look greedily across the Sutlej upon the land of the five rivers even though they had signed a treaty of perpetual friendship with Ranjit Singh in 1809.
  • The British officials increasingly talked of having to wage a campaign in the Punjab.
  • The Punjab army let itself be provoked by the warlike actions of the British and their intrigues with the corrupt chiefs of the Punjab.
  • In November 1844, Major Broadfoot, who was known to be hostile to the Sikhs, was appointed the British agent in Ludhiana.
  • Broadfoot repeatedly indulged in hostile actions and gave provocations.
  • The corrupt chiefs and officials found that the army would sooner or later deprive them of their power, position, and possessions.
  • Therefore, they conceived the idea of saving themselves by embroiling the army in a war with the British.
  • In the autumn of 1845, news reached that boats designed to form bridges had been dispatched from Bombay to Ferozepur on the Sutlej.
  • The Punjab Army, now convinced that the British were determined to occupy the Punjab, took counter measures.
  • When it heard in December that Lord Gough, the Commander-in-Chief, and Lord Harding, the Governor-General, were marching towards Ferozepur, the Punjab army decided to strike.
  • The war between the two was thus declared on 13 December 1845.
  • The danger from the foreigner immediately united the Hindus, the Muslims, and the Sikhs.
  • The Punjab army fought heroically and with exemplary courage.
  • But some of its leaders had already turned traitors.
  • The Prime Minister, Raja Lal Singh, and the Commander-in-Chief, Misar Tej Singh, were secretly corresponding with the enemy.
  • The Punjab Army was forced to concede defeat and to sign the humiliating Treaty of Lahore on 8 March 1846.
  • The British annexed the Jalandhar Doab and handed over Jammu and Kashmir to Raja Gulab Singh Dogra for a cash payment of five million rupees.
  • The Punjab army was reduced to 20,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalries and a strong British force was stationed at Lahore.
  • Later, on 16 December 1846, another treaty was signed giving the British Resident at Lahore full authority on over all matters in every department of the state.
  • Moreover, the British were permitted to station their troops in any part of the state.
  • In 1848, freedom loving Punjabis rose up in through numerous local revolts.
  • Two of the prominent revolts were led by Mulraj at Multan and Chattar Singh Attariwala near Lahore.
  • The Punjabis were once again decisively defeated.
  • Lord Dalhousie seized this opportunity to annex the Punjab.
  • Thus, the last independent state of India was absorbed in the British Empire of India.

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