RANJIT SINGH (1792-1839)
- Ranjit Singh was born on 13th November, 1780, at Gujranwala. His father Mohan Singh was a brave leader of the Sukerchakia Misl.
- Mohan Singh’s father Charat Singh was a fearless fighter who had encountered Ahmed Shah Abdali several times successfully.
- Mohan Singh died in 1792. As a boy Ranjit Singh was brave and of strong determination. He took keen interest in practising arms, riding, hunting and manly sports He was short in size and a severe attack of small-pox deprived him of sight in the left eye.
- He remained illiterate though arrangements were made for his education. He was more interested in military exercises and field sports than in indoor study and literary pursuits.
- At the age of sixteen (in 1796) he was married to the daughter of the chief of the Kanchiya Misl of Batala.
- Ranjit Singh was very fortunate in having Rani Sada Kaur, a lady of great courage, intelligence and influence as his mother-in-law. She helped to enhance status and political strength of Ranjit Singh.
Conquest of Ranjit Singh
- Conquest of Lahore, 1799: People of Lahore were not satisfied with the rule of the Bhangi chiefs. They invited Ranjit Singh to rule over them. Saman Shah had already allowed Ranjit Singh to occupy Lahore. The joint armies of Ranjit Singh and Rani Sada Kaur attacked Lahore and it was conquered without much resistance. Ranjit Singh made Lahore his capital.
- Battle of Bhasin, 1800: Bhangi chiefs of Lahore, Nizam-ud-Din, Nawab of Kasur, Sahib Singh of Gujarat and the Ramgarhia sardars felt jealous of the growing power of Ranjit Singh and forrned a coalition against him. They met at Bhasin where they hatched a conspiracy to invite Ranjit Singh and murder him there. Coming to know of this Ranjit Singh reached Bhasin with his force. No regular battle was fought at Bhasin. In the irregular fighting Ranjit Singh defeated his enemies.
- Conquest of Gujarat, 1804: Sahib Singh of Gujarat was attacked and defeated for his joining the coalition that was formed against Ranjit Singh at Bhasin.
- Conquest of Amritsar, 1805: The Bhangi chief Gulab Singh refused to hand over the famous zamzama gun to Ranjit Singh. The fort and city were soon conquered by Ranjit Singh. He made Amritsar his religious capital.
- Cis-Sutlej Expeditions, 18061809: Ranjit Singh crossed the Sutlej in response to an invitation sent to him by the Sikh chiefs to settle their quarrel. He captured several places and compelled the chief of Patiala and other chiefs to recognise him as their overlord and pay him tributes. The Sikh rulers were alarmed at this and they applied to the British Government for protection. The Treaty of Amritsar was signed in 1806 by which Sutlej was made the boundary line of Ranjit Singh’s territory.
Battle of Rahon, 1807: When Tara Singh Gheba, the ruler of Dallewala Misl, died in 1807, Ranjit Singh attacked his estates. His widow resisted at Rahon but she was defeated.
Conquest of Kasur, 1807: Qutabud-Din refused to accept Ranjit Singh as his overlord. He was attacked and finally subdued. Kasur was annexed.
Conquest of Jhang, 1807: Ranjit Singh asked Ahmad Khan, the chief of Jhang and Chiniot, to recognise him as his overlord, but he refused. His territory was conquered and annexed.
Conquest of Kangra, 1809-11: Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra was attacked by the Gurkhas. He sought the help of Ranjit Singh. The Sikh forces drove away the Gurkhas and occupied the fort of Kangra.
Conquest of Attock and Battle of Hazro, 1813: Fateh Khan and Sikh forces made a joint invasion on Kashmir but the former proved false to Ranjit Singh by leaving the Sikh forces behind and conquering the valley of Kashmir single-handed. He gave no share to Ranjit Singh in the plunder and territory. Ranjit Singh resolved to make up this loss by occupying Attock. The Sikh army soon took the fort of Attock. Hearing of the fall of Attock, Fateh Khan sent his forces from Kashmir. A severe battle was fought at Hazro in which the Afghan army was defeated.
Conquest of Multan, 1818:During 1802-17 Ranjit Singh sent five expeditions against Multan and the Maharaja was contended with receiving tributes. Nawab Muzaffar Khan of Multan was irregular in the payment of tribute. At last Ranjit Singh decided to conquer Multan. Misl Diwan Chand was sent as the head of an army of 25,000 men and after a desperate fight the Nawab’s forces were defeated and Multan was annexed. The conquest added to the influence, territory and revenue of the Maharaja.
Conquest of Kashmir, Battle of Supin, 1819: In the first Sikh expedition (1810) Fateh Khan proved false to Ranjit Singh. In the second expedition (1814) Sikh forces were defeated by the Kashmir Governor, Azim Khan. The conquest of Multan (1818) had created fresh confidence and courage in the Sikh army. In 1819 Ranjit Singh resolved to conquer Kashmir. The invading army was sent in three parts.
- Treaty of Purander (1665): Signed by Shivaji with Jai Singh after Jai Singh closely besieged Purandar, fort of Shivaji.
- Treaty of 1719: Signed by Hussain Ali in the capacity of Mir Bakshi of the Mughal emperor with Shahu.
- Treaty of Warna (1731: Shambhaji accepted the position of a vassal of Shahu.
- Convention of Duraha Sarai (1738): Signed when the Nizam sued for peace after defeat at the Battle of Bhopal (1737).
- Sangola Agreement (1750): Henceforth the Maratha king became the Mayor of the Palace and the Peshwa emerged as the real head of Maratha Confederacy.
- Treaty of Alinagar (February 1757): The nawab of Bengal made peace with Clive restoring to the English their previous privileges (Calcutta was renamed Alinagar after Siraj-ud-daula captured it).
- Treaty of Allahabad (1765): Concluded between Clive and Shuja-ud-daula the nawab wazir of Avadh.
- Treaty of Banaras (1773): Between Hastings and nawab of Avadh. Allahabad was handed over to nawab.
- Treaty of Surat (1775): Signed by Raghunath Rao with the Bombay Government in the hope of help of English subsidiary troops in his fight for Peshwaship.
- Treaty of Bassein (1802): Signed by Baji Rao II with the English subsidiary troops in his fight for Peshwaship.
- Treaty of Deogaon (1803): Bhonsle ceded some territory and aceepted British Resident.
- Treaty of Surji-Arjangaon (1803): Sindhi aceded some portion of his kingdom and accepted a British Resident.
- Treaty of Rajpurghat (1805): Holkar gave up claims on the areas of company’s allies.
- Treaty of Amritsar (1809): Between Ranjit Singh and the English Company which fixed the river Sutlej as the boundary of Ranjit Singh’s authority.
The Sikh army defeated the Afghans at the Battle of Supin (1819) and Kashmir became a part of the Maharaja’s territory.
Conquest of Hazara, 1819: Hazara formed part of Kashmir province but it refused to recognise the overlordship of Ranjit Singh. Hazara was occupied without much opposition.
Conquest of Derajat and Bannu, 1820-21: Dera Ghazi Khan which was a dependency of Kabul was conquered by the Sikh army in 1820 and given to nawab of Bahawalpur in return for a considerable yearly rent. Mankera was besieged in 1821. The nawab of Mankera was defeated and he had to surrender Mankera and also his estates of Dera Ismail Khan Bannu, Tonk, Bhakkar, etc.
Conquest of Peshawar, 1834: Conquest of Peshawar occupies a place of great prominence among the conquests and annexations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
First Expedition to Peshawar, 1818: Murder of Wazir Fateh Khan at Kabul created disturbances. Ranjit Singh took advantage of this chaos and sent his forces against Peshawar. Peshawar was conquered and Dost Muhammad was appointed its Governor.
Battle of Nowshera, 1823: Five years later Mohammad Azim, wazir of Kabul, regained Peshawar. The Sikh forces defeated Pathan Ghazis in the Battle of Nowshera of Tibba Tehri (1833). Peshawar was again in the possession of Ranjit Singh.
Battle of Saidu, 1827: Sayid Ahmad, a Muslim fanatic drove away the Sikhs from the North-West Frontier regions. Hari Singh Nalwa defeated the Afghan forces at Saidu and Peshawar was reoccupied by the Sikhs.
Peshawar Annexed, 1834: A quarrel arose out between Shah Shuja and Dost Mohammad for the throne of Kabul. Ranjit Singh thought it wise to annex Peshawar to his dominions. Sultan Mohammed, the Governor of Peshawar, a nominee of the Lahore Darbar, was driven out and Peshwar was annexed.
Conquest of Ladakh, 1836: The valley of Kashmir was not secure without the possession of Ladakh. Zorawar Singh defeated the forces of Ladakh at Iskardu.
Battle of Jamrud, 1837: After Peshawar the Sikh forces captured the fort of Jamrud, a palace of great strategic importance. Dost Mohammad of Kabul tried to regain Peshawar and Jamrud. A hard contested battle was fought in which Hari Singh Nalwa was killed but the Afghans were driven back and Jamrud remained a Sikh possession.
Period of Unfriendly Anglo-sikh Relations
- In 1834 a Sind tribe attacked the Sikh territory and occupied one of their outposts. Ranjit Singh at once invaded Sind and captured Shikarpur.
- Shikarpur was a rich and beautiful city and had great strategical importance being a key of the Bolan Pass and hence the nearest place from which Kandhar and Ghazni could be attacked.
- At this juncture Captain Wade reached Shikarpur as the head of an army and ordered the Sikh chiefs to withdraw their forces from the city.
- The Maharaja, as usual, thought it advisable to comply with the wishes of Captain Wade.
- The withdrawal of the Sikh forces from Shikarpur at the wish of the British Government gave the Sikhs a serious cause of offence.
- The British Govemment, however, caused a still great offence to the Sikhs by occupying Ferozepur in 1835, a part of the Sikh territory and an important place from strategic point of view. The British had occupied it without any justification and thus took the most undue advantage of the lenient and peaceful attitude of the Maharaja who wanted to abide honestly by the treaties of friendship made between him and the British Government.
- In 1838 the British Government made Ferozepur a military cantonment.
The Tripartite Treaty or the Triple Alliance
- The British Government wanted Ranjit Singh to join the war against Afghanistan. Ranjit Singh at first refused to join the Triple Alliance for he could see no personal gain in the restoration of Shah Shuja.
- Moreover, his restoration would strengthen the hands of the British whom Ranjit Singh looked upon with distrust and suspicion.
- But Ranjit Singh was forced and it was much against his will that he joined the Triple Alliance to help Shah Shuja re-establish himself at Kabul. He died on 27th June 1839.