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Would be interesting to know how the british imperialist colonialists treated the natives of punjab and how sikh raja's of nabha,faridkot,jind, patiala, karputala treated their subjects from eye witness accounts.
I been reading about how akali phoola singh was a fanatical strict sikh who lead equally fanatical akali nihung warriors who hated non-Sikh presence and interference in Sikh governance and lands captured by them. Such was their readiness, daring recklessness and desire for war against the enemies of Sikhs that they often defeated enemies many times their number and strength. Whereas maharajah ranjit singh was more strategically cunning, less about spreading Sikhi, more diplomatic and pluralistic in his approach in matters of religion and the political affairs of the state. Maharajah ranjit singh made treaties with the british invaders (east india company) in the vain hope that: 1) one day there will be a right time to militarily strike the Sikh princely states under british protectorate and unite the whole of punjab region under his rule 2) if that was not possible then the sutlej border between his government and them would be the permanment border and they will be allies in peace with each other. On the other hand akali phoola singh wanted to attack and wipe out the british presence in northern india. And I believe had he had got his way and the Khalsa army was put in his command then the british would have been wiped out within weeks therefore enabling the expansion of Sikh rule to be unchecked and unmatched meaning afghanistan and iran could have easily come under Sikh rule the ruler of persia at the time admitted as such when hearing of battles lead by general nawla and akali phoola singh. The regional powers of the time afghans, Marathas, mughuls were no match for the Sikhs. I believe it was some idle hesitancy of maharaja ranjit singh in not striking while the iron was hot and rather enjoying the good life without having secured his rule is what lead to the downfall of his legacy, the Sikh empire and overall Sikh sovereignty eventually because the British had always eyes on taking over punjab as they needed it in order to get to afghanistan and counter russian empires expansionist plans.
Brits would have lost to Sikhs, ‘but for treachery by 2 Gens’ William Dalrymple (right) speaks as (L-R) Amar Pal Sidhu, Mandeep Rai and Dr Sukhmani Riar look on at the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh on Saturday. TRIBUNE PHOTO: RAVI KUMAR Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service Chandigarh, December 9 Adept in Indo-British history, two leading historians today differed on what could have been the British Empire’s future after the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1846, but both agreed that the East India Company-led army had almost lost the war had the Sikhs — surprisingly or prompted by the treachery of two Generals — not surrendered. Speaking on ‘Anglo-Sikh wars’ at the Military Literature Festival here, London-based historian Amar Pal Sidhu argued: “The British lacked ammunition, had no water and were, thus, incapable of fighting. Then Governor General Lord Henry Hardinge was in the battlefield and he would have had to surrender. The entire British Raj could have collapsed.” Sidhu, who has authored separate books on the first and the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49), said: “Had the Sikh army not surrendered, the British Empire’s history in India would have been different. It would have been a seminal moment resembling the one at Waterloo (where Napoleon Bonaparte of France lost).” The treachery by Generals Tej Singh and Lal Singh changed the course of history. The two owed their positions to Maharani Jindan, one of the queens of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. “Punjab probably would have been united and would still be united,” said Sidhu. William Dalrymple, author of “Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan”, accepted that the military edge in the First Anglo-Sikh War was with the Sikhs. He, however, differed on the outcome of the British Empire had they (Sikhs) won the first war. “At that point, it was easy to defeat the Company-led army, though they could have used their backup of vast resources and men,” he averred. They had resources much bigger than Punjab’s. Between 1790 and the early 1800s, the company was earning hugely from Bengal. The private army of the East India Company was twice the size of the British army. Mandeep Rai, who was moderating the session, said: “Historians have not realised that had the Sikh army not surrendered, the Lahore durbar would have survived and the state of Pakistan would not have come into being.” Dr Sukhmani Riar, Professor of history at PU, asserted that “the creation of the Dogra state (now J&K) after the First Anglo-Sikh War was still a mystery. How the Sikh kingdom collapsed within a few years of the death of Ranjit Singh (in 1839) is a matter of study”. The First Anglo-Sikh War led to signing of the ‘Treaty of Umritsar’ (Amritsar) and carving out a separate Dogra kingdom. It meant partial subjugation. Three years later, the Second Anglo-Sikh War led to total defeat of the Sikh army and the subsequent collapse of the Sikh kingdom.