After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, his successors proved to be weak and incapable administrator. Due to their weak administration, factionalism broke out in the Lahore state. The Britishers took advantage of it and fought two anglo-sikh wars. The first Anglo-Sikh war took place in 1845-46 A.D.
The following are the causes behind the outbreak of First Anglo-Sikh War :
1.The British Policy of Encirclement of Lahore Lahore Kingdom :
The British began the siege of Lahore state during the period of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. With this objective, they captured Ferozepur in 1835 A.D. In 1838 A.D., they established a military cantonment there. The Maharaja objected to this policy of the Britishers. Even the sardars of Lahore darbar opposed to this policy openly.
2.Anarchy and Revolts in Punjab after Ranjit Singh :
After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, restlessness and anarchy prevailed. It was so because his successors Kharak Singh, Naunihal Singh, Rani Jindan Kaur, and Sher Singh proved to be weak and feeble rulers. Due to their weakness, the sardars in the darbar began to conspire against each other. The Britishers wanted to take advantage of this situation.
3.Disastrous Failure of the British in the First Afghan War :
After the end of first Anglo-Afghan war in November, 1841 A.D, the Afghans revolted against the British under the leadership of Mohammad Akbar Khan, son of Dost Khan. The Britishers were unsuccessful in suppressing the rebels. The British Commanders Burns and Maccnatan were killed. With the failure of the Britishers,the Sikhs were inspired to fight a war against the Britishers.
4.Annexation of Sindh by the British:
After the end of the Afghan war, Ellenborough decided to annexe Sindh. Although the Amirs of Sindh had always been sincere with the Britishers, even then on the direction of Ellenborough, Charles Napier levelled charges on the Amirs of Sindh and declared war against them. After defeating the Amirs, he annexed the province of Sindh in March, 1843. The Sikhs were convinced that the Britishers wanted to occupy Punjab and that is why they had surrounded Punjab.
5.Ellenbourough's Plan to Conquer Punjab :
After annexing Sindh and Kaithal in British Empire and weakening the power of Gwalior, Ellenborough made a plan to capture Punjab. He started military preparations to materialize this plan. The Sikhs also started preparations for war when they came to know about It.
6.Appointment of Lord Hardinge As Governor General :
In July, 1844 A.D., Lord Hardinge was appointed Governor General of India in place of lard Elienborough. Hardinge was a famous commander. With his appointment, the Sikhs became suspicious that Ellenborough has been deliberately called back to London and in his place a famous commander has been sent to India so that he can successfully fight with Me Sikhs.
7.Military Preparations of the British :
Following the policy of Ellentorough, Lord Harding continued military preparations to fight against the Sikhs. He increased the number of soldiers and cannons on the boundaries of Punjab. To make a bridge of Thaw over the river Satluj, the boats were built in Mumbai (Bombay). The military preparations made by the British proved that they did not want to fight a defensive war, rather an ofaznsive war with the Sikhs.
8.The Question of Suchet Singh's Treasure :
The Dogra chief Suchet Singh was in the service of Lahore Durbar. In 1844 A.D., he died and left a treasure of Rs. 15 lakhs at Feroaepur. Since Suchet Singh had no son, the Lahore Government asserted Its right over the treasure. But the Britishers wanted to settle the claim through court. This made the Sikhs suspicious of the British intentions.
9.Disagreement Over the Village Mowran :
Village Mowran was situated in Nabha state. This village was given to Maharaja Ranjit Singh by Jaswant Singh, the ruler of Nabha.The Maharaja gave this village to Dhanna Singh.In 1843 AD, the ruler of Nabha, Devendra Singh became angry with Dhanna Singh. He took back village Mowran from Dhanna Singh. The Lahore Government opposed it but the BrItishers favoured the ruler of Nabha who was under their protection. The Sikhs did not like this act.
10.Measures taken by Broadfoot Against the Sikhs :
In November, 1844 A.D, Major Broadfoot was appointed representative of British at Ludhiana. He hated the Sikhs. His action against the Sikhs irritated the Sikh community and they got agitated against the Britishers.
11.Instigation of the Sikh Army by Lal Singh and Tej Singh :
In September 1845 A.D, Lal Singh became the Prime Minister of Lahore Kingdom. Tej Singh was appointed the chief of the army. By that time,the power of Sikh army had increased manifold. All the important decisions of the Kingdom were taken by the army. Lal Singh and Tej Singh were scared of the army. Secretly, both the sardars joined the British Government. In order to weaken the Sikh army they instigated it against the Britishers
Declaration of War by Governor General : The above causes clarify that the Britishers wanted to fight against the Sikhs. On December 13,1845, Governor General lord Hardinge declared first anglo-sikh war against the Sikhs.
Results/Treaty of Lahore (9 March, 1846) after First Anglo-Sikh War:
- The Sikhs were defeated in the First Anglo-Sikh War and were compelled to sign the Treaty of Lahore in 1846.
- A large part of the Sikh territories, including the fertile stretch of the Doab region of Jalandhar, came under the control of the Company.
- The region of Kashmir was sold off to the Dogra chief Gulab Singh.
- The Sikh army had to be drastically reduced.
- A British Resident had to be instated at the Lahore court and a big British force was also stationed in Punjab.
- Rani Jindan was removed according to another treaty concluded in 1846. The British Resident was handed over full responsibility of the administration of Punjab and was officiated as the trustee of the Maharaja Dalip Singh.