Essay on the British Annexation of Punjab and Lower Burma

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The second Anglo-Sikh war and the Annexation of Punjab:

The defeat of the Sikh army in the first Anglo-Sikh war of 1845 did not extinct their national aspirations and they justly attributed their humiliation to the treachery of their leaders. The removal of the Queen mother, Rani Jhindan from Lahore on a charge of conspiracy against the British Resident, added to their discontent. Another trial of strength between the Sikhs and their British adversaries was inevitable. The immediate occasion was provided by an incident in the city of Multan.

The revolt of Mul Raj, the Governor of Multan, had created a serious situation. Two British officers, Vans Agnew and Lieutenant Anderson had been murdered by Multan sepoys. The Multan revolt soon assumed the nature of a Sikh national movement under the leadership of Sher Singh and the inevitable second Anglo-Sikh war began. The Sikhs had won over their old their old foes, the Afghans, to their cause by the cession of Peshawar.

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Lord Dalhousie resolved to meet openly Sikh national challenge. On November 16, 1848 the British armies under Lord Gough crossed the Ravi and bloody encounters were fought at Ramnagar, Chilianwala and Gujarat. The Sikhs suffered immense losses and their defeat was complete, leaving no chance of further resistance. It was no longer possible for the Sikhs to preserve their independence. On 30 March, 1849, Lord Dalhousie by a proclamation annexed Punjab to the British Empire.

The deposed Raja Dalip Singh was sent to England for education and the famous diamond Kohinoor was taken away from him and presented to Queen Victoria. Politically, the annexation of Punjab was expedient and beneficial for the British. It carried the British frontiers to its natural boundaries and placed the famous passes of North-West under the protection of the British.

Annexation of Pegu or Lower Burma:

After the first Anglo-Burmese war, the Treaty of Yandaboo of 1826 enabled a large number of British merchants to settle on the southern coast of Burma and Rangoon. These British merchants often complained of ill treatment at the hands of the Governor of Rangoon.

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The British merchants sent a petition to Lord Dalhousie which provided the desired opportunity. Lord Dalhousie deputed commodore Lambert with three battle ships to negotiate for redress of grievances and demand compensation dispatch of worships for purposes of negotiating peace was an unusual measure denoting that the issue would Bengal settled by sword rather than by negotiations.

Lambert adopted a very provocative line of action and ordered for blockade of the port of Rangoon. War ensured in which the Burmese were defeated and Dalhousie issued a proclamation on December 20, 1852 annexing Peg. The second Anglo-Burmese war was neither just in its origin nor marked by strict equity in its conduct. Dalhousie justified it by saying that “it was demanded by sound views of general policy.”

The policy of annexations pursued by Dalhousie for the expansion of British Empire credited him as the maker of British Empire in India. The work which was inaugurated by Clive was completed by him. During his regime, the British power reached its climax.

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