The Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49) took place between the British and the Sikh Empire. The war resulted into decisive victory of the British. The British took control over Punjab and later made it the North West Frontier Province.
Why the Second Anglo Sikh War did take place?
Even after the completion of the First Anglo-Sikh War, the Sikhs were simmering with discontent. The humiliating terms of the treaty of Lahore was matter of great anguish for the Sikh people. The deliberate elimination of Rani Jindan from the Regency Council dissatisfied the Sikhs. A few days later, her forcible removal from Lahore added to their discontent. Moreover, the reforms of Sir Henry Lawrence the British Resident of Lahore also annoyed the Sikhs.
The Second Anglo-Sikh War became imminent. The English were even then confused against whom they were to fight. In fact, neither the Lahore Durbar, nor Dalip Singh did oppose the English. The hostility came from Mulraj and Sher Singh. The reason behind Mulraj’s revolt against the Lahore Durbar was that he was instructed to submit the accounts of Multan’s income and expenditure during the last ten years to the Lahore Durbar. But Mulraj refused to submit the accounts as he was appointed the Governor of Multan only four years back. Moreover, being pressed by the English, the Lahore Durbar increased the revenue demand of Multan from Rs. 12 lakhs to Rs. 18 lakhs. So Mulraj had every reason to be unhappy with the activities of the Lahore Durbar. At this stage, Sher Singh realised that the English planned to annex the entire Punjab, using the revolt of Mulraj as a pretext. So he appealed to the Sikh leaders to drive the English away from the Punjab as revenge against the humiliation suffered by Rani Jindan and to support Mulraj.
The Battle and its Results
Capitalizing the situation emerging out of the revolt of Mulraj, the new English Governor General, Lord Dalhousie declared war against the Punjab on 10 October, 1848. On 16 October, under the leadership of General Gough, the English forces crossed the river Ravi. Two bloody battles took place at Ramnagar and Chilianwalia. Both the battles proved very expensive for the English, but their success against the Sikh power was not absolute.
Then in the battle of Gujarat the English forces completely routed the Sikhs. On 12 March, 1849, the Sikhs unconditionally surrendered to the English. On 29 March, 1849, the Treaty of Lahore was signed. The English East India Company annexed the Punjab against an annual pension to Dalip Singh.
The English conquest of the Punjab, like their annexation of Mysore and the Maratha kingdom, also exposed the true facade of the British imperialism.