The Sikh community has always been the most loyal guards of their motherland. Their battle against the Britishers is not limited to the Anglo-Sikh war. Out of 121 patriots hanged in British-ruled India, 93 were Sikhs. Unfortunately, in the Anglo-Sikh battle, the bravery and patriotism of the Sikhs fell short to the well-established British troops.
Ranjit Singh, a great king, had brought together many smaller Sikh tribes into one big kingdom. After his death, that kingdom fell apart. The power struggle to be the next king was on. The East India Company had sensed the vulnerability and set up tents near Punjab’s border. The East India Company looked upon Punjab as a flock of vultures looked upon dying animals.
Panicked by the presence of British soldiers, the Sikhs rallied behind a makeshift military general. They crossed the river Sutlej, which by a treaty between Ranjit Singh and the British was the border between the two. This action gave a clear motive for the Britishers to attack.
Unfortunately, the military general Lal Singh and Tez Singh were sold out to the British empire. They were constantly giving information to the British. The Sikhs lost five battles at five different fonts. Lahore, the capital of the Sikh Empire was lost too.
The Sikh army surrendered and the treaty of Lahore was signed. According to this treaty, some tactically valuable places were given to the Britishers. The British also imposed a debt of 1.5 million rupees as war reparations. Failing to pay the price, Sikhs have to give up a major part of their land near Jammu to Gulab Singh. Gulab Singh was an ally of the East India Company.
The British also constructed a residential fort in Lahore. And finally, they made the infant Dulip Singh the new king of Punjab.
The Sikhs were angry with the treaty. The conditions were very one-sided. With Dulip Singh as the King, the Sikh army was like a body without its head. They still have a large army but no one to lead it. The presence of the British in the Lahore Fort was a constant reminder of their loss, salt to the wound.
The second war started when the governor of Multan, Mulraj killed a British officer. The East India Company sent a local general Sher Singh to capture Mulraj. But to their surprise, Mulraj convinced Sher Singh to join the fight against the company.
Three battles took place in the second Anglo-Sikh war. The battle of Ramnagar was won by the Sikhs. But unfortunately, the battle of Chillianwala and Gujarat was lost. And so was every hope of further revival. Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India took the matters into his own hands.
Nihangs, the finest Sikh warriors were persecuted in large numbers, a lot of religious places were destroyed, Sikhs were distributed throughout India as British Police. Dalhousie made sure that the Sikh empire never stands on its own again. Furthermore, he put three British governors in charge of the area.
Sikhs, though far from their motherland, kept fighting against the British Empire. The stories of their heroism kept sprouting from different parts of India.
Keeping the loss aside, the British historians wrote a lot in praise of the Sikh army. From the sheer size of their men to the extraordinary valor they possessed. Impressed by the Sikhs, the British made sure to include Sikh soldiers in their own ranks and hence the British Sikh regiment came into existence in 1846.