Treaty of Amritsar, Tragedy of 19th Century

10 Mar


By Tariq Rizwan


A treaty was signed on 16 March 1846 between the British East India Company and Gulab Singh Dogra after the First Anglo-Sikh War to decide the future of serene kashmir Valley and its Muslim population. This is called “The Treaty of Amritsar”. Earlier, arrangements were made in the Treaty of Lahore . Gulab Singh acquired “all the hilly or mountainous state along with its dependencies, eastward of the River Indus and the westward of the River Ravi including Chamba. While Lahul, being part of the territories ceded to the British Government. G. Singh was to pay 75 lakhs (7.5 million) of Nanak Shahi rupees (the ruling currency of the Sikh Empire) to the British Government apart from other annual tributes. It was the beginning of Dogra rule in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.


The British Government having demanded from the Lahore State, as indemnification for the expenses of the war, payment of 15 million of rupees (nanakshahi currency); and the Lahore Government being unable to pay the whole of this sum at this time, or to give security satisfactory to the British Government for its eventual payment; the Maharaja ceded to the Honorable Company, in perpetual sovereignty, as equivalent for 10 million rupees, all his forts, territories, rights, and interests, situated between the rivers Beas and Indus, including the provinces of Kashmir and Hazara.


In consideration of the services rendered by Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu to the Lahore State, towards procuring the restoration of the relations of amity between the Lahore and British Government, the Maharaja agreed to recognize the independent sovereignty of Raja Gulab Singh, in such territories and districts in the hills as may be made over to Raja Gulab Singh by separate agreement between him and the British Government, with the dependencies, thereof, which may have been in the Raja’s possession since the time of the late Maharaja Kharrak Singh; and the British Government, in consideration of the good conduct of Raja Gulab Singh, also agreed to recognize his independence in such territories and admit him to the privileges of a separate treaty with the British Government. Treaty between the British Government on the one part and Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu on the other concluded on the part of the British Government by Frederick Currie, Esquire, and Brevet-Major Henry Montgomery Lawrence, acting under the orders of the Right Honorable Sir Henry Harding, G.C.B., one of Her Britannic Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council, Governor-General of the possessions of the East India Company, to direct and control all their affairs in the East Indies and by Maharaja Gulab Singh in person.

The British Government transferred independent possession, to Maharaja Gulab Singh and heirs male of his family, all the hilly or mountainous country, with its dependencies situated to the Eastward of the river, Indus and Westward of the river Ravi, including Chamba and excluding Lahol, being part of the territories ceded to the British Government by the Lahore State according to the provisions of Article IV of the Treaty of Lahore dated 9th March 1846 A.D.


ARTICLE II The Eastern boundary of the tract transferred by the foregoing Article to Maharaja Gulab Singh shall be laid down by commissioners appointed by the British Government and Maharaja Gulab Singh respectively for that purpose and shall be defined in a separate engagement after survey. ARTICLE III In consideration of the transfer made to him and his heirs by the provisions of the foregoing Articles, Maharaja Gulab Singh will pay to the British Government the sum of seventy five Lakhs of rupees (Nanakshahi), fifty Lakhs to be paid on ratification of this treaty and twenty-five Lakhs on or before the 1st October of the current year, 1846 A.D. ARTICLE IV The limits of the territories of Maharaja Gulab Singh shall not be at any time changed without the concurrence of the British Government. ARTICLE V Maharaja Gulab Singh will refer to the Arbitration of the British Government any disputes or questions that may arise between him and the Government of the Lahore or any other neighboring State and will abide by the decision of the British Government.

Article VI Maharaja Gulab Singh engages for himself and his heirs to join with the whole of his military forces, the British troops when employed in the hills or in the territories adjoining his possessions. ARTICLE VII Maharaja Gulab Singh engages never to take or retain in his service any British subject nor the subject nor the subject of any European or American State without the consent of the British Government. ARTICLE VIII Maharaja Gulab Singh engages to respect, in regard to the territory transferred to him, the provisions of the Articles, V, VI, VII of the separate engagement between the British Government and the Lahore Darbar, dated 11th March, 1846 A.D. ARTICLE IX The British Government will give its aid to Maharaja Gulab Singh in protecting his territories from external enemies. ARTICLE X Maharaja Gulab Singh Acknowledges the supremacy of the British Government and will in token of such supremacy present annually to the British Government one horse, twelve perfect shawl goats of approved breed (six male and six female) and three pairs of Kashmiri shawls. This Treaty consisting of the above Articles has been this day settled by Frederic Currie Esq. and Brevet-Major Henry Montgomery Lawrence, acting under the directions of the Right Honorable Sir Henry Harding, and by maharaja Gulab Singh in person and the said Treaty has been this day ratified by the seal of the Right Honorable Sir Henry Harding, G.C.B., Governor General.

Done at Amritsar on 16 March, 1846, corresponding with the seventeenth day Rabi-ul-Awal 1264 Hijri, the treaty handed over Jammu & Kashmir to an individual family. In 1947, Gulab Singh handed over the Kashmiris to the new born India without consulting the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiris are suffering heavily due to presence of 0.7 million security forces converting the serene valley into a battlefield. There is no freedom of action and speech despite UN Resolutions supporting right of self determination for the people of Jammu & Kashmir.  The treaty is violation of present day democratic world order and stake holders need to be pressed for its ultimate solution.

The writer is a freelance journalist based at London.



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