To consolidate its power, the British completed the task of conquering the whole of India from 1818 to 1857.
Conquest of Sindh
The conquest of Sindh occurred as a result of the growing Anglo-Russian rivalry in Europe and Asia and the consequent British fears that Russia might attack India through Afghanistan or Persia.
To counter Russia, the British Government decided to increase its influence in Afghanistan and Persia. It further felt that this policy could be success, fully pursued only if Sindh was brought trader British control. The commercial possibilities of the river Sindh were an additional attraction.
The roads and rivers of Sindh were opened to British trade by a treaty in 1832.
The chiefs of Sindh, known as Amirs were forced to sign a Subsidiary Treaty in 1839. And finally, in spite of previous assurances that its territorial integrity would be respected, Sindh was annexed in 1843 after a brief campaign by Sir Charles Napier.
Conquest of Punjab
The death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in June 1839 was followed by political instability and rapid changes of government in the Punjab. Selfish and corrupt leaders came to the front. Ultimately, power fell into the hands of the brave and patriotic but utterly indiscipline army.
The political instability in Punjab led the British to look greedily across the Sutlej upon the land of the five rivers even though they had signed a treaty of perpetual friendship with Ranjit Singh in 1809.
The British officials increasingly talked of having to wage a campaign in the Punjab.
The Punjab army let itself be provoked by the warlike actions of the British and their intrigues with the corrupt chiefs of the Punjab.
In November 1844, Major Broadfoot, who was known to be hostile to the Sikhs, was appointed the British agent in Ludhiana.
Broadfoot repeatedly indulged in hostile actions and gave provocations. The corrupt chiefs and officials found that the army would sooner or later deprive them of their power, position, and possessions. Therefore, they conceived the idea of saving themselves by embroiling the army in a war with the British.
In the autumn of 1845, news reached that boats designed to form bridges had been dispatched from Bombay to Ferozepur on the Sutlej.
The Punjab Army, now convinced that the British were determined to occupy the Punjab, took counter measures.
When it heard in December that Lord Gough, the Commander-in-Chief, and Lord Harding, the Governor-General, were marching towards Ferozepur, the Punjab army decided to strike.
The war between the two was thus declared on 13 December 1845. The danger from the foreigner immediately united the Hindus, the Muslims, and the Sikhs.
The Punjab army fought heroically and with exemplary courage. But some of its leaders had already turned traitors. The Prime Minister, Raja Lal Singh, and the Commander-in-Chief, Misar Tej Singh, were secretly corresponding with the enemy.
The Punjab Army was forced to concede defeat and to sign the humiliating Treaty of Lahore on 8 March 1846.
The British annexed the Jalandhar Doab and handed over Jammu and Kashmir to Raja Gulab Singh Dogra for a cash payment of five million rupees.
The Punjab army was reduced to 20,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalries and a strong British force was stationed at Lahore.
Later, on 16 December 1846, another treaty was signed giving the British Resident at Lahore full authority on over all matters in every department of the state. Moreover, the British were permitted to station their troops in any part of the state.
In 1848, freedom loving Punjabis rose up in through numerous local revolts. Two of the prominent revolts were led by Mulraj at Multan and Chattar Singh Attariwala near Lahore.
The Punjabis were once again decisively defeated. Lord Dalhousie seized this opportunity to annex the Punjab. Thus, the last independent state of India was absorbed in the British Empire of India.