BY PANKAJ KHAJURIA
During the Anglo-Sikh war British recognized the role of Raja Gulab Singh and they had left no stone unturned to make him fail at each and every front. Within the Lahore Darbar British had been abel to create a ill-will against Gulab Singh and on the other end they make sure that Gulab Singh Forces (today JAKRIF) could not cross the Tibet and reach at Nepal.
British who were the haters of Raja Gulab Singh now started to make friendship relation with him. But the Raja Gulab Singh was the man of character, despite of all ups and down he was remained loyal to the subject of Lahore.
Gulab Singh was given full powers to negotiate with the British. He sent three messengers, Lala Chouri Mal Harkara, Haski,and Lala Anant Ram to the camp of the British Governor General.
Gulab Singh had advised that the British could have been kept in check if the Sikhs instead of trying to force issues by open pitched battle, had crossed the Sutlej with a few picked cavalry regiments and had attempted to strike at Delhi. Sir Henry Lawrence, whose friendship with the Raja was well known, wrote him. Kind Raja Shab and Dear friend, “I have explained the situation to Anant Ram, who will himself relate it to you. In case of delay matters will grow worse. You know every time the Sikhs encountered the British they were defeated. If even now they are left unpunished and there be any such trouble again, it will then be worse for the Darbar Lahore. You will, I believe, know from this letter that, in spite of all that has occurred, we have still the same feeling and sympathy for the Lahore Darbar. I hope you will always favour me with your kind letters and friendly communications.”
This communication was a diplomatic one meant to assure Gulab Singh of the personal friendliness of the British Government without committing the authorities to any proposal beyond that of sympathy to the Lahore Darbar. After two days another letter sent by Sir Henry Lawrence on 13th Feb 1846 with cryptic and mysterious note, the Private proposals which Lawrence wanted to place before Gulab Singh were that he should be recognized as independent and Kashmir be added to his territory if he withdrew his support from the Lahore Government.
A conference was held and when the General proposals with regard to the treaty with Lahore were being discussed, Lawarence took Gulab Singh aside for a private conservation. Lawrence reminded Gulab Singh of his troubles with the Lahore Darbar, how he had lost his brothers and his nephew in the anarchy that followed Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death and expressed astonishment at the devotion which the Raja was showing.
He told him that the Governor-General had promised to grant him the hilly district, together with the country of Kashmir, after having separated them from the Government of the Punjab and that Gulab Singh would be recognized as an independent ruler.
Gulab Singh, in reply, said that if the Lahore Government had treated his brothers and nephew badly they were, after all, the subjects of Lahore and that In no case could any blame attach to Duleep Singh, who was at that time a child and that, as he came on envoy, he could not negotiate about his own possessions. This was reported to the Governor- General and matter was dropped for the time.
BY PANKAJ KHAJURIA