BY PANKAJ KHAJURIA
On the 8th Nov 1845, Lal singh assumed the post of prime minister of the Lahore state and Tej Singh was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Sikh Army. The Sikh soldiers did not like the appointment of Tej Singh and clamored for Gulab Singh to lead them. But the Lal Singh was planning to sent him at Afghan frontier. The Sikhs crossed the Sutlej, as they had become convinced that the British Government intended to annex the Punjab. The campaign which opened was not easy as the British Government had expected. In the open field the Sikhs proved their prowess, but if they had hoped for victories they were soon disillusioned. If there had been unity of command or vigour of action on the Sikh side the British would have been faced with a grave danger to their Empire. The only person who could have given the Sikhs the lead they required at the time was time Gulab Singh.
Here Rani Jindan Kour came to know that Gulab Singh influences penetrated within the masses of the Lahore Darbar. At that crucial point of time, the settlement was taken place between Rani Jindan and Raja Gulab Singh.
But Gulab Singh became very sad in the heart as he knew that men of Lahore Darbar had different attitude for him, the spread out of carpet of unity and friendship was just a show off whereas the reality in their hearts were resorting to the game of tricky.
British officer W L M’Gregor stated that several attempts were made to assassinate him but Lal Singh and Jawahar Singh executed attack secretly but no one dared to execute it openly.
Due to his own experience and the cost he had of his complete family, that chief was in no hurry to come to the help of the Lahore government. As soon as the war broke out the Lahore Government ordered Gulab Singh to proceed to Peshwar and hold the frontier. In reply, Gulab Singh urged the queen not to interfere in the affairs of the British. Gulab Singh wrote also to the council of regency as follows:
The British authorities have not acted contrary to the agreement. Neither have they broken their word. So to fight them without any reason is wrong. Through you killed my brothers and their sons without reason, who had been loyal subjects and faithful servants of the departed Majesty, I have the same feeling of loyalty to His present Majesty. I cannot question your right to do whatever you please within your territories in his name. But do not interfere in the affair of the British.
This advice was not heeded and the Regency rushed into war. When it was found that the campaign would be arduous and, if the sovereignty of the Punjab was not to be lost sustained efforts would be required, the Regency invited Gulab Singh to come and take charge of the Government as Prime Minister.
Sikhs and the demand for his return was unanimous, Gulab Singh arrived in Lahore. When his forces arrived near Lahore the Queen sent Bhai Ram Singh and Dewan Dina Nath to receive and escort him to the capital. On 27th Jan 1846, he was installed as Prime Minister.
BY PANKAJ KHAJURIA