Multan Released From Captivity - [January 22, 1849] This Day in History

22 January 1849

Siege of Multan ended


What happened?

Siege of Multan

Siege of Multan

On 22 January 1849, the Siege of Multan ended and the British took control of the city.Read more about this incident for the IAS exam

Background

  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh had founded and consolidated the Sikh Empire in the early 19th century. After his death in 1839, however, the empire began to disintegrate.
  • The East India Company was growing in strength and war broke out between the Company and the Sikh Empire in 1845 known as the First Anglo-Sikh War. This was won by the British and the Sikhs had to cede territories to the British. They also had to pay a huge war indemnity. Ranjit Singh’s descendent Maharaja Duleep Singh was to remain the emperor but a British resident, Sir Henry Lawrence was appointed to the Sikh Durbar. In practice, the Company ran the Durbar with the Sikh ruler having no real say in state affairs.
  • The city of Multan was made a part of the Sikh Empire by Ranjit Singh in 1818. In 1845, the city was ruled by a vassal Dewan Mulraj. He tried to act as an independent ruler.
  • In 1848, Sir Frederick Currie was appointed the Commissioner of the Punjab. He asked Mulraj to pay increased taxes and also the arrears to the Durbar (in reality to the East India Company).
  • Mulraj then abdicated in favour of his son.
  • But Currie imposed another Sikh ruler at Multan, Sardar Khan Singh along with a British political agent Lieutenant Patrick Vans Agnew.
  • Agnew and another officer, Lieutenant William Anderson arrived at Multan in April 1848. But they were attacked and killed by Mulraj’s irregular troops. The situation was tense which eventually led to the Battle of Kinyeri between Mulraj’s troops and some Pakhtun irregular troops sent there by Lieutenant Edwardes, the British Political Agent in Bannu.
  • Mulraj’s troops were defeated but the city of Multan could not be breached.
  • Currie then ordered a small contingent of the British Army in Bengal to begin the siege of the city. They were supported by some irregular troops and also a few detachments of the Sikh Khalsa army.
  • In November 1848, more troops from the Company joined them. Mulraj’s troops were outnumbered and also suffered under the better guns and machinery of the English forces.
  • There was great damage to the city and many civilians were also killed in the battle.
  • On 22 January 1849, after a prolonged defence, Mulraj surrendered along with his men. He was imprisoned for the rest of his life.
  • The Siege of Multan was part of the larger Second Anglo-Sikh War. The British went on to win this war and the Sikh Empire came to an end. Punjab became a part of the British Empire in March 1849.
Also on this day

1666: Death of Shah Jahan, Mughal Emperor. 1760: Battle of Wandiwash at Vandavasi in Tamil Nadu in which the English forces won over their rivals, the French.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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