The Second Anglo Sikh War (1848-1849), was an important turning point for the expansion of British control in North Western India. Starting at the Battle of Suraj Khund (1848) and ending with the Battle of Gujarat (1849), this war led to the dissolution of the Sikh Empire and the assertion of complete control of the British in Punjab. The Second War was seen as a final step by the British to extend control throughout the entire subcontinent against the prevailing Sikh Empire at the time. Being a crucial turning point in the political future of Punjab, there were many primary sources based on the war, its cause and consequences. Along with the East India Company, there were nobles, Sikh army generals, and rulers from nearby territories involved (Afghanistan) in conflict against British control.
Victory in the Second War proved to be very successful for the British as they were able to conquer major parts of northwest Indian territory, dissolve the dominant Sikh Empire, obtain control on a major state of North India and accumulate high amounts of wealth in the form of royal assets, land property control, debt payments and acquiring the Koh-i-Noor diamond. The dissolution of the Sikh Empire was one of the most immediate effects of the defeat of Sikhs in the Second Anglo Sikh War. The Sikh Empire and its influence on a substantial part of northwest India had proven to be an impediment towards East India Company and the British Empire trying to gain political gain and economic access in North India.
After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839 and defeat of the Sikhs in both of the Anglo Sikh Wars, there were major feelings of uncertainty in Punjab. With the current heir of the Empire, Duleep Singh being only eleven years old and no other eligible candidates to assume the throne of the Empire, the future of Punjab’s monarchy was uncertain. Noticing this weakness in the situation, the British exiled Queen Jindan (Duleep’s mother) to Firozpur in 1849. After they were able to successfully annex Punjab under their control, they were able to send Duleep Singh to exile and give him a pension of 4 to 5 lakh rupees a year (eight to ten thousand Canadian Dollars) as part of terms in a revised Treaty of Lahore signed after the war ended on 29th March 1849. Maharaja Duleep Singh was also required to sign over all claims of title, land, sovereignty, and control over Punjab for all future successors.
A few independent states in Punjab (for example Patiala) governed by their independent rulers were able to retain their territories, only after recognizing themselves as representatives of Britain as the supreme sovereign power. There were no remaining sources in the country strong enough to fight against the British after the dissolution of the Sikh Empire. Therefore, the British were free to exert any preferred amount of direct control on Punjab. The beginning of the Second Anglo-Sikh War was marked by the British Governor General, Lord Dalhousie declaring war against Punjab on 10th October 1848. This marked a chain of armed conflicts between the Sikh Army and British troops led by appointed Generals, finally concluding on 12th March 1849 in the Battle of Gujarat. Surrender of the Sikh army in the Battle of Gujarat proved to be one of the first in a chain of events that led to the eventual downfall of the Sikh Empire.
The annexation of Punjab into an official state of the British Empire on 29th March 1848 was what assisted the British in exerting complete political control on Punjab, this was executed by negotiating and signing the Treaty of Lahore with Maharaja Duleep Singh. On 30th March 1849 Lord Dalhousie issued a formal statement which declared that according to negotiated terms under the Treaty of Lahore, all territory under the control of the Sikhs will now be under British control. He also appointed Sir John Lawrence as the Chief Commissioner of Punjab, which further validated Punjab’s political status as a British state. The British had now acquired a large number of territory that had previously been inaccessible and out of control.They had the entire country under control as a possession of the British East India Company, which marked a high point in their success as a foreign power on Indian soil. The official creation of Punjab as a British state meant that British authorities had full power to exert direct control on Punjab. Besides securing large territory and gaining political power in the form of control on Punjab, the British were also able to secure large amounts of wealth from the royal family of Punjab. The most famous object obtained by the British was a 106-carat diamond called the Koh-i-Noor, it was considered to be the personal property of the royal family.
Now with all remaining successors in exile and the Sikh Empire in a crumbled state, the Koh-i-Noor was to be handed over to Queen Victoria as the property of the British Empire in terms decided under the Treaty of Lahore in 1948. When Queen Jindan was captured and sent to exile in 1849, all of her personal belongings worth monetary value were taken by company officials including 150,000 rupees in cash and her jewellery. Maharaja Duleep Singh was also required to give up valuable possessions in exchange for a monthly pension. The War along with being beneficial to gaining political control, also helped the British to gain pecuniary control over one of the richest empires in India at the time. The Second Anglo Sikh War was proven to be very successful in helping British gain exclusive control over the economy and politics of Punjab, while leading to the collapse of the Sikh Empire. The war led to the East India Company gaining control of the entire territory once ruled by the Sikh Empire. With no remaining control of any powers except the British on Punjab, the British continued to exert direct control onto Punjab until India was free from colonial control in 1947.