Sheikh Imamudin: The first resistance against Ghulab Singh

It was in 1846 that the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir which we know of came into existence.  On 16 March 1846 after having lost in the Anglo-Sikh war at Suburban, the Sikh Darbar being cash-strapped to pay the war expenses to the British, agreed to offer the territories of Kashmir, and all the mountainous territory situated between eastward of the Indus river and westward of Ravi to British India Government. British had no interest in keeping the state in their possession and transferred these territories to Ghulab Singh against the amount of 75 lac Nanak Shahi rupees.

Ghulab Singh, the chieftain of Jammu and a courtier of the Sikh Darbar under the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was the blue-haired boy of British. He remained neutral in the Anglo-Sikh war paving the way for the English victory.  He not only informed the company about the Sikh military but also did not participate in the war. It was this neutrality and treachery against Sikhs that helped Brits to triumph over the Sikh Darbar. The Sikh army without the military leadership could not withstand the British onslaught surrendered.

On 16 March 1846, Britain sold the territories of Kashmir and all the country situated between eastward of River Indus and westward of river Ravi, to Ghulab Singh against the amount of 75, 000, 00 Nanak Shahi rupees. This contract came to be known as the Treaty of Amritsar. This day marked a new chapter in the political history of Kashmir.

These territories included Kashmir; a valley that had once been a sovereign independent territory. The treaty was criticized by many Englishmen, but the British wanted to keep Kashmir as a buffer zone as they were aware of the advances of the Russian empire. Ghulab Singh, the Chieftan of the Dogra empire was nothing that of a conquerer. He had risen from a courtier to obtaining the Jagir of Jammu by trickery, but his eyes remained fixed on Kashmir, as he always wanted to carve an independent kingdom of his.

Ghulab Singh along with his troops marched on Kashmir but suffered a heavy defeat at Maisum. This was Imam-ud-din who raised the first rebellion against Gulab Singh. He was the governor of Kashmir during the Sikh Rule who gathered whatever people he could and put up a strong resistance against the Dogra regime. The defeat was so humiliating that Ghulab Singh had to run and seek the shelter of Walter Lawrence. Once Gulab Singh sought the help from the British who sent 10,000 Sikh troops with him, and Imam-ud-din was asked to surrender by the Sikh Empire, the Dogra Regiment entered Kashmir.

It was not valor that helped Gulab Singh to conquer Kashmir, but mere trickery and fraudulence. Once he established himself in Kashmir, he didn’t have an easy time. The tribal areas kept on fighting, and often giving him a bad time. He first went on to annex Karna; the kingdom of the wife of Imam-ud-din, and later started occupying neighboring hill territories against the clauses mentioned in the Treaty of Amritsar.

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