History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2000:Q.1 (c)
Q.1 (c) Sir Charles Napier said, “We have no right to seize Sind, yet we shall do so and a very advantageous, useful, humane piece of rascality it will be.” Comment.
Importance of Sindh for British
The conquest of Sindh occurred as a result of the growing Anglo-Russian rivalry and the consequent British fears that Russia might attack India through north west region.
To counter Russia, the British Government decided to increase its influence in Afghanistan and Persia. It further felt that this policy could be successfully pursued only if Sindh was brought under British control.
The commercial possibilities of the river Sindh were an additional attraction. Primary waterway of Sindh, the Indus river, was important for military and commercial purpose.
The road and rivers of Sindh were opened to British trade by a treaty in 1832 but military presence of British were not allowed under this treaty.
Annexation of Sindh
Governor General Auckland had sent army to Sindh and announced the suspension of 1832 treaty. The chiefs of Sindh, known as Amirs, were made to sign a subsidiary treaty in 1839. British forced Amirs to finance British military presence and accept British East India Company’s currency. A British resident was also installed in Hyderabad. All these effectively ended the sovereignty of Sindh.
Lord Ellenborough, Auckland’s successor sent Sir Charles Napier with full civil and military power to Sindh in September 1842, to take control of all British Indian troops there. Sindh was annexed in 1843 after a brief campaign by Sir Charles Napier.
The annexation of Sindh was totally unjustified because of the following reasons
(1) Sindh was annexed despite the fact that Amirs who ruled Sindh had just signed agreement in 1839, highly favourable to British. Amirs had done no wrong and annexation was nothing but brutal imperialism.
(2) Sindh was annexed in spite of previous assurances that its territorial integrity would be respected. Annexation was open violation of existing treaty.
(3) Charge against Amirs was that they could not possibly be genuinely devoted to the Company. Napier and Ellenborough held certain vague charges of disaffection in Amirs based on evidences which were unsatifactory. They accused Amirs for complicity with Afghan during the First Afghan War.
(4) One of the major reason of the annexation of Sindh was the debacle of British in the First Anglo-Afghan was (1839-42). British had felt need for a conquest to compensate the loss of the prestige after debacle in the First Anglo-Afghan war.
(5) This was only war in the annals of British Raj which cannot be regarded as in some sense or in some degree defensive.
(6) Napier was an ambitious soldier who saw opportunity in making name for himself. Napier provoked the Sindhis into attacking British Residency in Hyderabad and war ensued.
(7) The annexation of Sindh was morally indefensible. Amirs had faithfully carried out terms of treaties and have been loyal to British. The annexation was universally condemned. The Company Directors disapproved of Napier’s Si dh policy though they had no courage to restore Sindh to Amirs.
Outram, the British resident in Sindh had written to Charles Napier, general to who Ellenborough had given free hand: “It grieved me to say that my heart and the judgement of God had given me unite in condemning the measures we are carrying out as most tyrranical – positive robbery.”
Even Sir Charles Napier had written in his diary before fighting began: “we have no right to seize Sind, yet we shall do so, and a very advantageous, useful humane piece of rascality it will be”.
For his rascality, Napier was awarded 70000 Pound and governorship of Sindh.