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Punjab (British India)

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Punjab (British India)

This article is about a historical region in British India. For other uses of the name, see Punjab (disambiguation).
British Raj province

Coat of arms

Map of British Punjab 1909
Historical era New Imperialism
 -  Established 1849
 -  Partition of India 14 August 1947
Today part of India and Pakistan

Punjab was a province of British India. It was annexed by the East India Company in 1849, and was one of the last areas of the Indian subcontinent to fall under British control. It comprised five administrative divisions — Delhi, Jullunder, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi — and a number of princely states.

The partition of British India led to the province being divided into East Punjab and West Punjab, belonging to the newly created dominions of India and Pakistan respectively.


The word Punjab is named from the "five rivers" by which it is watered: the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, all tributaries of the Indus.


Geographically the Punjab province of India was a triangular tract of country of which the Indus and the Sutlej to their confluence formed the two sides, the base being the lower Himalaya hills between those two rivers; but the British province also included a large tract outside those boundaries. Along the northern border Himalayan ranges divided it from Kashmir and Tibet. On the west it was separated from the North-West Frontier Province by the Indus, until that river reaches the border of Dera Ghazi Khan District, which was divided from Baluchistan by the Sulaiman Range. To the south lay Sindh and Rajputana, while on the east the rivers Jumna and Tons separated it from the United Provinces.[1]

In present-day India, it included the regions of Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh (but excluding the former princely states which were later combined into the Patiala and East Punjab States Union)

In present-day Pakistan, it included the regions of Punjab, Islamabad Capital Territory and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (until 1901)


On 21 February 1849 the Sikhs were defeated at the Battle of Gujrat by the British. Britain's victory allowed the East India Company to take over the Punjab. Punjab was annexed on 2 April 1849 and became part of the British Raj, at this time administered by the Company. Henceforth the Punjab would provide Sikh and Punjabi sepoy regiments to the presidency armies in India, whose soldiers would later help the British in putting down the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857.

By the late 19th century, however, the Indian nationalist movement took hold in the province. One of the most significant events associated with the movement was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919, which resulted from an order given by British colonel Reginald Dyer to fire on a group of some 10,000 Indians who had convened to protest new anti-subversion regulations.[2]

In 1901 the frontier districts beyond the Indus were separated from Punjab and made into a new province - the North-West Frontier Province.


The Durbar, or assembly of native princes and nobles, convened by Sir John Lawrence at Lahore

The transfer of the Delhi territory from the North-Western (later the United) Provinces, to Punjab, Punjab with its dependencies was formed into a Lieutenant-Governorship,[3] Sir John Lawrence, then Chief Commissioner being appointed the first Lieutenant-Governor on January 1, 1859. In this office, he was succeeded by Sir Robert Montgomery (1859), Sir Donald McLeod(1865), Sir Henry Durand (1870), Sir Henry Davies (1871), Sir Robert Egerton (1877), Sir Charles Aitchison (1882), Sir James Lyall (1887), Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick (1892), Sir Macworth Young (1897), Sir Charles Rivaz (1902), Sir Denzil Ibbetson (1907) and Sir Louis Dane (1908).[3]

In 1866, the Judicial Commissioner was replaced by a Chief Court. The direct administrative functions of the Government were carried out through the Lieutinent-Governor through the Secretariat, comprising a Chief Secretary, a Secretary and two Under-Secretaries. They were usually members of the Indian Civil Service.[3]

The territory under the Lieutenant consisted of 29 Districts, grouped under 5 Divisions, and 43 Princely States. Each District was under a Deputy-Commissioner, who reported to the Commissioner of the Division. Each District was subdivided into 3 to 7 tahsils, each under a tahsildar, assisted by a naib (deputy) tahsildar.[4]

Punjab (British India): British Territory and Princely States
Division Districts in British Territory / Princely States
Delhi Division Hissar · Rohtak  · Gurgaon · Delhi  · Karnal  · Ambala  · Simla
Jullunder Division Kangra  · Hoshiarpur  · Jullunder  · Ludhiana  · Ferozepore
Lahore Division Montgomery  · Lahore  · Amritsar  · Gurdaspur  · Sialkot  · Gujranwala
Rawalpindi Division Gujrat  · Shahpur  · Jhelum  · Rawalpindi  · Attock
Multan Division Mianwali · Jhang  · Multan  · Muzaffargarh  · Dera Ghazi Khan
Total area, British Territory 97,209 square miles
Native States Patiala · Jind · Nabha · Bahawalpur · Sirmur  · Loharu  · Dujana · Pataudi · Kalsia · Simla Hill States · Kapurthala · Mandi · Muler Kotla · Suket · Faridkot  · Chamba
Total area, Native States 36,532 square miles
Total area, Punjab 133,741 square miles

See also


External links

  • Sikhs in British Empire
  • Sikhs in British Empire

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