RICHMOND. COLONEL A.F., agent to the Governor General, North-West Frontier Agency (June 1843November 1844), who came to the Sutlej frontier when the political situation at Lahore had become unstable. It is believed that the Italian General Ventura, who had gained influence with the new Wazir, Hira Singh, feeling insecure at the Sikh capital, supplied secret intelligence to Col Richmond on the state of affairs in the Punjab. Richmond was among those who believed that the kingdom of Ranjit Singh was heading towards disintegration.
Hira Singh, he surmised, would flee to the Jammu hills and that the Dogras would form an independent state in the hills; that the province of Multan would break loose, and that the Afghans would ultimately recover Peshawar. Amidst these conjectures, Richmond was confronted with a few practical problems which he was unable to handle competently. Early in April 1844, Saunders, his political assistant at Firozpur, reported that a treasure valued at 1,500,000 rupees belonging to the deceased Raja Suchet Singh had been discovered.
He hastily ascertained the Sikh Darbar`s wishes as to its disposal; then, regretting the step on a hint from superior authority, decided to have it removed secretly to Meerut, but finally allowed it to remain in deposit at Firozpur until a rightful claimant was discovered. The matter was allowed to drag on for months and it became a constant source of irritation between the British and the Sikhs. Differences between the two governments also arose in respect of the village of Mauran which the protected ruler of Nabha had ceded to Ranjit Singh. The Nabha chief became displeased with Hukam Singh, the Lahore grantee, and a Nabha subject.
Richmond, irrespective of the Darbar`s remonstrations, recommended the resumption of the village on the grounds that a protected chief had made the gift without the concurrence of the British government. These two incidents caused bitter feelings among the Sikhs, and were recounted by the Darbar and the army as major grievances against the British before the commencement of the first Anglo Sikh war. Richmond was a keen observer of Sikh affairs across the Sutlej. His despatches in the India Secret Proceedings are full of penetrating detail.
He was the first British political officer who compiled fairly accurate statistics of the military resources of the Punjab in 1844, which closely tally with the Khalsd Darbar Records70,000 men of all arms and 655 guns. He also wrote a highly informative book, A Memoir on the Jammu Rajas, completed in December 1843. Lord Harding, the governor general, did not like the moderate policy which Richmond pursued in relation to the Sikhs. “Richmond, I confess,” he observed soon after his arrival, “has disappointed me; he blows hot and cold and has no decided opinion.” Further, he suspected him to be playing into the hands of Lieut J.D. Cunningham, who was favourably inclined towards the Sikhs. Consequently, he was relieved of his charge on 1 November 1844. Major George Broad foot replacing him.
1. Banerjee, A.C., Anglo-Sikh Relations. Calcutta, 1949
2. Gupta, Hari Ram, Punjab on the Eve of First Sikh War. Chandigarh, 1975
3. Gough, C. and Innes, A., The Sikhs and the Sikh Wars. London,1897
4. Hasrat, Bikrama Jit, Anglo-Sikh Relations (1799-1849). Hoshiarpur, 1968