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LAHORE POLITICAL DIARIES

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LAHORE POLITICAL DIARIES is how volumes III to VI of the Records of the Punjab Government arc collectively referred to. Comprising a part of the British Government records published in nine volumes during the early years of the twentieth century, these four volumes deal with the regency period, 1846-49. They contain journals, reports and diaries of the British residents at the Sikh capital, Lahore, and the agents appointed in different districts of the Punjab. Altogether they afford an intimate glimpse of the administration of the Punjab during the period between the two Anglo Sikh wars, and the settlement of various districts under British officers. These energetic and vigilant officers also kept the Lahore Residency informed of all political events and trends in the areas under their charge.

Their firsthand accounts form an original and authentic source on the history of that period. Volume III, entitled Political Diaries of the Agent to the Governor General, North-West Frontier and Resident at iM/iore, covers the period 1 January 1847 to 4 March 1848. The opening entry describes the grand display of fireworks held at the Shalamar Gardens, Lahore, in honour of the Governor General, who was present with his staff. An entry dated 12 May 1847 shows how Maharani Jindari had already been divested of political power and reduced to the status of an ordinary government pensioner. On tins dale, it is recorded, Buta Singh, Munshi to the Maharani, brought an order on the treasury for 10,000 rupees.

Diwan Dina Nath tore it up, saying that the Maharani could not overdraw her fixed allowance of 12,000 rupees a year. Another entry shows that although Diwan Mulraj, governor of Mukan, had cleared his arrears of 18 lacs of rupees, John Lawrence, who had succeeded his brother, Sir Henry Lawrence, as Resident, wanted to get rid of him on the pretext that his replacement by a British officer would yield a revenue of 20 lacs. Volume IV is entitled Journals and Diaries of the Assistants to the Agent, Governor General, North West Frontier and resident at Lahore, from 1846-1849.

It comprises journals and diaries of Captain James Abbott, the Resident`s assistant in Hazara district, and political diaries from Peshawar. It shows how Captain Abbott, legally a subordinate officer to the Sikh governor of Hanpur Hazara, Sardar Chatar Singh Atarivala, tried to precipitate events by false and exaggerated reports. Sir Frederick Currie, the officiating Resident of Lahore, censured him, on 7 July 1848, for inserting false rumours in his diaries. Yet Abbott, through his continued intrigues, forced Sardar Chatar Singh to rise in open rebellion which directly led to the second AngloSikh war.

Volume V, embodying political diaries of Lieutenant H.B. Edwardes, Assistant to the Resident at Lahore posted at Bannu in 1847-49, throws important light on Diwan Mulraj`s administration and the Multan rebellion. Edwardes recorded on 16 February 1847 that "the fame of the good government in Mooltan is certainly widespread." As regards the revolt of Mulraj, he frankly refers to the calculated inaction of the Government of India to suppress the minor Multan revolt in the initial stage on the untenable ground of the unsuitability of weather conditions. Volume VI contains political diaries of several political officers serving in different parts of the Punjab.

It is a miscellany of events and activities. An interesting pan of it throws light on the trade and profiteering practices of Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu and Kashmir.Besides dealing with matters political and administrative, the Lahore political diaries provide information about the social and economic conditions of the Punjab during that brief period of two years. At places the reporters also give topographical details of the territories assigned to them. For example, volume IV contains a detail of the strategic forts on the Peshawar frontier.

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