Amritsar Treaty History goes missing

Golab SinghPotrait of Gulab Singh in the V&A Museum.

The documents of the Amritsar treaty signed between the British government and Maharaja Gulab Singh have gone missing . The original copy of the Amritsar treaty signed on March 16, 1846, by the then Governor-General of British India, Sir Henry Hardinge, and Maharaja Gulab Singh has gone missing in the state.

The Amritsar treaty was the outcome of Article 4 of the Treaty of Lahore signed on March 9, 1846.

Article 1 of the Amritsar treaty which approved the formation and transfer of Jammu and Kashmir state to Maharaja Gulab Singh read: “The British government transfers and makes over, forever, independent possession to Maharaja Gulab Singh and the heirs, all the hilly or mountainous country, with its dependencies, situated to the eastward of the Indus and westward of the Ravi, including the Chamba and excluding Lahore, being part of the territory ceded to the British government by the Lahore state, according to the provisions of Article 4 of the Treaty of Lahore, dated 9th March, 1846.”

The document of the Amritsar treaty has a historical background and is linked with the existence of Jammu and Kashmir as a princely state.

Maharaja Gulab Singh, then Army chief of Sikh rule, purchased the valley from the British government against for Rs 75 lakh which was to be paid in two instalments

Article 3 of the treaty defined the transaction between the two, which read: “In consideration of the transfer made to him and his heirs by the provisions of the foregoing articles, Maharaja Gulab Singh will pay to the British government Rs 75 lakh (Nanakshahi), Rs 50 lakh to be paid on ratification of this treaty, and Rs 25 lakh on or before the October 1 of the current year, AD 1846”

The document had 10 articles which emphasised on the Maharaja accepting the supremacy of the British government on the state and as a token of this Maharaja Gulab Singh agreed to present the British government annually one horse, 12 perfect shawl goats of approved breed (six male and six female) and three pairs of Kashmir shawls. This was mentioned in Article 10 of the treaty.

Documents of the treaty being classified in nature were never revealed to public.

“Some say the treaty was written on gold-plated sheets, some say it was silver whereas some say it was copper plate. But it is very unfortunate if the documents have gone missing,” said Bashir Ahmad a historian.

An official of the state Archives department, said, “I can’t tell you where the documents of the Amritsar treaty are, but I can tell you the documents are not with our department.”

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