The Punjab Liberation War
Principia Moderni III
Depiction of Bengali troops charging towards Lahore
Date 1868 - 1871
Location North-Western India
Result Bengali/Victory
  • End of Dal Khalsa
BengalSultanate Bengal Sultanate

Supported by:

  • 4O6YT Bahamani Khedivate
  • Drapeau Udaipur Mewâr Udaipur Rajya
Sikh Empire flag Dal Khalsa
Commanders and leaders
BengalSultanate Sher Shah Ahmad Khan

Drapeau Udaipur Mewâr Kumar Jagat Kumar

Sikh Empire flag Maharaja Veer Singh †

Sikh Empire flag Gulab Singh †
Sikh Empire flag Zorawar Singh †

300,000 175,000
Casualties and losses
134,000 58,000

The Punjab Liberation War was a military conflict fought from 1868 - 1871 between the forces of the Bengali Coalition against the forces of the Dal Khalsa. 

Since the very formation of the Dal Khalsa, the nation was viewed with hostility and suspicion by surrounding Muslim states as they had never expected a minority to have established their own Empire in the heart of Muslim India. Therefore, need to restore Muslim rule in Punjab was urgently felt throughout the early Nineteenth Century although no one in particular had the given resources to wage war upon the Dal Khalsa. Later on, when Bengal was able to substantially expand in India, and established a border with the Sikh state, preparations were made to liberate the Muslims in Punjab. War was declared upon the Dal Khalsa on 6th January, with Bengal and its allies contributing a force of 300,000 to the war. The conflict slowly and gradually moved in favour of Bengal, although outstretched forces and attrition prevented Bengal from achieving an outright victory. By June 1869, Bengal was on the verge of defeat with little to no resources left to divert for the Bengali Siege of Lahore, a reminiscent of the conditions faced by Bengal during the Second Deccan War.  

Subsequently, the troops had to withdraw from Lahore and suffered as many as 60,000 casualties during the retreat and a temporary ceasefire was settled on 16th November, 1870. However, a mistake by the Sikh General Gulab Singh to exploit the situation and launch an offensive completely changed the tide of the war. The Bengali troops had utilized the ceasefire and regrouped at Thatta, sending reinforcements from Surat to further strengthen the army. Therefore when the Sikh army reached the outskirts of Thatta, the Bengali troops were able to completely crush the Sikh offensive force at the Battle of Indus, capturing large number of Sikh supplies. Many troops, however, asserted the success at the Battle of Indus to Muslim deserters within the Sikh army. In any case, with little armaments and resources left to contribute to another offensive operation, the Sikh army was forced to retreat back to Lahore and surrounding areas whilst the Bengali troops aggressively captured Sikh territory, advancing once again. Along the way, massive desertions by Muslims in the Sikh army further deteriorated the situation for the Sikhs.  Finally, on April 1871 at the Battle of Lahore, Bengali troops captured Lahore and brought an end to the Dal Khalsa. Soon after, massacres took place in various cities against the local Sikh population. In some cases, the Bengali troops were the perpetrators while in other situations, it were the Punjabi Muslims have revenge. 

One of the controversial decisions after the war included the expulsion of the entire Sikh community in Sindh. Nevertheless, with the fall of the Dal Khalsa, the Sikhs completely lost the special position they once held. The war led to the establishment of Bengal as a regional superpower, and the rise of Bengali influence throughout India. Of particular importance was that Bengal had succeeded in completely encircling Jaunpur, forcing the state to further depend upon Bengal, which would eventually lead to the state falling into the Bengali sphere. However, the large scale casualties suffered in the war also prevented Bengal from engaging in another war for a considerable period of time.

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