SIKHS' RELATIONS WITH NAWĀB OF OUDH. For a whole decade prior to 1774, Sikhs had been regularly raiding and pillaging upper Gaṅgā-Yamunā Doāb and Ruhilkhaṇḍ bordering on Oudh. Yet they had not entered the territory of the Nawāb, Shujā' ud-Daulah, who had become an ally of the British since his defeat in the battle of Buxar (22 October 1764). With British help he conquered Ruhīlkhaṇḍ in 1774, thus eliminating the buffer between himself and the Sikhs. Zābitā Khān, the defeated Ruhīlā chief, invited the Sikhs in 1776 to join him in attacking the imperial domains. Āsaf ud-Daulah, who became Nawāb of Oudh at the death, on 26 January 1775, of his father, Shujā' ud-Daulah, began wooing the Sikhs in order to win them over against Zābitā Khān. The Sikhs were offered 7,00,00 rupees immediately for the alliance and a similar amount after the Ruhīlā chief had been expelled from his possessions in the Gaṅg Doāb. The Sikhs, however, decided not to betray their old friend, Zābitā Khān. They carried out raids across the Gaṅgā in the area of Bijnore, Najībābād and Anūpshahr in 1778 and again in 1780. Some skirmishes took place between them and the troops of Oudh.
In the beginning of 1785, a 30,000 strong Sikh force under Baghel Siṅgh, Gurdit Siṅgh and Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā, entered the Gaṅg Doāb and pillaging towns on their line of march crossed the Gaṅgā into the country of Oudh. On 14 January 1785, they attacked Chandausī, a market town, and after plundering it for two days recrossed the Gaṅgā at the news of the approach of Oudh troops reinforced by a British contingent of infantry, cavalry and artillery. They attempted further raids into Ruhīlkhaṇḍ on 29 January and again on 5 February, but failed in face of increased vigilance of the Oudh and British troops at all fords and ferries.
By a treaty concluded between Mahādjī Scindia and the Sikhs on 9 May 1785, the latter agreed not to attack the territories of the Nawāb of Oudh. Oudh was virtually a British protectorate controlled through the Residency at Lucknow. The British policy as regards the Sikhs was to repel them if they invaded Oudh territory, but to leave them alone otherwise. When on 3 January 1791, a British officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Stuart, fell into the hands of Sardār Bhaṅgā Siṅgh of Thānesar who demanded a large ransom for his release, the Nawāb of Oudh volunteered help to Mahādjī Scindia to checkmate the Sikhs, but his offer was ignored by both the British and the Marāṭhās.
In 1794, a feud arose in the ruling family of Rāmpur in Ruhīlkhaṇḍ which had been allowed in 1774 to remain a separate state feudatory to the Nawāb of Oudh. The Nawāb wanted to recognize the usurper, Ghulām Muhammad, in consideration of a handsome bribe but was not permitted to do so by the British. Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā offered to support Ghulām Muhammad with 30,000 Sikh soldiers for an appropriate amount. The Nawāb, in order to counteract the move of the Rāmgaṛhīā chief, opened negotiations with some other Sikh Sardārs who showed a willingness to help. But he could not settle terms without the approval of the British and Ghulām Muhammad did not have enough money to attract Jassā Siṅgh Rāmgaṛhīā. So nothing came out of these negotiations.
In 1795, the Sikhs sought Nawāb of Oudh's permission to visit Nānak Matā, their holy shrine situated near Pīlībhīt. The British Resident at Lucknow, George Frederick Cherry, advised the Nawāb to put off the Sikhs asking them to postpone the visit to the following year. That is the last known point of contact between the Sikhs and the Nawāb.
Harī Rām Gupta