PREMĀ PLOT, a conspiracy allegedly engineered by Mahārāṇī Jind Kaur with the help of some Sikh sardārs to assassinate Sir Henry Lawrence, the first British Resident at Lahore, and the Sikh commander-in-chief, Tej Siṅgh, and to topple the British control of the Punjab. One of the factors responsible for the general unrest was the treaty of Bharovāl (December 1846) by which Mahārānī Jind Kaur had been deprived of all authority and the Resident had been invested with unrestricted powers. The Mahārāṇī, who was opposed to the British assuming any concessions beyond stationing a few of their regiments at Lahore, chafed at the new treaty which conferred on them the right to remain in the Punjab up to the time Mahārājā Duleep Siṅgh attained the age of majority and which made them the virtual rulers. Premā, a Brāhmaṇ desperado, who had been a soldier in Gulāb Siṅgh's service, came to Lahore in February 1847 and set up a secret campaign against the British and started associating himself with the officers and sepoys of the Sikh army. He met Būṭā Siṅgh, dīwān to Mahārāṇī Jind Kaur, in the Lahore Fort in the presence of Bhāī Budh Siṅgh. Later, he visited Amritsar and received the approbation of Bhāī Mahārāj Siṅgh, who was widely revered for his piety and who at the time of the second Anglo-Sikh war raised the standard of revolt against the British. The Bhāī, irt is said bestowed upon Premā a sword, a turban and a shawl as a mark of his blessing. Amongst other covert helpers were Atar Siṅgh Kāliāṅmālā, Sher Siṅgh Aṭārīvālā, Raṇjodh Siṅgh and Miāṅ Jawāhar Siṅgh, a nephew of Rājā Gulāb Siṅgh.

         The prime motive of the plan was to restore the power of Mahārāṇī Jind Kaur as the Regent of the minor Mahārājā Duleep Siṅgh and terminate British control by assassinating the Resident and his subservient council of ministers. Premā's nephew, Nihāl Chand, accompanied by nine others carrying swords and shields, entered the Shālāmār Gardens on 12 February 1847 with a view to finishing off Sir Henry Lawrence and Sardār Tej Siṅgh, who were then attending a fete. The band was playing and everyone was lost in merriment. But the plotters' hearts misgave them and they stealthily slunk away. The British authorities arrested eleven persons. After a trial in which twenty five witnesses were examined, Premā and three others were sentenced to life imprisonment and deported out of the Punjab; four persons received imprisonment from 3 to 7 years and three were let off.

         John Lawrence, who conducted the enquiry, found the evidence in the case ‘worthless' without any proof of the Mahārāṇī's complicity. But he held that "there were grounds for suspecting her of being cognizant of the intrigue if not its instigator."

         A sequel to the Premā plot was the unjustified removal of the Mahārāṇī from the capital of the Sikhs. The Resident's council, chary of expelling her from the Punjab, decided to send her to Sheikhūpurā,40 km away from Lahore. Her allowance was reduced from Rs 1,50,000 to Rs 48,000 annually.


  1. Chopra, Barkat Rāi, Kingdom of the Punjab. Hoshiarpur, 1969
  2. Innes, J.J.M., Sir Henry M. Lawrence. Oxford, 1898
  3. Nahar Siṅgh, Documents Relating to Bhai Maharaj Singh. Karamsar, 1968
  4. Ganda Siṅgh, "Some New Light on the Treaty of Bharowal (December 16,1846)", Proceedings Indian Historical Records Commission.1940
  5. Ahluwalia, M.L., Bhai Maharaj Singh. Patiala, 1972

Gudiāl Siṅgh