Sher-E-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh
annexed Peshawar in 1834 which was a tributary since 1818 which was governed by Yar Mohd Khan and then by Sultan Mohd Khan who were the brothers of Amir Dost Mohd Khan (step brothers?) of Kabul. The Amir was enraged and declared Jihad on Maharaja. Charles Masson writes that he forced the Hindu merchants of Kabul to pay double the jizya to fund the war.

Battle of Ramkani – 4 May 1835
The Maharaja arrived with his forces at camped at Naushahra on 2nd May. 3000 to 4000 horsemen of Barakzais and Ghazis came to check Maharaja’s advance. A fierce battle raged from 10 A.M. to 10 P.M. at Ramkani near Naushahra. The enemy sometimes advanced and sometimes retreated. The Afghans retired in the night. Missar Sukhraj displayed great bravery and the Maharaja rewarded him on the spot with an estate worth Rs. 10,000 a year.

Arrival at Peshawar
Dost Muhammad Khan lay encamped at the mouth of the Khaibar Pass with 40 to 50 thousand of his own troops and 60 to 80 thousand Ghazis. The Maharaja established his camp at village Kaikuon on the bank of river Bara, and his army was stationed 6 km away from Dost Mohd Khan’s camp over an area of 15 km long.

Faqir Aziz-ud-din and Harlan were sent to Dost Muhammad Khan to persuade him to retire. Hot words passed between the Amir and the Faqir. Mohan Lal says that Dost Muhammad Khan called Aziz-ud-din the soul of Ranjit Singh and wished to send him to Kabul. He was to be liberated on the restoration of Peshawar. Sultan Muhammad Khan brought Aziz-ud-din to his camp.

Preparation of battle
Dost Muhammad Khan ordered his artillery to enter the Khaibar Pass and himself joined it at midnight on 10 May. The French division of the Sikh army under Allard, Avitabile, Court and Ventura, 20 to 22 thousand men marched towards Hashtnagar and then slowly and cautiously moved towards the left flank of Dost Muhammad’s army. The main Sikh army 60 to 80 thousand strong horse and foot under the command of Maharaja Ranjit Singh threatened Dost Muhammad’s centre and right flank. A general attack along the whole line was to begin at four o’clock on 11 May. The Sikh army had not advanced even one km when the word ‘fled, fled’ echoed in the whole region.

Dost Muhammad Khan retreated without fighting. Josiah Harlan writes that Dost Muhammad fell extremely confused at the intelligence that the Sikh army had surrounded the Afghans on all sides with a heavy park of artillery, and there was no chance of success. In his bewilderment “approaching his horse to mount with the prospect of battle before him, he put the wrong foot in stirrup which would have placed his lace towards the animal’s tail”. He considered it a bad omen and decided to retreat.

On 17 May, Maharaja granted an estate of 3 lakhs to Sultan Muhammad Khan. His jagirs consisted of Hashtnagar and half of Doaba. His brother Pir Muhammad Khan was granted Kohat and Hanza. On 18 May Ranjit Singh granted to Qazis, Sayyids, Ulema and faqirs of Peshawar robes of honour and confirmed them in their jagirs. This unique victory (without a proper battle) raised Maharaja prestige high and firmly established his sway west of the Indus.

References :-

  • Hari Ram Gupta – History of the Sikhs Vol. V The Sikh Lion of Lahore (Maharaja Ranjit Singh,1799-1839)
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