Sikhim and Bhutan/Chapter 21
BRITISH RELATIONS WITH BHUTAN FROM 1772
Nepalese invasion of Tibet, 1792. The Athara Duars. Friction with Bhutan. Our occupation of the Bengal Duars. Expedition against Bhutan. Loss of guns. Treaty of Rawa Pani. Whole of Duars taken by us. Tongsa Penlop accompanies expedition to Lhasa. Sir Ugyen’s visit to Calcutta. Sir Ugyen elected Maharaja.
So far as records show, the earliest relations between the Government of India and Bhutan began in 1772. In that year the Bhutanese set up a claim to Cooch Behar, invaded the State, and carried off the Raja, Durunder Narain, and his brother the Dewan Deo. The Cooch Behar family solicited the aid of the Government of India, which was at once accorded, and a small force, under Captain Jones, was sent to drive the Bhutanese across the frontier. The expedition was successful. Captain Jones drove the Bhutanese out of Cooch Behar, and captured the forts of Daling, Chichacotta, and Buxa. The Bhutanese then appealed for aid to the Tashi Lama, who at the time was Regent of Tibet during the minority of the Delai Lama. The Lama addressed a very friendly letter to the Governor-General, Warren Hastings, which was read in Council on March 29, 1774, in which he sued for peace on behalf of the Government of Bhutan, and suggested that though they deserved punishment they had been sufficiently chastised. In this letter Bhutan is claimed as a dependency of Tibet. A treaty of peace with Bhutan followed, which was signed at Fort William on April 25, 1774.
In this treaty the Company agreed to deliver up territory taken from Bhutan during the war, exacting from the Bhutan Government an annual tribute for the Chichacotta province of five Tangan horses, which was the acknowledgment paid to the “Bihar Raja.” The Bhutan Government were to deliver up the Cooch Behar Raja and his brother. The Bhutanese merchants were to be allowed the same privileges of trade free of duties as formerly, with permission for their caravans to go to Rangpur annually. The Deb Raja was to abstain from encouraging incursions into the Company’s country, from molesting raiyats who had come under the Company’s protection, and to engage to deliver up raiyats who might desert from the Company’s territories; to submit all disputes between Bhutan and the Company’s subjects to the decision of the Company’s magistrate; to refuse shelter to any Sunniassees hostile to the English, and to allow English troops to follow them into Bhutan; and to permit the Company to cut timber in the forests under the hills, and to protect the woodcutters.
Warren Hastings took advantage of the Penchen Rimpochi’s friendly letter to send a Mission to Tibet with the view of establishing communication with the Court at Lhasa and opening trade with that country. Bogle, who was sent in charge of the Mission, was also charged with the duty of negotiating with the Bhutan Durbar for the opening of a trade route through their country to Tibet. The Mission started on May 6, 1774, and Bogle was successful in gaining the consent of the Deb Raja to the passage of trade free of duty through his country. Articles of trade were drawn up between the two Governments, and for a few years trade from Bengal was actually allowed to pass through Bhutan into Tibet. A full account of Bogle’s Mission, so far as it related to Bhutan, is given in another chapter.
Two small Missions under Hamilton almost immediately followed on this important Mission of Bogle. In 1775 Warren Hastings sent Hamilton into Bhutan to examine into the claims of the Deb Raja to Falakata and Julpaish, in the present Jalpaiguri district. Hamilton came to a conclusion in favour of the Deb Raja’s rights. In 1777 he was again sent to Bhutan to congratulate a new Deb Raja on his succession. In 1779 Warren Hastings, still keeping steadily in view his policy of maintaining regular intercourse with Bhutan and Tibet, determined to send Bogle again as envoy to the Penchen Rimpochi in Tibet, but as news arrived that the Rimpochi was about to take a journey to Pekin the Mission was postponed; and it was afterwards arranged, at the suggestion of the Lama, with the consent of the Emperor of China, that Bogle should meet the Lama at Pekin. This plan was most unfortunately frustrated by the death of the Penchen Rimpochi, at Pekin, from small-pox, and not long afterwards Bogle died in Calcutta of cholera. There can be little doubt that had this meeting with the Penchen Rimpochi taken place under such auspicious circumstances the whole course of our subsequent relations with Tibet and Bhutan would have been different.
A few years later the reincarnation of the Penchen Rimpochi in Tibet was reported to Warren Hastings; the Governor-General at once seized this further opportunity offered him of prosecuting his policy with the Lhasa Government, despatched Captain Turner in 1783 as his envoy to the Court of the infant Lama, and made him the bearer of the congratulations of the Indian Government on the event. Turner was also charged with letters to the Deb Raja, and it would appear from his report that he was to stimulate the Bhutan Durbar to keep to its engagements under the articles of trade concluded by Bogle. Eden also says that Turner was instructed to cede to the Government of Bhutan the district of Falakata, in Jalpaiguri. Turner’s Mission to Tibet was the last for many years. So far Warren Hastings’ policy had been successful. He had succeeded in establishing friendly relations with Bhutan and Tibet, in opening trade through the one country to the other, and in having a diplomatic agent, Purangir Gosain, at the Tibetan Court.
In 1792 the Nepalese invaded Tibet. The Chinese sent an expedition to the assistance of Tibet, the result of which was that the Gurkhas were driven out of the country, and sustained a crushing defeat from the Chinese general in their own country only twenty miles from Katmandu. The results of this war had a most unfortunate effect on our relations with Tibet. The Chinese suspected that the Indian Government had supported the Nepalese, and, in consequence, closed all the passes of Tibet to natives of India, and they have remained closed ever since. While this was the end of Hastings’ policy in Tibet, our friendly relations with Bhutan began about the same time to wane, and after the year 1825, when the first Burmese War broke out, to seriously suffer from the constant aggressions committed by the Bhutanese on our frontier. The situation ultimately became impossible, and had to be put an end to by the Bhutan War of 1865. A full account of these troubles will be found in Eden’s report of his Mission to Bhutan in 1863.
The earliest claim to any portion of British territory raised by the Bhutan Government was to a portion of the Zamindari of Baikantpore, including the mahals of Ain Falakata and Julpaish. From Markham’s account, this claim appears to have been made as far back as 1775, and was one of the objects of Hamilton’s Mission. Eden dates the claim 1787, but it was no doubt made earlier, though the territory was not ceded till 1789. Eden maintains that the claim was untenable, and it seems probable that the Government, anxious to conciliate the Deb Raja and to further their trade policy with Tibet, were too ready to accept Hamilton’s report, which was favourable to the Bhutan Durbar. In 1787 claims were also raised to the mahal of Holaghat on behalf of the Bijni Raja, and to the mahal of Goomah on behalf of the Zamindar of Beddragong; but the respective owners of these mahals repudiated the claims, and they were dropped. In 1815 some dispute arose about frontier boundaries, and Babu Bishen Kant Bose was deputed to the Court of the Dharma and Deb Rajas to settle it. He has left an interesting report of the state of the country as he found it. From this year till 1825-26 there is no account of any communication with the Bhutanese.
The first Burmese War broke out at this time. We drove the Burmese out of Assam, assumed the government of Lower Assam, and in becoming possessors of this province we also found we had inherited the very unsatisfactory relations of the Assamese with the Bhutanese. The nature of these relations must be briefly explained in order to understand what follows. At the base of the lower ranges of the Bhutan hills there is a narrow strip of country, from ten to twenty miles in breadth, and extending from the Dhunseeree River, in Assam, on the east, to the River Teesta, or frontier of the Darjeeling district, on the west. This tract, which is by nature singularly rich and fertile, was known as the Bhutan Duars, or Passes. Eighteen passes entered it from the hills, each under the authority of a Jongpen, and attached to each jurisdiction was the portion of the tract lying below the pass, and bearing its name. Thus the whole locality came to be known as the Athara Duars, or Eighteen Passes. Of these Duars, eleven were situated between the Teesta and the Monass. The other seven were on the frontier of the Darrang (Goalpara) and Kamrup districts of Assam, and were generally called the Assam Duars, those bordering on the Bengal frontier being called the Bengal Duars. The Bhutanese had managed to wrest the Bengal Duars from the Mohammedan rulers of the country, probably soon after the foundation of the present Bhutan State. They never obtained absolute possession of the Assam Duars, but by their outrages and incursions they succeeded in forcing the Assam princes to purchase security by making over their Duars to the Bhutanese in consideration of an annual payment of yak-tails, ponies, musk, gold-dust, blankets, and knives to the estimated value of Narrainee Rs. 4785.4.
The seven Assam Duars were:
- Booree Goomah.
The eleven Bengal Duars were:
- Bagh or Bijni.
It was from these Duars that the Penlops in whose jurisdiction they lay, and under the Penlops the Jongpens, and under the Jongpens the inferior frontier officers, who were sometimes Assamese and Kacharis, derived their support. When we occupied Lower Assam the British Government renewed and continued the engagements made by the Assamese with the Bhutan Government. These arrangements were complicated, and contained in themselves the elements of constant dispute. The tribute due from Bhutan was payable in kind, and as an inevitable consequence questions constantly arose as to the value of the articles given and received. But this was not the only source of complication. The five Kamrup Duars were held exclusively by the Bhutanese, and were entirely under their management, but the two Darrang Duars of Booree Goomah and Kalling were held under a very peculiar tenure, the British Government occupying them from July to November in each year, and the Bhutan Government for the remainder of the year.
Owing to the articles sent for tribute failing to realise the value at which they were appraised by the Bhutanese, each year’s tribute fell short of the fixed amount, and a constantly accruing balance was shown against them. Our demands for the liquidation of these arrears were met by evasion, aggression, and the plunder and abduction of our subjects residing on the frontier. The long series of such outrages that ensued, commencing from the attack on Chetgaree, in Darrang, on October 22, 1828, down to 1864, are given in some detail in Eden’s report on his Mission. It will be sufficient to say that between 1828 and 1836 they involved five serious outrages in which British subjects were carried off and our outposts attacked, necessitating as many military expeditions by our frontier forces, the attachment of the Booree Goomah Duar from 1828 till 1834, when it was restored to the Deb Raja, the raising of the Assam Seebundy Corps (now the 2/8th Gurkha Rifles) in 1834 for the protection of the frontier, and the temporary attachment of the Banksa Duar in 1836.
The defeat of the Dewangiri Raja by Lieutenant Mathews, and the attachment of the Banksa Duar, to some extent brought the Bhutan Government to their senses. The Regent and the Tongsa Penlop addressed our Agent, declaring that none of the letters of remonstrance addressed to the Bhutan Government had ever been received, and requesting that all arrears of revenue might be taken from the Banksa Duar, and the Duar itself restored. Many of the offenders who had been engaged in outrages on our frontier were delivered up. Our Government promised to surrender the Duar on an engagement being entered into for its better management and the extradition of offenders against our Government. Unfortunately, this agreement was made with subordinate officials, as representatives of the Bhutan Government, who had, says Eden, no higher rank than that of common “chaprasis,” and was never ratified by the Deb Raja, though the Duar was surrendered in anticipation of his doing so. The belief, however, that all communications from our Government were withheld from their Durbar by the Bhutanese frontier officials led to the despatch of Captain Pemberton as our envoy to the Bhutan Court in 1837. This Mission was infructuous. The draft treaty which our envoy submitted to the Durbar was agreed to by the Deb and Dharma Rajas and the rest of the council, except the Tongsa Penlop, who was then the real authority in the country, and, at his instigation, was finally rejected.
In 1839 the Bhutanese resumed their outrages on the frontier, and began by carrying off twelve British subjects, one of whom died of his wounds; another was murdered because he attempted to escape; and a third was thrown down a precipice because he refused to work. Bhutan itself was at this time in a state of anarchy and civil war. The Duars were becoming depopulated. The Governor-General’s Agent proposed to remedy this state of things by our taking the Duars into farm and under our direct management. The proposal was approved of by the Government of India, and a native officer was about to be sent into Bhutan to obtain the Deb Raja’s consent, when another serious aggression was committed. Five villages were seized; the Cutcherry of the Zamindar of Khoomtoghat was attacked and plundered, and one of his servants taken off. The two eastern Duars, Kalling and Booree Goomah, were then formally attached and occupied by our officers. Not long afterwards letters came from the Dharma and Deb Rajas asking that the attached Duars might be released and an envoy be sent into Bhutan. Colonel Jenkins wished to take this opportunity to push the plan of taking a farm of the Duars, but Lord Auckland was averse to sending another Mission into the country at a time of such internal disorder and when the parties contending for superiority were almost equally divided in strength, and he preferred sending a letter of remonstrance and serious warning to the Deb Raja, intimating that if Bhutan continued much longer in its present state of anarchy and inability to manage its frontier it would become necessary to annex the Duars. This was no idle threat, and not long afterwards, on September 6, 1841, on the recept of a further report from the Agent, Colonel Jenkins, depicting the miserable state of the Assam Duars, their state of increasing disorganisation, and the almost entire depopulation of the tract under the Bhutan Government, the remaining Assam Duars were permanently attached, and a sum of Rs. 10,000 paid per annum to the Bhutan Government as compensation for the loss they sustained by this resumption. No written agreement was made regarding this arrangement.
In 1842, at the request of the Bhutan Government, we took charge of the Falakata mahal, as they found themselves unable to manage the estate by their own officers, and held ourselves responsible for due payment to the Bhutanese of the net proceeds of the property. This arrangement continued till 1859, when the mahal was attached.
After this annexation of the Assam Duars comparative tranquillity reigned in this part of the frontier. Outrages, however, continued in the Bengal Duars, and Eden writes regarding them: “The aggressions committed from the Bengal Duars on our territory and on Cooch Behar, and patiently borne by us, have been unparalleled in the history of nations. For thirty years scarcely a year has passed without the occurrence of several outrages, any one of which would have fully justified the adoption of a policy of reprisal or retaliation.” Dr. Campbell says on the same topic: “The whole history of our connection with Bhutan is a continuous record of injuries to our subjects all along the frontier of 250 miles, of denials of justice, and of acts of insult to our Government.”
Between 1837 and 1864 thirty cases of plundering British subjects were reported, and no fewer than eighteen elephants were carried off from the immediate neighbourhood of the Jalpaiguri cantonment. As many as twenty-five British subjects were reported by the police to have been carried off into slavery. During the same period fifty outrages were committed in the Cooch Behar territory, in one of which Rs. 20,936 worth of property was said to have been plundered, and altogether sixty-nine residents of that State were kidnapped.
The Dewangiri Raja (Dungl'sang Sangsub), acting with the connivance of the Tongsa Penlop, was largely concerned in the commission of these outrages. In compliance with representations from our Government, the Deb Raja ordered the Tongsa Penlop to pay into the Treasury a sum of money equal to half the value of the property plundered by his relative and subordinate, the Dewangiri Raja. This led the Penlop to address two insolent letters to Colonel Jenkins complaining that the Agent should not have addressed the Deb Raja direct, and arrogating to himself equal powers with the Deb Raja. “I am a Raja like the Deb Raja,” he wrote; “how can he possibly injure me?” There was probably a good deal of truth in this, and the inherent weakness of the central Government in Bhutan, which left the powerful officials like the Tongsa Penlop free to do entirely as they pleased, had much to do with the constant outrages on the frontier. Lord Dalhousie, in Orders No. 186, dated January 11, 1856, directed Colonel Jenkins to send strong letters of warning both to the Deb Raja and the Tongsa Penlop, requiring the latter to apologise for the disrespect he had shown to his lordship’s representative, and pointing out to the Deb Raja that he must be held responsible for the malpractices of his subordinates, and that if there should be a recurrence of these predatory incursions into British territory the Agent had been authorised to take immediate measures for the permanent occupation of the Bengal Duars. The revenue of the Assam Duars was at the same time withheld. This produced an apology, and the revenue was paid, after deducting the value of the plundered property, Rs. 2868.
Even while these letters of apology were on their way another outrage was committed, and Arun Singh, an hereditary Zamindar of the Goomar Duar, was forcibly carried off into Bhutan. The Government of India advocated mild measures of remonstrance, but the Governor-General considered that, in view of past offences and warnings, the Bhutan Government should be told that if proper reparation was not made annexation of the Duars would follow. This demand was met by an impertinent letter from the Deb Raja, claiming Arun Singh as a subject of his own. Still the Government of India did not proceed to do extremities, though more outrages were committed, and it was considered necessary to move a regiment up to the frontier. Sir Frederick Halliday visited the frontier, and on May 5, 1857, addressed the Governor-General, recommending that as the Bhutan Government showed indications of being about to adopt an improved foreign policy, and the rebellion which had thrown the country into confusion had ceased, an ultimatum should be addressed to the Durbar calling on it “ once more, avowedly for the last time, to deliver up Arun Singh, or abide the consequences,” and in the event of their failing to comply with this demand Sir Frederick Halliday proposed to annex the Ambari Falakata and Julpaish territories. The supreme Government concurred with these proposals. A cantonment was opened at Jalpaiguri, and the 73rd Regiment of Native Infantry and a detachment of the IIth Irregular Cavalry were posted there.
The mutiny, however, broke out at the time, and prevented this ultimatum from being carried into effect. Further outrages took place; further remonstrances were made. The tone of the Bhutan Government and its officials grew bolder and more insolent. The Subah of Bhulka Duar refused to investigate an outrage which had occurred in his jurisdiction until a revision was made of the frontier boundaries laid down in 1851-52. The Deb Raja, in a flippant and impertinent reply addressed to the Agent in 1859, declared that “Arun Singh had died because his days were numbered.”
Even then the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, Sir J. P. Grants did not consider that the Deb’s answer was such as to necessitate immediate action, and thought that the execution of the menace of annexation should be kept back till the occurrence of some new outrage.” The Governor-General, however, did not concur in this view, and directed that the Falakata estate should be annexed. This annexation was made in 1859.
Still further outrages took place, and instead of the threat of the annexation of the rest of the Duars being carried out a period of hesitation and inactivity followed, during which the best method of dealing with the question was discussed between the Agent for the North-Eastern Frontier, the Bengal Government, and the Government of India. Lord Canning inclined to the view that a Mission should be sent to Bhutan, and in Colonel Durand’s letter, No. 55, dated January 23, 1862, the Agent, Captain Hopkinson, was desired to state what arrangements were necessary for the security of a Mission. While the deputation of a Mission was under consideration more aggressions occurred, and insolent demands for the payment of the Ambari Falakata revenue were made by the Dalingkote Jongpen. A considerable force of Bhutanese was marched to the Rangpur frontier, and simultaneously arrangements were made for crossing the Teesta for the purpose of attacking Darjeeling. This was met by moving up two companies of the 38th Regiment and a wing of the 10th Native Infantry to the frontier, and outposts were pushed forward from the regiment at Jalpaiguri. The result of this was that the Bhutanese immediately returned to their homes.
In July 1862 a messenger, Mokundo Singh, was despatched from Assam to the Bhutan Court announcing the intention of the Governor-General to send a Mission, and asking the Bhutan Government to name the route by which it should enter and to make arrangements for the reception of the envoy. No reply was received from Bhutan till December of the same year, and the letter that Mokundo Singh brought from the Deb Raja was evasive and contradictory. The Deb promised to send some Zinkaffs in the following spring to settle disputes. But the Zinkaffs never came, and the officers sent to receive the Assam compensation money were not even of the usual rank. The Governor-General therefore felt that the conduct of the Bhutanese Government in sending an evasive answer and in not sending the promised messengers warranted him in sending a Mission without further parley by the most convenient route. Eden was ordered to hold himself in readiness to proceed to Bhutan as the envoy of the Government, and received his instructions in Colonel Durand’s letter. No. 493, dated August 11, 1863. On September 30 letters were sent to Bhutan announcing the despatch of a Mission, and on December 4 Eden, accompanied by Dr. Simpson, started from Darjeeling. The demands made on the Bhutan Government were mild in the extreme, considering the treatment we had experienced at their hands. They embraced the retention of the Ambari Falakata estate for the present, but held out hopes of its release to the Bhutan Government; arrangements for the extradition of criminals; and an explanation to the Deb Raja of the terms we stood on with reference to the Sikhim and Cooch Behar States, and that aggression, on these States must be considered as an unfriendly act. Eden was also to endeavour to arrange for the appointment of an agent at the Bhutan Court at some future time, and to secure free commerce between the subjects of the two Governments. The progress of the Mission has already been noticed. The objects were defeated, principally by the Tongsa Penlop, who held a preponderating influence in the council. Our envoy was grossly insulted and his signature obtained by compulsion to a most audacious and impossible treaty, and Eden, with the members of his Mission, had practically to make their escape from Bhutan to avoid imprisonment and perhaps death.
Even after this treatment of its envoy the Government of India decided to give the Bhutan Government room for repentance. Eden made three alternative suggestions of the best measures to be adopted to punish the Bhutanese and secure the frontier from future aggressions: (1) The permanent occupation of the whole country; (2) the temporary occupation of the country, to be followed by withdrawal after destroying all the forts and impressing the people with our power; (3) the permanent annexation of the Duars, and the occupation of the hill forts commanding them.
The Government of India, however, inclined to milder measures, and determined only to annex permanently Ambari Falakata and withhold all future payment of the Assam subsidy, and to require the surrender of all British and Cooch Behar captives, failing which the whole of the Duars should be annexed. Time was given to the Bhutan Government to comply with these demands, while preparations were made for an advance on our side. The Bhutan Government, instead of taking advantage of the opportunity given of a peaceful settlement of the question, sent an impertinent letter to Chebu Lama of Sikhim, who had been attached to the Mission, accusing him of having brought about the trouble, threatening him with the consequences, and declaring their intention of abiding by the treaty that Eden had been forced to sign, and returned an evasive reply to our Government. Then at last the Government of India, in its proclamation of November 12, 1864, declared its intention of occupying and permanently annexing the Bengal Duars, and so much of the hill territory, including the forts of Dalingkote, Passaka, and Dewangiri, as might be necessary to command the passes, and the Bhutan War commenced. The command of the forces was given to Brigadier-General Malcaster, who was to operate on the right, while the two columns on the left were under the immediate command of Brigadier-General Dunsford, C.B. Operations commenced on November 28, by an advanced party, under Major Gough, V.C., crossing the Teesta near Jalpaiguri and taking, without encountering any resistance, a small Bhutan outpost at Gopalganj.
Mynaguri, Daling, Damsong, Samtsi, Dongna, and Buxa were successively occupied by the two left columns, with but little loss on our side, and the military occupation of the Bengal Duars was completed by the end of the year. On the Assam side the Bhutan hill post of Dewangiri was captured, with slight opposition, early in December. A force of some strength was then despatched to capture the fort of Bishensing, but on the arrival in its vicinity of an advanced party the supposed fort was found to consist of a single stone house, occupied by a lama or priest. The necessity for further military operations having ceased with the capture of the hill forts commanding the passes, and its annexation of the Bengal and Assam Duars being thus completed, the Government of India directed the breaking up of the Duars field forces early in February 1865, intending to leave the occupation of the country chiefly to the Bengal Police battalion of about eight hundred strong, which had accompanied the expedition, and a few cavalry posts on the frontier. But when the force was on the eve of breaking up information was received that the Bhutanese were preparing to attack the whole line of posts from Chamurchi to Dewangiri. Dewangiri was attacked by a force under the Tongsa Penlop. The first attack was repulsed. The Bhutanese, however, cut off the water supply of the fort, and succeeded in throwing up a stockade which completely commanded it; they also obtained possession of the Dorunga Pass, thus cutting off communication with the plains. Colonel Campbell was running short of ammunition. General Malcaster had refused to reinforce him, an attempt to send in ammunition failed, and under these circumstances Colonel Campbell determined to evacuate the position under cover of the night and retreat to the plains by another pass known as the Libra Pass. The evacuation commenced at one o’clock on the morning of February 5. Unfortunately, the main party lost its way in the darkness; a panic ensued, the retreat became a disorderly one, some of our wounded were left behind in the confusion, and the guns, abandoned, fell into the hands of the Tongsa Penlop.
The Bhutanese luckily stayed behind to plunder, and did not follow up their advantage, so that the force succeeded in reaching Kassurekatta with the loss of the few wounded who fell into the hands of the enemy. It is noteworthy that these prisoners were well treated by the Tongsa Penlop. The Bhutanese force on this occasion was estimated at 5000 men, but this number includes porters, coolies, musicians, and servants. Unsuccessful attempts were about the same time made to capture the posts at Bishensing and Buxa, but though these failed another reverse to our forces was sustained at Taza-jong, the stockaded post at the Bala Pass. As at Dewangiri, the Bhutanese were not discouraged by their first repulse, and threw up a stockade commanding our post. Colonel Watson arrived from the plains with reinforcements on February 4 to dislodge them, but, after engaging the enemy for two hours, was compelled to retire with the loss of Lieutenant Millett killed. Lieutenant Cameron mortally wounded, and several of the men of the 11th Native Infantry killed and wounded. The post at Chamurchi was at the same time threatened; though the Bhutanese did not succeed in driving our post out of the pass, they continued to occupy their own entrenchment. This change in the aspect of affairs necessitated the sending of reinforcements to the frontier.
Brigadier-General Tombs, C.B., V.C., was appointed to supersede General Malcaster, and Brigadier-General Fraser Tytler, C.B., succeeded General Dunsford, who was compelled to resign from ill-health. Both these generals were given independent commands, the former of the Right, and the latter of the Left Brigade.
Bala was recaptured by General Tytler on March 15, and the Bhutanese were driven out of the stockades where they had established themselves in the vicinity of Buxa and Chamurchi by March 24; the objects of General Tytler with the Left Brigade were thus speedily effected, with but slight casualties. On the Assam side the Right Brigade recaptured Dewangiri by the end of March. As Dewangiri was considered unhealthy during the rains, it was evacuated at once after its capture, the buildings destroyed, and the troops withdrawn by April 6. The military operations in both the Assam and Bengal Duars being thus completed, so far as immediate active measures were required, General Tombs returned to his command at Gwalior, and the two brigades were placed under General Tytler, with his headquarters at Gauhati, to act, if required, on the defensive, and to be ready for a further advance if circumstances rendered this necessary. The Bhutan Government now made overtures for peace, and asked for the restoration of the Duars. Preliminary negotiations followed, during which further hostilities were suspended, and resulted in a treaty with Bhutan, which was finally concluded on November 11, 1865, at Sinchula. Under this treaty the British Government retained possession of the Assam and Bengal Duars. The Bhutan Government agreed to surrender all British subjects of Sikhim and Cooch Behar detained in Bhutan against their will; to the mutual extradition of criminals; to the maintenance of free trade; to the arbitration of the British Government in all disputes between the Bhutan Government and the Chiefs of Cooch Behar and Sikhim. This treaty is known by the Bhutanese as the Ten-Article Treaty of Rawa Pani.
The Bhutanese also agreed to deliver up the two guns which had fallen into the hands of the Tongsa Penlop, and to return the agreement which they had extorted from our envoy, Eden, with an apology for their treatment of him. On their side the British Government undertook to pay the Bhutan Government, from the revenues of the Duars, an annual sum beginning with Rs. 25,000, on fulfilment of the conditions of the treaty; on January 10 following the first payment Rs. 35,000; on January 10 following Rs. 45,000; on every succeeding January 10 Rs. 50,000. The arrangement about the surrender of the guns and delivery of the extorted treaty was recorded in a separate agreement, dated November 10, given by the two representatives of the Bhutan Government, and it was agreed that until these two conditions were fulfilled no money payment under the treaty should be due to the Bhutan Government.
The country thus ceded to the British Government comprised the Athara Duars, a narrow strip of territory averaging about twenty-two miles in width and 250 in length, lying at the foot of the hills. The eastern Duars, lying east of the Sankos River, have been incorporated with the Goalpara and Kamrup districts of Assam.
Payment of the allowance to the Bhutan Government was temporarily withheld in 1868, on account of the Bhutan Government having stopped intercommunication between Bhutan and Buxa, and on account of their disregard of Article 4 of the treaty of 1865 by sending an officer of inferior rank to receive the subsidy. In 1880 the Bhutanese were again told that the subsidy would be withheld unless certain raiders in Chunbati, near Buxa, were handed over to us. Eventually our demands were complied with, the raiders delivered up, and the captives (British subjects who had been carried off) released in July 1881.
The last civil war in Bhutan ended in 1885, when Ugyen Wang-chuk, who was then Tongsa Penlop, assisted by his relative, the Paro Penlop, defeated Aloo Dorji, the Thimboo Jongpen, and Poonakha Jongpen; the last was killed. In 1888, on the outbreak of hostilities between ourselves and the Tibetans, Shapenjoo, father of Ugyen Kazi, warned the Tibetans of the consequences of refusing to come to terms; and, on behalf of Bhutan, refused assistance to the Tibetans. During the interval between then and Tibet Mission of 1904 the Bhutanese, under the guidance of the Tongsa Penlop, Ugyen Wang-chuk, were most friendly to us, and constant intercourse was kept up between the Tongsa Penlop and our representatives, first Mr. Paul, and later myself. During the Tibet Mission of 1904 the Bhutanese were called upon for open support, and their Government, under the guidance of Ugyen Wang-chuk, sent a Mission with General Macdonald in his advance on Lhasa. This was headed by Ugyen Wang-chuk himself, who rendered such excellent service that on the conclusion of the expedition he was honoured with a Knight Commandership of the Most Excellent Order of the Indian Empire.
Up to 1904 the political relations between Bhutan and the Indian Government had been carried on through the medium of the Government of Bengal. On hostilities breaking out in that year these political relations were transferred from Bengal to Colonel Younghusband, who corresponded direct with the Government of India. On the termination of the Mission these political relations, were transferred to myself, the Political Officer of Sikhim, and at the same time I was entrusted with the political relations with Tibet. This was a change of great importance, as it brought Sikhim, Bhutan, and Tibet directly under the Government of India, and thus avoided the unnecessary and tedious delays formerly caused by corresponding through the local Government.
In 1905 I was deputed on my first Mission to Bhutan, to present to Sir Ugyen Wang-chuk the insignia of the K.C.I.E. I was accompanied by Major Rennick, of the Intelligence Branch, and by Mr. Paul, at the special invitation of Sir Ugyen; the escort was taken from the 40th Pathans. Unlike all former Missions of recent date, this Mission was received in the most friendly manner; everything was done to ensure the comfort and pleasure of its members, and most friendly relations with Sir Ugyen and all Bhutanese officials was the result.
From now onwards the Bhutanese moved steadily forward in the line of improvement. In 1906 Sir Ugyen was invited to meet H.R.H. the Prince of Wales in Calcutta, which invitation he accepted. This may be taken as one of the most important events in recent Bhutan history. This visit assured Sir Ugyen of our friendship, and brought him into contact with the outside world, of which he had previously only heard very little; it broadened his views and showed him that there were larger and more important centres than his own small kingdom. This visit and the constant intercourse between Sir Ugyen and his officials and the British Political Officer had its effect in paving, the way for the very great change which shortly took place.
In 1907 Sir Ugyen was chosen unanimously by the lamas, headmen, and people of Bhutan as their Hereditary Maharaja.
I was deputed on my second Mission to Bhutan, to be present at the installation, to represent the Government of India. I was accompanied by Major Rennick, Mr. Campbell, and Captain Hyslop, and the escort was taken from the 62nd Punjabis.
This Mission was also received in the most friendly manner, and everything possible was done to make its stay in Bhutan a pleasant one.
It will thus be seen that for the last hundred years till quite lately the governing body in India has endeavoured to keep strictly, and even contemptuously, aloof from these mountain people, and that their policy of refusing to sympathise or hold friendly intercourse with them has invariably resulted in trouble and annoyance to themselves, in return for which they have enforced full payment by depriving the weaker State of valuable territory.
It is obvious that in the case of Bhutan, Government should utilise this unique opportunity of a new régime in that country to enter into a new Treaty and to increase the inadequate subsidy that we now dole out as compensation for the annexation of the Duars, the most valuable tea district in India. If this is not done soon China will acquire complete control in Bhutan, and demand from us, as she did in the parallel case of Sikhim, the retrocession of the Bhutanese plains. Further, any political disturbance on this frontier would seriously affect the supply of labour on the tea-gardens in the Duars, and so cause great loss to the tea industry. This was very ably pointed out by Edgar in 1887, when we were compelled to fight China under the guise of Tibet for supremacy in Sikhim. The neighbouring State of Nepal is in a measure subject to China under the treaty of 1780, and in all these years we have made but little progress in knowledge of that country, and have allowed our Resident to be a kind of political détenu in the Residency at Khatmandu. It is earnestly to be hoped that we may not drift into a similar position with Bhutan, and in order to avoid doing so constant and continued intercourse with our frontier officers should be encouraged, and a policy closely followed by which no efforts to further and advance friendly and intimate relations are spared.