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Sandeman, Sir Robert Groves

SANDEMAN, SIR ROBERT GROVES (1835-1892), Indian officer and administrator, was the son of General Robert Turnbull Sandeman, and was born on the 25th of February 1835. He was educated at Perth and St Andrews University, and joined the 33rd Bengal Infantry in 1856. When that regiment was disarmed at Phillour by General Nicholson during the Mutiny in 1857, he took part in the final capture of Lucknow as adjutant of the nth Bengal Lancers. After the suppression of the Mutiny he was appointed to the Punjab Commission by Sir John Lawrence. In 1866 he was appointed district officer of Dera Ghazi Khan, and there first showed his capacity in dealing with the Baluch tribes. He was the first to break through the close-border system of Lord Lawrence, by extending British influence to the independent tribes beyond the border. In his hands this policy worked admirably, owing to his tact in managing the tribesmen and his genius for control. In 1876 he negotiated the treaty with the khan of Kalat, which subsequently governed the relations between Kalat and the Indian government; and in 1877 he was made agent to the governor-general in Baluchistan, an office which he held till his death. During the second Afghan War in 1878 his influence over the tribesmen was of the utmost importance, since it enabled him to keep intact the line of communications with Kandahar, and to control the tribes after the British disaster at Maiwand. For these services he was made K.C.S.I. in 1879. In 1889 he occupied the Zhob valley, a strategic advantage which opened the Gomal Pass through the Waziri country to caravan traffic. Sandeman's system was not so well suited to the Pathan as to his Baluch neighbour. But in Baluchistan he was a pioneer, a pacificator and a successful administrator, who converted that country from a state of complete anarchy into a province as orderly as any in India. He died at Bela, the capital of Las Bela state, on the 29th of January 1892, and there he lies buried under a handsome tomb.

See T. H. Thornton, Sir Robert Sandeman (1895); and R. I. Bruce, The Forward Policy (1900).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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