Rohilla War, (1774), in the history of India, the conflict in which Warren Hastings, British governor-general of Bengal, helped the Nawab of Oudh (Ayodhya) defeat the Rohillas by lending a brigade of the East India Company’s troops. This action later formed a preliminary charge in a parliamentary impeachment of Hastings, but Parliament vindicated him.
The Rohillas were Afghans who had entered India in the 18th century during the decline of the Mughal Empire and gained control of Rohilkhand (formerly Katehr). Its ruler then was Hafiz Rahmat Khan. When Threatened by the Marathas, they sought help from Ayodhya, but, the presence of the combined forces of the English and the Nawab of Awadh deterred them from the attack. The Nawab, however, demanded rupees forty lack from the Rohillas. The Rohillas refused to pay it on the plea that no fighting had taken place. Hastings supported Ayodhya in crushing the Rohillas in order to strengthen Ayodhya as a buffer between the company and the Marathas. Hafiz Rahmat Khan was killed in the battle, the Rohillas were completely defeated and Rohilkhand was annexed to Awadh.
Hasting’s critics charged him with letting out troops on hire and condoning atrocities. Hastings’ policy was severely criticized by Bruke, Macaulay, Mill, etc. Macaulay charged Hastings with the burning of the houses of the Rohillas, killings of their children, and disrespecting their women. An unbiased observer would say that the action of Hastings was indefensible on moral grounds. Warren Hastings himself did not justify it on that ground. His aims were political and financial. He needed money and got it by helping the Nawab. His political aim was achieved by the annexation of Rohilkhand by Awadh because it was, thus, saved from falling into the hands of the Marathas.