Battle of Saragarhi- The Erased Story From The Indian History

Avani Poddar

Dehi Shiva Bar Mohe Ihe, Shubh Karman Se Kabhun Na Taron 

Na Daron Ari Son Jab Jai Laron , Nischey Kar Apni Jeet Karon 

O God, give me these boons
that never shall I shirk from doing good deeds
that never shall I fear when I go into battle 
And that with surety I shall attain victory.

by Sri Guru Gobind Singh - the motto of the Sikh Regiment
Deh Shiva Bar Mohe Eha

Battle Cry: Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal (He who cries God is Truth, is ever victorious).

Saragarhi is the incredible story of the 21 warriors of the 36th Sikh regiment who gave up their lives for their duty. The battle depicts the bravery of the Sikh soldiers against heavy odds. The battle was fought near the Tirah region of North-West Frontier Province, now in Pakistan. Despite insurmountable obstacles, the Sikh soldiers refused to surrender. Instead of bowing down in front of their opponents they chose to fight, keeping up the spirit and tradition of the Sikh army.

On September 12, 1897, these 21 Sikh soldiers fought against approximately 10,000 - 14,000 Afghan and Orakzai tribes of the Pashtun. The staggering ratio of 1:500 stacked against the Sikhs is both unmatched and unprecedented, ensuring their "last stand" will never be forgotten in the history of mankind. The British army had constructed a series of communications post at Saragarhi on the Samana range of the Hindukush Mountains. The region was prone to attacks and many expeditions had been sent to control rebellion. Saragarhi was chiefly built to enable communication between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan. On the fateful day of 12th September, 10,000 Pashtuns attacked Saragarhi, beginning at about 9 am.


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When the Pashtuns attacked the fort, Sikhs were left only FIVE in number and shockingly, they still did not succumb to enemy’s huge army. They formed an all-round defensive position, joining their backs against each other with their bayonets pointing out towards the enemies. It was an excellent demonstration of undying courage, valour, war training and presence of mind.

Sepoy Gurmukh Singh, the youngest of all the soldiers, aged 19, knocked down 20 tribesmen before falling to sleep forever. The commander Havildar Ishwar Singh also laid down some 20 men hand to hand before taking his last breath. Other 20 warriors also portrayed the same deeds of bravery and heroism.

This heroic tale is featured in the collection of list of “8 stories of collective bravery in the history of mankind” assembled by UNESCO. Inspired by the courage of the soldiers, filmmaker Rajkumar Santoshi is making a movie on the battle starring Randeep Hooda.

All the fearless and dutiful warriors of the Sikh army were rewarded the Order of Merit, which is equivalent to Param Veer Chakra of today’s time in India. Their families were given a ground of Rs. 500 and a piece of land. Youngsters are busy watching 300 and are oblivious to this unprecedented Saga of audacity and duty which their forefathers stemmed with their blood.

Queen Victoria in British Parliament 1897 too couldn’t stop herself from praising the Sikh Army and commented:

“It is no exaggeration to record that the armies which possess the valiant Sikhs cannot face defeat in war. 21 vs 10,000. “

To the last man, with the last round.

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