I put up a post about Sikhs’ role and their bravery in WWII ( LINK )and received a comment that these Sikhs who fought with the British were traitors and should not be considered “HEROES” at all. JUST BECAUSE THEIR FACES ARE NOT ON THE CURRENCY NOTE, DOESN’T MEAN THEY WERE ANY LESS RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR FREEDOM OR EVEN LESSER “HEROES”.
It is very easy to condemn or bash something when a person is unaware of related facts. Due to information overload in recent years, people now feel that they know all there is to know and others simply cannot be as informed as themselves. And I don’t blame them since unless one is looking for such information, there is none to be found in mainstream education system or otherwise. It is with this thought in mind that I present some historical facts about Sikhs, their contributions and sacrifices in shaping the history of the land we now call India.
NOTE: We don’t want to discriminate freedom fighters on the basis of cast, panth or mazhab. We want to negate the history written by the Nehruvians and Leftists and try to put facts forward to let all know who think SIKH did not play a “ROLE” in our freedom.
Let’s start from the beginning:
Sikhism is one of the youngest religions in the world, coming into existence just over 500 years ago. Irrespective of this fact and with a population of only 2% in India, their history is full of sacrifices and hard work that has contributed so much towards the building of the Indian nation, without which the course of Indian history would have been very different.
In 1710, Banda Singh Bahadur was the first Indian to re-establish Indian rule after seven centuries of foreign rule in India. He fought fierce battles with the forces of Aurangzeb, although this was short lived.
Between 1713 and 1801 the Sikhs were homeless and living as Guerillas, demonstrating heroic acts of courage at every possible instance. The tyrant rulers had put a reward of Rs. 25 for every Sikh head and Rs. 100 for every Sikh caught alive. The money is compared to hundred thousand US dollars of today. Those caught alive were cut to pieces. Many new vocabularies originated, such as 12 o’ clock warriors, Sikh who fought at midnight to use the darkness to their advantage.
In 1738 Nadir Shah, the Persian ruler invaded India from Kabul, Afghanistan and went on a rampage to Delhi. He was returning to Persia in summer of 1739 while carrying a huge booty of looted wealth, Kohinoor diamond, women, artisans and slaves. To avoid the summer heat, the convoy would rest during the day and travel at night. At the peak of the day heat at 12 noon and at 12’O clock midnight, the Sikh guerillas started attacking his convoy right from Punjab up to the Indus. They freed many women, artisans, slaves and deprived him of large amount of wealth. The women were escorted back to Delhi by the Sikhs. It was a heroic act, which no one else dared, of fighting against the might of Nadir Shah by a handful of Sikhs and freeing the women. The Sikhs started getting recognized as people who go mad at 12 o’ clock and it is from here that current 12 o’ clock jokes originated. When Nadir Shah asked Zakhariya Khan “who are these warriors and where they live”, Zakhariya replied, “They are the followers of Guru Nanak and live on their horses”.
After the return of Nadir Shah to Persia, Zakhariya Khan went on a rampage against the Sikh movement and killed 10,000 of them in a short span of time.
Finally, Sikhs under Ranjit Singh, in 1798 bought an end to the 800 years of foreign invasions into India through Khyber pass, by bringing it under their control. This was the best gift Sikhs gave to the nation which finally allowed the rest of India to breathe in peace. Hari Singh Nalwa, who manned the Khyber Pass for years became a name of threat in Afghanistan. Ranjit Singh brought the world famous Kohinoor diamond back to India, which was looted by Nadir Shah earlier.
If it was not for the Sikhs, who brought back Kashmir in 1819, today Kashmir would have been a part of Afghanistan. Ladakh owes its existence on the map of India to Zorawar Singh, who brought the region back to India in 1836.
The Battle of Saragarhi was fought on 12 September 1897 at the North West province of India between twenty-one Sikhs of the 4th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment defending an army post against 10,000 Afghans. All 21 Sikhs fought till the last bullet had been fired against the Afghan army. Twenty one Sikh soldiers then charged with their Kirpans to be eventually cut down to pieces. The easier way out would have been to surrender but the spirit of Sikhs has always made them do what Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru had said, “Grant me this wish, O Sword. I may never fear to stand up for righteousness. I may not fear when I go to war. If my defeat is definitive, I may die fighting in the battlefield for the sake of righteousness”.
Sikhs were the first to rise and fight invasions by Pakistan in 1960s and 1970s. Pakistan’s invasion lead to full force wars between Indian and Pakistan. Again Sikh, this time joining hands with Hindus contributed and laid their lives down to protect the borders and freedom of India. Pakistan lost all the wars.
Contribution of Sikhs towards the Indian Defense Services is the highest with respect to their 2% population size. This community has also won the maximum number of gallantry awards since independence – 5 Param Vir Chakras (PVCs), 40 Maha Vir Chakras (MVCs), 209 Vir Chakras (VrCs).
Today Sikhs are still 2% of the population of Indian but 20% of Indian Military consists of Sikhs. As a part of Indian Military, Sikhs have constantly been fighting Muslim terrorists on the border of Pakistan and India since last India-Pakistan war.
During the phase of English rule, Sikhs played leading role in the independence struggle. Some details in short:
Following is the contribution of Sikhs who are less than 2% of the population of India in the freedom struggle against the British:
Hanged by British 121, 93 Sikhs – 77%
Life Imprisonment 2646, 2147 Sikhs – 81%
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre 1300, 799 Sikhs, 62%
Book source: “History of Indian National Congress
After two bloody Anglo-Sikh wars British finally managed to take over Punjab as the last kingdom on the map of British-India Empire. It is an irony of fate that the Sikhs had to fight against their own countrymen as British forces employed Indians from the South to invade Punjab. It was not due to lack of soldiers’ courage or conviction that the wars against British were lost, but a treachery by Gulab Singh, a Hindu minister under Ranjit Singh, who joined hands with the British in exchange for the title of Kashmir upon winning the war.
FIRST REBELLION AGAINST BRITISH RAJ:
In 1824, Sikh majority company 47 Native Infantry refused to fight against Burmese brothers but rather supported them. For this mutiny, Sir Edward sentenced 879 Sikhs to death on November 11, 1824.
MUTINY BY SIKHS IN BRITISH ARMY:
In 1824, Talpedar Vijay Singh of Kunja in Roorkee leads in the mutiny of army. 211 Sikh army men killed in gun fire, 18 were hanged.
REFUSAL TO OPRESS FELLOW INDIANS:
October 14, 1925, Grenadiers Company refused to suppress Assamese. Two Sikhs, who were responsible for this act, Kartar Singh and Hari Singh, were hanged.
KUKA MOVEMENT – The ORIGINAL “SWADESHI APNAO” movement:
In 1857, about 70 years before non-cooperation movement of Mahatma Gandhi, Baba Ram Singh started a non-cooperation movement against the British Raj. English language, English clothes, government services, courts, Post Office, rail and railway were totally boycotted. For this defiance, 82 Sikhs were tied to canons & blown apart by British. Sikhs were the only Indian community to be internationally acclaimed as early as 1897 for their heroism and courage.
SIKH MOVEMENT FOR “ANTI-COW SLAUGHTER”
In 1871, anti-cow slaughter movement was started by Namdhari Saints. Slaughter houses were removed from Amritsar. Two butchers were killed in the process.
ATTEMPT AGAINST RAJ COSTING 42 SIKH LIVES:
Ludhiana 1882: Attempt to occupy artillery depot outside; 42 Sikhs martyred.
1907: Movement of ‘Pagri Sambhal…..’ by S. Ajit Singh (uncle of S. Bhagat Singh).
GHADAR PARTY MOVEMENT STARTED IN USA:
In 1913, Ghadar Party was formed in San Fransisco’s historic place Astoria in America to overthrow the British Empire. The founding president of the Ghadar Party was Sardar Sohan Singh Bhakana. Other leaders are Sardar Kesar Singh Thargarh – Vice President, Lala Hardayal – Secretary, Lala Thakur Dhuri – Joint Secretary, Sardar Kartar Singh Sarabha, Sardar Santokh Singh etc.
1908: Foundation of Babbar Akali Laher
1914: Kamagata Maru – Out of 376 travelers, 355 were Sikhs. During firing by British at Baj-Baj Port in Calcutta, 67 Sikhs were martyred.
October 24, 1914: A Jatha of 170 Sikhs – all non resident Indians, reached Mumbai Port where all of them were arrested and sent to Montgomery and Multan Jail that was infamous for torturing prisoners.
March 1915: About 3125 Sikhs reached India from different countries to protest the events of ‘Kamagatta Maru’.
1915 and 1916: Kartar Singh Sarabha and his colleagues were arrested in an army mutiny case. The British Empire called it “The Lahore conspiracy case”.
November 24, 1917: 12 Sikhs were hanged, 24 other Sikhs received death penalties from different courts.
April 13, 1919: During Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, about 1300 people were killed out of which 769 were Sikhs. Udham Singh killed General O’ Dier in vengeance.
August 9, 1921: During Morcha ‘Guru Ka Bagh’ of Shiromani Akali Dal, many sikh martyred.
1921-1924: Gurudwara Sudhar Laher started, a non-violent movement during which 500 Sikhs were martyred.
Movement against Colony Act: Those who received life imprisonment were all Sikhs.
1914-1915: In Lahore central jail, 18 patriots belonging to Babar and Gaderites were hanged, life imprisonment of 28 Sikhs.
5 Brave Sikhs were hanged in ‘Lahore supplementary case’, 91 received life imprisonment out of which 90 were Sikhs. 50 Indians received other sentences, out of which 49 were Sikhs.
1931: Some freedom fighters were sent to Andaman prison. Sardar Rattan Singh and his companions tried to free them, were arrested and killed.
Bhagat Singh, a great revolutionary and patriot who threw a bomb inside the Parliament. Due to the Gandhi-Irvin pact, he was sentenced to death by hanging as a terrorist.
Founder of ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ was General Mohan Singh. Netaji Subhash Chander Bose became part of it after eight years.
Out of 42,000 army men of Azad Hind Fauz, 28,000 were Sikhs.
Of all the sentences carried out for kalapani in Andaman prison, majority of prisoners were Sikh.
During the Partition of India, about one million people were killed, out of which 450,000 dead were Sikhs.
After reading the above, can one seriously think that Sikhs were traitors and should not receive any recognition for their bravery and valor ?
I rest my case!!