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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Banda Singh Bahadur, the valiant Dogra Sikh Minhas Rajput from Rajouri in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir

Banda Singh Bahadur, the valiant Dogra Sikh Minhas Rajput from Rajouri in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Salute to great Sikh Warrior Sardar Banda Singh Bahadur who gave all but not his beliefs
courtesy:  http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/warriors/banda.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banda_Bahadur

Banda Singh Bahadur (Punjabi: ਬੰਦਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਬਹਾਦਰ)(1670–1716) was a Sikh warrior and martyr. A Minhas Rajput, he became part of struggle against the Mughal Empire in the early eighteenth century, after meeting Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Gobind Singh gave him the new name of Banda Singh Bahadur. He is best known for the sack of the Mughal provincial capital, Sirhind, and is revered as one of the most hallowed martyrs of the Khalsa.

His brief agrarian uprising against the Mughal administration in the Punjab region of northern India was a critical event in the development of the Dal Khalsa and the Sikh Misls, which eventually led to Ranjit Singh capturing Lahore in 1799 and establishing the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab.

After establishing his authority in Punjab, Banda Singh Bahadur abolished the zamindari system, and granted property rights to the actual tillers of the land.


Early life

Banda Singh Bahadur was born in a Minhas Rajput family, on October 16, 1670 at Rajouri in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir. He was named Lachman Dev. Wrestling, horseback riding, and hunting were his major hobbies. As a young man, he shot a doe and was shocked to watch the mother and her aborted fawn writhing in pain and dying. After this gloomy scene, he had a change of heart. He left his home and became a disciple of a Bairagi Sadhu, Janaki Das, who gave him the name, Madho Das. In the company of the Sadhu he traveled through Northern India and finally arrived at Nanded (in present-day Maharashtra), situated on the bank of the river Godavari, where he built a hut to meditate upon.

Banda's Mission
 

Guru Gobind Singh hoped that Emperor Bahadur Shah would fulfill his promise against the Governor of Sirhind, and his accomplices for persecuting the people of Punjab. It was the Governor of Sirhind who had captured and murdered the Guru's mother, Mata Gujri and his two younger children, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh, for their continued refusal to convert to Islam. The promise was made by Bahadur Shah to the Guru earlier, when Shah asked the Guru to help him consolidate his rule over India, following the death of his father, Emperor Aurangzeb. Guru Gobind Singh had rendered help to Bahadur Shah in the war of succession after the death of Aurangzeb, in which Bahadur Shah emerged as a victor. Bahadur Shah never carried out his promise. He may have been reluctant to do so or unable to do so during his delicate rule. The Guru was disappointed with duplicity of new Muslim ruler even though he and his Sikhs had been traveling with the Emperor to the Deccan, the Guru decided to part ways with the Muslim ruler for once again betraying Sikhs. Earlier 9th Sikh Guru had been brutally murdered by Bahadur Shah's tyrant and fanatically orthodox Islamist father Aurangzeb.

In a few days, the Guru held a darbar and administered Pahul (ceremonial initiation into Khalsa) to Madho Das and naming him Gurbaksh Singh (beloved by the Guru). He appointed him as his jathedar (military commander) and invested him with full political and military authority as his deputy to lead the campaign in the Punjab against the Muslim and Mughal administration, to avenge the murders of Sikh gurus and their families and innocent civilian followers by Muslims, and to punish Nawab Wazir Khan and his supporters for these inhumane crimes.

The Guru gave Banda five arrows from his quiver by as a symbol of temporal authority. He was given an advisory council of the following five devoted Sikhs (Hazuri Singhs), who on their arrival in the Punjab were to assure the Sikhs that Banda was the Guru's nominee and deputy and to organize them in order to lead an expedition against Muslims and Sirhind to avenge the atrocities against Sikhs:
 

Bhagwant Singh Bangeshri, a cousin of Bhai Mani Singh
Baj Singh, brother of Bhagwant Singh Singh
Kuir Singh singh, brother of Bhagwant Singh Singh
Dharam Singh
Fateh Singh

(These names appear in 'Guru Kian Sakhin' written in 1790 by Swarup Singh kaushish).

Twenty five soldiers were to accompany Banda from Nanded to Punjab. A Hukumnamah (edict) by the Guru, instructing Sikhs to join Banda Bahadur in his struggle against Muslim tyrant Wazir Khan (Mughal Goverener of Punjab) was provided. As an insignia of the temporal authority vested in him, the Guru also gave Banda Bahadur his own sword, green bow, nagara (War drum) and a Nishan Sahib (religious sign as sign of divine approval for churshing Muslims for preservation of the local native Indian dharma). Three hundred Sikh Risaldari ( cavaliers) in battle array accompanied Banda up to a distance of eight kilometres to give him a final send off.


Banda's strategy and tactics

4. Strategy in simple language is the high level planning prior to a campaign and tactics in its implementation. Banda’s strategy was to reach Punjab after avoiding the dangers enroute and mobilizing an army of volunteers arming and training them in an impossibly short period, and then by the tactics of, what I term as the "Crumbling Process", bite into the mighty Mughal administrative centers one by one. This process was the only way to achieve the Guru’s mission of punishing a powerful enemy who was committing crime after crime against his people. Banda must have mentally and theoretically made grandiose plans during his long journey of nearly one year from Nander to Punjab. Whatever these dreams, this born leader of men executed them to perfection with a masterly application of the crumbling process. One by one the Mughal bastions, SAMANA, GHURAM, THASKA, MUSTAFBAD and SADHAURA were captured, until he reached the outskirts of SIRHIND. His main target was to revenge the ruthless torture and killing of the brave and innocent SAHIBZADAS.

5. Instinctively, Banda Bahadur adopted the vital principles of war - Surprise Flexibility, Offensive action and Concentration of Force at a point to gain local superiority. He overcame garrison after garrison by brilliantly applying these to perfection. Even Muslim authors of the time such as Qazi Noor Mohammad, Ghulam Hussain Mohammad, Qasim Kamwar Khan and Khafi Khan grudgingly praised the Tiger-like fighting quality of the Sikh Soldier. In an article of a magazine it is not possible to trace Banda Bahadur's entire campaign, so as to highlight his brilliant strategy and tactics. Yet it would be worthwhile amplifying this by select examples.


Banda in present-day Haryana

Narnaul

Here, Banda Singh Bahadur witnesses first-hand, the complete destruction of the Satnami sect which had risen in revolt against the Mughals. Men, women and children, one and all had been wiped out of existence. It was here that Banda Singh Bahadur suppressed some dacoits and robbers.

Hissar

He was well received by local Hindus and Sikhs as a leader and a deputy of Guru Gobind Singh. Liberal offerings were made to him, which he distributed among the poor and the needy.

Tohana

Here, Banda Singh Bahadur issued letters to the Sikhs of Malwa, to join him in his crusade against Wazir Khan of Sirhind.

Banda Singh Bahadur made proper arrangements to escort Mata Sahib Kaur to Delhi. From Kharkhauda about fifty kilometres north-west of Delhi, Mata Sahib Kaur was sent to Delhi under armed escort, to join Mata Sundari, who was acting as the head of the Khalsa after the death of her husband, Guru Gobind Singh.

Sonepat

At Sonepat, fifty kilometres north of Delhi, early in November 1709 Banda Singh Bahadur commanded about five hundred followers. He attacked the government treasury, plundered it and distributed it among his retinue. This was his second success against the government and it considerably raised his prestige. Marching slowly, he advanced towards Sirhind.

Kaithal

Near Kaithal, about a hundred kilometres further north, Banda Singh Bahadur seized a government treasury, which was being sent from the northern districts to Delhi. He kept nothing out of it for himself and gave it away to his rank and file.

Samana: Mobility, surprise and economy of Banda's force

SAMANA was strongly fortified. It had a wall all around, every Haveli was a fortress and the Mughal force was well armed and had deployed guns for the towns defence. Banda Bahadur's plan on 26 Nov 1709 was to lie up at a distance the previous day thus lulling the defenders into a feigned lack of will and intent to attack. That night the Sikh force did a brilliant rapid approach from some miles, entered the town from all directions before the gates could be closed and after negligible opposition totally captured and sacked SAMANA by the next day’s nightfall. Thus the three main principles of war of Surprise, Mobility and Economy of Force (he took least casualties) were applied with brilliance.

Samana is fifty kilometres farther north, was the native place of Jalal-ud-din Jallad - the professional executioner who had beheaded Guru Teg Bahadur. While Jalal-ud-din Jallad son had beheaded the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh. Ali Hussain, who betrayed Guru Gobind Singh by making false promises to lured Guru Gobind Singh to evacuate the fort of Anandpur also belonged to Samana. Samana was an accursed place of betraying Muslims in the eyes of the accepting and trusting Sikhs.

The entire Sikh peasantry of the neighbourhood was now up in arms and sided with Banda Singh, such was the centuries old accumulated anger of native Sikhs against Muslims that peasant army following Banda Singh had risen to several thousands. Banda Singh Bahadur fell upon the Samana town (present day Jind District in Haryana state of India) on November 26, 1709. The Muslim inhabitants were massacred in the same cold blood as Muslims earlier did to Sikhs. Samana town was razed to the ground to avenge the past atrocities of Muslims.

At that time, Samana was the district town and had nine Parganas attached to it. It was placed under the charge of brave Sikh warrior Fateh Singh. Samana was the first territorial conquest and was established as the first administrative unit of Banda Singh Bahadur.

Treacherous Ranghar Muslims of Samana, Ghuram and Thaksa Destroyed

Then, Kunjpura (Karnal district of Haryana, India), Ghuram, and Thaska inhabited by Muslim Ranghars were destroyed. Ranghars are current age Muslims who were once original honorable Rajputs but forced to convert by Muslims, often by humiliatingly marrying/giving their rajput daughters to non-rajput Muslims invaders. Currently, there is an undercurrent movement among educated Ranghars to purify to reconnect to roots by reconverting to Hindu dharma and Sikh panth by shunning the shameful past of humiliating conversion by cold-blooded foreign Muslim invader.

Damla: Muslim Killer of Sikh Gurus and their familes destroyed

Damla was the village of the treacherous pathan Muslim contingents who had taken employment with Guru Gobind Singh after being dismissed from the Mughal forces, who had deserted Guru Gobind Singh at the start of the Battle of Bhangani with Muslims. Banda Bahadur taught them a lessons by ravaging Muslim pathan village of Damla. Shahabad Markanda's Muslims also fell to the brave Sikh forces of Banda Singh Bahadur.

Sadhaura

Usman Khan, the Muslim chief of Sadhaura, about twenty-five kilometres away, had persecuted Sayyid Budhu Shah for helping Guru Gobind Singh in the Battle of Bhangani. On the approach of Banda Singh Bahadur's army, the leading Muslims of the town gathered in a big and strongly built mansion. They were all quickly put to death by brave forces of Sikhs peasant followers of bada Bahadur to establish native rule of kings with native religion with tolerant views. This building where Sikhs avenged by killing all occupants has come to be known as Qatal Garhi (the Fort of Murder). Banda Singh Bahadur destroyed the Muslim dominated quarters of the town.

A contemporary Muslim historian, Khafi Khan, wrote: "In two or three months time, four to five thousands horse-riders, and seven to eight thousand warlike footmen joined him. Day by day their number increased, and abundant money and material by pillage of muslims fell into the hands hands of Hindu and Sikh warriors. Numerous muslim villages were laid waste and Banda Singh bahadur appointed his own Sikh native police officers (thanedars) and established his sovereignty by setting up of the collectors of revenue (Tahsil-dar-e-mal)".

Mukhlisgarh becomes Lohgarh

The ultimate aim of Banda was to punish Wazir Khan and conquer Sirhind. It required time to consolidate his material and territorial gains. He also wanted to study the military resources of Sirhind. He was anxious to see what steps the government would take against him. He therefore established his headquarters, in the beginning of February 1710, at Mukhlisgarh situated in the lower Siwalik Hills south of Nahan, about twenty kilometres from Sadhaura. His fort stood atop a hill top. Two kuhls or water channels flowed at its base and supplied water to it. This fort was repaired and put in a state of defence. All the money, gold and costly material acquired in the expeditions were deposited here. He minted coins and issued orders under his seal. The name of Mukhlisgarh was changed to Lohgarh (Fort of Steel), and it became the capital of the first Sikh state.

Sirhind, the Principal Town of SE Punjab was Banda Bahadur's goal. To all Sikhs it represented the cruelty of its Governor, Wazir Khan had to render an account for this bestial act. James Brown, the British Historian described it as most barbarous and outrageous. No wonder then that the Sikhs were thirsting for his blood. Wazir Khan sent a strong force under Sher Mohammed Khan of Malerkotla towards ROPAR to prevent a large force of Sikhs from Doaba and Majha joining Banda’s main force moving from BANUR. After a very fierce battle the valiant Sikhs prevailed. It was the bloody hand to hand battle on the battlefield, in which Sikhs dominated, which won the day. Thus Banda succeeded in concentrating his force for the final battle.

Banda's kingdom

Banda ruled over the region bounded on the north by the Shiwalik hills, on the west by the river Tangri, on the east by the river Jamuna, and in the south by a line passing through Samana, Thanesar, Kaithal and Karnal. He abolished the Zamindari System of land prevailing under the Mughals and declared the actual cultivators as the owners of land. Thus he established peasant proprietorship, and won the approbation and support of the overwhelming majority of the population. Khafi Khan says that Banda "issued orders to imperial officers and agents and big jagirdars to submit and give up their business."

The battle of Sirhind

Banda's Troops

Banda Singh Bahadur devoted three months in organizing his civil and military administration. Bahadur Shah was still away only less than 100 km from Delhi, yet the weak and nominal Muslim rulers of Delhi of Mohgul origin had no strength to confront Banda Singh Bahadur.

Wazir Khan of Sirhind was making his own preparations independently to meet the danger from Banda Singh Bahadur.

Banda's troops were mostly untrained Sikh peasants, raw levies and not fully armed. Banda possessed no elephants, no good horses and few guns. His followers had immense Sikh pride coupled with burning desire to avenge against Muslims, armed only with matchlocks, agricultural spears, swords, bows and arrows. According to Khafi Khan, the number of Banda's troops rose from thirty to forty thousand. Muslims mohgul completely lost the control of areas in current day Harayana and Panjab. Assisted by his Sikh peasant army, Banda Singh Bahadur established complete and popular sovereignty, implementing agricultural land ownership reforms and accumulating volunteer Sarv-khap based Sikh forces to fight to over throw Muslims controls. Jats and Rajputs supported by all other castes belonging to Hindu and Sikh played a vital part, even to the extent of eliminating converted Ranghars who mainly cow-towed and submitted to their conquering Muslim rulers.

Wazir Khan's preparations

Wazir Khan had proclaimed a jihad or a holy war against Banda. He was joined by the Nawab of Malerkotla, other Muslim chiefs and jagirdars as well as Ranghars in large numbers. The majority of his soldiers were trained men. Wazir Khan's own forces were six thousand horsemen, eight to nine thousand musketeers (burqandaz) and archers, and with these about ten guns of artillery and many elephants. In addition, there were about ten thousand Ghazis. The total number of Wazir Khan's troops was about thirty thousand.

Banda advanced from Lohgarh and halted at Banur, near Ambala, fourteen kilometres from Rajpura. Banda sacked the town, and then went towards Sirhind.

The Battle of Chhappar Chiri

It is said that like Napolean, Banda Bahadur observed the battlefield from a high and prominent area. He kept in hand an elite reserve ready to be committed in a lightning strike in the most vulnerable area in order to achieve a breakthrough. At Chappar Chiri the Mughals were far superior in numbers, Weapons and Guns. Banda’s soldiers had long spears, arrows, swords and of course indomitable courage. He lost men in the early phase of the battle but broke through by launching himself and his lion like reserves at a vital moment in a weakened salient on the plains of Chappar Chiri's wide open battlefield. So fierce was this, that as described by Khafi Khan, horses, elephants fell in the hands of the infidels horsemen and footmen in large numbers fell under the swords of the infidels, who pursued them as far as SIRHIND. Wazir Khan fell from his horse and was captured alive. The Mughal army was completely routed but Banda Bahadur lost nearly 5000 soldiers killed and his men carried out the last rites of the fallen Sikhs at the battle site before entering SIRHIND. Wazir khan was killed and his body hung from a prominent tree upside down. This tree still stands as a symbol of the fate that is reserved for tyrants.

The battle was fought on May 12, 1710 at Chhappar Chiri, twenty kilometres from Sirhind. On the Mughal side, Sher Muhammad Khan, the Nawab of Malerkotla was the leader of the right flank. Wazir Khan was in command of the centre. Suchanand, Diwan of the Nawab was put on the left. Suchanand instigated the death of Guru Gobind Singh's youngest two children. On the Sikhs' side, Baj Singh and Binod Singh (two of the five Sikhs sent by Guru Gobind along with Banda to the Punjab) headed the right and left flanks respectively while Banda commanded the centre facing Wazir Khan's army.

Suchanand could not withstand Baj Singh's attack and fled. Sher Mohammed Khan was about to overpower Binod Singh's wing when he was suddenly struck by a bullet and was instantly killed. His men immediately dispersed. Wazir Khan was rushing upon Banda who stuck fast to his ground and discharged arrows relentlessly. Baj Singh and Binod Singh now joined Banda. During their combined assault, Wazir Khan was killed.

Wazir Khan's death is variously described. According to the most accepted view Baj Singh rushed upon Wazir Khan, who threw a spear at the Sikh. Baj Singh caught hold of it and flung the same spear upon Wazir Khan. It struck the forehead of his horse. Wazir Khan discharged an arrow which hit Baj Singh's arm, before rushing upon him with his sword. At this juncture, Fateh Singh came to Baj Singh's rescue. It is related that he swung his sword with such force that Wazir Khan was sliced from shoulder to waist.

Lessons learned

Concentration of Force

Banda Bahadur did not attack Wazir Khan's Army until he was able to join up with the Khalsa re-inforcements from Majha and Doaba. This he did, inspite of knowing that the enemy was digging in and preparing formidable defences at Chapper Chiri. He hid his forces from effective artillery fire in the thick grove of trees behind small hillocks.

Flexibility

This time Banda knew that surprise had been lost and, this was now a battle between a large well equipped Mughal Army with Guns, which would decimate his force in a frontal attack. He now changed his tactics and ordered commando raids at night to first silence the Artillery which were causing heavy casualties even under cover. Once this was done, his archers and musketeers, who were under cover, caused heavy casualties to the Enemy Cavalry and the elephants ran riot. In this confusion his own cavalry must have attacked the flanks and rear, while his valiant marching troops launched early morning frontal attacks. They still took casualties as the Mughal fire power was still effective until hand to hand fighting was joined. Here Banda timed his master stroke to perfection. Observing the whole scene from a high Tibba, he launched himself and his reserves - a brilliant strike into the Mughal vitals. Sikhs were masters of hand to hand fighting. Once the Mughal lines broke, there was no stopping the offensive force. It was indeed brilliant victory for a brilliant Commander. He had not violated a single principal of war.

Pursuit of fugitives

Wazir Khan's head was stuck up on a spear and lifted high up by a Sikh who took his seat in the deceased's howdah. Sirhind's troops on beholding the Nawab's head took alarm, and fled in dismay and despair. The Sikhs fell upon them and there was a terrible carnage. The Sikhs reached Sirhind by nightfall. The gates of the city were closed. The guns mounted on the walls of the fort commenced bombardment. The Sikhs laid siege to the place. They took rest at night. Wazir Khan's family and many Muslim nobles fled to Delhi at night.

By the next afternoon, the Sikhs forced open the gates and fell upon the city. The Government treasury and moveable property worth two crores fell into Banda's hand which was removed to Lohgarh. Banda Singh Bahadur purified several Muslims (who were earlier forcefully converted to Islam from Hinduism) by letting them to embraced Sikhism by their free will. For example, Dindar Khan son of Jalal Khan Rohilla purified himself by purging himself of Islam by embracing Sikhism by changing his name as Dindar Singh. Same way Mir Nasir-ud-din the official newswriter of Sirhind, purified himself by shunning Islam and reconverting with new name as Mir Nasir Singh.

The province of Sirhind occupied

Sirhind was the economic and provincial capital of Mughals.The entire province of Sirhind consisting of twenty-eight paraganas and extending from the Satluj to the Jamuna and from the Shiwalik hills to Kunjpura, Karnal and Kaithal, yielding Rs. fifty-two lakhs (one lakh = one hundred thousand) annually came into Banda's possession. Baj Singh was appointed the governor of Sirhind. Ali Singh was made his deputy. Their chief responsibility was to be on guard against the Mughal troops from Lahore and Jammu. Fateh Singh retained charge of Samana. Ram Singh, brother of Baj singh became the Chief of Thanesar. Binod singh in addition to his post of the revenue minister, was entrusted with the administration of Karnal and Panipat. His main duty was to guard the road from Delhi. Banda retired to his capital at Lohgarh. His era began from May 12, 1710, the date of his victory in the battle of Sirhind. The Zamindari system was abolished in the whole province in one stroke.

Banda advances towards Lahore

Having set up an administrative machinery, Banda advanced from Sirhind to Malerkotla in June, 1710. The town was saved for a ransom of two lakhs on the recommendation of Kishan Das Banya, an old acquaintance of Banda. From there, he marched to Morinda whose faujdar had handed over Guru Gobind Singh's Mother and His two younger Sons to Wazir Khan. Then he visited Kiratpur and Anandpur to pay homage to shrines. He took Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar. Banda crossed the Beas into Majha, and fell upon Batala. After this, he went on a pilgrimage to Dera Baba Nanak. At Amritsar, Banda made large offerings. He invited young men to embrace Sikhism. Many from Majha joined the Khalsa. Banda marched towards Lahore. Sayyid Islam Khan, the Governor, mounted guns on the walls of the city. Banda laid a siege, but was unable to scale the walls of the fort. Lahore could have fallen, but Banda was in a hurry to look after his new government.

Only the Lahore Fort, owing to its fortifications, and housing the Moghul elite, could escape Banda Bahadur. The rest of the city and suburbs were destroyed by the army of Banda Bahadur.

Banda versus muslims

Banda's rule, that drained the Mohgul empire, had a far-reaching impact on the history of the Punjab. With it began the decay of Muslim and Mughal authority (eventually relegated to within the walls of their Delhi force and bulk of their territory taken over by Ranjit Singh & Marathas, and later by British) and the demolition of the feudal system of society it had created.

Muslims Mohgul King Bahadur Shah Issues Farman to Kill all Sikhs

Weakened and nominal Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah tried to counter Banda's increasing influence. Bahadur Shah journeyed northwards from the Deccan to punish the Sikhs. Instructions were issued to the governors of Delhi and Oudh and other Mughal officers to march towards the Punjab. Prohibitory laws against Sikhs were passed. On December 10, 1710, Emperor Bahadur Shah I issued a general warrant for the faujdars to "kill the worshippers of Nanak (the Sikhs), wherever they were to be found." (Nanak Prastan ra Har ja kih bayaband baqatl rasanand)

Retreat and Regains by Banda

A massive Mughal force drove the Sikhs from Sirhind and other places to take shelter in the fort of Lohgarh in the hilly region. Banda married the daughter of one of the hill chiefs. Further reinforcements arrived and sixty thousand horse and foot soon surrounded Banda's hill retreat. For want of provisions, the Sikhs were reduced to rigorous straits. When they could stand up to the numerically superior enemy no longer, they made strategic nightly sallies to escape into the hills of Nahan, only to regroup later.

He again started his campaigns against the Mughals, coming down from the hills to the plains, but was overwhelmed by the superior numbers of Mughal forces. Sikhs came out of their mountain haunts to recover their lost territories and once again occupied Sadhaura and Lohgarh. Farrukhsiyar, who came to the throne of Delhi in 1713, ordered against them the sternest campaign yet launched.

They were hounded out of the plains and their main column of about 4,000 men under Banda were subjected to a terrible siege at the village of Gurdas-Nangal, about six kilometers from Gurdaspur. For eight months the garrison resisted the siege of 100,000 Mughal troops under gruesome conditions (1 Sikh against 25 Muslims). Towards the end, an unfortunate dispute arose between Banda and one of his most trusted advisers, Binod Singh. This man along with Baj Singh and three others made up the war council that Banda was supposed to consult in any difficult situation. Binod Singh advised the evacuation of the fortress, but vailant Banda wished to fight Muslims out there. Binod Singh was senior in age, and when this difference of views flared up into an open quarrel, Banda agreed to let Binod Singh take his men out of the Fortress. Binod Singh and his supporters then charged out of the fortress and escaped.

Towards the end of November 1715, the remaining defenders were running out of ammunition and food. They were trying to exist on boiled leaves and the bark of trees, and were gradually reduced to mere skeletons. Then on December 17, 1715, Abdus Samad Khan, one of the Mughal commanders, shouted across the separating moat, that he would not allow any killing by his men, if Banda opened the gate to the fortress. When Banda ordered the gate be opened, the Mughals rushed in to spear or stab as many as three hundred of the half-dead and helpless defenders. About seven hundred were captured alive and handcuffed in twos. Banda had chains round his ankles and his wrists, and was then locked in an iron cage. The Mughals were still afraid that he might escape and so they placed a guard on each side of the cage with swords drawn and the cage was placed aloft an elephant, which led the procession, which paraded through Lahore, before proceeding towards Delhi. Zakarya Khan, the son of the Lahore Governor, then ordered his men to lop off more Sikh heads on the way. The prisoners were first taken to Lahore, and thence to Delhi. Thus Muslims made a spectacle of killing sikhs and displaying their heads in most humiliating manner.

Torture and execution

The cavalcade to the imperial capital was a grisly sight. Besides 740 prisoners in heavy chains, it comprised seven hundred cartloads of Sikh heads with another 200 stuck upon pikes. On February 26, 1716, the procession neared Delhi, and Farukh Siyar ordered his Minister, Mohammed Amin Khan, to go out to receive them and to prepare them for a suitable display in the city. On February 29, the citizens of Delhi lined the streets, to get a good sight of the procession..

First came two-thousand soldiers, each holding a Sikh head impaled on his upright spear. Next followed the elephant carrying Banda in his iron cage, still with two Muslim guards guarding him, with their swords unsheathed. A gold-laced red turban was placed on his head, and to add further mockery to his plight, a brightly printed scarlet robe was slipped on his body. Then came 740 prisoners (500 had been collected on the way). These men were chained in pairs and thrown across the backs of camels. Their faces were blackened, and pointed sheepskin or paper caps were clapped on their heads. Behind this line came the Mughal Commanders, Abdus Samad Khan, his son Qamar-ud-Din Khan, and his son-in-law Zakaria Khan. Their men lined both sides of the streets.

For seven days, executions were carried out, until all the ordinary captives had been disposed off. Their bodies were loaded on wagons and taken out of town to be thrown to the vultures. The heads were hung up on trees or on poles near the market-place to be a lesson to all rebels. The jailors next turned their attention to the 20 major leaders, including Baj Singh, Fateh Singh, Ali Singh and Gulab Singh. These men were tortured to the extreme and were asked to divulge the place where they had buried all the treasures that had been looted from Sirhind, Batala and other towns during their better days.

Failing to get any clues after three months, they prepared to put an end to their lives on Sunday, June 9, 1716. Banda's cage was again hoisted on top of an elephant, and he was dressed in the mock attire of an emperor, with a colourful red pointed turban on his head. His four-year old son, Ajai Singh was placed in his lap. The twenty chiefs marched behind the elephant and this procession then passed through the streets of Delhi, and headed for the mausoleum of Bahadur Shah, near the Qutub Minar.
On reaching the graveyard, the captives were again offered a choice of two alternatives: conversion to Islam or death. All chose death. They were tortured again before being executed. Their heads were then impaled on spears and arranged in a circle around Banda who was now squatting on the ground. There were hundreds of spectators standing around watching this scene.

Banda Singh Bahadur was then given a short sword and ordered to kill his own son Ajai Singh. As Banda Bahadur sat unperturbed, the barbaric Muslim executioner moved forward and plunged his sword into the little sikh child cutting the body into two. Then pieces of flesh for the body of a four year old innocent child were cut and thrown in Banda's face. His liver was removed and with force thrust into Banda Singh's mouth. The father sat through all this without any signs of emotion. His powers of endurance were to be tested still further. But before that, Mohammed Amin Khan, who was standing near, spoke as follows: "From your manner so far you appear to be a man of virtue, who believes in God, and in doing good deeds. You are also very intelligent. Can you tell me why you are having to suffer all this here?"

Banda's reply to his premitive Muslim sadistic tyrants was, "When the tyrants oppress their subjects to the limit, then God sends men like me on this earth to mete out punishment to them. But being human, we sometimes overstep the laws of justice, and for that we are made to pay whilst we are still here. God is not being unjust to me in any way."

The executioner then stepped forward and thrust the point of his dagger into Banda's right eye, pulling out the eyeball. He then pulled out the other eyeball. Banda sat through all this as still as a rock. His face gave no twitch of pain.

Then the executioner took his sword and slashed off Banda's left foot, then both his arms. But Banda's features were still calm as if he was at peace with his Creator. Finally they tore off his flesh with red-hot pincers, and there being nothing else left in the tyrannical Muslim's book of tortures, those murderous Muslim beasts cut Banda bahadur's body up into a hundred pieces, and were satisfied in their saddist way. (These details of the torture are given in full, by the following writers: Mohammed Harisi, Khafi Khan, Thornton, Elphinstone, Daneshwar and others).


Legacy

With Banda's death, Khalsa leadership was taken up by new warriors like Baba Deep Singh, Nawab Kapur Singh, Chhajja Singh, Bhuma Singh, Hari Singh Dhillon, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Budh Singh, Naudh Singh and Charhat Singh Sukerchakia and others. The Age of the Dal Khalsa and the Sikh Misls (principalities) had dawned. Within ninety years, Ranjit Singh Sukerchakia united the Misls, captured Lahore and established the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab.


Salute to great Sikh Warrior Sardar Banda Singh Bahadur who gave all but not his beliefs


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Harbans Singh "The encyclopedia of Sikhism.
Hari Ram Gupta "The Heritage of the Sikhs.
Sohan Lal Suri "Umdat-ut-Tawarikh"
Khushwant Singh "History of the Sikhs"
 

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