Posts Tagged ‘soldiers’

Let me start this post with a question , How many Indians Know about this day , the 12th Day of September 1897, I know its been a long long time.

I was on a Interactive trip to France (I cant go into details due to some reason), We were a contingent of about 18 Indians , who were BORN in India but immigrated to UK, out of the 18 Indians 6 were Sikhs, during one of the interactive seminars a question was raised by a member of public if We knew about this day, I am not trying to show off or anything here But I did know about this, the reason being I genuinely have interest in Sikh history (Although this day was not just about sikhs, it is about India then).

Out of the 18 only two of us knew the significance of the day which was indeed very shameful. I also only know bits and pieces from what I have read ages ago, So i thought to have another read and share with everyone.  This is something that we as a nation should be proud of.  Such were the people in those olden days, I do wish we have them back, hopefully our nation can become as great as it CAN BE.

In the North West Frontier Province which was part of British India, On this day 21 Sikh soldiers made a decision  that ended up in the ultimate sacrifice and Bravery a Human being can give.  These 21 Sikhs from The 36th Sikhs  Batallion(now the 4th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment)  fought till the last against a 10,000 to 12000 strong Enemy.

To go back in history and from Wikipedia it is learnt that Saragarhi, itself, was basically a small fort with a signalling tower that enabled communications between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan, It had one Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) and twenty troops of Other Ranks (ORs) to protect it and Because of the nature of the place it was very important for the Afghans and its ally’s to capture this place so as to disrupt communication between the two forts.

Saragarhi being a communication link was also a benefit for us now, because the entire battle was broadcast in real time by its signal man, Sepoy Gurmukh Singh, Hence why we today know what exactly happened or have a fairly accurate account of the proceedings.

On that fateful morning Sepoy Gurmukh Singh, the detachment signaller, went up the signalling tower to set up his heliograph and Signalled “ENEMY APPROACHING THE MAIN GATE…NEED REINFORCEMENT” to Lieutenant Colonel John Haughton Commanding Officer of the 36th Sikhs at Fort Lockhart ,the enemy had systematically cut-off the supply route between Fort Lockhart and Saragarhi, hence no help would be immediately available

Fort Lockhart transmitted back: UNABLE TO BREAKTHROUGH…HOLD POSITION.

It was a grim situation but the leader of the small Contingent Havildar Ishar Singh called upon his men to make a decision, the Sikhs unanimously agreed to hold the position. Saragarhi flashed back: “UNDERSTOOD“. Undeterred, the Sikh soldiers committed to fighting to the last to prevent the encroaching enemy from reaching the other forts.

The enemy made determined attempts to rush open the gate, but were thwarted back by the valiant soldiers, The Sikh soldiers’ ranks and ammunitions were now beginning to dwindle. Out of the full strength of 21 soldiers at the start of the battle, there now were 10. The battle had gone on from 0900 hrs to 1200 hrs with the Sikhs having fought off the attempts

At 1400 hrs, Sepoy Gurmukh Singh signalled  “LOW ON AMMO…NEED AMMO…URGENTLY. Lt Col Haughton attempted to send his personal orderly to try and pass the ammunition to the trapped Sikhs, but again to no avail.

The enemy set fire to the bushes and scrubs around Fort Saragarhi. Clouds of smoke blanketed the fort, making it impossible for the Sikhs to see the enemy. Soldiers at Fort Lockhart could clearly see the approach of the tribesmen due to their elevated position above Saragarhi. Lt Col Haughton frantically signaled Saragarhi: ENEMY APPROACHING…THE BREACH“.

Havildar Sardar Ishar Singh was severely injured by this time and ordered the remaining Sikhs to fall back into the inner wall and ordered two Sepoys to drag him towards the breach to buy some time for his men. Out of ammunition all three of them fixed their bayonets charged the enemy, the wall was breached only five Sikhs remained alive. Four in the inner building and Sepoy Gurmukh Singh at the signalling tower. The Sikhs did not give up. Instead they formed an all-round defensive position with their backs against each other and their bayonets pointing outwards fought hand to hand inside the fort.

At 1530 hrs Sepoy Gurmukh Singh, transmitted: “MAIN GATE BREACHED…DOWN TO ONE…REQUEST PERMISSION TO DISMOUNT AND JOIN THE FIGHT“.

Orders came back: “PERMISSION GRANTED“. Sepoy Gurmukh Singh disassembled his heliograph device, picked up his rifle and came down the signalling tower to join the fight. Soldiers at Fort Lockhart saw him disappear into the thick of battle right into the enemy line.

It is Said that The enemy did not want to lose more men in hand to hand fighting , so to avoid getting more of their men killed by a Single Valiant soldier, they set fire to the tower. Sardar Gurmukh Singh perished in the flames shouting at top of his voice repeatedly the Sikh battle-cry “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” (Shout Aloud in Ecstasy! True is the Great Timeless One). “Akal,” meaning Immortal, beyond death, the Supreme Creator God unbound by time and non-temporal.

Sardar Gurmukh Singh, the youngest of the Sikhs at 19 years old was credited to have taken down 20 tribesmen single-handedly before succumbing. He was the last to fall at Saragarhi.

“It is no exaggeration to record that the armies which possess the valiant Sikhs cannot face defeat in war” –Queen Victoria, British Parliament 1897

“When the news of the bravery displayed by the Saragarhi battle heroes was flashed to London, the British Parliament gave a standing ovation in a packed house and the fighting qualities displayed by the defenders of ‘Saragarhi post’ received the highest praise all over the world. All the 21 combatant soldiers of the Saragarhi battle were posthumously awarded ‘Indian Order of Merit’, the highest gallantry awards given to Indian soldiers in those days, equivalent to Victoria Cross (VC) at that time and Param Vir Chakra (PVC) of the present day independent India. A rare and unparalleled achievement in a single battle.”

This battle is now part of Study in French Schools, Till I was a student in India this historic battle was never a part of our curriculum, which is quiet shameful actually. Although around year 2000 the Punjab Govt was said to be doing something about it BUT how much they have succeeded I have no clue.

Maybe Someone reading this post from India can tell me ?

The above  has been compiled using various sources.

  1. 21 AGAINST 10,000- THE BATTLE OF SARAGARHI
  2. The Battle of Saragarhi
  3. Wikipedia 
  4. SikhWiki
  5. UK Armed Forces commemorate the Battle of Saragarhi
downloadSaragarh4i

The Saragarhi Monument, Samana Ridge, NWFP, Pakistan.

downloadSaragarh3i

The Saragarhi Monument .

downloadSaragarh2i

News of the event shot around the world in this Australian newspaper.

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A lot of thoughts go by ones mind when idle , today as I sat in my car to drive to work, I had this  how do I say chaos of thoughts and none matched the one that just went by it was all going in tangents, at one time I was home and the next I was thinking of Cricket or the Fast taken by Anna Hazaare. I had to literally sit down and SHAKE my head severely to bring it back in sync with normalcy :), if that is possible.

Well I am trying to jot down the thoughts now these may hurt a lot of people so I am sorry to them but as usual would ask them to think on the wider picture and logically.. The recent few events that have happened back home have been good – bad and Ugly.. I mean world cup happened I wanted to write a post on it but blogosphere is full of articles so I did not post though I had one in the drafts, The whole nation became one in that one last week of the matches , australia-Pakistan-Sri Lanka all defeated in a row thanks to some good cricket played by our team .. but other then that it was the spirit of the indians which came to the fore how we all got together, here in UK too it was evident everyone in pubs wearing the Blue shirts and cheering till throats went hoarse .. 

That was the GOOD…  

Then came the chain of events where Anna hazaare along with a whole lot of people took this fast to get the Govt of india to their knees , which was a Very good thing that finally the Govt. got so scared that they could not afford something happening to Anna , they had to relent to it, brings to mind the satyagraha taken by Indians against the British people but there was a STARK DIFFERENCE at that time the whole country was one but now only a handful which was a shame , Out of Billions of People just a meagre few .. I know a lot of the Intelligent people out there will say it’s a START, but I am as usual cynical start of what, Things can’t get achieved by a few going on a fast , their have to be a vast majority of people who need to give there support.  Not forgetting about the rumours that just came after the fast was broken many of the distinguished people in the group had political problems , I will not get into the details cause somewhere in my heart I knew this would happen. True there are some genuine people who want things to change but those genuine people are few, and as the poem i posted I don’t believe in the Khadi wearing leaders.   They are all the same , some have hundreds of skeletons in their cupboard , some just One but they do have.

Well I don’t want to go on and on about that , I do support the Cause started by Anna Hazare, but as I said earlier I don’t support the khadi wearing people, To me I still feel that we need to make a loud noise to make sure the DEAF hear us and that will only come true if the current generation and the one coming up behind will get together, I mean I was watching the IPL match between Kings XI and One more team I forgot the name I think it was Mumbai indians and the stadium had more people in it then the number of people who actually GENUINELY went out and supported the anti corruption Cause. That is the reality of our great nation.

That was BAD

I have so many question running around, a soldier in the army gets paid to fight for the country for which he is ready to give his life, they live in conditions where the majority of so-called Desh Bhagats wont even survive one day, What they are doing is real work then why do we start comparing a sports man as a soldier of the country as it happened in the Cricket match against Pakistan, Everyone saw the crowd there, people spent LAKHS of rupees to get a ticket to watch that match but I am sure NONE of them spent a thousand to buy a bus ticket to go to Delhi to sit with the people who were fasting.

How come none of the sportsmen who when it comes to recognition come in herds and then moan how they are paid less or not thought of , come in support.  I mean with no disrespect to the supporters of GOD of cricket Sachin Tendulkar, I am myself a fan of his and he is GOD , Why could he not have come in support and gone and sat there for a fast, I mean he is made his life, his future generations life living in india , the love and affection he has got, I do feel that someone like him Should have supported the cause and then MAYBE the cricket frenzy public would have done more and not just their are a few who can be named who are willing to take millions from the nation but give nothing in return and i say nothing BECAUSE when they lose they are not accounted for. none of them say of I wont take the match fee for this one because we lost.

True the govt has agreed to the terms of the Cause but that is it , Nothing is going to happen the govt has just agreed to put the bill in the session whether something actually takes place once passed we have yet to find out, the reason being each and every leader will have to step down or brought to justice cause they are the Khadi wearing politicians and that to bright White starched ironed ones.  If we think something will change then who are we kidding.

That is UGLY 

HENCE my thought that till we ALL get together MILLIONS-BILLIONS  and make that NOISE the noise that will wake up the deaf-blind govt we have things will not change.