The Heroic Saga of Saragarhi in FerozepurThose were 10,000……they were just 21! Yet they stood as a wall of stone against them...deterring them from their evil mission!
Amidst the barren land, there stand the ruins of a small fortress Saragarhi in Ferozepur district, that depict those heart-wrenching moments of valor and glory of sacrifice and honor. It is very unfortunate that not many know about the heroism displayed by the handful of stalwarts, the real super-heroes who fought for nine hours and stood as a wall against 10,000 Afghani intruders, back in 1897.
The Saragarhi PostSituated at the mid-point of the two forts – Fort Lockhart and Fort Cavagnari on Samana range, Saragarhi post once served as a signaling station. Here, the 21 Sikh soldiers fought against the mighty force of intruders. One of the soldiers, Havildar Ishar Singh, commanded the group. With his expert direction having a right sense off precision and foresightedness, he made the best out of his petite army in the battle of Saragarhi and saved the honor of his motherland.
The Battle of SaragarhiThe time to time updates about the war were given by Sardar Gurumukh Singh to Colonel Haughton positioned in Fort Lockhart. It was on September 12 1897, when about 10,000 Afghans were reported to have reached the post of Saragarhi. On getting the update about this, the Colonel reveals his state of helplessness by not being able to send the immediate aid to Saragarhi. And then begins the struggle of those already positioned soldiers at the front. The first one to get injured were Bhagwan Singh and Lal Singh. Despite many lucrative offer by the Afghanis, the Sikh soldiers continued to stay positioned and fight for their honor. But at one point of time, the intruders are able to enter the Fort Lockhart. Yet the soldiers keep on fighting, this time hand-to-hand though. The commander Havildar Ishar Singh commands them to get back, while he alone keeps fighting. But, Sardar Gurumukh Singh does not follow his order and manages to kill 20 Afghanis. Even while dying, the brave soldier repeatedly yells ‘Jo Bole So Nihaal, Sat Sri Akaal’ to boost up the morale of his fellow soldiers.
After winning over Saragarhi, the intruders started moving towards Fort Gulistan but later realized, it was too late as a the army aid had already been sent here to combat them. This was exactly when the fort was at the verge of being taken over by the Afghanis. The Indian army then showed them their power by taking a heavy toll on them. Even Afghanis said that their hundreds of men were killed. All this could happen due to the immense efforts and bravery of those 21 soldiers who engaged that massive fleet and kept it at bay from the inner regions.
Those Were Our Brave Men….One would definitely want to know those names that is synonymous with the term ‘Bravery’ in true sense. They were – Havildar Ishar Singh, Naik Lal Singh, Lance Naik Chanda Singh, Sepoy Sundar Singh, Sepoy Ram Singh, Sepoy Uttar Singh, Sepoy Sahib Singh, Sepoy Hira Singh, Sepoy Daya Singh, Sepoy Jivan Singh, Sepoy Bhola Singh, Sepoy Narayan Singh, Sepoy Gurumukh Singh, Sepoy Ram Singh, Sepoy Bhagwan Singh, Sepoy Buta Singh, Sepoy Jivan Singh and Sepoy Nand Singh. These names are inscribed on the Saragarhi Memorial in Firozepur.
Though they got international recognition yet the saddest part is that they are not at all known at a common level.
Recognition at International LevelThis intense tale of passion and valor got its space by UNESCO, as one of the eight stories of bravery. Even several articles got published on eminent newspapers like The Tribune. Yet the debate about whether to include this story in the curriculum of all Indian schools, is on. It is though said that the story is a part of curriculum of national schools in France and also in Punjab schools.
When the story was narrated in the House of Commons in Britain, every listener had his jaw dropped in awe and they gave standing ovation to those brave men. All these Sikh soldiers who gave up their lives in the honor of their motherland were posthumously awarded the highest gallantry award Victoria Cross by the hands of British authority. The award is equivalent to Param Vir Chakra of today.
The Saragarhi Day in Ferozepur – Remembering the Legacy of September 12Today - every year, September 12 is observed and celebrated as Saragarhi Day. It is commemorated to honor the names of those Sikh heroes, who created a nail-biting saga in the history of world Military. On this day, various runs and rallies are organized in the town by the Sikh regiment in which hundreds of people participate enthusiastically. This is meant to let the younger generation know about their brave men, feel proud of them and get inspired by them.
In their remembrance, even today the entire Ferozepur seems like singing the stories of valor and sacrifice -
Bhaari Gumaan Bhare Man Me, Kar Parbat Pank Hale na Halainge
Tor Areen Maror Mvasaan, Maate Matangan Maan, Malainge
Sripat Shri Bhagwaan Kripa Bin, Tyaag Jahaan Nidaan Chalainge
Saach Kahon Sun Leho Sabhai, Jin Prem Ki O Tin Hi Prabh Paaeo!
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