punjabi sikh history by decades!
At the battle of Chamkaur Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s two eldest sons, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji (aged 17) and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh (aged 15) die fighting against thousands. The younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji (aged 8) and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji (aged 6) are bricked alive for refusing to accept forceful conversion to Islam by Wazir Khan, Governor of Sirhind.
Battle of Mukstar. 40 Sikhs, who had earlier deserted Guru Gobind Singh Ji, come back to Guru Ji, fighting against thousands in the Moghul army. The battle is won, but all the 40 men are martyred. Guru Ji tears the rejection letter (Bedava), which the Sikhs wrote earlier and named these Sikhs as the 40 Emancipated (Liberated) Ones.
Guru Gobind Ji ascends to SachKand at Nanded. Military leadership is bestowed upon Banda Singh Bahadur, who rides to Punjab. Within a small space of time he brings the ruling Moghuls to their knees. The city of Sirhind, where the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji were martyred, is razed to the ground. Banda Singh Bahadur was one of the greatest Sikh generals who managed to establish Khalsa rule with a separate currency.
Banda Singh and 700 others are captured by Moghul forces. All are put to death in batches of 100 per day for refusing to accept forceful conversion to Islam. Some are still in their teens, but accept martyrdom. Banda Singh has to endure seeing his six-year-old son have his heart ripped out and forced into his mouth.
Throughout the next 50 years, the Sikhs are persecuted and hunted with rewards on their heads. Despite these conditions, under the leadership of Nawab Kapoor Singh and later, Jassa Singh Ahuluwalia with Bhai Mani Singh as advisor, the Khalsa army reorganised into misls and two Divisions - The Taruna Dal (youth) and Buddha Dal (veterans). The Sikhs flourish during this period despite the Small and Great Holocausts.
Bhai Mani Singh Ji is cut to pieces at every joint for refusing to accept forceful conversion to Islam and for holding Bandi Chhor day commemorations at Amritsar, on the orders of Zakariya Khan, Moghal Governer of Punjab.
Bhai Mehtab Singh and Bhai Sukha Singh behead Massa Ranghar who had, under the support of the Moghals, converted Sri Harmindar Sahib (Golden Temple) into a brothel and drinking house.
Martyrdom of Bhai Taru Singh Ji. He refused to accept forceful conversion to islam and is ordered to be scalped, but rejoices that his hair still remains intact.
Diwan Lakhpat Rai, Governer of Lahore, orders Sikhs to be killed on sight in revenge for the death of his brother Jaspal Rai. This becomes known as the Small Holocaust (Chhota Ghalughara) in which 10,000 Sikhs are massacred indiscriminately.
1758: Baba Deep Singh Ji
Baba Deep Singh Ji, aged 75, vows to reach Sri Harimader Sahib to defend it from Ahmed Shah Abdali’s 4th invasion. By the time he reaches Tarn Taran he has 5000 farmers with him. They have no illusion as to their fate. Although seriously injured and then beheaded, Baba Deep Singh Ji keeps his vow and reaches and liberates Sri Harmander Sahib.
1762: The Great Holocaust
Ahmed Shah Abdali comes from Afghanistan and attacks the Sikhs as they rest in the jungle near Kup Rohera. The Afghans target Sikh women and children, so that Sikh fighters are forced to provide a defensive circle around the thousands of women and children moving southwards all the time, instead of being able to fight warrior against warrior. Eventually the Afghans become weary of the fighting and heavy losses, and decide to give up trying to kill all the Sikhs; the Sikhs are then attacked by the Brar tribes. According to Sikh historian Ratan Singh Bhangu “not a single Sikh escaped unhurt, each bore some wound on his body”. Although the Sikhs suffer a colossal loss (30,000 to 50,000 die) they remain relentless and high spirited. Harimandar Sahib is blown up and its sacred tank are filled with rubbish by Abdali.
Ahmed Shah Abdali leads a few more expeditions against the Sikhs, but at long last is completely exhausted. As a result, the Sikhs succeed and establish a Khalsa Raj which lasts until 1849.
1790: Capture of Delhi, capital of the Moghul Empire
General Baghail Singh marches on Delhi with an army of 40,000 Sikhs to put an end to the on-going persecution of Sikhs by Moghol forces; Imperial troops run away leaving several important gates into Delhi undefended. The Moghol Emperor orders his Vizier (Prime Minister) to agree to a treaty, whereby the Emperor would vacate the Red Fort (seat of power) and pay compensation for the killings of Sikhs and destruction of properties in Punjab. The Sikhs triumphantly march into Delhi and take over the Red Fort, carryout repairs to Gurdwaras in Delhi, and levy taxes at customs posts around Delhi; after a year, the Sikhs vacate Delhi and return to Punjab.
The Patiala forces, under the command of Bibi Sahib Kaur, defeat the Maratha Army in the battle of Ambala.
At the turn of the century King (Maharaja) Ranjit Singh (Sher-e-Panjab / Lion of Punjab) liquidates the misls and forges a unified kingdom. His kingdom comprises the whole of Panjab, Multan, Kashmir, Khangra and other regions. He is a great warrior and politician. Even the British (which rule the rest of Indian countries) dare not attack Panjab. During his reign, the Khalsa rules over a vast region in a most peaceful and honourable manner; Punjab prospers economically and is recognised by foreign governments. Ranjit Singh’s government and army is very cosmopolitan and is trained in modern warfare by American, French, and other foreign Generals; not a single criminal is hanged during his rule.
1806: Gurkhas defeated at Kangra
The Gurkhas occupied Kangra in the hills of Punjab, and started to build a fort from which they could make further attacks into Punjab. King Ranjit Singh ordered his army to the relief of Kangra, and refused offers from the Gurkha Commander Amar Singh Thapa. The Gurkhas were no match for the Punjab army, and retreated to Mandi, swearing vengeance on Ranjit Singh.
1809: Expulsion of Gurkhas
The Gurkhas had started to encroach into Punjab again. King Ranjit Singh ordered the Punjab army to put an end to the Gurkha attacks; the Punjab army quickly moved into position to cut the Gurkha supply lines with Nepal. Orders were also issued to chiefs in the Kangra region to stop selling provisions to the Gurkhas. There was stubborn resistance from the Gurkhas, but they were no match when the Punjab army took the offensive along a hillside known as Ganesh Ghati. The Gurkhas were defeated, retreated in disorder, and the Nepali menace to Punjab was ended forever.
King (Maharaja) Ranjit Singh passes away, and is succeeded by other Sikh Kings.
During the 10 years after Ranjit Singh’s death, the Sikhs are betrayed by the Dogras and Sandiwalias who arranged to kill the remaining members of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s family. The Khalsa Army fights one of its final battles at Chillianwala against the combined armed forces of the East India Company (British) and British allies from all the other Indian countries. The Sikhs win this battle but finally lose at the battle of Gujrat (21 Feb). This leads to the annexation of the country of Punjab by the British. The British Government exiles Prince Dalip Singh, the last ruler of Punjab, and take him as a hostage to Britain.
The next 50 years represent a period of allegiance with the British, with on-going small-scale uprisings. Many Sikhs serve the British Empire in the Army, and many Sikh regiments are established - 14th Ferezpore Sikh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs, etc.
The British recognise the true bravery of the Sikh people. In 1851, the Governor General of India issues an order in a secret despatch (no 29), that “… all Sikhs entering the British Army should receive Pahul (Amrit) and observe strictly the Code of Sikh Conduct.”
The Sikhs enlist in large numbers and play their role in the First World War, going to many parts of Europe including Flanders, Somme, Gallipoli, etc.
Bhai Kartar Singh Sarabha is arrested and hanged for conspiring against the British Government; he was only 18 years old and had come from Canada to fight for the freedom of Punjab and other Indian countries.
Towards the end of the First World War many Sikhs wanted independence from the British Empire and wanted control of the many historical Sikh Gurdwaras (places of worship and community centres) handed back to them. The next 10 years was a period with countless acts of unselfish peaceful protest marches (morche) against the British and the Mahants who, aided by the British, held historical Gurdwaras as their personal property.
In the Amritsar Jallianwala Bagh massacre, 500 innocent and unarmed Sikhs and Punjabis were massacred by the British forces led by General Dyer. A Parliamentary Committee carries out an Enquiry, and is critical of the massacre; however, British organisations and media praise General Dyer with honour and publicly collected money. British appointed Sikh leaders at the Golden Temple also honour General Dyer.
At Nankana Sahib (birth place of Guru Nanak Dev Ji), 200 Sikhs are killed. Some are slashed with axes and swords, whilst others are tied to trees and burnt alive. The Sikhs only wanted free access to this historical Gurdwara, which was viewed by the head granthi (a Mahant with British backing) as his own property.
There is a peaceful protest against the Mahant Sunder Das (who disrespected Guru Ka Bagh Gurdwara). He is given full support by the police who severely beat Sikhs with bamboo sticks. In all, 5606 Sikhs are arrested, 1500 seriously injured and dozens killed during a period of 3 months.
Sardar Pritpal Singh suffers 100 lathi (bamboo stick) blows by the police dauntlessly and heroically at Guru Ka Bagh Gurdwara. Reverend C.F.Andrew who witnesses the brutality and inhumanity states that he “saw hundreds of Christs suffering the cross daily”.
Eventually the British government concedes and hands back control of the Gurdwara to the Sikhs.
21 Sikhs are killed as they protest against government supported mahants disrespecting the Gangsar Gurdwara. Over 700 are arrested and beaten.
5 Babbar Akalis are ordered to be hanged, 11 sentenced to life and 38 others imprisoned. These Babbar Akalis are freedom fighters committed to the struggle for independence from the British for all Indian countries.
Over 90% of all freedom fighters hanged for protesting (peacefully or in armed struggle) against British occupation of Indian countries were SIKHS out of a population of less than 3%. All through the freedom movement the Sikhs remained at the forefront and made sacrifices unsurpassed by any other community/group.
Bhagat Singh is hanged for shooting a policeman and protesting against British rule by dropping a smoke bomb whilst a British court was sitting in Panjab and showering leaflets urging independence.
Udham Singh shoots dead former Governor of Punjab Michael O’Dwyer at a public meeting in England of the British East India Company, in revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (13 April 1919) in which 500 Sikhs and Panjabis were killed.
Once again, during the Second World War, the Sikhs make a fulsome contribution to the war effort.
During both World Wars, some 1.5 million Sikhs fought for Great Britain and helped to liberate European, African, and Asian countries; 83,000 turbanned Sikhs gave up their lives, whilst 110,000 were wounded, with many Sikhs being awarded Victoria Crosses for their bravery and intellect in battle. They died or were wounded for the freedom of Britain and the world during the wars, with no other protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith (Sir Frank Messervy KCSI, KBE, CB, DSO 1945).
British India is divided into Pakistan and the Indian Union. The Sikhs are promised special concessions by the Indian Union for giving up their country of Punjab (however, these were later not honoured). As a result of partition, millions of Sikhs and other Punjabis become refugees and it is estimated that 500,000 Sikhs are killed (out of a total of one million killed). The Sikhs lose the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev Ji - Nanakana Sahib and many other historical Gurdwaras including Panja Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib and Guru Arjan Dev shaheedi asthans in Lahore, Pakistan.
Indian Union Prime Minister Nehru assures the Sikhs that steps will be taken to create a region in which they can enjoy the fruits of freedom, in recognition of their great role in the struggle for the independence of Indian countries (these promises remain unfulfilled to-date)
At Anandpur Sahib, a resolution of self-determination is passed to get the Sikh Nation its rights and what had been promised to the Sikhs during the independence struggle. This becomes known as the “Anandpur Sahib Mata”. Once again, a period of peaceful protest marches (morche) begins.
Events take a different turn when 13 Sikhs are killed by the Nirankaris headed by Gurbachan Singh, helped by the Indian Union Government and police. The Sikhs were peacefully protesting at the fact that Gurbachan Singh was posing and imitating the Sikh Gurus. He and his armed followers were acquitted of these murders.
The Sikhs lose faith in the Indian Union justice system and Gurbachan Singh is killed on 24th April, whilst hiding under protection in Delhi.
History repeats itself for the Sikhs in the Punjab, as the Indian Union steps up direct persecution. They are humiliated, arrested and murdered for opposing the ruling Indian Union Congress political party, and demanding their civil liberties. During this period, a young saintly person Sant Jarnail Singh Ji rises to prominence for speaking openly about the Indian Union Government’s hidden agenda and tactics.
The Indian Union Army is ordered, by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, to attack all major Sikh Gurdwaras including Amritsar Sri Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple complex). The Akal Takht (Sikh supreme religious and political authority) is completely destroyed and thousands of innocent Sikhs, including women and children, are murdered. The military operation is timed to occur with Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s Shaheedi remembrance events, when Sikh Gurdwaras would be packed with people, and also with a national strike organised by the Punjab Akali Dal political party demanding civil rights. Foreign media journalists are ordered out of Punjab, so that they cannot provide any independent reports of the killings and massacres.
The Sikh Nation rises world-wide to protest against the organised Indian Union atrocities. Many Sikhs desert the army, return honorific medals and awards back to the Indian Union government, civil servants wear black arm-bands, and court arrest. No attempt is made to arrest Sikh army deserters, but orders are to shoot on sight to kill. Sikh regiments are posted to places as far away as the Bangladesh border for fear of further mutinies.
A few months later, Indira Gandhi is assassinated by police officers Beant Singh and Satwant Singh for the mass destruction and killings of Sikhs at Gurdwaras, including the destruction of Sri Akal Takht and desecratation of Harmandar Sahib. This is followed a few days later by Congress political party / Indian Union government / police organised attacks on Sikhs and Sikh properties across India, in which tens of thousands of Sikhs are killed; the attacks are most severe in states ruled by the Congress political party and go on unchecked for many days, and attacks are least severe/non-existent in states ruled by opposition political parties. Congress political party activists who led the attacks are rewarded with selection as MPs or promoted in the Indian Union Government; the mobs bussed into Delhi for the killings are given alcohol, money, and whatever they can take from their killed Sikh victims and destroyed property.
Amnesty International produces a damning report - India - Torture, Rape & Deaths in Custody, which calls on the Indian Union Government to acknowledge the terrible reality of the violations and to take urgent steps to stop them “ … Torture is routine in every one of India’s 25 states. Every day in police cells and military barracks throughout the land, pain and indignity are deliberately inflicted by the paid agents of the state. On men, women and even children. They are beaten senseless, given electric shocks or have their limbs crushed by heavy rollers. Sexual torture, including rape is common. Hundreds of victims, perhaps thousands, have died in the past decade.”
Amnesty International is still not allowed in this so called democratic country which is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Amnesty has to investigate undercover.
Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukjinder Singh are hanged for their assassination of General A.S.Vaidya, Chief Commander of the Indian Union Army which attacked Punjab and desecrated Sri Harmandar Sahib in 1984.
Sri Akal Takht Sahib is rebuilt and reopened, having taken 11 years to rebuild. In 1986, the Takht rebuilt by the Indian Union government was destroyed by Sikhs, so that it could be properly rebuilt through the love and labour of the Sikh Nation instead.
World-wide celebrations are held to mark the 300 years Anniversary of the Sikh Nation. Many tyrants had tried to destroy the Sikhs throughout history, but by the Grace of God Sikhs had survived against all the odds, and become the 5th major religion in the world.
During the last 50 years, despite losing their own country of Punjab, Sikhs have flourished around the world establishing themselves in almost every country, e.g. Afghanistan, America, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Uganda, etc. In more recent times, many non-Punjabis have taken up the Sikh faith, e.g. black and white Americans, Canadians, Germans, etc. attracted by the unique spiritual values of the religion The distinctive external appearance of the Sikhs is recognised throughout many communities around the world.