As Akshay Kumar's Kesari is set to hit cinema screen on March 21, followed by Sons Of Sardaar and The Battle of Saragarhi, we take a look at this astonishing tale of bravery.
New Delhi: The famous Battle of Saragarhi seems to have caught Bollywood's fancy with three movies releasing on the astonishing tale of bravery and we cannot wait to watch all of them.
The battle took place in 1897 when the British Indian Army consisting of 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikhs (the present-day 4th battalion of the Sikh Regiment) fought against 10,000 Afghan invaders. The Sikhs chose to fight to the death and the post was recaptured two days later by another British Indian contingent. Every one of the Sikh squad was awarded the Indian Order of Merit by the British regime that is equivalent to the Param Vir Chakra today.
Chills? You are not alone, this tale of bravery continues to inspire many. UNESCO has included it in a collection of '8 stories of collective bravery in the history of mankind' and the incident has inspired many filmmakers and authors across the globe. So check out these facts about the Battle of Saragarhi:
The Sikhs fought until their last breath
As mentioned in the book by author Jay Singh Sohal, Saragarhi: The Forgotten Battle, the Sikh soldiers fought until their dying breath. After slaying a considerable number of Pashutan army over ten hours into the battle, there were still 10 Sikhs left standing, ready to strike. According to some reports, they managed to kill around 600 enemy soldiers in a matter of 7 hours.
Queen Victoria lauded the fallen warriors in the British parliament
The then-monarch of England, Queen Victoria is known to have aptly said in the British parliament, “It is no exaggeration to record that the armies which possess the valiant Sikhs cannot face defeat in war.”
There's a Saragarhi memorial in Ferozepur and Amritsar
A memorial Gurdwara was built in Ferozepur, Punjab by the army to honour the soldiers at a cost of Rs 27,118. It was declared open to the public in 1904 by the then-Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, Sir Charles Pevz. Till today, every year on September 12 a religious congregation and a reunion of ex-servicemen is held to mark Saragarhi Day.
There is a Gurudwara Saragarhi Sahib in Amritsar too that is very near the famous Golden Temple. The gurudwara walls have inscriptions of the names of all the martyrs.
Havaldar Ishvar Singh engaged in one-on-one combat
The role that is being by Bollywood star Akshay Kumar in the upcoming Kesari is based on the valiant leader of the platoon, Havaldar Ishvar Singh. After the tribesmen breached a wall of the Saragarhi outpost, a grievously injured Singh asked his remaining men to retreat into the inner area and took on the advancing enemies along with two other sepoys.
Heliographic details of the battle were documented
The reason why the world knows about the details about the battle is courtesy the heliographic messages signalled being sent between the Sikh troops and Lt Col John Haughton in Fort Lockhart and Major Charles Des Voeux in Gulistan. According to reports, as the battle intensified signaller Gurmukh Singh asked for permission to pack his equipment and join the fight.
Gurmukh Singh was the last man standing, and the youngest
After sending his last signal, 19-year-old Singh along with four other soldiers faced the enemy as they breached the post. Soon, he was the only man alive and according to those at Fort Lockhart, his last words were Jo Boley So Nihaal, Sat Sri Akal. Before he fell he managed to kill around 20 enemy soldiers too.
The legend of Saragarhi lives on
The heliographed details of their heroism were telegraphed to London by a journalist and then reported in newspapers around the world. The Saragarhi memorial day is observed in Britain too. In 2017, twelve army officers from England visited the Saragarhi memorial to pay tributes to warriors of the famed battle. The docu-drama Saragarhi: The True Story received a thunderous round of applause in the British parliament.
Writer Chuhar Singh composed the 55 pages long poem Khalsa Bahadur in 1925 to pay a fitting tribute to the brave men.
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Last Updated 21, Feb 2019, 11:02 AM