Recent violence and deaths of Afghan by Taliban reminds about the popular historical dedication of the 21 Sikh soldiers who fought against the Afghani to save their land. On 12th September it is marked as a remarkable day for the Indian fighters, known as the Saragarhi Day. The battle of Saragarhi, 1897 reminds me of the Afghani intruders who tried to conquer the borders of India.
The battle was fought by 21 soldiers who only were able to keep the rivals away for seven hours. Aghani rivals were over 8,000 retaliated by these Sikh soldiers captained by Havildar Ishar Singh. The entire team of Sikhs fought till the end and finally killed 200 tribals and about 600 were injured.
Saragarhi Sikh soldiers and the Fort
The Saragarhi Fort was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh which are later under the control of British rule. It was the communication tower between the two Forts. The Lockhart and the Gulistan forts are now located in Pakistan after the independence of India. On this specific day, the fort was reinforced by 21 in place of 40 soldiers. As the Afghani tribesmen attacked and surrounded the Fort but the Indian Battalion had denied surrendering at once. The brave soldiers had not given up till their death.
Attacks of the Afghanis were unexpected, it is when about 6,000 to 10,000 were at the front of the Fort. At this point, it was difficult to get an immediate backup to fight against the mass team the foreign soldiers.
Through signals, the Indian soldiers had asked for reinforcement but it was not possible to send immediately. The only way for the brave Sikh soldiers was to stop them to enter the Fort. The enemies were able to reach and surround the Saragarhi Fort but were not able to break the main entrance. They had tried to break in at least two times but were unsuccessful to do so. According to the Captain Haughton signals, there were about 10,000 to 14,000 Afghanis who attempted the attack.
Weapons of Battle of Saragarhi used by Sikh Soldiers
The weapons used by the Indian soldiers were not advanced comparing to the Pashtuns soldiers. The main aim of the attack by the enemies was to defeat the Indians at ease. Pashtuns’ weapons were Martini-Henry rifles but the Indian’s battalions were using the old weapons. According to the enemies, it was the best time to defeat the Sikh soldiers. The battle of Saragarhi took place immediately after the Revolt of the sepoys, 1857.
Pashtuns had used the original guns and rifles as used by the British army. But due to the denial of the uses of cartridges by the Indians, had given an advantage to the Afghanis.
Gurmukh Singh was the survivor till the end who mentioned that he had killed 40 Afghanis. They had retained the rival’s armed force till 8 hours after which they had conquered the fort. Their next attempt was the Fort Gulistan, but due to the arrival of the Indian reinforcement by the next day, they were unsuccessful. After two days the Indian soldier was able to get back the Saragarhi Fort due to the delay possible by the brave soldiers. They had given up their life to pushing enemies away from the Fort.