Kesari: The Real Story Of Epic Fight Between 21 Sikh Soldiers And 10,000 Afghans -


January 6, 2018

Kesari: The Real Story Of Epic Fight Between 21 Sikh Soldiers And 10,000 Afghans

India is a land of great history. Time and again, the land of India has seen the events which went on to create its place in the history.

One of those many events was Battle Of Sargarhi which has a special and proud place in the books of history. Battle Of Sargarhi was an epic fight between 21 Sikh Soldiers and 10,000 Afghans and the story narrates the extra ordinary bravery of Sikh regiment to stand strong against a comparatively much bigger army.
A simple imagination of the event gives us goosebumps. The awesomeness of the story can be imagined from the very fact that not 1 or 2 but 3 Bollywood stars are gearing up to make their individual films on the topic. Yes, Ajay Devgn has announced it as a sequel to his film Son Of Sardaar, Akshay Kumar has come up with Kesari. The film was earlier said to be produced by Salman Khan & Karan Johar but later there were reports that Salman may not continue the project and Mukesh Ambani’s daughter will make her debut as a producer with this film instead. The 3rd one is Randeep Hooda who has developed the project to a large extent.
Akshay’s look from Kesari is out;
But before the film releases, let’s go through the great story of the bravery of those brave Sikh soldiers:
In the late 19th century, Central Asia became a great centre of attraction and reason of battle between Britain and Russia. British forces held vulnerable posts on the colonial border between British India and Afghanistan, threatened by both Russian forces and Afghan tribes.

In 1897, 21 Sikh soldiers stood strong and fought with all their ground against 10,000 enemy tribesmen at a small outpost called Saragarhi.
The battle was also known as the Great Game and the name was given to the heightened tensions between Britain and Russia as they battled over Afghanistan and other territories in central Asia.
From 1881 to 1885, efforts were made to avoid all-out war between British and Russia after the Russians penetrated eastwards in Turkestan. Both had even reached a compromise in 1885 by setting up a boundary commission in British India with agreement from the emir of Afghanistan, Abdur Rahman Khan. The areas of influence of British and Afghan were defined. This later became the Durrand Line, which is still in dispute today. Following the agreement, Britain developed a ‘forward policy’ of occupying frontier lands and keeping a presence in places inhabited by Pathans, the tribes of people residing in the region.

A new British post at Saragarhi

In 1891, Brigadier General Sir William Lockhart led two expeditions of the Miranzai Field Force on to the Samana (a mountain range) in order to bring the tribes under British rule, aiming eventually to build forts on the high ground of the Mastan plateau.
Two new main forts of Lockhart and Gulistan were placed on vital ground. Other smaller ‘picquet’ posts were built nearby, including on the high part of the main range, west of the village of Saragarhi.

A regiment to combat ‘tribal agitation’

The regiment sent to the Samana was the 36th (Sikh) Regiment of Bengal Infantry. While recruitment was taking place across Punjab, 225 men were also brought over to the regiment from other units of the Punjab Frontier Force and Bengal Army, bringing the 36th to full strength of 912 men in eight companies by January 1888.
After a period of training and domestic movements, the regiment was eventually led in January 1897 by its commander, Lt Col John Haughton, to occupy the Samana posts.
A reconnaissance patrol sent out to the Samana Suk (the highest peak of the mountain range) on 9 September found that a strong force of tribesmen was assembled near Khangarbur; 29 standards were counted, giving an indication of enemy numbers. The next day more enemies arrived, pushing estimates to 25,000.
Haughton’s 36th Sikhs were spread along the picquets and forts: 168 soldiers were at Lockhart under his command, while 175 rifles were at Gulistan under Major Charles Des Voeux. The picquet at Dhar contained 37, and Sartop and Saragarhi both contained 21 Sikhs; the latter also held a camp follower named Dadh, who cleaned and cooked for the regiment.

A surrounded post

The huge tribe of Afghans surrounded Saragarhi on 12 September. Around 9, Sardar Gurmukh Singh informed the Commander Officer of the 36th Sikhs, Lt Col Haughton about the situation but the colonel was helpless in sending reinforcement at such a short notice.
When surrender would have been the clear option, these soldiers decided to fight and Havildar Ishar Singh led them in the difficult times with his experience and will.
The Pathans were soon surprised to see a strong reaction from opposite side when they noticed a loss of 60.
The low number of Sikhs planned the delay tactic so that the two Forts can prepare themselves for the onslaught that was heading towards them next.
Several hours had passed by and the regiment faced lack of arms. Meanwhile, the opposition planned a big war tactic. They set the flora around Fort Saragarhi on fire. The smoke cut down the Sikhs’ visibility. Taking advantage of the situation, the tribesmen managed to breach a part of Saragarhi’s wall.
Havildar Ishar Singh got injured and wounded by this time, displayed a final act of bravery and asked his remaining men to retreat to the inner parts of the fort, while he stayed outside, with two other sepoys who had dragged him to his final position, to face the tribesmen in one-on-one combat.
Soon only 5 Sikhs were left alive including Gurumukh Singh at the signal tower and Pathans managed to occupy the fort completely. The four men still didn’t lost the hope and engaged in another round of hand to hand combat within the fort.
At 3:30 PM, Gurumukh sent the final message from Sarahgarhi:
“…Request Permission To Dismount And Join The Fight.”
He received a prompt reply:
“Permission Granted”
At 19 years, Gurumukh Singh was the youngest of the Sikhs. After the message, Singh packed his equipment in a leather bag, armed himself with a bayonet and came down to face the tribesmen.
According to Haughton’s accounts, he is said to have taken down 20 men before he was burnt alive by the enemy. He went down fighting:
Jo Boley So Nihaal! Sat Shri Akaal!
The 21 Sikhs, along with a cook who was staying with them, were killed in the Battle. Dhruv C Katoch writes that there were about 600 bodies that “were strewn around the post after it was retaken, but a large number of these would have been those killed in the counter attack, mostly from artillery fire.”
The extraordinary bravery of the 21 Sikhs created huge waved across the world. The British Parliament halted their session mid-way to give a standing ovation to the martyred 21 in September1897.
The British monarch praised the men and said:
It is no exaggeration to record that the armies which possess the valiant Sikhs cannot face defeat in war.
Lt Col Haughton said, and rightly so, that their braverywill never be forgotten:
We may sorrow for the sacrifice of these brave soldiers, but the Sikh nation, while it lasts, will never forget the glory of the defence.
The entire regiment was posthumously awarded the Indian Order of Merit which was the highest bravery award given to Indians at the time.
It was also the only time when an entire unit received the highest gallantry award for the same battle.
Every year, 12 September is celebrated as the Saragarhi Day by the Sikh regiment, which is also the most decorated regiment of the Indian army.
After reading the story, we are eager for the film release.
News Source: 1,2,3

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