Chhotta Ghalughara (The Lesser Holocaust)
In the days of persecution of Sikhs by the Mughal forces, bonds of Sikhs moved from place to place to find food and shel-ter. A band, composed of about 2000 Sikhs, came to Emnabad to visit Rori Saheb, a place sacred to the memory of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The Sikhs had not had food for a few days. They addressed a letter to Jaspat Rae, Faujdar of Emnabad, for per-mission to purchase provisions from his town. But the hot-tempered Faujdar, who was an active opponent of Sikhs, ordered them to move away immediately. The Sikhs represented that they had been without food for several days and that they would only stay for the night to feed themselves, and then they would depart. Enraged, Jaspat Rae would not listen to them and fell upon them with all the forces he had with him. The Sikhs offered stiff resistance and one of them, Nirbhau Singh, a Rangretta Sikh, climbed up onto Jaspat Rae's ele-phant and chopped his head off. Finding their leader dead, the Mughal forces were thrown into disarray. The Sikhs fell upon the town of Emnabad and carried away with them much booty.
|Artist Kirpal Singh's version of the Chhotta Ghalughara|
Lakhpat Rae, the brother of Jaspat Rae and the Diwan of the Governor of Lahore,
was inflamed with rage by this incident. He vowed that he would not call himself
the son of a Khatri until he destroyed all Sikhs, branch and root. Yahiya
Khan, the Gover-nor of Lahore, was waiting for just such an opportunity. Lakhpat
Rae got a general proclamation issued for the extirpation of Sikhs. To begin
with, all the Sikh men, women, and children living in Lahore were arrested
from their homes and were merci-lessly murdered on March 10, 1746. Not one
of the thousands of men, women, or children abandoned their faith to save
their life. A huge army, scouring the entire coun-tryside in search of Sikhs,
was under the personal command of Yahiya Khan and Lakhpat Rae. The Sikhs,
about 1 5,000 in number, had taken refuge in the reedy marshes of Kahnuwan.
They were hounded out of their hideouts by the armed Mughals, and forced to
proceed towards the Ravi River. Food and ammunition were both exhausted, and
the Ravi was in flood and could not be easily crossed by their half-starved
horses. In utter desperation, those on foot were asked to escape to the mountains
of Mandi and Kulu, and to rejoin the forces of the Khalsa at Kiratpur. The
main force, under Sukha Singh, pounced upon, and tried to cut through, the
Mughal forces. About two thousand of them were able to cross the river Ravi
and enter the Riarki part of Gurdaspur. It was the begin-ning of June 1746;
to march the long sandy distance on naked, blistering feet, was an unbearable
ordeal. Crossing the river Beas at Sri Hargobindpur and the river Satluj at
Atwal, the Sikhs escaped into Malwa. At least 7,000 Sikh men were killed in
this campaign. Another 3,000 Sikhs were arrested and brought to Lahore for
execu-tion. Their heads were piled up to make pyr-amids and their bodies buried
under the walls of a mosque.
Wadda Ghalughara (The Great Holocaust)
After defeating the Afghan Viceroy of Lahore, Khwaja Ubaid Khan, at Gujranwala,
the Sikhs then entered Lahore, led by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. By the end of
1761, the entire Panjab from the Satluj to the Indus passed into the hands
of Sikhs, with only a few refractors still holding out in the name of Ahmad
Shah Abdali. The Sarbat Khalsa gathered at Amritsar on the festival of Diwali
on October 27,1761. They passed a Gurmatta to reduce the strongholds of Ahmad
Shah's allies, as they were a hindrance to the liberation of the Panjab. First
of all, the Khalsa decided to deal with Aqil Das of Jandiala, the leader of
the Niranjanias. They laid siege on Jandiala.
|The massacre of the Wadda Ghalughara|
On the morning of February 5,1762, the Sikhs were attacked on all four sides.
They were taken by surprise; several thousand Sikhs, mostly women and children,
were killed. The Sikh leaders at once decided on the plan of action. One group
threw a strong cordon around the bahir (remaining women, children, and their
baggage) and moved on, fighting against the enemy. In front of this group,
Misaldars Jassa Singh AhIuwalia, Charat Singh Sukarchakla, and Sham Singh
Karorsinghia led the main army of about 40,000 combatant Sikhs. They fought
fervently with unsurpassed bravery, dogged tenacity, and invincible fortitude.
They pushed along, fighting from village to village. Their aim was to reach
Barnala, where they hoped to find some relief with Baba Ala Singh, failing
which, they could pass onto the waterless deserts of Bhathinda.
The Nankana Holocaust
Hired men of Narain Das killing Sikhs with swords and dragging them to a pile of logs to burn them
Lachhman Singh Dharowalia announced his intention of going with a jatha (group)
of Sikhs in the morning of February 20, 1921. Apprehending that there might
be violence in the gurdwara, the situation at Nankana Saheb attracted the
atten-tion of the authorities. On February 16, 1921 the government tried to
resolve the issue by inviting both parties to a conference. This however,
did not produce any positive results.
Atrocities at Guru Ka Bagh
|Sikhs being beaten with long battens under the directions of S.G.M.Beaty|
Sikhs took this as a challenge. Everyday at the Akal Takhat, a party of 100
Sikhs took a solemn vow to sacrifice themselves if necessary and, under all
circumstances, to remain non-vio-lent in word and deed. They marched to Guru
ka Bagh accompanied by ambulance cars. When they refused to disperse they were
beaten merci-lessly by the police with thick batons and jackboots. After the
police had done their worst, they dragged the wounded Sikhs by their sacred
hair and threw them into muddy ditches or left them on the field. Then the medical
relief party came forward to bring the wounded to the SGPC hos-pitals in Amritsar.
These merciless beatings continued every day in the presence of hundreds
of people. The media reporters photographed the harrowing scenes and published
them in India and foreign coun-tries. The news stirred the conscience
of people at large. An Englishman by the name C.E Andrews visited the
scene of agitation at Guru ka Bagh. He was deeply moved by the noble "Christ-like"
behavior of the Sikhs. He apprised Sir Edward Maclagan, the Lieutenant
Governor of Punjab, of the brutality of the police and requested him to
see things for himself. Sir Edward Maclagan ar-rived at Guru ka Bagh on
September 13, 1922, and was affected by the atrocities being committed
on the peaceful Sikhs. He immediately ordered the beating to stop. However,
the arrests of Sikhs, who still came in jathas of 100 everyday, continued.
At last, Sir Ganga Ram, a retired engineer, came forward to save the government
embarrass-ment. He bought the land in dispute from the Mahant and handed
it over to the S G PC on November 17, 1922. The arrests stopped and the
Sikhs were allowed to go free to the gurdwara and cut wood from its land.
By the end of the agitation on November 17, 1922, 5605 Sikhs had been
arrested and 936 were hospitalized.