Sikh holocaust of 1762

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Sikh holocaust of 1762 or The Vadda Ghallūghārā (Punjabi: ਵੱਡਾ ਘੱਲੂਘਾਰਾ [ʋəɖɖɑ kə̀lːuɡɑ̀ɾɑ] (the Great Massacre)) was the mass-murder of the Sikhs by the Afghan forces of the Durrani Empire during the years of Afghan influence in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent owing to the repeated incursions of Ahmad Shah Durrani in February 1762.[1] It is distinguished from the Chhōtā Ghallūghārā (the Lesser Massacre). About 30,000 Sikhs were killed[2] in the event and an estimated that 15,000 to 20,000 Sikhs were killed on February 5, 1762.[3]

The Vadda Ghallūghārā was a dramatic and bloody massacre during the campaign of Afghanistan's (Durrani Empire) provincial government based at Lahore to wipe out the Sikhs, an offensive that had begun with the Mughals and lasted several decades.[4]

Background[edit]

Persecution of the Sikhs (1746–1762)[edit]

In the eighteen years following the first Sikh massacre of 1746, Punjab was roiled with five invasions and had several years of rebellions and civil war. Under these unsettled circumstances, it was difficult for any authority to carry on a campaign of oppression against the Sikhs instead the Sikhs were often sought out and valued as useful allies in the various struggles for power.[5]

In these times of relative calm,[6] however, Shah Nawaz, the Governor at Lahore in 1747 and his Afghan allies resumed their genocidal campaigns against the Sikhs.[7] This period was characterised by the desecration of Sikh places of worship and the organised capture, torture and merciless execution of tens of thousands of Sikh men, women and children.[8]

The Governorship of Mir Mannu[edit]

Mir Mannu (Mu'in ul-Mulk)[9] became Governor of Lahore and the surrounding provinces in 1748 through his exploits in battle against the Afghan army. His first act as governor was to take control of Ram Rauni, the Sikh fort at Amritsar, where 500 Sikhs had taken shelter. Mir Mannu then stationed detachments of troops in all parts of Punjab with any Sikh inhabitants with orders to capture them and shave their heads and beards.[10] His oppression was such that large numbers of Sikhs moved to relatively inaccessible mountains and forests. The governor ordered the apprehending of Sikhs and to send them in irons to Lahore. Hundreds were thus taken to Lahore and executed in the horse market before crowds of onlookers.[11][12] According to the historian Nur Ahmed Chishti Mir Mannu ordered 1100 Sikhs to be killed at the horse market during Eid.[13]

Partly through the influence of his Hindu minister, Kaura Mall, who was sympathetic to the Sikhs, and partly because of the threat of another Afghan invasion, Mir Mannu made peace with the Sikhs the next year. This truce was to last until the passing of Kaura Mall in the battle against the Afghans in 1752 and the surrender of Lahore to invader Ahmad Shah Durrani.[11]

In his new role as governor for the Afghans, Mir Mannu was able to resume his persecution of the Sikhs. Moreover, he had arranged for new artillery to be forged and a unit of 900 men assigned especially to the hunting down of the "infidels".[14] In the words of an eyewitness: "Muin appointed most of the gunmen to the task of chastising the Sikhs. They ran after these people up to 67 kilometers (42 mi) a day and slew them wherever they stood up to oppose them. Anybody who brought a Sikh head received a reward of ten rupees per head."[15]

According to that same account: "The Sikhs who were captured alive were sent to hell by being beaten with wooden mallets. At times, Adina Beg Khan sent 40–50 Sikh captives from the Doab. They were as a rule killed with the strokes of wooden hammers." [15]

Mir Mannu explicitly ordered his troops to seize and torture the Sikh women and children.[9][12] The women were seized from their homes and forced grind grain in prison with the detainees forced to grind about 1.25 maunds of grain[16] (46 kilo grams) of grain to grind in a day. According to a Sikh account, "Many of the women were given merciless lashing, working all day exhausted from thirst and hunger, they plied their stone-mills and while they plied their stone-mills and sang their Guru's hymns. The Hindu or the Muslim, or in fact anyone who saw them and listened to their songs was utterly astonished. As their children, hungry and thirsty, wailed and writhed on the ground for a morsel, the helpless prisoners in the hands of the prisoners could do little except solace them with their affection until wearied from crying the hungry children would go to sleep."[17][18]

Mir Mannu's reign, however, did not stop the spread of Sikhism.[19]

Baba Deep Singh[edit]

In 1757, when Ahmad Shah Durrani invaded India for loot and plunder a fourth time he was so harassed by Sikh fighters who several times slew his guards and pillaged his baggage train that he became determined to take his revenge on them. Since Durrani could not lay his hands on the elusive bands of Sikhs, he determined to attack their holy city Amritsar, The Harimandir Sahib was blown up and the surrounding pool filled with the entrails of slaughtered cows.[20]

Baba Deep Singh a prominent Sikh Sant

Hearing of this event Baba Deep Singh, an elderly scholar of the Sikhs living at Damdama Sahib, 160 kilometres (99 mi) south of Amritsar, was stirred to action. As leader of one of the Sikh divisions entrusted with the care of the temple he felt responsible for the damage that had been done to it and announced his intention of rebuilding the Harmandir Sahib. He set out his forces Sikhs toward the Amritsar and along the way, many other Sikhs joined, eventually numbering about 5,000 when they reached the outskirts of Amritsar. In the nearby town of Tarn Taran Sahib they prepared themselves for martyrdom by sprinkling saffron on each other's turbans.[21]

When word reached Lahore that a large body of Sikhs had arrived near Amritsar a general mobilisation was ordered. Two large forces were sent. Approaching Amritsar, Baba Deep Singh and his companions encountered them and a fierce battle ensued.[22]

Wielding his double-edged sword, the sixty-nine-year-old Sikh sustained many wounds. According to tradition, his head was severed but Baba Deep Singh still pressed on in his determination to reach the holy shrine, until he made the precincts of the Harmandir Sahib. It was Baba Deep Singh's headless body holding his head on his left hand and wielding his great sword in his right that had fought on until he redeemed his pledge to reach the holy temple.[23]

The Massacre of 1762[edit]

When Ahmad Shah Durrani returned for his sixth campaign of conquest (his fifth being in 1759–1761), Sikh fighters were residing in the town of Jandiala, 18 kilometres (11 mi) east of Amritsar. The place was the home of Aqil, the head of the Nirinjania sect, a friend of the Afghans, and an inveterate enemy of the Sikhs.[24]

Aqil sent messengers to Durrani pleading for his help against the Sikhs. The Afghan forces hurried to Jandiala, but by the time they arrived the siege had been lifted and the besiegers were gone.[24]

The Sikh fighters had retreated with the view of taking their families to safety in the Haryana desert east of their location before returning to confront the invader. When the Afghan leader came to know of the whereabouts of the Sikhs he sent word ahead to his allies in Malerkotla and Sirhind to stop their advance. Durrani then in less than 48 hours set about on a rapid march, covering the distance of 240 kilometres (150 mi) and including two river crossings[24]

In twilight Durrani and his allies surprised the Sikhs who numbered about 50,000 with most of them noncombatants. It was decided that the Sikh fighters would form a cordon around the slow-moving baggage train consisting of women, children and old men. Then they would then make their way to the desert in the south-west by the town of Barnala, where they expected their ally Alha Singh of Patiala to come to their rescue.[25]

A secondhand account by the son and nephew of two eyewitnesses describes the Sikhs. "Fighting while moving and moving while fighting, they kept the baggage train marching, covering it as a hen covers its chicks under its wings."[24] More than once, the troops of the invader broke the cordon and mercilessly butchered the women, children and elderly inside, but each time the Sikh warriors regrouped and managed to push back the attackers.[24]

By early afternoon, the fighting cavalcade reached a large pond, the first they had come across since morning. Suddenly the bloodletting ceased as the two forces went to the water to quench their thirst and relax their tired limbs.[24]

From that point on the two forces went their separate ways. The Afghan forces had inflicted great losses on the Sikh nation and had in turn many of them killed and wounded and they were exhausted having not any rest in two days. The remainder of the Sikhs proceeded into the semi-desert toward Barnala. Ahmad Shah Durrani's army returned to the capital of Lahore with hundreds of Sikhs in chains. From the capital, Durrani returned to Amritsar and blew up the Harimandir Sahib which since 1757 the Sikhs had rebuilt. As a deliberate act of sacrilege, the pool around it was filled with cow carcasses.[26] It was estimated that 15,000 to 20,000 Sikhs were killed on 5 February 1762.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ According to the Punjabi-English Dictionary, eds. S.S. Joshi, Mukhtiar Singh Gill, (Patiala, India: Punjabi University Publication Bureau, 1994) the definitions of "Ghalughara" are as follows: "holcaust, massacre, great destruction, deluge, genocide, slaughter, (historically) the great loss of life suffered by Sikhs at the hands of their rulers, particularly on 1 May 1746 and 5 February 1762" (p. 293).
  2. ^ Federalism, Nationalism and Development: India and the Punjab Economy, p.26, Routledge, Pritam Singh
  3. ^ a b Sardar Singh Bhatia, "Vadda Ghallughara", The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Volume IV, Patiala, Punjabi University, 1998, pp. 396; Syad Muhammad Latif, The History of Punjab from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Time, New Delhi, Eurasia Publishing House (Pvt.) Ltd., 1964, p. 283.
  4. ^ Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume I: 1469–1839, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1978, pp. 127–129
  5. ^ Hari Ram Gupta, A History of the Sikhs from Nadir Shah's Invasion to the Rise of Ranjit Singh (1739–1799); Volume I: Evolution of the Sikh Confederacies (1739–1768), Simla, Minerva Book Shop, 1952, pp. 68–69, 115–23, 139–43.
  6. ^ "Journal of Research: (humanities)". 1 (1–2). 1966: 63. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  7. ^ Singh, Bhagat (1993). A History of the Sikh Misals. Patiala: Punjabi University. p. 55.
  8. ^ Hari Ram Gupta, A History of the Sikhs from Nadir Shah's Invasion to the Rise of Ranjit Singh (1739–1799); Volume I: Evolution of the Sikh Confederacies (1739–1768), Simla, Minerva Book Shop, 1952, pp. 79–83.
  9. ^ a b Evans, Suzanne (2007). Mothers of Heroes, Mothers of Martyrs: World War I and the Politics of Grief. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. p. 36. ISBN 9780773560239.
  10. ^ Agarwal, Krishna Prakash (1979). British Take-over of India: Modus Operandi : an Original Study of the Policies and Methods Adopted by the British While Taking Over India, Based on Treaties and Other Official Documents, Volume 2. Oriental Publishers & Distributors. p. 141.
  11. ^ a b Bhagat Singh, "Mu'in ul-Mulk", The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Volume III, Patiala, Punjabi University, 1997, p. 130.
  12. ^ a b Seetal, Sohan (1971). Rise of the Sikh Power and Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. Dhanpat Rai & Sons. p. 269.
  13. ^ Singh, Kharak; Singh, Daljeet (1997). Sikhism: its philosophy and history. Chandigarh: Institute of Sikh Studies. p. 467. ISBN 9788185815039.
  14. ^ Hari Ram Gupta, A History of the Sikhs from Nadir Shah's Invasion to the Rise of Ranjit Singh (1739–1799); Volume I: Evolution of the Sikh Confederacies (1739–1768), Simla, Minerva Book Shop, 1952, pp. 63–64, 66.
  15. ^ a b Syed Hasan Askari, "Tahmasnamah", The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Volume IV, Patiala, Punjabi University, 1998, p. 300.
  16. ^ Singh, Ganda (1990). Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. Patiala: Punjabi University. p. 71.
  17. ^ Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs, Delhi, Manohar Books, 1983, pp. 135–36
  18. ^ Seetal, Sohan (1971). Rise of the Sikh Power and Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. Dhanpat Rai & Sons. p. 271.
  19. ^ Bhagat Singh, "Mu'in ul-Mulk", The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Volume III, Patiala, Punjabi University, 1997, p. 131.
  20. ^ Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume I: 1469–1839, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1978, pp. 144–45.
  21. ^ Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume I: 1469–1839, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 145; Hari Ram Gupta, A History of the Sikhs from Nadir Shah's Invasion to the Rise of Ranjit Singh (1739–1799); Volume I: Evolution of the Sikh Confederacies (1739–1768), Shimla, Minerva Book Shop, 1952, p. 109.
  22. ^ Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume I: 1469–1839, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 145; Hari Ram Gupta, A History of the Sikhs from Nadir Shah's Invasion to the Rise of Ranjit Singh (1739–1799); Volume I: Evolution of the Sikh Confederacies (1739–1768), Simla, Minerva Book Shop, 1952, pp. 109–110.
  23. ^ Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume I: 1469–1839, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 145; K.S. Thapar, "Baba Dip Singh", The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Volume I, Patiala, Punjabi University, 1995, p. 588.
  24. ^ a b c d e f Sardar Singh Bhatia, "Vadda Ghallughara", The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Volume IV, Patiala, Punjabi University, 1998, pp. 396.
  25. ^ Syad Muhammad Latif, The History of Punjab from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Time, New Delhi, Eurasia Publishing House (Pvt.) Ltd., 1964, p. 283; Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume I: 1469–1839, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 154.
  26. ^ Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume I: 1469–1839, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 154-55.

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