Saragarhi Battle

A hundred years ago, on September 12th, 1897, 21 Sikh Soldiers of the 36th Sikh Regiment were beseiged by ten thousand Afreedi Pathans at Saragarhi near Fort Lockhart, District Kohat of North West Frontier Province(now in Pakistan). The fierce battle known by the natives as 'Teera Battle' or Saragarhi Battle was fought on September 12th 1897, under the command of Havildar Isher Singh who caused maximum casualties of the invaders. According to the accounts of the Afreedi Pathans, more than 200 pathans were killed in this battle and about 1000 seriously injured. Near the end of the battle, only Havildar Isher Singh was left alone with twenty bodies of his brave fellow fighters, gursikh soldiers lying all around him. Unfrustated by the attack of the huge enemy, the lone soldier fought the battle for hours showing exemplary courage unparalled in the history of wars.

All these twenty one Sikh Soldiers who laid down their lives heroically were awarded the highest gallantry award - the 'INDIAN ORDER OF MERIT' (IOM), by the British Government. Their each family was given Rs. 500 and a big chunk of land as an award. The British Government constructed three Gurudwaras at Ferozpore, Amritsar and Saragarhi, as a permanent memorial to these brave souls. Every year a big three day carnival is organized at Ferozpore and tributes are paid to these great Sikh heroes.

When the news of that peerless sacrifice reached England, all the Members of the British Parliament, in their special session paid glowing tributes to the most daring Sikh Soldiers and a two minute silence was observed in their sweet memory. The Members of the House while eulogising the remarkable acts of bravery said:
"The English as well as Indian subjects are proud of 36th Sikh Regiment and it is no exaggeration to record that the armed forces which possess valiant Sikhs cannot face defeat in a war."

Twenty One Gallantry Awards were given on that day to the '21 Sikh Soldiers', which were the highest in strength awarded for any single day.The British were so overwhelmed with the dauntless spirit of the Sikhs, that they made it mandatory for all the school going students to study the history of the Saragarhi Battle.




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