Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sakhi Series :- 130 ( Delhi Under Sikh Raj : Sardar Baghel Singh Karor Singhia )

Sardar Baghel Singh Karor Singhia

In 1727 Nawab Kapur Singh took charge of the political affairs of the Sikhs. At that time the Sikh Nation was in disarray. The Mughal Governor, Zakria Khan's policy to annihilate the Sikhs had forced them to disperse towards the hills and jungles.

But it did not take long and the Sikhs once again started to reappear and consolidate their forces. The credit to reorganize the Sikh Polity, and institutionalize it into specific units, goes to Nawab Kapur Singh. He realized that the support group was equally necessary to keep the supply-line open for the forces in combat. Consequently, he divided the Khalsa society into two groups. The name of Taruna Dal was designated to the armed forces and the combat troops. Mostly the people under the age of forty were taken in it.

The second, service group, was called Budha Dal. People over the age of fifty were accommodated there. Apart from providing facilities to the fighting forces, the Budha Dal's duties included the protection of the Sikh Religious places, provision of comfort to the sick and needy, and to take care of the women, children and old.

With overwhelming acceptance, people flocked to join both the ranks. Nawab Kapoor Singh divided them into five commands and with the passage of time they took the shape of twelve Missals. Initially, Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was the overall commander of these Missals. Each Missal was assigned various task.

Sardar Karor Singh was the commander of the Missal known as Karor Singhia, after his name. Sardar Baghel Singh, a resident of Gurdaspur District took over the command of this Missal at the death of Sardar Karor Singh.

The people of Saharanpur were maltreated by Najib-u-Daula, the Feudal Lord. Sardar Baghel Singh gave him a crushing defeat in the first encounter of his command of the Missal. One after the other he indulged in seventeen such confrontations with the scrupulous rulers.

The Mohammedan Chief of Jalalabad had forcibly abducted the daughter of a Brahmin and taken her into his Harem. The Singhs under the command of Baghel Singh crossed Jamuna, killed the Chief, Mir Hassan Khan, and got the girl liberated. The girl was duly returned to the parents, but her parents and the Hindu community refused to accept her back on the pretext that she had been defiled by living under Islamic environments. The Singhs, then, assigned her the title of `Daughter of the Khalsa' and admonished the Brahmins: all the property of any class conscience person, who treated the girl with disrespect, would be confiscated and handed over to the girl herself.

Sardar Baghel Singh's army invaded Delhi first time on January 18, 1774 and captured the area up to Shahdra. In the second invasion which took place on July 1775, they captured the area of Pahar Ganj and Jai Singh Pura. This battle was fought at the place where present New Delhi is situated.  But the Khalsa Army faced acute shortage of supplies for life subsistence, and voluntarily withdrew. The Singhs continued their intrusions from time to time, which made Mughal King, Bahadur Shah, to concede to give the Singhs one eighth of the revenue collected from the area in between Rivers Ganga and Jamuna.

In 1783 the Maharatas abandoned Delhi. The Mughal Rulers foresaw the danger emanating from the progressing English power. To deter the English and to make them to go back, the Mughal King, Shah Alam, wished the Sinhgs to come back. Taking advantage of the situation, thirty thousand of Sikhs came and encamped at the place of Kashmiri Gate. They planned two pronged attack. One section invaded the Ajmeri Gate and the other one breached the wall of the Red Fort and entered the place, which is now known as the Mori Gate. After a fierce battle the Singhs captured Red Fort, hoisted the Kesri Flag, and put Panj Pyare, including Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, on the throne of the Delhi.

Shah Alam, through the aegis of his Ministers, Court Official Munshi Ram Dyal, and Begham (Queen) Samoor offered reconciliation with the Singhs and accepted their four conditions:

1. No Mughal Official would indulge in atrocities on the populace.

2. The Mughal King would pay three hundred thousand rupees as a gift.

3. The Kotwali Area would remain the property of the Khalsa Army

4. Sardar Baghel Singh would trace historically significant Sikh places in Delhi, and would establish Sikh Temples there. Till this work was completed he would stay in Delhi with a constabulary of 4,000 horses. The Delhi Ruler would bear all their expenses.

Consequently, rest of the Khalsa Army returned.

Sardar Baghel Singh set up an octroi-post near Sabzi Mandi to collect the tax on the goods imported into the city to finance the search and the construction of the Sikh Temples. He did not want to use the cash received from the Government Treasury for this purpose, and most of that was handed out to the needy and poor. He often distributed sweetmeats, bought out of this Government gift, to the congregationalists at the place which, now, is know as the Pul Mithai.

With help of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh old residents of Delhi, Sardar Baghel Singh found and established seven historical places as the Sikh Temples:

1. Gurdwara Mata Sundri Ji at the place which was know as the Haveli Sardar Jawahar Singh.

2. Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. A Mansion belonging to Raja Jai Singh existed there once. Guru Harkrishan Dev, the Eighth Guru had stayed there.

3. Gurdwara Bala Sahib. Last rights of Guru Harkrishan, Mata Sundri and Mata Sahib Kaur were performed at this place.

4. Gurdwara Rakab Ganj. The torso of Guru Tegh Bahadur was cremated here.

5. Gurdwara Sees Ganj. Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred at this place.

6. Gurdwara Moti Bagh. Guru Gobind Singh sent a message to the Mughal King, Bahadur Shah, by throwing an arrow from this place.

7.Gurdwara Majnu Tilla. It was established in the memory of a Sikh of Guru Nanak, named Majnu. Guru Hargobind stayed at this place on his way to Gwaliar.

On the completion of all the Gurdwaras, Baghel Singh appointed the Bhais (attendant priests) to look after the places and decided to return to Punjab, as well. He was persuaded by Munshi Ram Dyal not to abandoned Delhi once the Mughals had coneded to his authority and supermacy. But Baghel Singh replied, "We have been endowed with Kingdom and Destiny by our Guru. Whenever we wished, we could capture Delhi. It won't be difficult for the Khalsa."

Sardar Baghel Singh once again decided to invaded Delhi in 1785. Shah Alam, scared of Singh, signed a treaty with the Maharatas. The Maharatas initialed an agreement with the Singhs and consented to pay one million rupees as Gift.

The last days of the life of Baghel Singh are not very conspicuous. Some accounts mark 1800 and 1802 as the years of his demise.  


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