Battle of Saragarhi


    In Context

    • 12th September 2021 marks the 124th anniversary of the Battle of Saragarhi fought between the British Indian Army’s Sikh Regiment and Afghan tribesmen.

    About Battle of Saragarhi

    • Historical Background:
      • The Battle of Saragarhi is considered one of the finest last stands in the military history of the world.
    • Saragarhi was the communication tower between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan. 
    • The two forts in the rugged North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), now in Pakistan, were built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh but renamed by the British.
    • Importance of Saragarhi:
      • The British manned a series of posts, originally constructed by the great Sikh Emperor Maharaja Ranjit Singh during his Western campaign, along with the Hindu Kush ranges. 
      • The British later took these over. Saragarhi was a communication relay post between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan (also known as Fort Cavagnari) in the Sulaiman Range of the NWFP.
    • What happened on that day?
      • On 12 September 1897, an estimated 12,000 – 24,000 Orakzai and Afridi tribesmen were seen around Saragarhi, cutting off Fort Gulistan from Fort Lockhart.
      • Though Saragarhi was usually manned by a platoon of 40 soldiers, on that day, it was being held by only 21 soldiers from the 36th Sikh Regiment (now 4th Sikh in Indian Army) and a non-combatant called Daad, a Pashtun who did odd jobs for the troops.
      • The Afghans attacked the outpost of Saragarhi where thousands of them surrounded the fort, preparing to demolish it.
      • Led by Havildar Ishar Singh, the 21 soldiers in the fort—all of whom were Sikhs—refused to surrender.
      • Nearly 600 Afghan tribesmen were killed by only 21 Sikh soldiers.
      • The post was recaptured two days later by another British Indian contingent.

    Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

    • Remembrance:
      • In 2017, the Punjab government decided to observe Saragarhi Day on September 12 as a holiday.
      • Even today the Khyber Scouts regiment of the Pakistani army mounts a guard and salutes the Saragarhi memorial close to Fort Lockhart.
      • The Indian Army’s 4th battalion of the Sikh Regiment commemorates the battle every year on the 12th of September, as Saragarhi Day.
      • Both Saragarhi and the Battle of Thermopylae have been adapted for the silver screen in the Kesari movie in 2019

    Source: IE