Wadda Ghalughara

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Indiscriminate destruction of Sikh women, children and soldiers occurred, on February 5th 1762, called the Wadda Ghalughara or the Great Holocaust. In time of great turmoil with cruel, fanatic and despotic Islamic rulers, these heroic Sikhs under Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia were massacred as they tried to protect their families, women and children. It is important we not forget the sacrifices made by our ancestors, as these Sikhs were freedom fighters in the most real sense. They were inspired with patriotic urges and emotions of the noblest type. They were men of unshakeable faith, unbeatable courage, unbreakable will, and unmatchable capacity to do/suffer for their faith and ideals. They died heroic deaths in order to create conditions in which their countrymen could live with honor and self-respect.

Details have been reprinted from Sikhiwiki
The second Ghallughara called the Wadda (major) Ghallughara occurred on 5th February 1762 at a place named Kup Rahira, located approx 12 Km north of Malerkotla in the Punjab state of India. On receiving information from his informer Akal Das of Jandiala Ahmad Shah Durrani during his sixth invasion of India came to attack and destroy sikhi down to its roots. Ahmed shah Durani reached Lahore on 3rd Feb 1762 with a large army, huge armaments and artillery. Recognizing the danger, S. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and S. Charat Singh Sukarchakiya the sikh chiefs left Lahore and proceeded towards Malwa after crossing the Satluj. Singhs were 40000 in number at that time including 10000 women, children and elderly folk. The Singhs wanted to move their women folk to Bikaner for safety. Ahmed Shah instructed Zain Khan his subedar of Sirhand to keep the singhs engaged till his arrival. They intended to kill them altogether the next day. Bhikhan Khan of malerkotla also joined Zain Khan.
“Aur shah pe gaye halkare, Singh aaye hain daye hamare;ham itt wal teh rakhen gher,tum in maro hot saver”. [1]

Site of wadda Ghalughara
As Ahmad Shah was returning home after his historic victory over the Marathas in the third battle of Panipat in 1761, the Sikhs had harassed him all the way from the Sutlej right up to the Indus. Returning to the Central Punjab, they ravaged the country all around, annihilated the Afghan force in Char Mahal, drove away the faujdar of Jalandhar, plundered Sirhind and Malerkotia, defeated a force, 12,000strong, sentbyAhmad Shah from Afghanistan to punish them and another led personally by the Afghan governor of Lahore, and even captured Lahore, all within a short period, JuneSeptember 1761. At a general assembly (Sarbatt Khalsa) of the Dal at Amritsar convened on the occasion of Divali, 27 October 1761, it was resolved to punish the agents, informers and collaborators of the Afghans, beginning with ‘Aqil Das of Jandiala, head of the heretical Niranjania sect and an inveterate enemy of the Sikhs. ‘Aqil Das despatched messengers posthaste to Ahmad Shah Durrani, who had in fact already entered India at the head of a large army. Meanwhile, the Sikhs had besieged Jandiala, 18 km east of Amritsar. Aqil Das’s messengers met the Shah at Rohtas. The latter advanced at a quick pace but before he reached Jandiala, the Sikhs had lifted the siege and retired beyond the Sutlej with the object of sending their families to the safety of the wastelands of Malva before confronting the invader.
Ahmad Shah, on the other hand, determined to teach the Sikhs a lesson, sent messages to Zain Khan, faujdarof Sirhind, and Bhikhan Khan, chief of Malerkotia, directing them immediately to check the Sikhs’ advance, while he himself taking a light cavalry force set out at once and, covering a distance of 200 km including two rivercrossings in fewer than fortyeight hours, caught up with the Sikhs who were encamped at KupRahira, 12 km north of Malerkotia, at dawn on the 5th of February 1762. The Dal Khalsa, comprising all of the eleven misis and representatives of the Sikh chiefs of Malva, was taken by surprise. The attacks of Zain Khan and Bhikhan Khan were easily repulsed, but the main body of Ahmad Shah, much larger and better equipped, soon overtook them. Having to protect the slowmoving vahir or baggage train including women, children, old men and other noncombatants, the Sikhs could not resort to their usual hitandrun iactics, and a stationary battle against such superior numbers was inadvisable.
On the day of the attack (feb 5th ,1762) Zain khan attacked with his 20000 men and artillery. Abdali also joined the attack with 30000 horsemen. S. jassa Singh and s. Charat singh ordered to encircle their womenfolk and keep proceeding towards Barnala as a war strategy.Singh’s only aim was to save their women folk somehow and fight with enemy to inflict maximum losses on their end.In this process singhs suffered heavy casualities.Nearly 25000 to 30000 of singhs lost their lives.S. Jassa Singh was inflicted with 22 wounds and S. Charat Singh with 19. Every one of sikh warriors had been wounded in this fight. Bhai Kahn singh of Nabha writes that Sri Guru Granth Sahib Bir of Damdama sahib wali could not be saved in the battle. But singhs never lost morale even after such a massacre in which more than 70 pecent of them lost their lives.They reorganized themselves very soon and during july 1762 were once again able to surround and besiege Lahore.
Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluvalia, the commanderinchief of the Dal, therefore, turning down a suggestion by Sardar Charhat Singh Sukkarchakkia to form a solid square of four misis to face the enemy with two misis each protecting either flank of the vahir and balance in reserve, decided that all the misis combining to form a single force should make a cordon round the vahir and start moving towards Barnala, 40 km to the southwest, with the agents of the Malva chiefs acting as guides. Thus “Fighting while moving and moving while fighting,” says Ratan Singh Bhangu, Prachm Panth Prakash, on the authority of his father and an uncle who had taken part in this battle, “they kept the vahir marching, covering it as a hen covers its chickens under its wings.” On several occasions, the Shah’s troops broke the cordon and butchered the helpless noncombatants, but every time the Sikh warriors reformed and pushed back the attackers. By early afternoon they reached a big pond, the first they had come across since the morning. The fighting stopped automatically as the two forces fell pellmell, man and animal, upon the water to quench their thirst and relax their tired limbs. The battle was not resumed. The Sikhs marched off towards Barnala and Ahmad Shah thought it prudent not to pursue them in the littleknown semi-desert with an army that had had no rest during the past two days and had suffered considerable loss of life in the daylong battle.
Estimates of the Sikhs’ loss of life vary from 20,000 to 50,000. The more credible figures are those of Miskin, a contemporary Muslim chronicler, who estimated 25,000, and Ratan Singh Bhangu, who give the toll at 30,000. This could have been a crippling blow to the Sikhs, but such was the state of their morale that, to quote the Prachm Panth Prakash again, as the Sikhs gathered in the evening that day, a Nihang stood up and proclaimed aloud, “… the fake has been shed; the true Khalsa remains intact.”
The Sikhs rose again within three months to attack Zain Khan of Sirhind, who bought peace by paying them Rs 50,000 in May, and they were ravaging the neghbourhood of Lahore during JulyAugust 1762, Ahmad Shah, who was still in the Punjab, watching helplessly the devastation of the Jalandhar Doab at their hands.

1. Sri guru Panth Prakash, Bhai Ratan singh Bhangu, ed. 1994, page 451

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