By Sandeep Singh:-
Sikhs are deeply devoted people and faith is an essential characteristic of their nature. The Golden Temple( Darbar Sahib) at Amritsar is the focal point of this faith. The foundation of the Sikh place of worship was laid, at the request of the fifth Sikh Guru, by Mian Mir, one of his Muslim followers.
The Guru built four doors, one on each direction to emphasize that the sanctum sanctorum was open to all the four Varnas (Brahmin, Kashatriya,Vaisha, Shudra). The people flock to this place of pilgrimage from all corners of the
world for salvation. The message of the Darbar Sahib to mankind is unmistaken. “Open out your mind to the flood of divine light and see for your self that in spite of hundreds of seeming difference man is essentially the same every where and deserve to be allowed to live a free, peaceful and honorable life” Alas! The annals of history are full of evidence when the enemy of humanity, for vested interests, demolished and defiled the holy complex and interpreted this deplorable act as a sure index of the complete liquidation of the Sikhs.
All those culprits faced the wrath of the almighty. A brief account of the children of wrath is mentioned below:
1. Natural calamity (lightening)on the Mughal forces of Lahore in March 1709.
On the complaint lodged by Ram Ji Mal against the Sikhs, the Lahore government waste no time in dispatching a strong contingent under the command of Aslam Khan, the Nazam of Lahore to besiege Amritsar and suppress the Sikhs. The Sikh-pilgrims who ‘have assembled and harassed to celebrate the Baisakhi, were plundered and harassed. Bhai Mani Singh, the then head priest approached the Mughal to withdraw forces as the complaint did not carry any substance. The request was turned down. Left with no alternative Bhai Mani Singh sent the Hukamnama to the Sangat to assemble at Amritsar under his leadership.
On the other hand, the forces of Aslam Khan were reinforced by two local functionaries of the Mughals namely Deva, the Chowdhary of the Pargana of Patti and his Dewan Harsahai as desired by Aslam Khan to contain the threat from the Sangat. On the outer skirts of Amritsar, the fierce encounter took place on the 12th day of April 1709 (15 Baisakh, 1766 BK). The following night witnessed an unprecedented scene. The wrath of the almighty in the form of lightning hit the Mughal forces and their allies. The Sangat made timely use of the natural calamity and attacked the enemy.
2.The Seige within.
By, 1720 AD, the Khalsa got divided into two factions, viz. Tat Khalsa (the adherents to the .strict discipline of Guru Gobind Singh Ji) and the Bandais (the followers of the Banda Bahadur). But till both the factions were united in their opinion of affairs of the Harmandir Sahib. Thereafter, the Bandais refused to accept the authority of Guru Granth Sahib as the Guru of the Khalsa and adopted a different garb. They acclaimed Banda Bahadur as their eleventh Guru and forth and put forth their claim for the control of Mahant Amar Singh Khemkarnia declared himself as leader of the Bandais
and installed his Gaddi at the Harimandir, Consequently, the dispute turned the warring factions into two armed camps, both declared to prove their strength on the Diwali festival of 1720. However, the clash was averted with the strenuous efforts of Baba Kahan Singh Ji.
In the meanwhile, Mata Sundri Ji, then stationed at Delhi dispatched by Mani Singh Ji and Kirpal Singh Ji to settle the dispute. Bhai Sahib made elaborate arrangements to celebrate the Baisakhi. The Bandais established themselves in a fenced enclosure under Amar Singh Mahant by ignoring the sanctity of the holy temple. The atmosphere was highly charged but controlled by Mani Singh Ji. The dispute was setting by drawal of lots. Two pieces of paper, with the slogans of the factions inscribed thereon, were floated in the holy tank of Har Ki Pauri. The slip containing the slogan of Tat Khalsa (Fateh Waheguru Ji Ki) kept floating while the other sank down. At this most of the Bandais is reconciled and withdrew their claim but
Amar Singh Mahant refused to accept the verdict. To pacify the still dissidents it was decided to have a wrestling bout.
The bout was held in the Parikarma in front of Akal Takht. Sangat Singh of Bandais lost the bout. At this Lahore Singh with his followers submitted to the Tat Khalsa. All those who still resisted were driven out of the Temple. It followed a skirmish and Amar Singh Mahant of Khemkarnia was killed in action. The remaining Bandais also joined the ranks of Tat KhaIsa. The Gaddi established by Mahant was surrendered to Bhai Mani Singh Ji.
3. Massa Ranghar Beheaded.
After facing many upheavals, the Sikhs had regained strength. The then central government, through Zakriya Khan, the Governor of Lahore, had patches up with the Sikhs. Taking the relations cordial, Bhai Mani Singh Ji and some notable Sikhs sought the permission to celebrate Diwali at Amritsar in 1733AD (1791BK). The celebration was to last for 10 days after paying rupees ten thousand a Jazia (capitation fee). Bhai Mani Singh dispatched an invitation to the Sikhs to participate and celebrate it with fanfare. The Mughal rulers on the other hand planned to trap the Sikhs at Amritsar. Under the pretext of maintaining peace, the troops were dispatched with instructions to eliminate the maximum number of Sikhs. The Sikhs got vent of the clandestine movement of the forces and mal intention of rulers. The few Sikhs who had assembled also
dispersed without celebrating the festival. Resultantly, there was no collection to pay Jazia.
The government decided to confiscate the Jagir earlier granted to the Sikhs and dispatched more troops to suppress the Sikhs. The city of Amritsar was besieged by the Mughal forces. All entries to the Darbar Sahib were sealed. Bhai Mani Singh and his associates were executed after they refused to embrace Islam. The Har Mandir Sahib was occupied by the Mughals. The shrine was plundered and the tank was filled with The holocaust fear the Sikhs to fled to jungles .The persecution remains unabated in a big way- Massa Ranghar, a local (landlord) of Mandiali occupied the Harimandir and converted it into a government office and used the central shrine as the dancing hall. The sacrilege was intolerable. Bhai Mehtab Singh of the Mirankot and Bhai Sukha Singh of Mari Kambo volunteered to kill Massa Ranghar. They entered the Golden Temple complex and beheaded Massa Ranghar and escaped safely with Mass’s head on the Reza.
4. Salabat Khan killed in 1748.
Diwan Lakhapat Rai of Lahore vowed to eliminate the sikh community. The orders issued by the Diwan laid ban on reading of sikh scriptures and name the Sikh Gurus. The Harimandir was desecrated and the tank was filled with earth.The following period witnessed the holocaust (Ghalughara 2 June,1746). The Harimandir could not be liberated till 1748, when under the leadership of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. the Sikhs killed Salabat Khan and took control of the city and their holy shrine.
Mir Manu Died after falling from horse back 1752. Ahmed Shah invaded India in 1751. Before his way back, he appointed Mir Mannu as his deputy in Punjab, Mir Mannu now felt more powerful in his new Position under the intel age of Abdali. Unprecedented oppression was let loose on the Sikhs. Moving columns were sent to hunt them out Lucrative rewards were announced on their heads. The Sikhs fled to the plains. The legend reads that one day Mir Mannu encircled the Sikhs taking refuge in a sugar cane crop. When the army of Mir Mannu started. approaching the Sikhs, the Sikhs raised war cry so loud that the horse on whom Mir Mannu was riding got scared and became out of control. Mir Mannu fell down and never recovered.
6.Afghans Routed Out :-
Afghan prisoners of war were made to remove debris early dumped by them in the Holy Tank 1758. A short respite enjoyed by the Sikhs after the death of Mir Mannu was disrupted in 1757 when the city of Amritsar was conquered by the Afghan invaders and the holy tank and the temple were demolished. Afghan governor of the Punjab vowed to wreck his vengeance upon the Sikhs, Jahan Khan the General of Taimur, marched against the ‘Sikhs. On the occasion of Baisakhi, the tank and the temple were once again desecrated.
Early in April 1758 the Khalsa army routed out the Afghans from Lahore and captured the town. Prince Taimur Shah and his General Jahan Khan escaped but a large number of Afghan soldiers were made ‘prisoners of war and brought to Amritsar. They were made to remove the debris and earth from the holy tank which the Afghans had dumped.
7.The Great Holocaust (Wadda Ghalughara) 1762:-
Ahmad Shah marched on Punjab with the sole motive of eliminating the Sikhs. His troops succeeded in killing about thirty thousand Sikhs at Kup Harira near Barnala on February 5, 1762. This incident is termed as the great holocaust in Sikh history. After the kup Harira, the Shah attacked the Sikhs at Amritsar on April 10, 1762 where thousands of Sikhs have gathered at the temple for a holy bath. The temple was blown up with gun powder and surrounding buildings and Bunga’s were totally damaged. The holy tank tilled with slaughtered cows, debris; earth and on the site. Contemporary war chronicles left by the Persian writers and some other source material reads that while the holy building was being blown off, a flying piece of brick struck the Shah on his nose. The wound proved a curse of God which could never heal and proved fatal.
8.Ahmad Shah’s Army suffered eye injuries and many became lame or disabled-1762 :-
A day before Diwali of 1762, the Shah who had moved to Kalanour in Gurdaspur from Lahore, rushed back to Amritsar. A fierce battle took place between the Sikhs and forces who had come to extriminate them. There was a total solar eclipse on October 17, 1762 and it became so dark during the day that the stars became visible in the sky. Shah withdrew from Amritsar under the cover of darkness. Legend has it that most of the invading army received eye injuries and quite a many became lame or disable.
During his seventh invasion, Ahmed Shah Durrani reached Amritsar on December 1, 1764, but he found the city totally abandoned. Only 30 Sikhs were deployed at Harmandir Sahib as suicide squad who laid their lives for protecting their holy shrine. The Golden Temple was desecrated and the tank was filled by the Afghans. The Sikhs had engaged themselves to strengthen the Sikh Army. Though Ahmed Shah led another attack on Amritsar in November 1767 but he spared the Harmandir Sahib. The Harmandir Sahib thereafter remained in the hand of the Sikhs.
9.Lord Dal, Housie’s. Mal— Intention and nature’s miracle:-
After the fall of Sikh rule Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor-General of East Indian Company in India, on his visit to the Golden. Temple was tempted and wished to use the temple for spread of Christianity. The feelings of Lord Dalhousie gave Christianity in Punjab. The missionary workers were encouraged by the East Indian Company’s sponsorship. The conversion from Sikhism to Christianity in a large number worried the Sikhs. The Sikh leaders started finding ways and means to counter the conversion.
There was an unprecedented and unique incident on 30th day of April, 1877 at 4.30 a.m when about 400 devotees were present in the sanctum sanctorum an chanting hymns from Gurbani, suddenly lightening entered from the North side, appeared before Guru Granth Sahib and followed the exit route from South side door. The noise was deafening but no loss to property and life was reported. The Sikhs believe it Guru Ram Dass Ji. Singh Sabha movement was strengthened there after and the day-in and day-out strenuous efforts of their workers contained the conversion and Christianity could not spread in the Punjab.
10. Operation Blue Star – 1984.
For more than thirty-five years this shameful incident has been surrounded by secrecy and controversy. The curtained removed from the political intrigue with the published accounts of survivors is just a tip in the iceberg. The readers have to wait for a long time till the historians make swan-dives to unearth the concealment of the truth. However, a brief account of the fate of people then at the helm of affairs as demanded by the article is stated here. On June 5. 1984 with the objective of flushing out the Sikh extremists, the Indian Army launched a bloody assault on the Golden Temple ( Darbar Sahib ) complex at Amritsar.
The consequences were devastating. Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, was bullet ridden; General Vaiday, the Chief of Army Staff was assassinated’ General K Sunder Commander of forces, died following a prolonged illness; Giani Zail Singh, the then president of India met with an accident and never recovered.
S Buta Singh then Home minister of India appeared at Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple ) and begged mercy. Many may justify the operation. I will just quote the last words of General Dwyer to lead the readers to draw their conclusion about the fate of the above-quoted persons.