Homage to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur

Tarun Vijay Three centuries ago savage Mughals issued a diktat from Red Fort to brutally kill the great Sikh warrior who belonged to Jammu state Banda Singh Bahadur. Three centruries later the Central Government led by PM Narendra Modi is bowing before the sacrifice of Baba Banda Singh and his great 740 Sikh warriors at Red Fort on 25th June. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was a great warrior to defend India and defeat the barbaric mughals and their savage jihad. His original name was Baba Madhav Das and he was a Bairagi Sadhu. Meeting with Guru Gobind Singh in October 1708 at Nanded transformed him into a socially committed warrior and grahastha (householder) to pursue the ideals of Guru Gobind Singh ji. Guru Sahib explained him the barbarism of the Mughal rule of the day, who openly were persecuting the Hindus and Sikhs for being steadfast in their Dharma. Hearing this, his blood boiled and he showed immediate readiness to go to Punjab to take up the gauntlet against such tyranny. He became Shishya (sikh) and Guru Sahib blessed him with divine powers in order to defeat the Mughal tyrants, particularly Wazir Khan of Sarhind who was responsible for the martyrdom of two Sahibzadas (Two sons of Guru Gobind Singh JI). Baba Banda Singh Bahadur commenced his journey as valiant leader of the Indian forces towards Punjab with only twenty five Sikhs with him. Thus Baba Banda Singh Bahadur aimed at National awakening and libration of the country from the oppressive rule of the Mughals. Though Independence came to India much later, yet it was Baba Banda Singh Bahadur who first taught the Indians to fight, conquer and establish their Independent rule. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur killed Wazir Khan, Governor of Sarhind in the battle of chappar chiri on May 12, 1710 A.D. and took in his hands the administration of the conquered territories. Baj Singh, was appointed the Governor of Sirhind, with Ali Singh as his Naib, Bhai Fateh Singh Governor of Samana and Ram Singh, was appointed Governor of Thanesar jointly with Baba Binod Singh. He issued coins and official seal, not on his own name but on the name of Guru Nanak Dev ji and Guru Gobind Singh ji. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur also introduced new samvat or the era commencing with the victory at Sirhind. He made Lohgarh or Iron fort his capital. He also established Sikh Thanas at various important towns created subdivisions and placed them under the charge of honest sardars. All this was obviously an open demonstration of equality with the Mughal rulers. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur did not want merely to weaken the Mughal power but to destroy its roots and branches and establish in its place National rule or self-Government. He along with his 740 companions was captured from the fort of Gurdas Nangab and brought to Delhi via Lahore, where all Sikhs were executed mercilessly, in the ground facing the kotwali of Chandni Chowk. Their dead bodies were hung on trees and the gates leading to the city to petrify people and to discourage them from following Dharma. But not even a single Sikh embraced Islam or withdrew their allegiance to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. Here even an English testimony is available. The members of English embassy John Surman and Edward Stephenson had come to represent their case about the privileges to Mughal king Farrukh Siyar. They saw the executions themselves and wrote about it in their dispatch, dated March 10, 1717 A.D. to Robert Hedges, President and Governor of Fort William. They wrote that one hundred of them were beheaded each day. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and his son Ajai Singh were martyred on 9 June, 1716 A.D. along with his other 18 companions near a gate en-route the tomb of so called Sufi saint Qutub-ud-din Bakhtiar kaki at Mehrauli. The butchers first killed his son Ajai Singh in his lap. His soft body was cut into pieces which were hurled on the face of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. The heart of the child was thrust in the mouth of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. But Banda Bahadur remained unmoved and sat in a composed state. Not even a single word of regret was uttered by him and he kept on saying: “Hukme AndarSab ko, BaharHukam Na koe” (All by the ordinance are governed, none exempt) – G.G.S-1 After Ajai Singh, it was the turn of this saint soldiers (B.B.S.B) who remained blissful even in the hour of distress. The butcher removed his right eye with a sharp knife and then the left one. His left foot was cut off next, but he continued to remain calm. Next, the butcher severed both his hands. However, his face was shining as before. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s flesh was torn with red hot pincers and finally he was decapitated and hacked to pieces limb by limb, on his refusal to accept Islam. His glorious martyrdom validates Bhagat Kabir’s rendition in Guru Granth Sahib. “Soora so pehchaniye jo lada deen ke hait Purja Purja ket mare kabhu na chode khet” There are about six places related to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur in Delhi, identified by Dr. Harbans Kaur Sagoo. Barapulla Flyover is named as Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Setu, as the bodyparts of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur were cremated over there. Most important places related to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s martyrdom are: Agharabad: Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and his sikh companion after being arrested from Gurdas Nangal were first taken to Lahore and then brought to Delhi. His first halt in Delhi was at Agharabad, where Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and his companions were kept for a day and two. But where in Delhi or outside Delhi is Agharabad? According to William Irvine the present location of Agharabad could be the area within the present Badli Sarai and Shalimar Bagh. The Hyderpur locality also comes within it. It is clear from the reference of William Irvine that Shalimar was known as Agharabad during those days (times). But the expanse of Shalimar at that time was much wider than it is today and its border touched the Badli Sarai. Today Badli is at one side of the outer Ring Road and Shalimar Bagh is on the other side of the road. The Shalimar Bagh (Park) was within Agharabad that had a beautiful Shish Mahal. It can be easily assumed that in the surrounding areas of their garden, tents were fixed for Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and his companions. It was from here that Zakariya Khan and Qamar-ud-din Khan wrote a Letter to Faarukh Sinyar that they had reached Agharabad along with Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and awaited further instructions from the Emperor. The Emperor sent Amin Khan ‘Bakshi’ to Agharabad to bring Banda Singh Bahadur and his companions into the city of Delhi in the form of a procession at Kotwali adjoining Gurudwara Seeshganj Sahib, which is now converted to Langar Hall, residential flats for the staff and car and scooter parking in the basement. The 740 sikhs were kept at Kotwali (Police Station) under the supervision of Sarabrah Khan kotwal and orders were passed for their execution. These Sikhs were kept captive at the Chabutra kotwali from 29th February, 1716 to 5th March, 1716 and then the series of their execution started. Martyrdom place of the Sikhs who accompanied Baba Banda Singh Bahadur: The writer of Ibrat Namah, Mirza Muhd Harisi writes; ‘so from 6th March (5th March) 1716, 100 people were taken out of the prison and executed in front of the Chabutra kotwali towards Tripolia (building with three gates). In this way, 100 prisoners were executed every day and within a week all of them were killed. Thus their place for execution was somewhere near Gandhi Ground, where at present is Delhi Public Library. The Entire area was an open ground at the time. Sikh historian Dr. Ganda Singh writes: ‘That starting from 5th March, 1716, continuously for eight days, everyday 100 companions of Banda Singh Bahadur were executed in this ground which is on the right side of the road going from the railway station towards the fountain and near Delhi Public Library.’ Tripolia Jail: Tripolia jail is in Salimgarh fort, built by Salim Khan the youngest son of Sher Shah Suri in 1546 A.D. In 1639, when Shahjahan got Red Fort constructed, he merged Salimgarh Fort within The Red Fort and closed the doors at its outskirts. To enter this fort one has to cross Red Fort as well. Avery few people know about Salimgarh Fort. Aurangzeb converted this fort into a jail. The highlight of this jail is the building with three arches that exists even now that is why it has known as Tripolia Jail. After 1857, the British converted it into an army camp. In 1945, the patriots of the I.N.Awere imprisoned here. At Salimgarh Fort we can see this jail even today. At present, this Tripolia Jail has been converted into a Freedom Fighter’s Museum. At this place Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and his 18 companions remained imprisoned under a strict surveillance from Ist March, 1716 to 9th June, 1716 (A day of his martyrdom) Martyrdom Place of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur; (Mehrauli) The martyrdom place of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur had been identified and located way to back in 1970 with the efforts of Jathedar Santokh Singh, the than Secretary of D.S.G.M.C. The subcommittee constituted under the leadership of Dr. Ganda Singh, historian of eminence. It consisted, Dr. Bhajan Singh Gani, S. Gurbachan Singh Mastana and Bhagat Jaswant Singh Bandai Ratan, which prove that the Martydom place at Mehrauli under a highrise gate and outside the dargah of Sufi Sant Bakhtiyar Kaki. A Gurudwara Sahib was erected over these, which was originally in a room over the pillar of the gate and later on extended and new look was given to the Gurudwara sahib. Almost all the Persian sources describe that Banda Singh Bahadur and his four year old son was martyred near a gate going towards the tomb of Bakhtiyar kaki, after being subjected to immeasurable tortures. These important places help us to locate the Shaheedi Asthan of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. These three places are Sulpher Water Pond, Tomb of Bakhtiyar Kaki and Tomb of Bahadur Shah Ist. Cremation Place of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Barapullah A mention of martyrdom place and cremation of the body parts of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur are found in the book named ‘Hakikat-i-Binav-Uruj-i-Firka-iSikha’. According to the above mention Persian source the body parts of Banda Singh Bahadur were cremated at Barapullah in Nijam-ud-din. (Details: Kindly see Dr. Harbans Kaur Sagoo; Identification of the places related to Banda Singh Bahadur) Delhi Gurudwara Committee wrote a letter to Delhi Government and gave the information that cremation of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur took place near Barapullah. Hence the name of Barapullah flyover should be changed to Banda Singh Bahadur (Flyover). Delhi government accepted the request and changed the name of Barapullah Flyover to Banda Singh Bahadur Flyover. Banda Singh Bahadur established the first sovereign state, after defeating the Mughals. We the Indian should be greatful to him and every text book should have carried the profile of this shining hero, who taught us how to fight, against the tyranny, conquer; and establish a sovereign state. It is very unfortunate that his achievements are not taught in schools. Now this is the right time to give his unforgettable hero his due in history and his role should be placed in the right perspective before the readers. He was a great Indian warrior against the tyrannical Mughal rulers of the Subas of Delhi and Lahore, after the assassination of Guru Gobind Singh. (The author is Chairman, NMA)