Ferozepur, September 12
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday paid tributes to the soldiers of the historic Saragarhi battle on its 124th anniversary.
The chief minister digitally paid obeisance in Gurdwara Saragarhi during the state-level martyrdom day function.
In his address, he also recalled the valour of the 22 soldiers of the 36th Sikh stationed near Samana ridge (now in Pakistan), who laid down their lives after a fierce battle following an attack by nearly 10,000 Afghans on September 12, 1897.
Giving the background, the chief minister said in order to quell the disturbances in the Pathan areas, four columns of the then British Indian Army were sent by General Lockhart.
Of these, 36th Sikh comprising 21 Sikh soldiers and a cook, was assigned the task of defending Saragarhi an observation post to ensure that the communication between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan is not disrupted.
“On September 12, 1897 morning, Pathans of Afridi and Orakzai tribes in huge numbers attacked the Saragarhi post. The Pathans demands for surrender were rebuffed strongly by Havaldar Ishar Singh.
“Soon the attack ensued, prompting Ishar Singh to send a signal to his superior Colonel Houghton who asked them to hold positions,” said Singh, adding the battle continued till mid-afternoon and every Sikh soldier fired 400-500 rounds of ammunition.
The chief minister further said all the efforts to send help to the besieged soldiers were unsuccessful owing to a large number of tribal Pathans.
At last, Sepoy Gurmukh Singh sent the last signal to Colonel Houghton and picked up the gun to fight. None of the soldiers surrendered and all were martyred.
The CM further said it is also a matter of pride that the statue of Havaldar Ishar Singh is being unveiled today in Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom.
Paying glowing tributes to the martyrs on the occasion, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi said the martyrdom of these Sikh soldiers was recognised all over the world with even Queen Victoria acknowledging the same and awarding the highest gallantry award at that time, Indian Order of Merit (IOM), equivalent to Param Vir Chakra, to each martyr.
While releasing a brochure on Saragarhi, the minister said the sacrifices of these soldiers would be ever remembered by one and all.