Thursday, 14 October 2010
The Chhotaa Ghallooghaaraa ("lesser massacre") was the massacre of approximately 7,000 Sikhs in 1746 by the (Muslim) Mughal Empire. Here are some selections from Wikipedia (citations in the original):
Persecution of the Sikhs (1739-46)
Zakaria Khan, the Governor of Lahore, offered lucrative rewards for the discovery and killing of Sikhs. A blanket was offered to anyone who managed to cut off the distinctive mane of a Sikh or Khalsa. A substantial monetary reward was offered for information on the whereabouts of a Sikh, and a larger sum for the delivery of a Sikh scalp. The plunder of Sikh homes was made lawful and anyone giving shelter to or withholding information about the movements of the Sikhs was liable to themselves being executed. Zakaria Khan's police scoured the countryside and brought back hundreds of Sikhs in chains. They were publicly executed at the horse market of Lahore, since renamed "Shahidganj" (place of the martyred).
This period pitted the might of the intolerant Islamic state against the plucky and fiercely independent Sikhs. Aligned with the Mughal, then Afghan, rulers were the members of the Hindu ruling caste who maintained their privileges by cooperating with the government. The Sikhs, for their part, often enjoyed a good deal of support from the rural Hindu population.
The Martydom of Mani Singh Shaheed
Bhai Mani Singh was a respected Sikh scholar and teacher who lived in the city of Amritsar, founded by Guru Ram Das and holy to the Sikhs. For many years, Sikhs had customarily gathered at Amritsar in the spring and fall for the holidays of Vaisakhi and Diwali. Under the persecution of the Mughals, these festivals had been disrupted.
Bhai Mani Singh sought and obtained Zakaria Khan's permission to hold the Diwali celebration in Amritsar on payment of a tax of 5,000 rupees. When Mani Singh found out that the governor had dispatched a large number of soldiers to annihilate the Sikhs gathered at Amritsar, he sent word out to the Sikhs in their forest and desert hideouts, forbidding them from coming.
In consequence, no money was collected and Bhai Mani Singh was prosecuted for not paying the stipulated sum. After a summary trial, he was given the choice of embracing Islam or facing death. Bhai Mani Singh chose the latter and as his punishment was cut to pieces, limb from limb.
The Golden Temple and Massa Rangar
To prevent the Sikhs accessing the holy shrine of Amritsar, built in the time of Guru Arjun, and known as the Harimandir or "Golden Temple", a Mughal military officer named Massa Ranghar was stationed there. Ranghar not only occupied the holy place, but committed sacrilege by carousing with dancing girls in the holy temple situated in the midst of the sacred pool.
This offense continued until news of it reached an isolated band of Sikhs in Rajasthan. Of them, Mehtab Singh and Sukkha Singh set off to cross the distance to Amritsar. Finding the city strongly guarded, the two disguised themselves as revenue officials. In this guise, they entered the Harimandir, cut off Ranghar's head and escaped before the Mughal soldiers could realize what had happened. This took place in 1740.
Sukkha Singh was wounded in the defensive action involving the first Sikh massacre and later died in battle with the invading Afghan army of Ahmed Shah Durrani in 1752.
The Massacre of 1746
It was in this atmosphere of persecution that the Chhotaa Ghallooghaaraa took place in 1746. Early in that year, Jaspat Rai, a Hindu military commander was killed in an encounter with a roving band of Sikhs. Jaspat's brother, Lakhpat Rai, who was a revenue minister at Lahore, vowed his revenge.
With the help of the new governor, Yahiya Khan, Lakhpat Rai mobilized the Lahore troops, summoned reinforcements, alerted the dependent rulers of the kingdoms in the Himalayan foothills, and roused the mostly Muslim population for a genocide of the "infidel" Sikhs. The Sikh inhabitants of Lahore were first rounded up, then executed on 10 March 1746.
Lakhpat Rai next set out for the swampy forest of Kaahnoovaan, near the town of Gurdaspur, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the north-east of Lahore, where Sikhs were reported to have concentrated. Lakhpat had with him a with a large force of mostly cavalry, supported by cannon, with which he surrounded the forest and began a systematic search for their prey.
The Sikhs held out for some time and struck back whenever they could. Heavily outnumbered and under-equipped, they decided to escape to the foothills of the Himalayas to the north. The Sikhs crossed the River Ravi and came in sight of the foothills, a 65 kilometer (40 mile) trek with the enemy in pursuit, only to find the armies of the hill rajas arrayed to oppose them.
Caught between these two armies and running out of food, the Sikhs suffered heavy casualties. At last, they managed to break through the encirclement and to recross the River Ravi in a desperate attempt to reach the safety of the Lakhi Jungle, near Bathinda, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) to the south. In the river crossing, many of the weakened Sikhs were swept away by the current. With Lakhpat Rai's forces still in hot pursuit, they crossed two more rivers, the Beas River and Sutlej, before finally arriving at the sanctuary of the Lakhi Jungle.
An estimated 7,000 Sikhs were killed and 3,000 captured during this operation. The captives were marched back to Lahore, paraded in the streets and publicly beheaded. Given the small numbers of the Sikhs in those days of persecution, the losses will have been a very substantial proportion of their population, perhaps a quarter to a third of the total. Hindus who sheltered Sikhs were also murdered by the Muslim population.
Lakhpat Rai went on to order Sikh places of worship destroyed and their scriptures burnt. He went so far as to decree that anyone uttering the word "Guru" be put to death. Even saying the Punjabi language word for sugar, "gur" which sounded like "Guru" could be cause for the death penalty.
Of course, if this is the "lesser massacre", you know this was not the end of the story. The Wadda Ghalughara ("great massacre") was the massacre of approximately 30,000 Sikhs by the forces of Ahmad Shah Durrani, the founder of the modern nation of Afghanistan. Ahmad Shah attacked his fellow Muslims' Mughal Empire (as did Nader Shah of Persia), and of course also massacred Hindus and Sikhs he encountered while plundering the Mughal capitol city of Delhi. Again from Wikipedia:
Persecution of the Sikhs (1746-62)
In the eighteen years following the first great carnage, the Punjab roiled with five invasions and several years of rebellions and civil war. Under these unsettled circumstances, it was difficult for any authority to carry on a campaign of oppression against the Sikhs. Instead, they were often sought out and valued as useful allies in the various struggles for power.
In times of relative calm, however, the Governor at Lahore and his Afghan allies resumed their genocidal campaigns against the Sikhs. These were characterized by the desecration of Sikh places of worship and the organized capture, torture and execution of tens of thousands of Sikh men, women and children.
The Governorship of Mir Mannu
Mir Mannu (shortened from Mu'in ul-Mulk) became Governor of Lahore and the surrounding provinces in 1748 through his exploits in battle against the Afghan army. His first act as governor was to storm the Sikh fort at Amritsar, where 500 Sikhs had taken shelter. Mir Mannu then stationed detachments of troops in all parts of Punjab with any Sikh inhabitants with orders to capture them and shave their heads and beards. His oppression was such that large numbers of Sikhs moved to relatively inaccessible mountains and forests. The governor ordered the hill rajas to apprehend Sikhs and send them in irons to Lahore. Hundreds were thus taken to Lahore and executed in the horse market before crowds of onlookers.
In his new role as Governor for the Afghans, Mir Mannu was able to resume his persecution of the Sikhs. Moreover, he had arranged for new artillery to be forged and a unit of 900 men assigned especially to the hunting down of the "infidels". In the words of an eye witness: "Muin appointed most of the gunmen to the task of chastising the Sikhs. They ran after these wretches up to 67 kilometers (42 miles) a day and slew them wherever they stood up to oppose them. Everybody who brought Sikh heads received a reward of ten rupees per head. Anybody who brought a Sikh head received a reward of ten rupees per head."
According to that same account: "The Sikhs who were captured alive were sent to hell by being beaten with wooden mallets. At times, Adina Beg Khan sent 40-50 Sikh captives from the Doab. They were as a rule killed with the strokes of wooden hammers."
Mir Mannu did not refrain for visiting torture and death upon the Sikh womenfolk and children. According to a Sikh account, the women were seized from their homes and "put to grind grain in the prison. Many were given merciless lashing... Each of the detainees was given 450 kilos (half a ton) of grain to grind in a day. Exhausted from thirst and hunger, they plied their stone-mills. They plied their stone-mills and sang their Guru's hymns. The Hindu or the Muslim, or in fact anyone who saw them and listened to their songs was utterly astonished. As their children, hungry and thirsty, wailed and writhed on the ground for a morsel, the helpless prisoners in the clutches of the tyrants could do little except solace them with their affection. Wearied from crying, the hungry children would at last go to sleep."
History recalls instances of Sikh children being hacked to pieces in front of their mothers. The bits of flesh would be thrown around the mothers' necks like garlands. Still the brave women chanted and toiled on.
In 1757, Ahmad Shah Durrani invaded India for loot and plunder a fourth time. This time, he was so harassed by Sikh fighters who several times slew his guards and pillaged his baggage train that he determined to take his revenge on them. Since Durrani could not lay his hands on the elusive bands of Sikhs, he determined to vent his fury on their holy city of Amritsar. The Harimandir was blown up and the surrounding pool filled with the entrails of slaughtered cows.
The Holocaust of 1762
When Ahmad Shah Durrani returned for a sixth campaign of looting and conquest (his fifth being in 1759-61), Sikh fighters were investing the town of Jandiala, 18 kilometers (11 miles) east of Amritsar. The place was the home of Aqil Das, the head of the Nirinjania sect, a friend of the Afghans, and an inveterate foe of the Sikhs.
In the twilight of dawn, Durrani and his allies surprised the Sikhs, who numbered about 50,000, most of them noncombatants. Under these circumstances, the Sikhs could not engage in their favored hit-and-run tactics. Neither was a pitched battle advisable. It was decided that the Sikh fighters would form a cordon around the slow-moving baggage train consisting of women, children and old men. They would then make their way to the desert in the south-west by the town of Barnala, where they expected their ally Alha Singh of Patiala to come to their rescue.
An eye witness account describes the Sikhs. "Fighting while moving and moving while fighting, they kept the baggage train marching, covering it as a hen covers its chicks under its wings." More than once, the troops of the invader broke the cordon and mercilessly butchered the women, children and elderly inside, but each time the Sikh warriors regrouped and managed to push back the attackers.
From that point on, the two forces went their separate ways. The Afghan forces, who had inflicted terrible human losses on the Sikh nation, and had in turn suffered many killed and wounded, were exhausted, having not had any rest in two days. While the living remainder of the Sikhs proceeded into the semi-desert toward Barnala, Ahmad Shah Durrani's army returned to the capital of Lahore with fifty cartloads of Sikh heads and hundreds of Sikhs in chains. From the capital, Durrani returned to Amritsar and blew up the Harimandir which since 1757 the Sikhs had rebuilt. As an act of intended sacrilege, the pool around it was filled with cow carcasses.
It was estimated that 25,000 to 30,000 Sikhs were killed on that horrific day of 5 February 1762. As it is doubtful their entire population would have numbered 100,000, it means one third to a half of all Sikhs perished. The Sikhs were not the only people who were targeted; the Mughals also captured Hindus, especially intellects and those who sheltered the Sikhs.
Once again, it is important to point out that the jihad did not begin in September 2001, and it is not aimed soley, or even mostly, at Christians in North America and Europe. The jihad has nothing to do with the existence of the state of modern Israel, or the existence of the United States of America. Jihad is the 1,350 year war of conquest by Muslims against non-Muslims (and fellow Muslims), to impose sharia law on all persons in all places. Victories in those battles of conquest are marked by the desecration of the houses of worship of non-Muslims, and the murder, enslavement, and humiliation of conquered non-Muslims.
Posted on 10/14/2010 2:32 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
14 Oct 2010
Brave, brave people.
By now, I have learned to recognise a Sikh. I have had a Sikh taxi driver in Australia more than once. And always I have offered a polite welcome, and quietly mentioned that I know a little about the terrible history of Islam in India and that I admire the courage with which the Sikhs of previous generations resisted the Jihad. They don't say much, but I think they are pleased to encounter an Australian who understands.
14 Oct 2010
There was a recent documentary about the Sikh fighters who flew in the Battle of Britain. The last surviving Sikh who served in that battle died just recently.
On Remembrance Sunday, there is always a line of regal looking, elderly Sikh gentlemen marching past the cenotaph, wearing their medals.
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