Saragarhi Day 2021: Sikh battle memorial unveiled after years of work.
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History & Culture
14th Sep, 2021
The 124th anniversary of the Battle of Saragarhi celebrated on September 12. The Battle was fought between the British Indian Army's Sikh Regiment and Afghan tribesmen.
About the Battle
- The 1897 Battle was fought between the British Indian contingent comprising 21 Jat Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikhs (now known as Indian Army's 4th Battalion) against 10,000-12,000 Afghans.
- Led by: Havildar Ishar Singh
- Location: Samana Valley in the then North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan).
Saragarhi was a small village in the Kohat district along with the Samana range (modern-day Pakistan).
- During this battle, all the 21 soldiers fought till their last breath against the Afghan hordes, killing 200 tribals and injuring 600.
UK Unveils Statue Honouring Fallen Soldiers
- This year, on the battle’s 124th anniversary, the United Kingdom unveiled a life-size bronze statue of Havilder Ishar Singh at Guru Nanak Gurdwara at Wednesfield, a suburb of Wolverhampton.
- The 10-feet-tall bronze statue of Havilder Ishar Singh has been installed atop a six-feet plinth with the names of all martyrs inscribed on it.
Why was Saragarhi important?
- Saragarhi was the communication tower between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan.
- The two forts in the rugged North West Frontier Province (NWFP), now in Pakistan were built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh but renamed by the British.
- Saragarhi helped to link up the two important forts which housed a large number of British troops in the rugged terrain of NWFP.
- It was vital to ensuring the survival of these two forts and the defence of the region.
Why is their achievement celebrated?
- The soldiers managed to keep the Afghan attackers at bay for an entire day.
- This bought time for the two other forts to be reinforced and were able to defend themselves upon coming under attack.
- Every year, 12 September is observed as the Regimental Battle Honours Day of the Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army.
Indian Order Merit award
- Saragarhi is the only instance in the history of warfare where 21 soldiers were posthumously awarded with Indian Order Merit, the highest award given to Indian soldiers at the time (equivalent to today's Param Vir Chakra).