The Battle of Saragrahi

12 Sep 2019  Thu

Ranked among the top eight battles of world history, the Battle of Saragarhi is the remarkable story of a valiant last stand by 21 soldiers of 36th Sikhs battalion who were attacked by 10,000 Afghans. Fought on 12 September 1897, this battle was led by Havildar Ishar Singh.

Saragarhi was a small village in the border district of Kohat (now in Pakistan). Tribal Pashtuns continued to attack British personnel from time to time and so to control this volatile area, a series of forts, originally built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, were consolidated. Saragarhi was of strategic importance because through it, heliographic signal communications could be maintained between the two main forts.

On 12th September 1897, the Afghani tribesmen surrounded Saragarhi with the aim to cut communication and troop movements between the forts of Lockhart and Gulistan. The soldiers decided to fight till death under the leadership of an experienced sergeant Havildar Ishar Singh. The Sikh soldiers continued to hold back the enemy. But one by one all defending soldiers were killed, along with many of the Pashtuns.

The 21 gallant Sikhs in an exemplary act of bravery fought till their last breath and the enemy had to pay a high price for victory, with around 180 dead and many more wounded. The post was recaptured two days later by another British Indian contingent. Saragarhi Day is celebrated on 12 September every year to commemorate the Battle of Saragarhi. All units of the Sikh Regiment celebrate Saragarhi Day every year as the Regimental Battle Honours Day.

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