THE ERA OF BAGHMAR- HARI SINGH NALAWA.

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Tanuj Bansal.

Sikhs, the only community after The Marathas to fight for our nation with Notorious and Merciless Mughals and The Britishers after that. The ones who didn’t gave up even when they were hanging by thread between them and the death, till there was no breaths left, they fought and they killed those ravagers. Patriots and Saints, Lovers of culture and humanity, sacrificing everything they had and their heads for their patriotism and love for people and their freedom. Today we going to know about one of the biggest and bravest and most admired generals there were in the history of India, someone so fierce and strong, so brave and bold that he killed a dangerous tiger with his own bare hands on his own, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa. He was the someone who put so much fear in the hearts and minds of invaders and plunderers, The Afghans that they were torn not by the outnumbered force of Sikh Empire but because of the presence of The Baghmar. History of this astonishing personality, of this warrior by heart, his administration, his glory and his legacy is as surprising as his empire itself.

HARI SINGH NALWA was born in Gujranwala, in the Majha region of Punjab to Dharam Kaur and Gurdial Singh Uppal. After his father died, he was raised by his mother. In 1801, at the age of ten he took AMIT SANCHAR, and was initiated as a Khalsa. At the age of twelve before his beginning of his teenage, he began to manage his father’s estate and took up horse riding. At the age of fourteen in the year 1804, his mother sent him to resolve a property dispute in the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh solved his dispute in his favor because of his background and aptitude. After explaining his family service, he displayed his skill as horse rider and musketeer. Maharaja gave him the position of personal attendant at his court.

In 1804, during a hunt, a tiger attacked him and his fellow companions but he refused the offer of protection by his fellows and killed the tiger bravely and fiercely by his bare hands by tearing the tiger apart from its mouth, and earned the cognomen BAGHMAR (tiger-killer). His service in the military in that time is unknown but he was commissioned as Sardar was commanding 800 horses and footmen in that year.

HARI SINGH KILLING TIGER, A PORTRAIT.

He fought twenty battles in which he either participated or was in command starting with Battle of Kasur in 1807 when he was just seventeen and this his first significant participation in Sikh conquests on assuming a charge of independent contingent. During this campaign Sardar showed his bravery and dexterity as a result he was made Jagir in recognition of his services. In the same year of 1807 he fought the battle of Sialkot, the first time as an independent commander and won the day and battle eventually raising the Sikh Flag on its fort. The third battle he fought was the battle of Attock and won this too, in 1815 Sardar was challenged by Sherbaz Khan of Gandhgarh and got defeated. An year after this battle The Sikhs attempted to take out Kashmir but they had to retreat due to lack of provision, late arrival of reinforcements, harsh weather condition and treachery of their allies. In 1815-16, Sardar attacked and destroyed the stronghold of treacherous Rajouri chief. In 1816, Sardar and his companions won the conquest of Mahmudkot, two years later in 1818, Sikhs on their way to Multan, they captured forts of Khangarh and Muzzaffargarh and Battle of Multan was fought fiercely between Sikh and Muzzaffar Khan and his sons but even after the great defend they could not withstand the onslaught of Sikhs and lost the battle. Sardar was ‘chiefly instrumental’ in the capture of citadel. In the same year Peshawar became tributary and Sardar was ordered to remain and maintain the pressure and it was the same year when Mitha Tiwana became his Jagir. In 1819, the Kashmir became the part of Punjab and fell out of rule of Mughals after five centuries. On his return from Kashmir Valley he and his traditional kafila (caravan) marched towards Pakhli hoping to collect tribute from the region which resulted fighting in which the party eventually accomplished. Sardar’s most spectacular success came after the period of two years at the battle of Mangal in 1821 before another successful campaign in 1822, the battle of Mankera. With Following Battles of Nowshera in 1823 and of Sirikot in 1824, a year after. He also fought at the battle of Saidu in 1827 then finally occupying the Peshawar and then conquered Jamrud (Khyber Pass) and then defeated Panjtaar in the same year.

His last battle he fought was again in Jamrud in 1837 when the marriage of grandson of Ranjit Singh was held in Lahore. Sardar’s lieutenant was there in the fortress with just 600 men and limited supplies. Hari Singh was forced to go to rescue his men who were surrounded by Afghans from every side of the fort. Though the Sikh army was outnumbered heavily but the Sardar’s presence put Afghans into panic, and in the aftermath, Sardar was gravely wounded and took promise from his lieutenant to not let the news out till the reinforcements arrive and he did exactly what he was told. While the Afghans knew Sardar was wounded, they waited for period of seven days without doing nothing and they withdrew after witnessing Nalwa’s body hung outside the fort. He did not just save his men and defended Jamrud and Peshawar but he also stopped Afghans from ravaging the entire north-west frontier but the cost was he was not able invade Afghans himself. While the death of sardar was irreparable, the cost the Sikhs paid was this precise reason.

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