The Greater Holocaust – 8 February

Ahmad Shah Abdali during his fifth invasion defeated Marathas in the battle of Panipat on the 13th January, 1761 A.D., and plundered Delhi at will. He started back on 22nd March, 1761 A.D., with his booty and thousands of young men and women (app. 22,000 to be precise) as his captives. When he crossed river Sutlej in April 1761 A.D., the Singhs started looting him and setting the prisoners free and sending them back to their homes. After reaching Lahore, Abdali sent army to arrest the Singhs but there was no success. Abdali left Lahore for Kabul in May 1761 A.D.. The Singhs again started looting him and freeing the captives. Before he reached river Attak, the Singhs were able to free all the captives and snatch much of the booty.

On their way back from river Attak, the Singhs looted Gujrat, Sialkot, Sirhind and Malerkotla turn by turn, these states were protectorates of Abdali.

All the Sikh chiefs met at Amritsar on the occasion of Diwali on the 22nd October, 1761 A.D. They passed a resolution and besieged Lahore under the leadership of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. Governer Ubaid Khan took shelter in the fort. The Singhs occuppied the city. Aqil Dass of Jandiala, an enemy of the Sikhs, sent his horsemen to Abdali with a request for attack. For the purpose of leaving their families in safe area before the arrival of Abdali, the Sikhs proceeded with them towards Malwa. (Current Area of Ludhiana, Patiala)

Getting the message of Aqil Dass, Abdali reached Lahore on 3rd February, 1762 A.D. He sent messages to the Commanders of Sirhind and Malerkotla (Son of the same Nawaab Sher Khan of Malerkotla who had tried to protect the ‘Chhote Sahibzade) to block the passage of Sikhs. On the 5th February, Abdali mounted an attack on the Sikhs near village Kup. The Commander of Sirhind, Kasam Khan blocked the passage of Sikhs. When the Sikhs give a befitting reply, he ran towards Malerkotla. The Sikhs had hardly advanced 3 miles when Jain Khan, the Governer of Sirhind and Shah Wali Khan came forward. With that raid, the Sikhs were uprooted. Their wall of safety around the familes (women and children) was broken due to which a large number of families were killed. Inspite of these losses, the Singhs did not lose courage. They continued to march towards Barnala with the caravan. By evening, they reached the village Kutabe Bahmani, there the Sikhs started to quench their thirst from the pool. When the army tried to reach the pool to drink water, the Singhs stood in their way. They did not allow the army to pass until the whole of the caravan had quenched their thirst and moved forward. After the Sikhs had gone, the army was able to reach the pool. During the time, Abdali’s army was drinking water from the pool, the Sikhs had gone far away. Due to the night fall, Abdali abandoned to pursue the Sikhs. Moving ahead even during the night, the Sikhs went towards Kotkapura and Faridkot.

In this greater holocaust, ten to twelve thousand Singhs attained martyrdom and about twenty thousand women and children were murdered. Every Singh had suffered some injury that day. Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia had 64 wounds on his body. In only three months Sikhs avenged this defeat by attacking Abdali’s general, stationed at Amritsar and massacring his 20,000 troops, 5-10,000 troops that surrendered were forced to clean up Golden Temple and other Gurdwaras.

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