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Battle of Saragarhi, an unparalleled saga of sacrifice

Written by: Staff
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Ferozpur, Sep 11 (UNI) Every year on September 12, the 4th battalion of the Sikh regiment commemorates the supreme sacrifice made by 22 soldiers while defending the Saragarhi post in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in undivided India more than a century ago.

The soldiers had laid down their lives on September 12, 1897, fighting to the last man while trying to stave off tribesmen from capturing the post.

The impressive Saragarhi Memorial here, on which is inscribed the names of Havildar Ishar Singh and his 21 soldiers, bears testimony to the valour of these men.

The day is celebrated as Regimental Battle Honour Day by the regiment, earlier known as the 36th Sikh Regiment during pre-independent days.

It is said that when news of the Battle of Saragarhi reached the shores of England, the British House of Commons stood up to pay homage to these 22 soldiers. The heroic and unparalleled saga of the defence of Saragarhi Post is acclaimed as one of the worlds most examplary deeds of collective bravery and courage and is also listed by UNESCO as an outstanding act of valour.

According to regimental sources, the British Government was facing a great deal of problems in the NWFP from hostile tribesmen.

The 36th Sikh Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Haughton was sent to Kohat (NWFP), hub of the uprising, in December 1896.

The soldiers were stationed in two main forts of Cavanagri (Gulistan) and Lockhart (Mastan) and numerous small posts on the Samana ridge, some 25 miles from Kohat. The most important post between the two forts was Saragarhi post and it was to be held at all costs, since it was the only means by which messages could be passed between the forts of Gulistan and Mastan with the help of signalling flags and mirrors.

Lt. Col. Haughton called Havildar Ishar Singh and 21 soldiers and told them, ''I am entrusting you with the defence of Saragari Post.

Remember, it is very important post and the enemy should not capture it, otherwise I will not be able to pass any message to Fort Gulistan.'' Havildar Ishar Singh replied, ''Sir, please don't worry. We will defend the post to the last man and last bullet. The enemy will have to walk over our dead bodies to step on the sacred soil of this post.'' MORE UNI HS NK BD1720

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