Context: Prime Minister of India paid tribute to Sikh warrior Baba Banda Singh Bahadur on 350th birth anniversary
About Baba Banda Singh Bahadur
- Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, originally known as Lachman Dev, emerged as a prominent Sikh warrior and the commander of the Khalsa army.
- His journey into Sikhism was a transformative one, as he became a devout disciple of Guru Gobind Singh, who bestowed upon him the name Gurbaksh Singh.
- Banda Singh Bahadur’s life took a significant turn when he arrived in Khanda, Sonipat, where he assembled a military force and started a struggle against the Mughal Empire.
Establishment of Khalsa Rule
- Upon consolidating his authority in Punjab, Banda Singh Bahadur initiated a series of reforms.
- He abolished the oppressive Zamindari system, an exploitative land revenue system, and ensured that property rights were granted to the tillers of the land.
- In addition to his land reforms, Banda Singh Bahadur introduced the Nanak Shahi coins, showing his commitment to Sikh values and principles.
- His early conquests demonstrated his commitment to the Sikh cause.
- His first major confrontation took place at the Battle of Sonipat, where he led the Sikh army and clashed against the Mughals.
- In 1709, he achieved victory in the Battle of Samana, leading to the capture of the Mughal city of Samana.
- These victories set the stage for the Sikhs to expand their influence into the Cis-Sutlej areas of Punjab.
- Banda Singh Bahadur even established his capital in Mukhlisgarh, renaming it as Lohgarh, which translates to ‘fortress of steel,’ and issued his own currency.
Mughal response and the Persecution
- The rise of Banda Singh Bahadur and the Sikhs in Punjab caused great concern for the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah, as it disrupted communication between Delhi and Lahore, the capital of Punjab.
- In response, the Mughal Empire organized a formidable force to subdue and eliminate Banda Singh Bahadur.
- The Sikhs, under Banda Bahadur’s leadership, made a strategic move to Lohgarh to prepare for the battle and despite successfully defeating the initial Mughal forces, the Sikhs found themselves besieged by an overwhelming Mughal army of 60,000 troops.
- Banda Singh Bahadur tried to recoup and reorganise and therefore, issued Hukamnamas (decrees) to the Sikhs, urging them to join him. In 1712, the Sikhs gathered near Kiratpur Sahib.
- As the Mughal Empire was facing succession wars for the throne, Banda Singh Bahadur managed to recapture Sadhaura and Lohgarh in 1712.
- In 1715, the Mughal governor of Lahore, Abd al-Samad Khan, led an army to besiege Banda Singh Bahadur and his Sikh forces in a village.
- The Sikhs defended their position, however, but the Mughal assault eventually led to the capture of Banda Singh.
- Subsequently, in 1716, during the reign of Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar, Banda Singh Bahadur, along with 700 of his followers, were executed in Delhi.
- This event was witnessed by a European visitor, an East India Company diplomat, who sent a letter to the governor of Fort William in Calcutta.