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Sikh History of the British Raaj
Anglo Sikh Wars brought an end to the Khalsa rule in Punjab. These two series of wars, First Anglo Sikh War and Second Anglo Sikh War left Sikhs leaderless. The Dogra generals who lead Sikh armies were in alliance with British and reaped a profit of their own by getting small kingdoms (like Kashmir). In the years that followed the Anglo-Sikh wars of 1849, sikh armies were disbanded by the British imperialists. Then happened the mutiny of 1857, which was nothing more then an attempt by Marathas to bring back the old order of Mughals. Mutiny in British armed forces was encouraged and several hundreds of British women, children were murdered by these mutineers, all over North India. Eighty Years Bahadur Shah Zafar, from the lineage of Mughals was asked to take up the leadership of mutineers, which he reluctantly agreed. He had actually no other choice. During the Mutiny of 1857, the Muslims sought restoration of the rule of Muslim princes and rulers, and the Hindus hoped to put the Maratha rulers back into power. The princes of the two communities had a unity of purpose in putting up a common front against a common enemy, the British. Because of the earlier British repression of the Sikhs, they were too disorganised to think of putting up a united leadership to reclaim their lost kingdom. Sikh community was leaderless.
Moreover, the situation in the Punjab was quite different from the one that prevailed in the rest of India. An important and the main factor was that the Sikhs had nursed a serious grudge against the Purbias who, despite the Sikhs having never given them any cause for offence, had by their betrayal and other overt and covert acts, helped the British during the Anglo-Sikh wars and later in the annexation of Punjab. The British used the Sikh grievance and the consequent "natural hatred" towards lhe Purbias. Kavi Khazan Singh in his work, 'Jangnama Dilli', written in 1858, mentions that the Sikh participation against the Purbia soldiers was in reaction to their boast that they had vanquished the Sikhs in 1845-46 and in 1848-49. Another contemporary observer noted: "The animosity between the Sikhs and the Purhias is notorious. The former gave out that they would not allow the latter to pass through their country. It was, therefore, determined to take advantage of this ill feeling and to stimulate it by the offer of rewards for every Hindostanee sepoy who should be captured. The bitter memories of Purhia co-operation with the British were so fresh in Sikh minds that any coalition between the two became impossible. The people who now claimed to be fighters for freedom were the same who, eight years earlier, had actively helped the British to usurp Sikh sovereignty. On top of that they were trying to bring back the same Mughal empire which over the years had wreak havocs on Sikh Gurus and famous Gursikhs.
The pleas of Purbias were so hollow and incongruous with their earlier conduct, that they fell on deaf ears of the agprieved Punjabi Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims whose independence they had helped the British to roh. Besides, it is a well-accepted view that the risings in 1857 were just revolts by the princes to regain their feudal or territorial rights. It was far from being any ideological struggle for any common Indian interest. In this context, the Sikhs in the background of their rule in Punjab and egalitarian tradition could harldy be expected to side with Muslim and Hindu princes to regain their kingdoms, nor could religious taboos which affected Hindu and Muslim sentiments, against many of which the Sikh Gurus had led a crusade, in any measure inflame Sikh sentiments. It was on account of all this that the Punjab was not afiected hy the rebellion which convulsed the rest of northern India. Punjabi Mussalmans turned a deaf ear to their Hindustani co-religionists exhortation of Jihad against the pig-eating despoilers of Islam. Punjabi Hindus and, with greater reason, the Sikhs refused to listen to the belated appeal to save Hindu Dharma from beefeating foreigners who used cow fat to grease their cartridges. However, there were stray cases of Sikhs joining the mutineers. It was reported that a large number of Sikhs gathered at Ropar and declared the Khalsa Raj for which the leader of the band was immediately put to death. A Sikh Chief, Raja Nahar Singh, was executed for supporting the cause of the rebels. After annexation Bhai Maharaj Singh had moved from village to village in Majha region and incited the people to rebel.
The Cis-Satluj chiefs of Patiala, Malerkotla, Kalsia, Nabha, Faridkot and Jind, along with their mercenary forces, rendered full help to the British in suppressing the rebellion. These chiefs owed their existence to the British and were always outside the main Punjab, being hostile to Ranjit Singh. They still remembered with gratitude the support extended to them hy the British against Maharaja Ranjit Singh. But for the British protection, Ranjit Singh would have overpowered them long ago.
This mutiny led British to recruit for their armed forces heavily among the communities which had been neutral to this rebellion. Especially, Gurkhas, Rajputs of Rajasthan, Punjabi Muslims and Sikhs. Sikhs started enlisting with British forces and were thus back to the profession of their liking, the military services.
Ninety Years later when India became independent Indian leaders decided to call the Mutiny of 1857 as "The first war of Independence", which in reality was the last war of Mughals.
Excerpts taken from these books.
Sikhism, its philosophy and History, edited by Daljeet Singh and Kharak Singh.
The radical Bhagats written by Daljeet Singhj ji.
Although everything was quiet at Allahabad at this time, the situation was very confused and the news of the mutiny in the north caused considerable anxiety and doubt. However, no precautionary measures were considered necessary until the 5th of June, when all civilians and women and children were ordered into the fort. This was just in time, for, at 10 p.m. on the 6th of June, the 6th Native Infantry, which was stationed in the cantonments two miles from the fort, unexpectedly mutinied. The men attacked their officers in the mess and then plundered the treasury. Incendiary, rapine and murder followed. The mutineers were joined by all the town rabble, and their savagery was terrible and continued for days.
Although the Commissioner and other senior officers were unprepared, Lieutenant Brasyer was ready and, as soon as the firing started in the cantonment, he quietly assembled his men and gave them instructions and encouragement. There were three guards of the 6th Native Infantry, numbering about two hundred men, in the fort in charge of the different gates. Lieutenant Brasyer, entirely on his own initiative, decided to disarm these men. He immediately went to the main gate with a party of Sikhs and instructed the officer in command of the guard to order his men to give up their arms. The guard, who, it was afterwards learnt, had been given ammunition to hold the gate for the rebels, defiantly refused. Lieutenant Brasyer saw that determined action was necessary, so he caused his Sikhs to support him and advanced towards the guard. It was thought that the Sikhs might join the mutineers, but Brasyer had an irresistible influence over his men and the Sikhs did not waver.
Lieutenant Brasyer immediately ordered the guard to "pile arms" and "stand clear." The guard hesitated and one man lunged forward at Brasyer with his bayonet, but the officer's orderly knocked aside the musket and saved his life. The Sikhs now adopted a determined attitude and the mutinous guard, seeing that the Sikhs were firm; gave way. Brasyer then personally disarmed all the men of the 6th Native Infantry in the fort and his Sikhs supported him throughout. The guards were made prisoners and turned out of the fort the next day.
As soon as the guards had been disarmed, Lieutenant Brasyer organized the defence of the fort, which he held against the rebels with his four hundred Sikhs, a party of invalid British artillerymen and a small number of volunteer civilians until reinforcements arrived.
The following is an extract from the London Times of that time
"Lieutenant Brasyer commanded the Seikhs at Allahabad. It was to him that the Europeans were indebted for preventing the rebels from taking the fort."
This was the first important British success in the Mutiny and it was a stroke which has never been properly appreciated. Allahabad was the key to the north-west and, once secured, it formed an advanced base of operations. But for Brasyer's initiative and intrepidity, the war against the mutineers would have taken a very different course.
The importance of Lieutenant Brasyer's success is borne out by this extract from a report by Lord Canning, the Governor-General, to the Government
"I shall not be surprised if that strong fortress Allahabad, with all its valuable stores and war munitions, has fallen into the hands of the insurgents. That would indeed be a climax to our misfortunes, more serious than the seizure of Delhi."
After the 6th of June the fort was subjected to a desultory siege, for the place was surrounded by a large force of rebels, who remained in possession of the bazaar and city. The rebels were well armed and had two guns. Brasyer wrote as follows about his Sikhs at this time
"All this time my faithful Seikhs, on whom so much depended, were craving to be led against the enemy outside, or anywhere, rather than be kept idle within the Fortress, so I found it necessary to temporise with them a little. " `Now, as we are all on special duty, doing hard work, and in hot weather,' said I, `let us discard the cap and heavy clothing. Adopt your national dress, and show how Seikhs can fight, and save this Fort and all within it."
The Ferozepore Sikhs therefore from this time on discarded their caps and heavy coats and wore red turbans and Sikh blouses throughout the Mutiny. This pleased the men immensely, especially as Brasyer himself adopted the dress.
A few days later Colonel James Neill arrived with a British battalion, the 1st Madras Fusiliers, and took over command at Allahabad. By this time the whole countryside had broken out into revolt, so from the 12th of June Colonel Neill carried out a series of vigorous sorties against the rebels. The Ferozepore Regiment, now known as "Brasyer's Sikhs; played a prominent part in these operations and won further distinctions. These sorties met with considerable success and the district was soon in a state of submission. On the 17th of June the rebels were defeated and driven out of the city and the British administration was reestablished.
Before the end of the month Lieutenant Montague arrived from Mirzapore with the remainder of the Regiment and joined Brasyer, who had been promoted to captain for his gallantry at the beginning of the month.
The situation at Cawnpore was now serious and it was essential to send a force to relieve the British garrison as soon as possible. Transport was immediately collected and an advance column, consisting of Madras Fusiliers and Ferozepore Sikhs, set out for Cawnpore; on the 30th of June.
On the same day General Havelock arrived in Allahabad with the 64th and 84th Foot and the 78th Highlanders, and he set off for Cawnpore a few days later, taking with him his British troops and a detachment of the Ferozepore Sikhs. By this time Cawnpore had been captured by the rebels, so General Havelock decided to drive them out and then march to the relief of Lucknow, where the British were besieged in the Residency.
A portion of the Ferozepore Sikhs were left behind in Allahabad, under Lieutenant Montague, to hold the fort and patrol the surrounding district. Here the Sikhs did excellent work and fought several successful engagements with parties of mutineers in the area. On one occasion a guard of two non-commissioned officers and eight sepoys, surrounded by about a thousand rebels at Sahunga, gallantly rescued a wounded British officer and fought their way back through the rebels to the main guard.
General Havelock joined forces with the advanced column on the 12th of July and moved on towards Cawnpore in very trying conditions in the hot weather. On the following day, just as the combined force was preparing to camp
near the village of Fathepur, a large party of mutineers advanced from the village to attack the British force. Although his men were exhausted after a long march under a scorching sun, Havelock decided to attack. He immediately deployed his troops and utterly routed the enemy in a short, sharp fight. After a much-needed rest on the next day, the force continued the march early on the 15th of July. However, it was found that the enemy had re-formed and was holding the village of Aong in strength. General Havelock immediately attacked the enemy positions and threw back the mutineers at the point of the bayonet. It was now learnt that the enemy was preparing to blow the important bridge over the Pandu river, six miles farther on, so Havelock had to push on without resting in order to save the bridge and secure a passage over the river. Brasyer's Sikhs moved forward in skirmishing order and occupied the cliffs overlooking the bridge. This enabled the guns to come forward and cover the Madras Fusiliers, who stormed the bridge and put the enemy to flight.
The same evening General Havelock learnt that a number of women and children had been made prisoner at Cawnpore and had to be rescued at all costs. He therefore decided to continue the advance without delay, even though his men had had no rest and the column was still twenty-two miles from Cawnpore On the 16th of July the force advanced to within a few miles of the town before meeting any resistance. Here some ten thousand rebels opposed the British advance on the town. General Havelock personally led his now-small force of nine hundred men round the enemy's left flank and took the enemy by surprise from the rear. The 78th Highlanders were in the lead and rolled up the enemy's left flank with a brilliant charge. The 64th and 84th Foot and Brasyer's Sikhs then passed through and carried the enemy's position. They captured the guns on the right and the enemy retreated. Leaving the guns behind, protected by Brasyer's Sikhs, the British infantry regiments followed up their success and inflicted further losses on the enemy, who eventually lost heart and fled in disorder.
General Havelock and his men camped for the night in the open and entered Cawnpore early on the 17th of July, but they were too late to stop the brutal murder of the women and children by the mutineers.
Forest, in his "History of the Indian Mutiny," wrote as follows about
Havelock's advance from Allahabad
"In nine days Havelock and his veterans had marched 126 miles under an Indian sun in the hottest season of the year, each man carrying a heavy weight of ammunition, and had won four pitched battles and sundry combats against highly disciplined troops far exceeding them in number. During four days' fighting they had killed or wounded many hundreds of their enemies, and had captured twenty-three pieces of artillery. Their advance had been one of suffering, of privation, and of fatigue. . . . Battle after battle was won by desperate fighting; the cholera and the sunstroke slew many survivors of the combat, but on they went with unflinching resolution until Cawnpore was reached."
After a few days' rest Havelock, leaving General Neill with a small force to hold Cawnpore, crossed the River Ganges by boat and set out to march to the relief of Lucknow, forty-five miles away. His force, which was only fifteen hundred strong and included Brasyer's Sikhs, moved out on the 29th of July and almost immediately encountered a large force of the enemy opposing their advance. Havelock drove the enemy out of the villages of Unao and Basiratganj and utterly defeated them in two brilliant battles. However, Havelock's force was seriously depleted by sickness and battle casualties and he had to withdraw to Mangalwar; a few miles north of the river, and await reinforcements. It was quite obvious that the remnants of his force had little chance of forcing the way to Lucknow and carrying out the relief of the besieged garrison in the Residency. Forrest wrote in his History
"Two victories had been won. But if the road to Lucknow was to be so roughly contested there was little chance of reaching the Residency. What soldiers could do Havelock's men had achieved. But they could not fight the pestilence of the tropics. For some days cholera and dysentery had done deadly work among them. A sixth of his force had perished-half on the battlefield, half by disease."
A few days later Havelock received a small number of reinforcements and a few guns, so he moved forward again on the 5th of August. He encountered the enemy in Basiratganj and utterly routed the rebels for a second time, but again was forced to withdraw to Mangalwar. He was still not strong enough to fight his way to Lucknow, which was reported to be held by thirty thousand mutineers.
On the 11th of August Cawnpore was threatened by four thousand mutineers, who had arrived in Bithur from Saugor, and General Neill called for aid, while, at the same time, the enemy was also reported to be collecting again in Basiratganj. Havelock was determined to strike another blow before recrossing the river to Cawnpore, and he set out with his force the same evening. He once again defeated the enemy in a fierce battle a few miles north of Basiratganj during the next morning, and then withdrew for a third time and crossed the river to Cawnpore.
On the 16th of August Havelock led his much-depleted force against the mutineers in Bithur. After a long march of eight hours the weary force gained contact with the enemy, who were holding one of the strongest positions that Havelock had ever seen, around the village. Havelock decided not to wait, and his men assaulted the position with great gallantry. After some hard hand-tohand fighting the position was carried and the enemy utterly routed. Brasyer's Sikhs were on the left flank and threw back a large force of the enemy, entrenched in the bank of a nullah, at the point of the bayonet and captured his guns.
After the battle Havelock returned to Cawnpore and issued his famous order of the day in which he said
"Soldiers, your labours, your privations, your sufferings and your valour will not be forgotten by a grateful country."
This quotation is inscribed on his statue in Trafalgar Square, and on the reverse "The Regiment of Brasyer's Sikhs" is included amongst the units listed as the "Defenders of Lucknow." The 14th Sikhs are the only unit of the Indian Army mentioned on a monument in England.
Owing to casualties and the serious sickness from cholera and other diseases amongst his British troops, Havelock had to remain in Cawnpore for nearly a month awaiting reinforcements. There was very little fighting and the Ferozepore Regiment was detailed to escort a convoy of sick and wounded to Allahabad. The Sikhs escorted the wounded safely back, in spite of encountering a number of rebels during the journey, and then returned to Cawnpore.
In the middle of September Sir James Outram arrived in Cawnpore with a large force of reinforcements and bridging operations over the Ganges were begun. The mutineers attacked the bridge from the northern bank and Brasyer's Sikhs were sent over to cover the construction. The Sikhs drove the enemy back and the bridge was completed without further interference.
On the 21st of September two brigades, about three thousand strong all told, set out for Lucknow under General Havelock, accompanied by Sir James Outram.
The enemy opposed the advance at Mangalwar and at Alambagh, in the southern outskirts of Lucknow, and were utterly defeated by the British in two gallant battles. Havelock and Outram halted at Alambagh on the 24th of September while they decided the best means of extricating the British forces in the Residency.
RELIEF AND DEFENCE OF LUCKNOW
The sick and wounded, heavy baggage and large supply train were left at Alambagh, protected by a guard of three hundred men drawn from all units, in the force.
On the 25th of September the advance from Alambagh began. General Neill's Brigade was in the lead and the 78th Highlanders and Ferozepore Regiment were detailed as rearguard and ordered to hold the bridge at Charbagh until everything had passed. The Madras Fusiliers, with the 84th Foot, forced the bridge and Havelock then led his force round east of the city. This move evidently surprised the rebels, for he met no serious opposition until he arrived a short distance from the Residency. Meanwhile, the Highlanders and Sikhs were heavily engaged at Charbagh, where they were attacked by a large force of rebels. After three hours' fighting they defeated the enemy and were able to push on. However, they had lost touch with the main British column and took the wrong road. This mistake proved most fortunate, for they suddenly encountered the rear of some guns which were holding up Havelock's advance and rushed them without ceremony. The 78th Highlanders and Ferozepore Regiment were now in front. The Residency was only some five hundred yards away, but since it was now dusk and the column was strung out over a considerable distance General Outram suggested halting. General Havelock, however, was determined to reach the Residency without delay and ordered the 78th High-landers and Brasyer's Sikhs to advance. This column, led by Sir James Outram and General Havelock, dashed forward through the narrow streets of flat-roofed, loopholed houses held by the mutineers. The Highlanders and Sikhs fought their way forward with desperate gallantry under continuous fire from the enemy and eventually reached the Bailey Guard Gate of the Residency to the deafening cheers of the gallant garrison. In describing the assault Brasyer wrote
"Onward went the devoted band into a fire that seemed, as General Havelock said, as if nothing could live under it. The Highlanders, being Europeans, were placed in front, but the Seikhs followed them closely, pressed eagerly forward, and loudly cheered. Eventually it became a pell mell race for who should be first. Here Neill fell. Continuing this rushing, the troops were all intermixed, jumping over cuttings, and other obstacles in the street, until they finally reached the gateway of the Residency. But this was not only shut, but barricaded. A scramble ensued, the enemy firing from the roofs and windows of houses at us in every direction. At this moment I caught sight of a gap at the side of the gate, forced my way through this, and in reality was the first European of the relieving force who entered the beleaguered Lucknow Residency."
During the day's desperate fighting many acts of gallantry were performed and the Regiment suffered a very large proportion of casualties. One noteworthy feat of gallantry was that of Sepoy Nihal Singh, of the Ferozepore Sikhs, who carried General Neill, when he was mortally wounded in the final charge, to the rear under heavy fire.
The rearguard, with a number of sick and wounded, had not been able to reach the Residency and had remained in the Moti Mahal. So, on the next day, a detachment of the 5th Fusiliers and Brasyer's Sikhs was sent to reinforce them and help them to withdraw to the Residency. Although the Sikhs and Fusiliers fought their way through and drove the enemy back from the buildings and gardens adjacent to the Mod Mahal, the enemy fire from the Kaiserbagh was found to be too heavy to admit of the rearguard convoy being moved back. Further reinforcements from the 78th Highlanders were then sent forward and the rearguard was safely withdrawn to the Residency after dark.
After arriving in the Residency area Sir James Outram took over, from General Havelock, the command of the British forces. Although the rebels had been outwitted, they had not been decisively defeated and still occupied the city in great strength. It was found to be quite impracticable to carry out the original intention of withdrawing the besieged people in the Residency and all the relieving force could do was to aid its defences. Although this was not really a relief of the Residency, it was a very gallant rescue from a situation of the gravest peril. There were now 2,000 additional troops, so there was no longer an imminent danger of the garrison being overwhelmed. However, the Residency was besieged as closely as ever, and Sir James Outram had to stand on the defensive and await relief in his turn.
With the increased number of troops in the Residency positions had to be enlarged and so for the next few days several sorties were made to improve the position. The Regiment of Ferozepore was in General Havelock's sector and took part in the sorties along the eastern face of the Residency to clear the enemy from the gardens and houses up to the Chata Manzil. These sorties were entirely successful and improved the defences of the Residency. Lieutenant Cross, of the Ferozepore Sikhs, was wounded in one of these sorties, but otherwise the Regiment suffered very few casualties.
On account of the Sikhs' good service, General Havelock promoted each man to a grade higher in rank, and all subadars were granted the 1st Class Indian Order of Merit.
For the next two months Brasyer's Sikhs were put in charge of the Bailey guard, one of the most important positions in the Residency, and they also held the defences on the right of General Havelock's sector bordering the Pyne Bagh. Outram's force was given no rest by the enemy and it had always to be on the alert. Duties were constant and arduous, while rations were scanty throughout the siege. On one occasion, when the enemy blew a breach in the defences, a detachment of the Ferozepore Sikhs checked a large force of the enemy who stormed the breach, and gave the garrison time to form and repulse the enemy. Jemadar Gowahir Shah was in command of the guard and was awarded the Indian Order of Merit for his gallant conduct.
At last, on the 17th of November, a relieving force under General Sir Colin Campbell, Commander-in-Chief in India, arrived at Lucknow. The situation at Cawnpore, however, had again become: critical and General Campbell had to return there as quickly as possible. He therefore decided to evacuate the Residency and return to deal with the rebels at Lucknow at a later date. On the night of the 22nd November all the British forces were withdrawn successfully from the Residency together with all the women, children and wounded. The enemy were taken completely by surprise by this operation, which had been carefully planned and boldly executed.
General Outram was left with a force of some four thousand men to hold Alambagh and contain the enemy at Lucknow. The Ferozepore Regiment was included in General Outram's force and held defensive works at Alambagh for three months. Duties were very arduous on account of the large perimeter to be held. while the enemy kept in constant touch and there were almost daily skirmishes and minor encounters. The enemy delivered a number of attacks, but these were all beaten off with losses to the rebels.
On the 22nd of December General Outram took the offensive and threw back a large enemy force which had attempted to sever his communications to Cawnpore. Reporting on this action, Outram wrote
"The gallant way in which, with a, cheer, the 78th and the Regiment of Ferozepore, led by their commanders, dashed at a strong position held by the enemy (30,000 men and 6 heavy guns), excited much admiration."
On another occasion a most determined attack was made by the enemy on the defences held by the Ferozepore Regiment. Before dashing off to counter-attack the enemy Captain Brasyer sent the following message, scribbled on an envelope, to General Outram : "General, the enemy is in force on our right picket; I am off." This action was completely successful and five thousand of the enemy were driven off. Later General Outram told Brasyer that his scribbled report satisfied him more than all the documents tied with red tape he had ever received. Forrest, in his book, wrote
"Full justice was not done by Sir Colin Campbell or the Chief-of-Staff to Outram's defence of Alambagh, which must be viewed as a fine example of courage and good conduct, and will always stand out as a glorious episode in the annals of the Indian Mutiny."
CAPTURE OF LUCKNOW
At the beginning of March, 1858, Sir Colin Campbell, with a large, well equipped force, joined General Outram at Alambagh and started methodical operations against the rebels at Lucknow,, The enemy were holding three lines of defences north of the city covering the Kaiserbagh, their citadel. These had been strengthened since the relief of the Residency, and houses were now fortified and roads barricaded.
Sir Colin's plan was to send General Outram with his division north of the River Gumti to turn the rebels' position, while his main force attacked the Kaiserbagh from Dilkusha Park.
For a few days the Ferozepore Regiment, now only three hundred and twenty strong, protected the Commander-in-Chief's camp, but it was soon in action against the enemy and took part in the operations to force back the rebels from their first line of defences along the canal. By the 13th of March the British had reached the Little Emambarra, which was held in strength and had to be captured. On the 14th of March one hundred men of the Ferozepore Regiment, under Captain da Costa, with two companies of the 10th Foot, assaulted breaches in the walls of the Little Emambarra, while Captain Brasyer and a hundred more Sikhs assaulted some houses to a flank. Since he had no other British combatant officer available, Captain Brasyer placed the Colours with an escort in charge of the medical officer, Surgeon J. Browne, and ordered him to keep close to him. These orders were faithfully carried out.
Brasyer's party captured and set fire to the houses on the flank and then, climbing 'up on to some flat roofs, set out towards the Little Emambarra itself. It arrived just as the assault was launched. This diversion enabled the storming troops to advance with unexpected ease. They soon captured the Emambarra, and the Colours of the Ferozepore Regiment were planted over the gateway. The day's objective had been captured, but the Sikhs were eager to follow up their success and Captain Brasyer described the next phase of the battle as follows
"The men were excited and eager to go on. Without orders, my Seikhs like monkeys climbed a wall and opened a large gate which gave outlet from the smaller Emambarra, while I, with other officers, joined them. A rush such as nothing could stop followed. The General (Franks) smiled as he cheered my men, but issued no order. This acquiescence was enough, I knew what he wanted. My Seikhs like greyhounds let loose, passed into the street, deafening cheers encouraged us, while the General and his staff followed in support. We rushed onwards, cleared 40 guns in battery en route, driving all before us. Pickaxe and shovel were next at work, and soon a breach was opened in an outer wall."
The Sikhs and the 90th Light Infantry, led by Captains Brasyer and Havelock(Son of General Havelock.), rushed forward and fought their way into an enclosure adjoining the Kaiserbagh under terrible fire. Havelock ran back for reinforcements, and a party of the 10th Foot advanced and captured a small bazaar in rear of the Tara Kothi and mess-house, which were held by some six thousand rebels. This bold move completely surprised the enemy, who made as though they would rush Brasyer's party and force their way out into the city. However, Havelock, seeing the danger, dashed forward with a party of Sikhs and captured two bastions in the last line of defences, turned the guns on to the rebels and drove them towards the Chatar Manzil. Reinforcements followed up quickly and before long the whole of Kaiserbagh was in British hands. Meanwhile, Brasyer had dashed into the centre of the palace, climbed on the top and pushed the Queen's Colour through a gunshot hole in the highest dome, as a signal that the citadel had been captured. The Ferozepore Regiment suffered heavy casualties in this battle and Captain da Costa was among those killed.
General Franks, in his report of that day, wrote
"No words of mine could give due credit to Major Brasyer's courageous conduct. Ever to the front, he was to be seen courageously leading his men wherever the enemy were to be found."
On the 16th of March Brasyer's Sikhs formed part of General Outram's force which captured the Residency and the iron bridge. Major Brasyer was seriously wounded in these operations, but refused to relinquish command of his Sikhs and had to be carried on a litter at the head of the Battalion for several days.
The rebels had been completely defeated in these battles and Lucknow was once again safely in British hands.
After the capture of Lucknow the Ferozepore Regiment joined the Oudh Field Force and took part in a number of minor encounters in rounding up parties of rebels and pacifying the countryside. During this period Lieutenant Montague, with the Allahabad detachment, arrived back in the Battalion.
Operations came to an end in June, 1859, and the Regiment marched to Ferozepore, its home station. Brasyer wrote
"The remnant of the gallant four hundred marched into Ferozepore on the 7th September, with drums and fifes playing, and colours all tattered and torn, after an arduous campaign of two years and four months, and thirteen years of faithful service under the British Government."
For its service in the Indian Mutiny the Regiment was allowed to bear on its Colours the inscription "Lucknow, Defence and Capture," while as a special mark of distinction for its outstanding conduct the Governor-General issued orders that the men of the Regiment of Ferozepore were permitted to wear red safas (turbans), like those in which they had fought, instead of native infantry caps-a privilege of which the Regiment still avails itself on ceremonial parades.
The staff of one of the Colours was broken by a bullet at the relief of Lucknow and was mended with a plain brass ring. This staff still carries the Regimental Colour today, although the actual Colour has been renewed on two occasions since that time.
Only five British officers served with the Ferozepore Regiment during the Mutiny: of these one was killed and three wounded. Brasyer commanded the Regiment throughout the Mutiny, starting as a lieutenant and ending up as a lieutenant-colonel.
Source:The Sikh Regiment - Lieutenant-Colonel P.G. Bamford, D.S.O
Reaffirmation of Sikh Values (1890 A.D - 1940 A.D )
After the decline of Sarkar Khalsa in 1850's, Khalsa population dwindeled very fast. There were over 1.5 million Sikhs when Ranjit Singh was ruling (1830's) but in the first survey conducted by British they found Sikhs to be numbered approximately 780,000 in Punjab. This survey furthers reiterates that Sikh numbers have gone down due to people being assimiliating into Hinduism. Those people who became khalsa during Ranjit Singh's time to take advantage through him, now left Khalsa. Hindu reform movements led by many reformists like Arya Samajis, etc all over India and Punjab were striking hard and zealously working to cut the numbers of Khalsa.
Dayanand, a Baniya Swami from Gujrat launched a movement called ARYA SAMAJ, which shunned Idol Worship but mocked Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind singh. Dayanand's ideals could be summed up in few words.
Idol Worship is bad.
Hindi is the only language of everyone in India.
Muslims can be converted to hindusim after Shuddhi rite.
Only way to worship is through old "Aryan" ways of Havan
Widows can be married.
Marriage between different castes is OK.
Even though many of these ideals are good and are in consistent with Sikhism. Dayanand made a grave mistake when he criticized Guru Nanak by calling him "a Fool". Anyway, Arya Samaj was only successful in Punjab where many Punjabi Hindus converted to Arya Samaj. Thus sowing the seeds of future confrontation.
Movements like Arya Samaj only helped Sikhs to reaffirm their values. Maharaja Rajinder Singh of Patiala on September 7, 1890. In the address presented to the Maharaja, it said: In peacetime, the Sikhs mostly are land-cultivators and artisans— poor men for the most part—and the light of western education and civilization has not reached them in their remote and ignorant villages. Lethargy has fallen upon the people. The beginnings of disintegration threaten. The religious faith in the Timeless God, once received with enthusiasm from the great Nanak and the sacred Gurus who followed him, is no longer the sustaining power it was. Even the few Khalsa students who come forth from the recognized colleges of the Punjab exhibit a tendency to despise and abandon the religious and civil traditions of their fathers, instead of becoming patriotic leaders to guide their people to higher planes of enlightened usefulness. The great educational institutions of the Province provide culture for "leisured" and well-to-do subjects of the Crown, and show even the less-favoured youth among Hindus and Mohammadans the way to emoluments in Government's services, at the Bar, and elsewhere. It is owing, however, to no want of energy on the part of the Sikhs that they have failed more largely to take advantage of these institutions, as may be seen from their readiness to join board and indigenous schools near their homes; but partly because of their traditionary surroundings (mainly agricultural), and partly because of their poverty, Sikh boys have hitherto found little opportunity for joining the larger schools and colleges, thus working their way to intellectual, moral and material advancement. The result is that the Sikh community is very poorly represented in the learned profession; and in posts of honour and responsibility in the civil administration. Sikhs now serving in the British army see their sons left in their native villages, far from the tide of civilization, which is being taken at the flood by the rising generation of other communities. Besides this the purely secular education imparted in public schools is calculated, under existing circumstances, to slowly obliterate the distinctive characteristics of the Sikhs, to check the development of the qualities which enabled them to attain to a proud position, and to merge them finally in the general mass of the surrounding population.
Thus, by 1890's Sikh effort was to create institutions which will strengthen Sikhism. Efforts were at last succeeded when decision to create the first Institution of Sikhs, Khalsa college Amritsar was agreed upon by all parties. Sir James Lyall, Governor of Punjab was invited to put the foundation-stone of the Khalsa College on March 5,1892. The teaching started with the opening on October 22, 1893, of middle school classes. This is how the report describes the inaugural ceremonies: The Khalsa School was opened on the 22nd October at Amritsar in the late Pandit Bihari Lal's house near the Hall Gate. The religious part of the opening ceremony was conducted a day earlier in the spacious Hall of the school premises, with great enthusiasm. Asa-diVar and other sacred hymns were sung by a selected body of trained musicians, and karahprasad was freely distributed. There was a very large gathering of native gentlemen present on the occasion, and they all rose to offer prayers to the Timeless God and to ask Him to grant prosperity to the new institution. After the ceremony was over, a procession was formed of those present, and the whole gathering consisting of about one thousand gentlemen moved, singing hymns, to the Town Hall where a public meeting was already arranged for. The spacious Hall was full, and many had to remain standing in the verandah and on the road.
The Singh Sabha movement made a deep impact on Sikh psyche. Sikhs understood that need of the hour was to protect their identity. Khalsa now was facing a different kind of threat, earlier Khalsa had faced military and persecution threat against its beliefs by Mughals. Now the threats were at the core beliefs of Khalsa, against Punjabi language, against Guru Nanak, against right to keep hair. Singh Sabha urged the Sikh youth to come back to Sikh ideals. Youth leaders like Kartar Singh Jhabbar used to preach in rural Punjab to stop Sikh youths from Drinking alcohol, and other wrong activities. Stimulated by the Singh Sabha preaching, the Sikh youth began to assemble for religious discussion . In 1891 was formed what came to be called the Khalsa Vidyarthi Sabha or the Sikh Students Club. This association of Sikh young men, the first of its kind, was established at Amritsar on the initiative of Dr Sundar Singh Sodhbans. The Sabha used to congregate every Saturday. The members would thereafter go to the Harimandir and circumambulate the sacred pool chanting hymns from the Guru Granth. They set up special programmes to mark the anniversaries connected with the lives of the Gurus. But Golden Temple management least appreciated their fervour. On the occasion of their annual meeting in September 1893, the students set out from Bunga Mananwalian reciting holy songs. They first went to the Akal Takht to offer ardas, but Bhai Multana Singh Ardasia refused to lead the prayer for them. He rejected the request for the reason that the young men were in sympathy with the Singh Sabha and had written in a local newspaper disparagingly about the Golden Temple priests.
Singh Sabha started a movement to free gurdwaras from the control of hereditory mahants. The Mahants were not only harassing the pilgrims but also going against the basic philosophy of Sikhism. Smoking, Idol Worshipping, drinking, abuse, etc was common at these pilgrims center under the influence of these mahants. Singh Sabha declared to free these gurdwaras through non-violent means. By 1928 almost all the Gurdwaras in Punjab were freed from the control of Mahants, more than 5000 Sikhs were martyred by these mahants, directly or indirectly. At Nankana Sahib Gurdwara , Mahant Narain Das, hired mercenaries to fire indiscriminate at the group of Singh Sabha members who had come to take control of the Gurdwara, about 200 were killed by firing, rest were burned alive by the mahant. Later he was punished by British government.
The affirmation in Sikh values played a great role in this period of 1890's to 1930's when Sikhs turned back to Khalsa and basic philosophy of Sikhism. Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee was established, which elected its officers to administer the gurdwaras all over Punjab and many other parts of country. Akali party later came out of Singh Sabha movement.
Excerpts taken from
The Encyclopedia of Sikhism Edited by Harbans Singh ji.
Published by Punjabi University, Patiala
Nirankari Movement 1850's
After the fall of kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, there were several attempts to raise the old glory of the Khalsa. Several movements to reform the Sikhism were started. First one being Nirankari movement, Which was started by Baba Dyal (1783-1855). He was contemporary of Ranjit Singh. A man of humble origin. He preached against the rites and rituals that were creeping into Sikhism. He saw that Sikhism was being assimiliated into Hindusim in front of his eyes. His main target was the worship of images against which he preached vigorously. He re-emphasized the Sikh belief in Nirankar—the Formless One. From this, the movement originating from his message came to be known as the Nirankari movement.
Situation after the fall of Sarkar Khalsa was were such that to quote Sardar Harbans Singh in Heritage of the Sikhs he says " The Sikhs were deeply galled at the fall of their kingdom, but not unduly dismayed. They attributed the outcome of their contest with the English to the chances of war. They were also aware that, despite the deceitfulness of courtiers such as Lal Singh and Tej Singh, they had fought the ferringhi squarely, and maintained their manly demeanour even in defeat. In this mood, it was easier for them to be reconciled to their lot after normalcy was restored. The peaceful spell which followed, however, produced an attitude of unwariness. Conventional and superstitious ritual which, forbidden by the Gurus, had become acceptable as an adjunct of regal pomp and ceremony during the days of Sikh power gained an increasing hold over the Sikh mind. The true teachings of the Gurus which had supplied Sikhism its potent principle of reform and regeneration were obscured by this rising tide of conservatism. The Sikh religion was losing its characteristic vigour and its votaries were relapsing into beliefs and dogmas from which the Gurus' teaching had extricated them. Absorption into ceremonial Hinduism seemed the course inevitably set for them."
Two factors which separated the Sikhs from other Punjabis were the outward marks of their faith, especially the kesas. Baba Dyal's influence was confined to the north-western districts of the Punjab. In 1851, he founded at Rawalpindi the Nirankari Darbar and gave this body the form of a sect. On his death, four years later, he was succeeded in the leadership of the community by his son, Baba Darbara singh . The latter continued to propagate his father' s teachings, prohibiting idolatrous worship, the use of alcohol and extravagant expenditure on weddings. He introduced in the Rawalpindi area the anand form of marrying rite. Anand, an austerely simple and inexpensive ceremony, became a cardinal point with leaders of subsequent Sikh reformation movements.
Sardar Harbans Singh ji further quote "What an unambiguous, crucial development the Nirankari movement was in Sikh life will be borne out by this excerpt from the annual report of the Ludhiana Christian Mission for 1853:
Sometime in the summer we heard of a movement . . .
which from the representations we received, seemed to indicate
a state of mind favourable to the reception of Truth.
It was deemed expedient to visit them, to ascertain the true
nature of the movement and, if possible, to give it a
proper direction. On investigation, however, it was found that
the whole movement was the result of the efforts of an
individual to establish a new panth (religious sect)
of which he should be the instructor.... They professedly
reject idolatry, and all reverence and respect for whatever
is held sacred by Sikhs or Hindus, except Nanak and his
Granth ....They are called Nirankaris, from their belief
in God, as a spirit without bodily form. The next great
fundamental principle of their religion is that salvation
is to be obtained by meditation of God. They regard Nanak as
their saviour, in asmuch as he taught them the way of salvation.
Of their peculiar practices only two things are learned.
First, they assemble every morning for worship, which
consists of bowing the head to the ground before the Granth,
making offerings and in hearing the Granth read by one of
their numbers, and explained also if their leader be present.
Secondly, they do not burn their dead, because that would
make them too much like Christians and Musalmans, but
throw them into the river."
Many people at this time held the view that British was trying to favour Sikhs by making sure that Sikhs were building institutions. The above comment by Ludhiana mission in 1853 discredits any such accusations since at that time British and Sikhs had just fought two lengthy wars. Also Nirankari movement was started four years after Anglo-Sikh war when relations between Sikhs and British were very bad. British only favoured Sikhs in early part of twentieth century when money and land for Khalsa college and other such institutions was granted by British (British also helped create institutions like Aligarh Muslim university and Benaras Hindu university, so Sikhs were not favoured on the expense of others).
This Nirankari movement in late 20th century was hijacked by Arya Samajis and other neo Hindu fanatics who wanted Sikhs to drop all their symbols and assimiliate into their religion. These New Neo Nirankaris who believed in "Living Gurus" confronted Sikhs at Amritsar in 1979 on the Baisakhi day when their living guru "Gurbachan" was trying to create Seven Stars just like Guru had created five beloved one's, obviously to proove to the Sikhs that he is more or less like Guru Gobind Singh (a very serious blasphamy for Sikhs, it is like telling christians or muslims that "I am christ" or "I am mohammad".
Sikhs under Akhand Kirtani Jatha started their march from Akal Takht to stop Gurbachan but were greeted by bullets. This whole incident was solely responsible for the turmoil in Punjab in 1980's. These new nirankaris have been aptly named "Naqli Nirankaris" or the "False Nirankaris".
Article taken from these books.
Encyclopedia of Sikhism edited by Harbans Singh ji.
After the fall of kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, there were several attempts to raise the old glory of the Khalsa. Several movements to reform the Sikhism were started. First one being Namdhari movement, which was started by Baba Ram Singh Namdhari after anglo Sikh wars. He was a soldier in Khalsa army.
Like the Nirankari, this second reform movement known as the Namdhari, or Kuka, movement also had its origin in the north-west corner of the Sikh kingdom, away from the places of royal pomp and grandeur. It harked back to a way of life more in keeping with the spiritual tradition of the community. Its principal object was to spread the true spirit of Sikhism shorn of tawdry customs and mannerism, which had been growing on it since the beginning of Sikh monarchy. In the midst of national pride born of military glory and political power, this movement extolled the religious obligation for a pious and simple living. They were called "Kukas" because of their peculiar style to recite the Gurbani (Sayings of the Gurus). This style was in a high pitched voice, called Kook in punjabi, and thus Namdhari Khalsa's were named Kukas.
The founder, Bhai Balak Singh (1799-1862) of Hazro, was a holy man whose noble example and sweet persuasive manner won him a number of followers. The most prominent among them was Baba Ram Singh who undertook the direction of the movement after Bhai Balak Singh, giving it a more positive orientation.
Baba Ram Singh, born at Bhaini, in Ludhiana district in 1816, was a soldier in the Sikh army. With his regiment he once happened to visit Hazro where he fell under the influence of Bhai Balak Singh. He became his disciple and dedicated himself to his mission. For his religious pursuits he had ample time in the army which, towards the end of Ranjit Singh's day, was comparatively free from its more arduous tasks. In the 1845 Anglo-Sikh war, Baba Ram Singh fought against the English at Mudki.
He gave up service after the occupation of Lahore and returned to his village, Bhaini, which became another important centre of the Namdhari faith. Upon Baba Balak Singh's death, in 1862, the chief responsibility passed on to Baba Ram Singh, whose growing influence helped in the extension of the movement in central and eastern Punjab. An elaborate agency for missionary work was set up. The name of the head in a district—Suba, meaning governor— had a significant, though remote, political implication. There were altogether twenty-two such Subas, besides two Jathedars, or group leaders, for each tahsil and a Granthi, Scripture-reader or priest, for each village.
In the government papers of that period, Baba Ram Singh' s mission is described thus:
He abolishes all distinction of caste among Sikhs;
advocates indiscriminate marriage of all classes;
enjoins the marriage of widows;
enjoins abstinence from liquor and drugs ... exhorts
his disciples to be cleanly and truth-telling.
To the points mentioned could be added a few more such as reverence for the cow, simpler wedding ceremonies and abolition of infanticide which received equal emphasis. Baba Ram Singh was never reconciled to the rule of the British. His prediction about its early recession was implicitly believed by his followers, who were forbidden to join government service, to go to courts of law or learn the English language. The movement thus acquired a strong political bias. Its chief inspiration was, in fact, derived from opposition to the foreign rule and everything tending to remind one of it was shunned. English education, mill-made cloth and other imported goods were boycotted. In its advocacy of the use of the Swadeshi, the Kuka movement forestalled, in the sixties of the last century, an important feature of the nationalist struggle under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.
Kukas even avoided use of the post of fives established by the British and depended upon their own system of postal communication. Messages from their leader were conveyed with special despatch and alacrity. A fast-riding follower would carry the letter to the next village where another devotee, setting all other work aside, would at once speed on with it. People left off their meals unfinished to reach forward a message.
A spirit of fanatical national fervour and religious enthusiasm grew among the Kukas and the personality of Baba Ram Singh became the focal point of a close and well-organized order. The prospect was not looked upon with equanimity by the government, who, after the incidents of 1857, had become extra watchful. When, in 1863, Baba Ram Singh wanted to go to Amritsar for Baisakhi celebrations to which he had invited his followers from all over the Punjab, the civil authority became alarmed. The Lieutenant-Governor charged the Deputy Inspector-General of Police and the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar to ascertain the real intentions of Baba Ram Singh and his companions. The of ficials were notin favour of imposing any restrictions, especially on the occasion of a religious fair. But two months later, when Kukas announced a meeting to be held at Khote, a village in Ferozepore district, prohibitory orders were issued banning all Kuka meetings.
The Kuka organization was subjected to strict secret vigilance, and intelligence officers in the districts sent in alarming reports about its aims and activities. It was bruited about that Baba Ram Singh was raising an army to fight the English. Bhaini and Hazro were kept under continuence survaillance. Baba Ram Singh was sent to Andaman islands under Life imprisonment for treason, he wrote letters to his disciples in Punjab and other places. A selection of letters was published by Dr Ganda Singh a few years ago. The letters reveal Baba Ram Singh's undying faith, his strength of character and his love for his followers. An occasional note of loneliness appears in these letters, though his spirit of patient fortitude always proved stronger.
Baba Ram Singh passed away on November 29, 1885. But many of his followers did not believe that he was dead. They continued to hope that he would one day come to the Punjab and free India from the shackles of the English.
The Kuka movement marked a significant stage in the development of national consciousness in the country. In the seventies of the last century, when the English were reinstalling themselves in India after the revolt of 1857, it gave them another rude jolt.
Like the Nirankaris, Namdharis also formed themselves into a separate sect. Today, they form a distinctly cohesive group among the Sikhs. Two things immediately mark them off from the latter—the style of their headgear and their adherence to the personality of their leader, Baba Jagjit Singh. Apparelled in immaculate, white homespun, they wind round their heads mull or longcloth without any semblance or embellishment and without giving it any sharp, emphatic lines.
While chanting the sacred hymns, they work themselves up to such ecstatic frenzy that they begin dancing and shouting. From these shouts and shrieks—kuk, in Punjabi—some humorously inclined youth in a Ludhiana village called them Kukas, little knowing that they were conferring upon the newly developing order a name which would be widely accepted and which would outlive the more carefully chosen appellations adopted by its authors.
The Kuka outbreak was followed by a secret campaign for the restoration of Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last Sikh king of the Punjab exiled by the British. The Punjab was in the 1880's astir with rumour. Anticipation filled the air. Reports were studiously kept in circulation that Duleep Singh would lead a Russian invasion into India and overthrow the British. A network of secret communication was laid out. Duleep Singh's emissaries kept infiltrating into India in spite of government vigilance. His statements and proclamations—as from "the Sovereign of the Sikh nation and Implacable Foe of the British Government"—were smuggled into the country for distribution. But he could not even get to India and died in a hotel in Paris. Dilip Singh, youngest son of Ranjit Singh had 6 children, 5 daughters and one son. All died issueless.
Article taken from these books.
Encyclopedia of Sikhism edited by Harbans Singh ji.
More details on KUKA movement
In the post 1857 phase of freedom struggle Namdhari movement occupies a very significant place in the annals of history. It was founded at a time when the socio-religious teachings of the great Gurus were slowly being shadowed by other considerations and the political life was at its lowest ebb. Namdhari movement was an off shoot of Sikhism. The Kuka Movement was launched on the Baisaki day in April 1857 at Bhaini (sahib), in Ludhiana District of Punjab. The leader of the Namdhari movement Baba Ram Singh was inspired by Maharaj Singh’s struggle against aliens and worked for social reforms and gave a call for the political battle against the Britishers.
Baba Balak Singh, an Udasi Arora in Hazro, founded Namdhari sect popularly known as Kukas in the district of Rawalpindi in the Year 1847. Ram Singh, a carpenter, became his successor and moved the head quarters to Bhaini (Ludhiana).
The Kukas succeeded in keeping their real objective hidden from the Britishers for almost five year. The government however officially came to know of the Kukas in 1863 with the report submitted by the Deputy Commissioner of Sealkot.
With a view to impart impetus to the organization, Guru Ram Singh divided the whole country into 22 regions and each region was put under one able and wise person called the Suba or the lieutenant. Women participation was ensured by including Hukmi in the list of Suba’s to give representation to the women folk. Training in weapons began to be imparted and paramilitary was organized.
After the Sikhs lost the war against the British forces, the Khalsa army had been disbanded and many patriotic solders were being pursued. With the coming together of the Kukas, these patriotic soldiers grabbed this opportunity to join the Namdhari ( Kuka) movement. Besides the ex-soldiers the Kuka recruits included those who either were related to the ex-soldiers, or those who had turned against the British rule after the revolution of 1857,or even those who had were inspired by the Kukas and had thus resigned from the British service.
Guru Ram Singh adopted non-violence and non-cooperation as the two weapons to succeed in his mission. Kukas boycotted the English regime and everything connected with it was shunned. "English education, law courts, mill made cloth and other imported goods were boycotted." The Kukas also avoided the use of Post Offices and depended upon their own postal system, which was remarkably efficient. They adopted their own legal system and rejected the British system as it did not suit the Indian way of living. Guru Ram Singh himself held the courts initially and later on this responsibility was given to his lieutenants.
During their brief span, the Kukas had thrice revolted against the British. The first such attempt was made as early as in 1869 when a number of Kuka’s belonging to Ferozepur and Sirsa attacked the Deputy Inspector Dewan Baksh alongwith his constable Soobe Singh, snatched their weapons and wounded them.
The second episode occurred when in response to challenge given by the government by way of sacrilege of the Sikh religious places, the Kukas attacked the slaughterhouses at Amritsar and Raikot in June 1871. They freed the cows by murdering the butchers and fled away. The real perpetrators could not be traced and the blame of the act was put on 12 innocent Hindus and Sikhs by forced confessions these confessions were supported by false evidence extracted from these 12 people leading to the capital punishment of the lower court. The Kukas acting on the advice of their Guru surrendered and proved themselves guilty by producing the weapons thus exposing and eroding the faith of many on the British legal system. Four Kuka’s in this case were executed in September 1871 with a Banyan tree at Rambagh hanged and some others were sentenced to long term imprisonment.
The treatment meted out to the Kukas by the Government did not subdue them. In spite of the restriction imposed on Guru Ram Singh, Kukas gathered at Bhaini on the Maghi festival in January, 1872. One group decided to attack Malerkotla against the advice of the Guru. 68 Kukas were captured of which 66 were blown after tying them to the cannons. Subsequently another 16 Kukas were blasted at Malerkotla and four were sentenced to life imprisonment. Kukas headquarters at Bhaini was also searched. Nothing much of consequence was found except few kirpans, latchets and some ornamental Khukaris. Guru Ram Singh and eleven of his follower were deported to Rangoon. Ram Singh died in Rangoon in 1885.
Even though the number of Kukas were very small, they were little more than ten thousand in 1881, the movement occupies a very important place in the history and this became a source of inspiration for generations to come. Guru Ram Singh and the Kukas also occupy a prominent place in the history for they were amongst the first to initiate non-co-operation and the use of Swadeshi as political weapons. Boycott of British goods, government schools, law courts, even the postal service, use of hand spun cloth were some of the tools used by the Kukas as an expression of resentment against the foreign rule. These were the very things, which were propagated by Gandhiji after he came to the political scene.