Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bandhi Chhorh…. Guru Hargobind deliverer of Prisoners.

1619 AD …A call from Guru Hargobind  to  Mughal Emperor Jehangir….Bandhi Chhorh !!!!

Today ….2011 AD….perhaps there could be a call for Guru Hargobind  to help us bring home the 54 Indian soldiers held as  POW’s in Pakistani Jails  …They have been lost  in transition somewhere in Pakistani jails for almost 40 years  and desperately need  a divine intervention.

A prisoner is a Bandhi…..

Political prisoners….Prisoners of war are those hapless victims caught in crossfire of political compulsions through the ages. The apathy of the country  for these honourable, but unfortunate gentlemen can be felt deeply in Byron’s Poem ‘Prisoner of Chillon.

In the summer of 1816, Byron and Shelley sailed around Lake Leman (Lake Geneva).  While on their way they stopped at the Chateau of Chillon, and deep in the dungeons, below the water-line of the lake, they visited the place where Fran├žois de Bonnivard was imprisoned for four years (1532-1536).  During those years, Bonnivard had worn an imprint in the stone floor from his pacing of the confined area.

And Bonnivard was imprisoned for 4 years only….
Byron was so impressed with the event, he composed  the poem  The Prisoner of Chillon.
My hair is gray, but not with years,
Nor grew it white
In a single night,
As men's have grown from sudden fears:
My limbs are bow'd, though not with toil,
But rusted with a vile repose,
For they have been a dungeon's spoil,
And mine has been the fate of those
To whom the goodly earth and air
Are bann'd, and barr'd - forbidden fare;
Young Guru Hargobind was held a prisoner as well…but he had the courage and conviction to snook his head at the all powerful Mughal Emperor to say “ Bandhi Chorhh’ …. The 6th Guru of the Sikhs as the spiritual King...was the mentor and the role model .The lofty standards he set, evidently, have been long forgotten today in the run for ill gotten power and more power…Is there any one today who can stand up and say the same for the Indian soldiers held as POW’s  and are languishing in Pakistan  jails …may be a few  Pakistani soldiers are POW’s are in Indian jails as well.
Both countries deny their existence.

General Yeager of the US Air Force wrote a book on his role in the Pakistan Human Rights Commission. The book mentions his interviews with 20 Indian pilots of the 1965 and 1971 wars lodged in Pakistani prisons after the 1971 war.

 Mohan Lal Bhaskar detained in Fort Attock Jail wrote ‘Main Pakistani Jasoos Tha ‘after he was repatriated in 1974. He writes that while he was in jail, he happened to meet Pakistani Major Ayaz Ahmed Sipra who told him about 40-odd Indian POWs in Fort Attock. Bhaskar later gave a sworn affidavit to this effect to the Government of India. Sipra was in the same prison till 1978 for the Bhutto Conspiracy case.

 Manish Jain, son-in-law of Sqn. Leader Jain met one Col. Asif Shafi in Minneapolis, USA in 2000. Shafi told Manish Jain that he was in Attock Jail for seven years for conspiring against Bhutto. There, he met Wing Cdr. H.S. Gill in the same cell. There were other Indian prisoners in the jail but in different cells.

Mrs. Tambay, wife of Pilot OfficerTambay, happened to meet one T.A. Yusuf, a Bangladeshi naval officer in Jamnagar who was imprisoned at Lyallpur Jail in 1974 for supporting the cause of Bangladesh Independence. He met Pilot Tambay there who he recalls as having written his name on the wall. He saw other prisoners. One of them said that that they were Indian Prisoners of the War of 1971.

The story goes that Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Latif Malik was the Commandant of the POW camp at Lyallpur.
Right at the outset, he took the POW’s on a tour of the 'camp' to show off the security arrangements. It was indeed a formidable jail, with three rings of 10 feet high walls, and watchtowers with machineguns and searchlights.
He then told the Prisoners of War that they were well within  their moral right to attempt to escape, and his right was to shoot at sight, if caught.
Frankly, the formidable security made most give up any notions of escape….however most of these men  were repatriated…….
But what about some that were not?..... 54 POWs, young Indian personnel of the Armed Forces were lost in transition in the post war hyperbolic euphoria….And are lost till date…… Of the 54 POWs in Pakistani jails, 29 are from the Indian Army while 25 belong to the Indian Air Force.

After the 1971 Indo-Pak War India had ….3703 Pakistani Prisoners of War on the Western front +  93007 in the East ,nowBangladesh.

 In addition the Indian Army had occupied 9047 Sq Kilometers of Pak Territory in Punjab with 
90 Villages Situated there.

 Pakistan had 2307 Indian POWs.

After the much hyped Shimla Accord of 28 Jun - 3 July 1972:

The Pak Territory was vacated by 7 Aug 1972,
Pakistani Prisoners of War of the Western front were repatriated on 1 Dec 1972 and of the East by 14 Nov 1974.

But 54 of our Indian prisoners of war in Pakistan became the unfortunate and helpless Victims in the process of self  glorification of Political and bureaucratic supremacy. It was an  ultimate goof up with no answers given.

These Indian Soldiers in West Pakistan were abandoned by the Government causing endless pain and suffering for their Families … Indira Gandhi was the PM…

These families have fought a lonely and a losing battle for almost 40 years, all to no avail…. Their Holi and Diwali for four decades have been sans colour and light……..

The story of Diwali is the festival of lights when, according to Indian lore, Lord Rama returned home after destroying the demon god Ravana who had taken away Rama’s wife, Sita.

Sikhs celebration of Diwali coincides with the “Bandhi Chhorh” day…. This coincidence has resulted in similarity of celebrations..

Bandhi Chhorh day  is celebrated  to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind  after he was freed from imprisonment and  he also exacted a release 52 Hindu Kings…who were held as political prisoners  at the same time at the infamous fort of Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir in October, 1619.

So the Kings/rajahs were freed and the Guru became known popularly as the "Bandhi Chhorh" –a deliverer from prison.

He arrived at Amritsar on the Diwali day and the Harmandir sahib ….also known as the Golden Temple was lit with hundreds of lamps to celebrate his return. Hence the day came to be known as the "Bandi Chhorh Divas" …the day of freedom….The victory of truth over evil.

Hargobind was 11 years old when his father …Guru Arjan Dev attained martyrdom due to conspiracy  synchronized by the hangers-on of the court of Mughal Empire in India. In a parting advice to his only son, Guru Arjan Dev warned him of the turbulent period ahead and suggested that he should take appropriate measures to protect himself and the Sikhs to the best of his ability.

Even though a little boy Hargobind took this advice very seriously .Guru Hargobind always wore two swords, representing his obligation to resist oppression and uphold spirituality both at the same time.

A doctrine of ‘Miree-Piree’ was born. Guru Hargobind wore a saffron colored princely outfit and people started calling him ‘Sachha Padshah’ ….True King.

Soon after assuming the mantle of a guru….Guru Hargobind sent out an edict to his followers that he would welcome a gift of finest horses and weapons in addition to the provisions for the Langar; he set up intensive training camps for swordsmanship, archery, and physical endurance. A program for the militarization of the community thus began in earnest.

Soon Guru Hargobind led a small army of 800 horses, 300 troops on horseback, and 60 men with firearms.

 When Murtaja Khan…. Nawab of Lahore, noticed that Guru Ji had constructed the Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, 'The Throne of the Almighty', at Amritsar, and was also strengthening his army, he informed the Mughal Emperor Jahangir about this. He also erroneously, emphasized that the Sikh Guru was making preparations to take revenge for his father's torture and martyrdom.

The Ulema ….the fundamentalists at the Court… suggested to Emperor Jehangir that Guru Hargobind may lead a revolt against his empire and he be arrested

When Jahangir heard about this he at once sent Wazir Khan and Guncha Beg to Amritsar in order to arrest Guru Hargobind….

But Wazir Khan, who was an admirer of Guru Hargobind, requested the Guru to accompany them to Delhi, telling him that Emperor Jahangir wanted to meet him. Guru Sahib accepted the invitation and reached Delhi…..Here he was levied a penality and asked to pay a fine of rupees two lakhs, which had been imposed on his father, this of course he refused to pay.... just as vehemently as his father had done prior to martyrdom.

Bandhi Chhorh Jail
As Guru Hargobind showed little inclination to pay the fine, he was sent for detention to the nefarious Gwalior Fort where the Mughal Emperors kept their political prisoners....This was the Fort out of which no prisoner came out alive.  Obviously the cause of detention was political as it was a political prison. Nonpayment of the fine was merely an excuse.

Guru Hargobind’s period of internment at Gwalior is put at between 40 days to 60 days.

The 52 Rajas and princes  imprisoned were there for their failure to pay tribute monies to the Mughal rulers. In the fort Guru Ji met many Hindu Princes who were detained there due to political reasons. Their living conditions in the fort were very deplorable. With the help of Hari Dass, the governor of fort, the Guru had their conditions improved. The princes soon joined the Guru in his daily prayers.

Hari Daas was a Sikh faithful of Guru Nanak and he had become an ardent devotee of Guru Hargobind

When several months had passed without their Guru being released,  Baba Budha Ji and a group of Sikh devotees traveled to the fort to meet with the Guru. They told the Guru that the whole of Amritsar, his family, devotees and all the pilgrims who had come, from near and far to visit him, were missing his presence dearly.In reality, they were worried that their Guru might never leave the prison. The memory of his father's recent imprisonment, torture and death weighed heavily on their minds.

 The Guru assured them that they should not worry, he would join them soon. Outside the fort Sikhs gathered and began to carry out Parbhaat-Pheris …singing Gurbani, as they walked around Gwallior Fort waiting for their beloved Guru's release.

 Baba Buddha went to see a Muslim sufi saint…. Mian Mir 
The story is that  Mata Ganga Devi and Baba Buddha went to see a Muslim sufi saint…. Mian Mir at Lahore, who was a great admirer of Guru Arjan and had laid the foundation stone of Harmandir at Amritsar. Baba Buddha related the story of Guru Hargobind’s unlawful arrest on a suspicion that he may be encouraging a rebellion against Emperor Jehangir to avenge the death of his father.

 It so happened that Noor Jehan the, favorite wife of the Emperor was a devotee of Mian Mir. She assisted Mian Mir in presenting a case to Jehangir… that perhaps he had acted in haste and committed a serious crime. Mian Mir stated, “What can be more shameful for an Emperor to think that a young lad could confront your mighty force?” 

Emperor Jehangir ….who had by now moderated his views on religion accepted their advice and then ordered Wazir Khan to release Guru Sahib. Reaching Gwallior Fort Wazir Khan informed Hari Daas of the Emperor's order to release the Guru. Hari Daas was very pleased to hear this and quickly informed Guru Ji about the message from the Emperor. 
But the Guru refused to leave the fort unless the 52 princes were released as well.

When Wazir Khan informed the Emperor of the Guru's desire, the Emperor first refused, but finally agreed, after Wazir Khan reminded him of the debt he owed the Guru for his recovery. Not really wanting to free the prisoners the Emperor cleverly added the following condition:

"whoever can hold on to the Guru's cloak can be released."

A face-saving compromise was devised by which anyone who could hold on to Guru Hargobind’s coat tails could go free with him! A special robe was made for Guru Hargobind with 52 tails and the matter was resolved.

His deeply grateful friends called Guru Hargobind ‘Bandhi Chhorh, the Liberator.’

What do we learn from this……

Guru Sahib could have left the Fort when he was offered liberation. ….But to the Guru others' freedom and rights were more important than just his own. For him liberation and upholding everyone’s Human rights was significant. This is the attitude and virtue Guru Hargobind ingrained in his Sikhs

 This positive message…..Be prepared to sacrifice your own freedom for the sake of other    innocent people.

Today once again we the countrymen have to evoke the long forgotten message of Guru Hargobind and give a  wake up call to the sleeping August heads  of the  polity ruling the country….  BANDHI  CHORHH….. 

How was this human tragedy of untold magnitude perpetrated?

How have we let it pass?

LET US NOW DO SOMETHING AND BRING OUR HEROES BACK HOME.............. At least now bring our soldiers home…. at the least to die in peace.

Families search Pakistan for lost PoWs

Suman Purohit has an uphill struggle, and so do her 13 other companions who are searching Pakistani jails for their relatives, missing since 1971.

"I had been married 18 months, and my son, Vipul, was three months old when the India-Pakistan war of 1971 began," she recalls.
Her husband, Flt Lt Manohar Purohit of the Indian Air Force, flew a number of sorties into Bangladesh, which was then called East Pakistan, and came home a couple of times for brief intervals.

"On 9 December, the fifth day of the war, he flew from Rajasthan sector into West Pakistan. He never came back after that," she says.

She was 23 years old then. She is now 59.

For 36 years, she has been searching for clues, and following trails to wherever they would lead. Relatives of as many as 53 other Indian defence personnel face the same ordeal.

Now Pakistan, which denies holding any Indian prisoners of war, has agreed to open its jails to relatives of the missing as part of peace moves.

But the relatives complain they are not allowed free access to barracks.

Instead, Indian prisoners, none of them from the 71 war, are presented to them for identification.

They have been given access to jail records.

But those records are written in Urdu script which none of the relatives can read.

Clues found

All these personnel were classified as "missing in action" and were never listed as prisoners of war (POWs) by either India or Pakistan.

Brother of capt kaura

"Many of us thought they were gone, dead. But there were many clues to the contrary that kept our hopes alive," says Rajesh Kaura, the chief executive officer of a Mumbai (Bombay) based firm. 

He says his brother, Capt Ravinder Kaura, was captured by Pakistani troops from an observation post on the West Pakistan front. His wireless operator escaped and told the family.

Subsequently, there were many other clues to his being alive and his whereabouts.

A number of Indians, both military and non-military, released by Pakistan over the following years said they had met Captain Kaura in one jail or another.

Most relatives of the missing Indian service personnel have come across similar clues - anecdotal evidence from other prisoners, radio and newspaper reports, letters written by other POWs, and occasional photographs of the missing persons smuggled out of Pakistani jails.

For them, this evidence was backed up in April 1979 when a list of 40 people, apparently gleaned from returned prisoners debriefed by the Indian intelligence services, was placed before the Indian parliament.

Pressure on governments

A yoga therapist, Dr Ram Swaroop Suri, whose son was among the missing, got the addresses of all the 40 people and wrote to their families, bringing them together in a campaign that has spanned three decades.

"Mr Suri also wrote a letter to my sister-in-law, and this is how I came to join the Missing Defence Personnel Relatives Association which he started," says G S Gill, a human resource professional from Chandigarh.

Mr Gill's brother, Wing Commander Harsaran Singh Gill of the Indian Air Force, went down in West Pakistan and his colleagues reported that he had ejected before his plane hit the ground. 

G S Gill brother of wing Cmd Gill
"It has been a long struggle," he says.

"We have been meeting every prisoner that is released by Pakistan, we have been pressuring the Indian government to help us, we have been keeping the members of the association informed about our progress."

At times, the going has been frustrating.

"We have been writing to the Indian government, which has been writing to Pakistan," says Damayanty V Tambay, the wife of Flt Lt V V Tambay.

Wife of Pilot Officer Tambay.
"Our evidence has been going from one end to the other, and they always come back to us with the request to provide more evidence," she says.Mrs Tambay, who is the sports director at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, had been married for one year when her husband's plane was downed in West Pakistan.

According to a written statement provided by the visiting relatives, "the Indian government often states that the relatives have accumulated the proofs and that the Indian government is pressurising the Pakistan government because of the insistence of the relatives. This weakens the case."For its part, Pakistan denies altogether the presence of Indian military personnel in its jails.

 But the relatives are not satisfied."Some of them may have tried to hide their identity, or may have been held on spying charges," says G S Gill.

Maj Waraich with wife and daughters
"They may even have landed at some mental asylum, or in a military facility such as the Attock Fort. We have no way of knowing. Only the government of Pakistan can help us."

"The longest of sentences come to an end in 36 years, including those of spies. Even if that is not the case, they should at least let us know," says Dr Simmi Waraich of Chandigarh, who is searching for her father, Major S P S Waraich.

But few observers in Pakistan can match their optimism.

The visits of the relatives to two jails in Lahore and Karachi have already proved futile. They have eight more jails to see in Sindh and Punjab provinces over the next 10 days.

For many of the relatives, this will be a nerve-wracking experience.

"I had a great hope of finding my husband in the Lahore jail. It was hard to walk out of there without seeing him. But hope will give me strength," says Suman Purohit.

There is strength in her clenched teeth as tears well up in her eyes.

Simple question India needs to answer …

How did we repatriate 96710 Pakistani prisoners of war without bringing back all our Heroes?

How could we give back the hard fought gains on ground for which many a brave life was lost…Without bring all our heroes home?

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Sikh Saga......Har Maidaan Fateh

My friend Ramesh Gajanath  Rao....a brother officer from my regiment sent this to me...With a few changes and addition of visuals I am posting it on the blog....I had to share it with you for it is a must read for every Indian.

This is how he began.....The saga of the valiant Sikhs.

Please find out how you owe a great deal to the Sikhs for our freedom.
You will be inspired with the facts. That’s my guarantee. ............“

Life would be boring without Humour...True. .....
We all crack jokes.True again. 
In India, most of the jokes, for some years now are being cracked on the Sikhs....The Sardar jokes.... The list is endless.

Banta Singh-Santa Singh jokes.....
 Giani Zail Singh joke....
 Baldev Singh jokes, Khalistan jokes.
There are these 12 o'clock jokes....History of this is another story... 

Picture yourself as a Sikh and look for an honest response from within yourself. Personalise it....Would you be able to handle these in day out of cracks being taken at you as a soft target by colleagues/ friends/ the unknown person standing next to you.

I have seen puny weaklings ...for that matter anyone and everyone taking the liberty. I know your immediate reaction. "Sure man, it's only a joke." You are absolutely right, it is only a joke. However when a joke enters the bloodstream as a cancerous virus and you get targeted daily, right from your childhood, let me tell you, as much as you believe you can, the fact is you will not be able to handle them.

 On the other hand, look at the Sikhs. Have you ever seen anyone of them getting irritated with these digs & cracks on them?

You wouldn't have....

 Ever thought why they don't get affected?

Well the answer lies in a couplet by Saint Kabeer :

Kaho Kabir chucha ghat bole.
Bhariya hoe so kabahu na dole.

Says Kabeer, an empty pitcher makes noise. But that which is full, makes no sound.

Sikhs by nature are self-respecting, courageous, hardworking and enterprising. Look into their short span of history and you will find their pitcher is full of sacrifices and hard work which has contributed so much towards the nation building. If not for them, the course of Indian History would have been very different. That's what makes them the SPIRIT BORN PEOPLE and gives the ability to simply ignore the digs targeted at them.

 Volumes could be written on the contributions made by the Sikhs, who constitute less than 2% of Indian population. I am listing below just a few, which should make my friends start thinking.

 Sikhs have always believed in the right of an individual to practice a religion of his own choice and have always fought against tyranny

Jahangir, the 4th Mughal ruler wrote in his memoirs, Tuzak-i-Jahangiri about Arjan Dev, the 5th Sikh Guru, "for a long time the thought had been presenting itself to me that he should be brought to the fold of Islam."....... In 1606, when the Guru refused the forceful conversion, he was put to death by boiling in a cauldron and sitting on a hot iron plate.

Aurangzeb, the 6th Mughal ruler was a fanatic ruler who desired to convert every Indian to Islam. Tyrannized by his forceful conversions, a delegation of Kashmiri Brahmins in 1675, approached Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Guru of the Sikhs. 

He offered to sacrifice his life for their cause. This was a unique and unparalleled sacrifice in the annals of human history. He laid down his life in defence of religious tolerance, of freedom of worship, and freedom of conscience. He gave his life so that the Hindu's right to wear the sacred thread is not violated.

This was despite the fact that Sikhs themselves did not believe in these rituals. This was martyrdom for the defense of basic human values.

Guru Gobind Singh :For about many centuries, since the invasion of Mahmud Ghazni in the 10th century, many ruthless invaders devastated  and played mayhem with the life of Indians. Overcome by defeats and trauma the populace  had been sapped of the psychic energy to absolute subjugation so much that they had resigned themselves to their fate.

It was Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs who imbibed the fearlessness amongst the Sikhs to fight against all odds. He wrote to Aurangzeb saying "when all means have failed, it is right to pick up the sword".
 In the year 1699 he proclaimed,

Chirian te mein baaz tudaun, Gidran to mein sher banaun, Sawa lakh se ek ladaun, Tabe Gobind singh Naam kahaun ..

"call me by the name of Gobind Singh, only if i succeed in making the sparrows (Indians) fight against the Hawks (mighty foreign rulers) and am able to make one Sikh fight against an army of one Lakh".

He set himself against oppression and intolerance. ....He did not fight for any territory or worldly power, or against any religion or sect.

He made nationalism the religion of Sikhs. Apart from the numerous Sikhs who lost their life in defence of the country under him, his two sons were martyred on the battleground, while the other two preferred to be bricked alive than give up their esteem.

In 1709 he left this world with a lifetime of heroic events which changed the History of India.

Bulle Shah, ......a celebrated Sufi Muslim Saint has said, 

"I neither say of the past, nor of the future, but I talk of the time of Guru Gobind Singh and declare openly. That but for him, all the Indians would have been circumscribed and converted to a foreign culture and religion".

 In 1710, Banda Singh Bahadur was the first Indian to re-establish Indian rule after 7 centuries of foreign rule in India, post a fierce battle with the forces of Aurangzeb, although this was short lived.

 Between 1713 and 1801 the Sikhs were homeless and living as Guerillas, demonstrating heroic acts of courage at every possible instance. The tyrant rulers had put a reward of Rs. 25 for every Sikh head and Rs. 100 for every Sikh caught alive. Those caught alive would be cut to pieces. Many new vocabulary (of which many jokes against Sikhs are made nowadays) were given currency among the Sikh guerillas which showed with what brave face and heart they had accepted the challenge of their persecutors.

In 1738 Nadir Shah, the Persian ruler invaded India from Kabul and went on a rampage up to Delhi. He returned to Persia in summer of 1739 and carried back a huge booty of looted wealth, Kohinoor diamond, women, artisans and slaves. To avoid the summer heat, the convoy would rest during the day and travel in the night. At the peak of the day heat at 12 noon, the Sikh guerillas started attacking his convoy right from Punjab up to the Indus. They freed many women, artisans, slaves and deprived him of large amount of wealth. The women were escorted back to Delhi by the Sikhs. 

It was for this heroic act, which no one else dared, of fighting against the might of Nadir Shah by a handful of Sikhs and freeing the women, that the Sikhs started getting seen as people who go mad at 12 Noon and therefore the 12 o' clock jokes of nowadays. When Nadir Shah asked Zakhariya Khan "who these barbarians were and where they lived", Zakhariya replied "they are the followers of Nanak and live on saddles of their horses".

Post the return of Nadir Shah to Persia, Zakhariya Khan went on a rampage against the Sikh movement and killed 10,000 of them in a few days.

Between 1748 & 1765, Ahmad Shah Abdali the ruler from Afghanistan rampaged India 9 times. Again the Sikhs attacked his returning convoys during the peak summer heat and freed 2200 women and escorted them back to their homes. Yet again a heroic act at 12 noon, which unfortunately the others perceived as a maddening act and therefore further, strengthened the 12 noon syndrome. 

These acts of Sikhs aggravated Ahmed Shah Abdali, who swore to take revenge at an appropriate time. During his 6th invasion he caught the Sikhs unaware and 25,000 of them were killed in a few days.
But the spirit of the Sikhs remained high as one Nihang Sikh of that time commented "only the soft and unbaked ones of us have fallen off".

Finally, Sikhs under Ranjit Singh, in 1798 brought to an end the 800 years of foreign invasions into India through Khyber pass, by bringing it under their control. This was the best gift the Sikhs gave to the nation which finally allowed the rest of India to breathe in peace. Hari Singh Nalwa, who manned the Khyber pass for years became a household name in Afghanistan. Even today, the Afghani mothers put their children to sleep with the threat of Hari Singh Nalwas name.

 It was Ranjit Singh who brought back to India the world famous Kohinoor diamond, which was looted by Nadir Shah earlier.
 If not for the Sikhs, who captured Kashmir in 1819, today it would have been a part of Afghanistan.
Hari Singh Nalwa

 Ladakh, which earlier was a part of Tibet, owes its existence on the map of India to Zorawar Singh, who captured it in 1836.

 Sikhs were the last to surrender to the British in the sub-continent and were the first to raise arms against them.

After two bloody Anglo-Sikh wars did British manage to annex Punjab as the last kingdom on the map of British-India Empire. It is an irony of fate that the Sikhs had to fight against their own countrymen as British forces in saving Punjab from British annexation. 

It was not due to lack of soldiers' courage and conviction that the wars against British were lost, ......but a treachery by Gulab, the Dogra Prime minister under Ranjit Singh, who joined hands with the British in exchange for the title of Kashmir on winning the war. 

British records say about the Sikhs "such a mass of men, fierce and untamed in their dying struggle, who fought like Lions and ran right on the bayonets and struck on their assailants when they were transfixed".

 In spite of the loss of empire to British, the spirit of freedom amongst Sikhs was soaring high.
Whereas the British would daily fire a canon at 12 noon by the East India Co. time, which was the Calcutta time, the Sikhs on the other hand refused to recognize the British time. There is a one and a half hour time difference between Calcutta and Lahore time and therefore the Sikhs maintained their firing of the Canon at 12 noon Lahore time. Amongst the general public there was a confusion as to which canon denoted the 12 noon and therefore at the fire of the first canon the public would say "12 o'clock of British" and on the second fire, an hour and a half later, they would say "12 o'clock of Sikhs." Soon the spirit of defiance and freedom was forgotten by fellow Indians and they started linking the madness demonstrated by them during Nadir Shah and Abdalis invasions at 12 noon to the act of defiance during British period and there took place the 12 o'clock jokes.

 Much before 1919, when Mahatma Gandhi issued the call for satyagraha (boycotting English goods), the Sikhs under Baba Ram Singh had started the boycott movement in the year 1863. Eighty two Sikhs were tied to canons and blown apart by British.
Sargarhi fort....1897
Sikhs were the only Indian community to be internationally acclaimed as early as 1897, for their heroism and valour. Where in the history of warfare can you find the instance of heroism as demonstrated by 22 Sikh soldiers manning the signal post of Saragarhi in Nort-West province with no ammunition back up. All the 22 of them fought till the last bullet had been fired against an Afghan army of 7000 warriors. The 22 soldiers then charged with their kirpans to be eventually cut down to pieces. 

The easier way out would have been to surrender but the spirit of Sikhs has always made them do what Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru had said, 

"Grant me this boon, O Lord, at last when the end of life is near, I may die fighting in the battlefield for the sake of righteousness".

The first battle for freedom from British was won by Sikhs, when after loss of many lives in 1929 they were able to take over the charge of their shrines from British.

On this victory Mahatma Gandhi sent a telegram saying "THE FIRST DECISIVE BATTLE OF INDEPENDENCE OF INDIA WON - CONGRATULATIONS".

 Where in the world can you find an act of sacrifice like that of Sikhs in 1922, willing to offer lives of their wives, children and themselves by lying on the rails to stop a train of freedom fighters who only had to be fed because they were hungry. The train finally stopped after killing a few Sikhs.

 Not many can claim the valor with which Bhagat Singh offered himself at the altar of Indias' freedom in 1931.

 There is not another instance of bravery as shown by Udham Singh in 1940, when he went to London and shot dead Sir Michael O'Dwyer at a public meeting, as a revenge for the Jallianwala massacre.

 Out of 42,000 recruits in the Indian National Army under the command of Subhash Chandra Bose, 28,000 soldiers contributing 67% of strength, were Sikhs.

 Contribution of Sikhs who are less than 2% of Indian population , in the freedom struggle of India against the British.

 PUNISHMENT                               TOTAL                      SIKHS                               % OF SIKHS
Hanged                                              121                                93                                        77%
Life Imprisonment                              2646                         2147                                         81%            
Jallianwala Bagh massacre                1300                          799                                         62%

Book source : "History of Indian National Congress".

Partition of India in 1947 brought innumerable death to Sikhs and was the greatest disaster known in the Indian history.

It is indisputably true that the Sikhs paid the heaviest price for the freedom of the country.

 Punjab lost its most fertile part to Pakistan during the partition. However, today due to hard labour of Sikh farmers, the Punjab in India produces much higher quantities of food grain than the fertile Punjab in Pakistan. Punjab contributes 40% of rice and 51% of wheat into the central pool of food grains in India.

Post partition, many of the landless Sikhs who settled in the jungles of Terai in Uttar Pradesh have today made the area as fertile as Punjab.

Contribution of Sikhs towards the Indian Defence Services is the highest with respect to their 2% population size. This community has also won the maximum number of gallantry awards since independence - 
5 Param Vir Chakras (PVCs), 
40 Maha Vir Chakras (MVCs), 
209 Vir Chakras (VrCs).

During the emergency of 1975 imposed by Indira Gandhi, no organized protest was made across the country by any section of community, except for the Sikhs who conducted daily morchas, involving 40,000 arrests.

 You will never find a Sikh ever begging on the roads, in spite of being uprooted & made homeless many a times, they have demonstrated the ability to rise back from the scratch. Each one of them actively contributes towards the nation building. 

Almost 30 years ago, Professor Milton Friedman (Noble Prize Winner) an American Economist, on his visit to India had humorously remarked, "Lease out India to the Sikhs for a while and there will be no problem of development". Could there be any greater compliment to the Sikh spirit and enterprise.

 In spite of endless contributions made by Sikhs towards the nation building, our friends find them to be a laughing stock. Well, it makes no difference to the Sikhs as their pitchers are filled with unparalleled acts.

 As a nation we may lack the sense of humour but for the Sikhs......They are a rare species, with a great sense of humour.

This is the community which has learnt to fight......succeed ....and laugh.

It is time for my friends to do a bit of introspection.