Saragarhi DayDate: Tuesday, 27 July, 2010
Former head of the British Army, Sir Richard Dannatt, His Honour Judge Sir Mota Singh QC and Pops from Tigerstyle today launched ‘Saragarhi Day' to recognise the sacrifice made by the Sikhs in the service of the British Army.
Saragarhi Day will mark the anniversary of the eponymous battle in 1897 that saw 21 Sikhs lay down their lives to defend an army post against 10,000 Pashtun tribesmen. The day will be marked by a series of events across the UK to recognise the contribution Sikh soldiers have made in the past and continue to make today.
The battle took place in the North-West Frontier Province, now part of Pakistan, in September 1897. The 21 brave Sikhs from the 36th Sikh regiment fought to the death and in doing so delayed the tribesmen long enough for reinforcements to arrive and defend nearby forts.
When the gallantry of Saragarhi was recounted it led Queen Victoria to comment: "The British, as well as the Indians, are proud of the 36th Sikh Regiment. It is no exaggeration to record that the armies which possess the valiant Sikhs cannot face defeat in war."
The 21 Sikh soldiers who sacrificed their lives were posthumously awarded the Indian Order of Merit, the highest gallantry award of that time that an Indian soldier could receive.
Commenting on the issue, Sir Richard Dannatt said: "Sikh regiments have played an enormously important role in the British Army and the soldiers who laid down their lives at the Battle of Saragarhi were immensely brave and loyal. The Battle of Saragarhi is not well known and certainly hasn't achieved the recognition of a battle like Rorke's Drift but is an extremely important part of history and should be remembered and thanks paid to the soldiers and their families."
His Honour Judge Sir Mota Singh QC, added: "These 21 brave soldiers laid down their lives to save others and it is really important that Sikhs of all ages recognise the sacrifice that they made. We are also asking the Government to formally recognise the sacrifice made by these Sikhs."