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Memorial To Baba Banda Singh Bahadur at Chappar Jhiri

Baljit Kaur

The battle of Chappar Jhiri was fought by Banda Singh Bahadur against Nawab Wazir Khan, Subedar of Sirhind who had ordered the bricking alive of the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Sahibzada Fateh Singh and Sahibzada Zorawar Singh (aged 6 and 7 years only). Wazir Khan was killed in this battle. Six thousand Sikhs also lost their lives. Sirhind was a significant and strategic seat of Mughal empire. It was also an important religious site of Islam i.e., Roza-Sharif, is second only to Mecca Sharif. It is important to note that no mosque was damaged by Banda Singh Bahadur and his troops. His main target was Wazir Khan and his deputy Sucha Nand.

This battle is noteworthy as it turned the tide of a thousand years of uninterruppted and unresisted attack by foreign invaders and it also laid foundation of the first Sikh Empire.
Banda Singh Bahadur also deserves credit for abolishing the mansabdari system in Punjab and instilling a spirit of confidence, social justice and equality among the so-called dregs of society on the command of Guru Gobind Singh. Social and economic factors were turned into reality by handing over land to the tiller.

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Banda Singh Bahadur reinforced the Panj Pyara doctrine of Guru Gobind Singh by seeking their guidance at every step.

He struck coins in the name of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh. Nowhere did he promote himself.

He along with his nine hundred followers remained steadfast to the Sikh doctrine till the very end.

It is significant to note that entire Sikh nation from Majha, Doaba and Malwa rallied under Banda Singh Bahadur’s flag in the name of Guru Gobind Singh gave a united response inspired by the Khalsa spirit despite the lack of matching weaponry .

This battle was envisaged as a last resort after failure of Guru Gobind Singh’s efforts at procuring justice through dialogue first with Aurangzeb later with Bahadur Shah.

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Memorial to the Battle of Chappar Jhiri
The Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh held a meeting at the village Chappar Jhiri on April 7, 2009 at the Convention Hall of Guru Nanak Public School to ascertain the truth of the rumours of establishing a Golf Course by GMADA at the site of the battle field of Chappar Jhiri, which would wipe off this all important historical site of Sikh history. Our findings were submitted to the President of IOSS, S Pritam Singh IAS (Retd), who could not visit Chappar Jhiri due to unavoidable reasons on that very day, but visited it number of times for follow-up actions.

Rumours could not be confirmed due to lack of clear evidence. The President, IOSS rang up to convey his decision to appoint me as the Chairperson of the Banda Singh Bahadur Memorial Committee. He asked me to constitute my own sub-committee and to handle the matter as per my discretion.

First of all, I procured a copy of a map of GMADA for the development of the entire belt, which clearly showing that the site of the battlefield was to be converted into an elitist Golf Course. This was the most important weapon in my armoury since the Chief Minister of Punjab was also the Chairman of GMADA.

Next step was to procure a dozen copies of the recently published books by Dr Surinder Singh and Dr Sukhdial Singh, the Head of History department of Punjabi University, Patiala on the Chappar Jhiri battle.

I created a high powered committee of 31 members comprising of a cross section of intellectuals, prominent in their respective fields. Several institutions like International Sikh Confederation, Kendriya Singh Sabha, and Sikh Educational Society, etc., were also involved along with IOSS. Members of the Panchayat of Chappar Jhiri were included to make it a formidable team, which worked as a close knit unit. S Gurdarshan Singh Grewal, twice ex-Advocate General of Punjab was made the Legal Adviser, Dr J. S. Grewal, Ex-Vice Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar and the Famous Historian, was appointed as the Historical Adviser.

The main problem was to identify the exact location and area of the Tibbas, Jhiri and Maidan – the essential components of the battle field as per Banda Singh Bahadur's battle strategy. To achieve this object, I brought a copy of the village map showing the khasra numbers. The experts from various disciplines (historian, geographist, army commanders, Public Administrator, Journalists, Architects and the local leaders of the concerned Panchayat were taken to the battle site several times. After which a map was prepared outlining showing the khasra numbers required of the area, it works out to be 35 acres.

I sought help of a 'respectable friend' indicating my keenness to preserve the heritage site. He advised me to build up public opinion through press and individuals in order to persuade the politicians at the helm of affairs and garner support of the local population, step by step to focus on the urgency of the case.

I approached the press by presenting to each journalist the GMADA map and a copy of the book on Baba Banda Singh Bahadur along with the impressive list of the members of our sub-committee. This involved ‘Times of India’, ‘The Tribune’ (English and Punjabi), the ‘Ajit’ and many other papers. Their correspondents were taken to the site of the battlefield.

As a result, political parties like the Communists, Marxists/Leninists stepped in, Bairagis and many others joined in, e-mails poured in from abroad till the demand was conceded by the Chief Minister on October 1, 2009 at a widely attended ceremony at Rakhra village. We decided it was then the right time to submit our memorandum to him.

I as Chairperson of the coordination committee along with eleven members of the team and the Sarpanch and ex-Sarpanch of Chappar Jhiri had a meeting with the Chief Minister on October 20, 2009. We had requested for grant of 35 acres but he approved 20 acres to which we agreed. In a subsequent meeting, he asked us to spell out details of land-use. Majority view was to erect a Minar-e-Fateh at the site and raise the dune (tibba) with the statue of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur at top level. We also made the request for a Light & Sound programme and creation of a theme park where the statues of his generals, namely, Fateh Singh, Baz Singh, Ali Singh, Mali Singh and Nagiah Singh should be installed. We also asked for a convention hall of international standard so that it could generate funds for the upkeep of the park. The CM left the details to be sorted out by a committee headed by S Jaspal Singh, VC of Punjabi University, Patiala.

Present status of the Chappar Jhiri proposal is that 20 arce of land as earmarked by the Coordination Committee has been notified for acquition of the memorial u/s 6 of the LA Act.

It must be recorded that the close liaison of S Zora Singh ex-Sarpanch of village Chappar Jhiri with the author, and total commitment of the members of the coordination committee for the Memorial of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur at village Chappar Jhiri has brought the success to this assignment, especially S Pritam Singh, President, IOSS, Lt. General KS Gill, PVSM, of ISC, Journalist S Sukhdev Singh.

The Press – both English and Punjabi for their earnest reporting and the enthusiasm of the local population. No obstacle came in the way of our mission.

It was an event whose time had come with Waheguru’s blessings.

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