Chandigarh, November 28
Members of the Institute of Sikh Studies today called upon the state government and Sikhs to work towards preservation of the Sikh heritage.The members of the institute met here today for a conference on the “Battles of Banda Singh Bahadur: Strategy at Chappar Jhiri.”
One of the aims of the conference was to suggest to the Punjab government the shape that the Chappar Chiri memorial will take. The memorial is to be constructed by the government to mark the 300 years of the decisive battle of Chappar Jhiri between Banda Singh Bahadur and Mughal governor of Sirhind Vazeer Khan.
The strategy drawn up by Banda Singh Bahadur, whose men defeated a much-larger Mughal army at Chappar Chiri in 1710, was also discussed.
Lt-Gen Kartar Singh Gill (retd), Lt-Col Jagtar Singh Multani and Dr Kirpal Singh recreated the battle scene, pointing out the formations, use of sand dunes at the site for keeping a watch on the movement of the enemies, the route taken by Banda Singh Bahadur, and finally the attack.
Prof Jaspal Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, said Prof Sukhdayal Singh, also from the university, talked about the position of Banda Singh Bahadur in Sikh history and gave a background of the situation in Punjab during his time.
Suggesting a design for the memorial at the site of the battle, Gurdev Singh said the sand dunes and Chiri should be preserved and a convention centre of international standards be constructed.
Gurbakhsh Singh Shergill said memorials should be built at the sites where other important events of the Sikh history took place especially the places where two great Sikh massacres took place.
Zora Singh, a former sarpanch of Chappar Jhiri, recalled the stories told by those who lived in the village and how it had taken a big effort to convince the state government to not acquire the whole of the village land and use it for development.
Bibi Baljit Kaur related the efforts made by the Institute of Sikh Studies in convincing the state government in setting aside 20 acres here for the memorial. Kulbir Singh Sidhu said the government should “rearrange” the history syllabus in Punjab schools so that children were oriented towards their culture and heritage. “Why should always Guru Gobind Singh be a footnote in the history of the Mughal empire? Aurangzeb should be a footnote in the history of Sikhs,” he said.
Gurcharan Singh Giani, chief adviser of the Ramgarhia Educational Foundation, said the role of the Ramgharias in the Sikh battles could not be undermined. “The weapons and forts were made by the Ramgarhias and they occupy a special place in Sikh History,” he said.
Earlier, PS Kohli, in his welcome address, introduced the topic of the seminar and laid down the themes of discussion. Gurpreet Singh, while delivering a vote of thanks, criticised the tendency of apostasy among the Sikh youth and exhorted them to wear turbans.