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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Baghel Singh: The Sikh who Captured the Red Fort ( Delhi)

A fact of history not much publicised is the Sikh capture of Delhi and the Red Fort, the seat of Muslim power in North India. The man who carried out this audicious task was general Baghel Singh Dhaliwal. He was a Jat Sikh and was born in 1730 in a village close to Amritsar. Not much is known of his early life, but he came into prominence as a leader of one of the Sikh clans called Misl. He followed up by organizing a Sikh army and very soon he had a force of 40000 battle hardened troops of the Khalsa. With their rousing cry of 'Sat Sri Akal' this force was a formidabe adversery for any opposing army.
At that time the Mughal empire had weakened with successive invasions by Ahmed Shah Abdali the Afghan warrior. Baghel Singh took advantage of the weakness of the Mughal emperor Shah Shuja amd in 1765 occupied Saharanpur close to Delhi. Shah Shuja sent a force to face Baghel Singh, but was defeated and in 1773 Baghel Singh did the impossible; he captured Delhi and the Red Fort. This event in Indian hitory must be given as much importance as the crowning of Samrat Hemchandra Vikramaditya as Emperor of Hindustan at the Old Fort( Purana Quila) in 1555. Shah Shuja sued for peace and signed a treaty with Baghel Singh and agreed to pay him 6 annas from each rupee earned as revenue in Delhi. Considering 16 annas made a rupee, Baghel Singh was entitled to 37% of all revenue from the Mughal coffers. Thus Baghel singh was master of almost the entire Punjab from the Doab downwards to Delhi.
During his sojurn in Delhi Baghel constructed 6 gurudwara in Delhi and also marked the place where Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded with a Gurudwara known as Sis Ganj. Baghel singh lacked strategic vision and he left Delhi to fight wars in Punjab and died in 1802 at Hosihiarpur. But Baghel did enough to lift the hearts of Sikhs and Hindus with his capture of the Red Fort, a