21 Sikhs vs 10,000 jihadis at Saragarhi
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“Saragarhi: The Forgotten Battle” was launched in the Indian Army Memorial Room, Royal Military Academy in November 2013.
Here is the second half of the book launch speech, which pays tribute to the heroics of the 21 Sikhs who fought against 10,000 enemy tribesman.
Towards the end of the speech, I highlight why it’s important that we continue to remember this battle – and why it is still significant for us today.
[Footage courtesy of Sangat TV]
I’m an ardent fan of the Sikh warrior – I’ve had the privilege of leading them in battle – and I wholeheartedly support the initiative to spread the word about their exploits. In fact, the biggest mystery to me is “Why hasn’t ‘Saragarhi’ been made into an epic film yet?”. To me Saragarhi is bigger than Thermopylae. ’21’ is a better title than ‘300’ if you want to describe overwhelming odds. But, somehow, I can’t help but feel disappointed at a hint of racism when you describe the Pathans – a proud warrior race in their own right (and who are yet to be conquered) – as Jehadis. They were, after all, defending their motherland. The literal meaning of the word aside, ‘Jehadi’ is today a four letter word. The next problem I have with your otherwise superb effort is your claim that the “Sikhs earned their spurs in this battle”. Really? And what about Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his fighters? Or the Sikh victories against the Mughals? I am all for the glory and recognition of the Sikh warrior. Just don’t get your facts – or your emotions – wrong. Yes, I understand you are a British citizen now. But – I’m willing to bet my pension – the Sikhs will continue to be identified with the Punjab – and with India – long after the Brits have grown tired of Punjabi Pop. For the record, I’m a Maratha.
PS – F**k Rahul Gandhi and the Congress.