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Battle of Saragarhi

GS Paper 1

Topics Covered: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.


September 12 marks the 124th anniversary of the Battle of Saragarhi that has inspired a host of armies, books and films, both at home and abroad.


What is the Battle of Saragarhi?

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought on 12 September 1897. It is considered one of the finest last stands in the military history of the world.

  • Twenty-one soldiers from British Army were pitted against over 8,000 Afridi and Orakzai tribals but they managed to hold the fort for seven hours.
  • Though heavily outnumbered, the soldiers of 36th Sikhs platoon led by Havildar Ishar Singh, fought till their last breath, killing 200 tribals and injuring 600.


Importance of Saragarhi:

Saragarhi was the communication tower between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan.

  • The two forts in the rugged North West Frontier Province (NWFP), now in Pakistan, were built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh but renamed by the British.
  • Saragarhi helped to link up the two important forts which housed a large number of British troops in the rugged terrain of NWFP.


The legacy:

Making a departure from the tradition of not giving gallantry medals posthumously, Queen Victoria awarded the 21 dead soldiers — leaving out the non-combatant — of the 36th Sikh the Indian Order of Merit (comparable with the Victoria Cross) along with two ‘marabas’ (50 acres) and Rs 500 each.

  • The British, who regained control over the fort after a few days, used burnt bricks of Saragarhi to build an obelisk for the martyrs.
  • They also commissioned gurdwaras at Amritsar and Ferozepur in their honour.


Insta Curious:

Do you know about the Treaty of Gandamak, which had given the British control of Afghan foreign policy at the end of the Second Afghan War (1878-80)? Reference: read this.



Prelims Link:

  1. About the battle.
  2. Causes.
  3. Outcomes.
  4. Key participants.

Source: Indian Express.