Kulbir Singh Sidhu
We have one of Richest Legacies in respect of our Heritage, History & Culture. Our Guru sahiban,
Supreme martyrs and great patriots have left unique traditions of selfless Service and supreme sacrifice for the sake of humanity. Our Gurus, saints and scholars have enunciated excellent covenants, high Ideals and noble principles. Likewise our great ancestors and soldiers have set exemplary ways to serve mankind. But it is a sad story that we have not been able to imbibe and follow their philosophy and teachings as a nation. Consequently, we seem to have lost the fine instincts and great virtues taught by our noble forefathers. Rather we have developed, unfortunately the insensitivities apropos the legacy of Bravery and supreme sacrifices. We have apparently put our sense and sensibility in hibernation to elude the high spirits, will power and passion to pursue the traditions of customary courage and bravery of our illustrious Saint- Soldiers like Baba Banda Singh Bahader and Baba Dip Singh ji.
Due to our time old slavery, we developed a mentality with the perversions like deceit, hypocrisy and sycophancy. Further ungratefulness and an element of ignorance in our character has taken us to the dismal level where we stopped well neigh to see and recognize the footprints left by our national heroes & sons of the soil on the sands of time.
This whole sad scenario may find its elaboration in the history of Punjab itself where two most significant but tragic events took place, more particularly in second fortnight of the month of December though after 140 years from each other.
One is wonderstruck to mark the irony of time and history that the first event occurred as the completion of Sarbans-Daan by Dasmesh Pita, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, between 20th to 27th December in 1705; whereas the Second event happened on 18th and 22nd December in 1845 with the beginning of two battles at Mudki and Ferushehar of the first Anglo-Sikh war.
Therefore, December is a month of most sanguine and ever unheard of “Sarbans-Daan” in the world history and also of unparalleled bravery and sacrifices of thousands of unsung heroes like S. Sham Singh Attariwala who attained martyrdom on 10, Feb, 1846.
In the context of significance of December in our history, we must not ever forget that when the Battle pf Chamkaur was fought on 22, December 1705, which also happened to be the 39th Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
It is pertinent here to mention that on this day Sahibzada Ajit Singh and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh besides beloved soldiers and again on 27, December, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh laid down their lives to present the most unique gift to Guru-Pita’s mission of bestowing honour, dignity & sovereignty to the down trodden.
Thus, a grand journey which started with Baba Nanak’s Kalm/Pen writing Babar-Bani against tyranny was completed by the (Talwar) Sword of Guru Gobind Singh.
In this connection at this point of time, we must hear the voice of our conscience and accordingly confess of our ingratitude, indifference and insensitivity towards our Supreme Martyrs. More especially when we almost go berserk in a mood of Festivities during this most tragic period of our history.
Of course, Christmas celebrations also chronologically come in these days which, admittedly, relate to the epoch-maker Yug-Purakh Jesus Christ, the Messiah (Savior) of mankind. But at the same time forgetting about the supreme sacrifices of our own “Messiahs” in a total festive mood and bonhomie can never be justified.
Rather during these particular days the wayward indulgence and fanfare with an attitude of “Begaani Shaadi mein Abdulla Diwana”on the Punjab Soil is most regretful.
In continuity with the same ethos; another soulful stance may be cited here relating to our history of “The last sunset of first & last Sikh empire”.
It was in the year 2005-06 that I ventured with a sense of national pride as a Commissioner at Ferozepur to get back the status of “National Monuments” to the battle fields of Mudki, Ferushehar, Aliwal & Sabhraon, those being the war theatres of first Anglo-Sikh war fought in Dec/Jan 1845-1846.
In the meanwhile, I thought of including the memorials of our Bravest of Brave soldiers of Saragarhi , martyrs and patriots to pay an humble homage. Therefore, with all the reverence and gratitude the following Samaraks were also inducted to be declared as national monuments. These were the Shaheedi – Samaraks like the Saragarhi Gurdwara, Shaheed- E -Azam S.Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev Memorial at Hussainiwala; shelter place of S .Bhagat Singh and his comrades in Ferozepur city.
And also railway line going to Kasur especially the Bridge at Hussainiwala which stands as an
Eye\witness to the bravery of our officers like Major SPS Waraich and Capt. KJS Ssandhu along with ORS during the 1965 & 1971 wars.
In this running reference, It may be disheartening and very sad to know that national status of Anglo-Sikh war monuments; being no more of national importance was withdrawn actually in our Independent India Vide Notification-1962; with the logic and reasons best known to the then decision makers. Anyway, I could only have the copies of earlier notification of 1918 and De-notification of year 1962. But I could never reach out the hidden wisdom or truth on the deep-dumped papers.
It is pertinent here to mention that by the official patronage of then Chief Minister-Capt. Amrinder Singh, I could invite and host a very high-powered Central team from Department of Cultural Affairs, National Archives and National Museum under the supervision of Secretary General Sh. K. K. Chakravorty. The team visited and surveyed all the sites with relevant records to further recommend in principle the status of “National Monuments” to these historical sites in September 2006.
This “Pilgrim’s Progress” however ended for me at least with my retirement on 31 August 2006. But in spite of the genuine handicap of retired life, I did try to continue for couple of months to follow and keep up the track of my passionate endeavour with the next government, under S. Parkash Singh Badal but all in vain. Finally, on seeing and believing that “Love’s labour had been lost”; I tried to be at peace with myself.
Ultimately, I realised, that in our system of governmental functioning, more often, the files with the abstract issues of heritage and culture are branded obsolete and irrelevant and swept long under the carpet with cryptic “Seen and File “observation.
Anyhow, now a million dollar question remains there as to who will be the fortunate one to dig and dust such important files pertaining to the bravery & sacrifices of our ancestral generations. It is to be further seen that in official hierarchy who will come up with the instinctive aptitude besides required will and skill to pursue this case to the logical end.
Will we as a nation ever offer an explanation in view of the soulful query that why our self-sacrificing Supreme Martyrs, great patriots & teeming soldiers sacrificed themselves for the ungrateful people? Perhaps only God knows!!
(Author is a retired IAS officer)