September 20, 2003
Of courage and bravery
A tale be told
Long forgotten, brought forth
From the memories of the old.
Of 21 men who
Died at duty's call
Who laid down their lives
And let not the fort fall.
'Twas the year 1897
The Battle of Saragarhi was waged,
10,000 Afghans, 21 Sikhs
Yet for hours the battle
Outnumbered and surrounded
And still the men fought on
With a stubbornness and pride for which,
The Sikhs have long been known.
Charge after charge was repulsed
And nary a bullet was wasted
And though the battle was lost,
It was victory that the men tasted.
Now, the defenders ranks were dwindling
And the ammunition would soon be over.
The wall was breached; the gate was rushed,
It was the final hour.
Hand-to-hand fighting followed
As the men fell one by one
And each took sawa lakh with him
Before he was done.
A handful of men, a fort of stones,
Mud walls and a wooden door
But when the last man had fallen,
180 of the enemy were dead,
The wounded many more.
Under Havildar Ishar Singh,
They fought to the last man, last breath
They'd promised their all to the motherland
And fulfilled the promise with their death.
And the world stood up to honour
The heroic deeds of 21 men
That challenged the annals of history
To tell of more glorious action, if it can.
Today we forget our history
As we sway to foreign music and dance
While they teach the Battle of Saragarhi
To the students in far off France.
And we know not the men of Saragarhi
While the UNESCO includes their tale
In the 5 most significant events of its kind —
Collective bravery on the highest of scale.
And we remember not the men of Saragarhi-
The men who took a stand.
And we care not for the men of Saragarhi
Who laid their lives for our land.
— Ganeev Kaur Dhillon,