London, 13 September(Wishav Warta): As the evocative bugle sound of The Last Post resonated in London’s National Royal Museum, there was a hushed silence among the august audience. The 120th anniversary of the Saragarhi battle, marked by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder with the launch here of his book on the historic event, became an ode to the courage and grit of those 22 men who chose death over surrender.
Captain Amarinder described the occasion as a moment of pride not just for the 36th Sikhs, to which these brave men belonged, but the Sikh community at large. As he took the audience through the trials and travails that those 22 men went through in the last few hours of the iconic battle, the Chief Minister expressed the hope that their memory would live on forever.
It is a battle that every young Soldier in the Sikh regiment has thought about at some time or the other, said Captain Amarinder, adding that each one of them, including himself, had mulled over what he would have done in similar circumstances. The Chief Minister lauded the exceptional leadership of Havildar Ishar Singh, who stoically led his men to death, not once thinking of backing out even though he knew the eventual outcome of the highly unequal battle.In his detailed presentation and the Saragarhi Memorial Lecture – Portraits of Courage –
In his detailed presentation and the Saragarhi Memorial Lecture – Portraits of Courage – held under the aegis of The Saragarhi Foundation, the Chief Minister negated the suggestion that there was a decline in Sikh representation in the Indian Army. Captain Amarinder said it was a matter of perception, which he attributed to class representation.
The Chief Minister, whose book ‘The 36th Sikhs in the Tirah Campaign 1897-98 – Saragarhi and the defence of the Samana forts’ was launched on the occasion, described the joining of Sikhs in British and Canadian armies as a proud moment for the community. Known the world over for their valour, Sikh soldiers have always done the community proud, he added.
The Chief Minister termed the launch of his book on Sargarhi Day as a small and humble tribute to the martyrs of the Saragarhi battle, which he said would remain etched in military history as one of the world’s best known Last Posts.
On the occasion, the Chief Minister presented a copy of his book to Field Marshal Sir John Lyon Chapple, a career British Army officer in the second half of the 20th century who served as Chief of the General Staff of the British Army, from 1988 to 1992.
The event was attended, among others, by the grandson of Lt Col John Haughton, the commandant of the 36th Sikhs, who did not receive any gallantry award for his role in the Tirah campaign that followed the Saragarhi battle, since such awards were not allowed posthumously till much later.