Saga of Fight For Independence!
Chapter 13: Sham Singh Attariwala
Sardar Sham Singh Attari (Circa 1785-1846), a Sikh general in the Sikh army of Lahore Darbar, belonged to a Jatt family of Sidhu Clan. was the only son of Sardar Nihal Singh Attari (d. 1817), and grandson of Sardar Gaur Singh Attari (d. 1763), The first in line to Convert to Sikhism in the early days of Sikh political ascendancy and joined the Jatha or band of Sardar Gurbakhsh Singh of Roranvala. He soon established his, protection over an area around Attari, a village he had founded some 16 miles west from the holy city of Amritsar. His son, Nihal Singh Attari, was known for his martial prowess and for his personal loyalty to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Nihal Singh’s son, Sham Singh Attari, entered the service of the Maharaja in 1817 and, in 1818, took part in the military campaigns of Peshawar, Attock and Multan. He also fought in Kashmir in 1819. He led Sikh forces against Sayyid Ahmad of Bareilly who had during the years 1826-31 carried on in the trans-Indus region a relentless crusade against the Sikhs. Sayyid Ahmad was overcome and killed on 6 May 1831, along with his chief lieutenant, Muhammad Ismail.
He was born in 1790 in the house of well known Sikh farmer in the town of Attari( 25 kms from Amritsar on Indo – Pak Border). He was educated in Gurmukhi and Persian and later was educated to read and write English. He joined the Khalsa Army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1817. Immediately, he was promoted to Jathedar after seeing his qualities and fighting competence. He commanded the 5000 horsemen and actively participated in the campaign of Multan, Kashmir and the Frontier province. He remained designated as Governor of Kashmir for three years. General Sham Singh’s Daughter was married to prince Nao Nihal Singh, Son of Maharaja Kharak Singh 1837. Sham Singh Ataariwala, the grey bearded warrior, clad in white silks and riding a white horse, went into action under pledge to victory or death. He sacrificed his life at the age of 60 while fighting during the battle of Sabraon to protect the dignity, liberty and freedom of the Punjab of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
The Battle of Sobraon:
The Battle of Sobraon was fought on 10 February 1846, between the forces of the East India Company and the Sikh Khalsa Army, the army of the Sikh Empire of the Punjab. The Sikhs were completely defeated, making this the decisive battle of the First Anglo-Sikh War.
The First Anglo-Sikh war began in late 1845, after a combination of increasing disorder in the Sikh empire following the death of Ranjit Singh in 1839 and provocations by the British East India Company led to the Sikh Khalsa Army invading British territory.
On the British side, the Governor General, Henry Hardinge, had been dismayed by the head-on tactics of the Bengal Army’s commander-in-chief, Hugh Gough, and was seeking to have him removed from command. However, no commander senior enough to supersede Gough could arrive from England for several months.
The Sikhs had been temporarily dismayed by their defeat at the Battle of Ferozeshah, and had withdrawn most of their forces across the Sutlej River. The Khalsa had been reinforced from districts west of Lahore, and now moved in strength into a bridgehead across the Sutlej at Sobraon, entrenching and fortifying their encampment. Any wavering after their earlier defeats was dispelled by the presence of the respected veteran leader, Sham Singh Attariwala.
The battle was joined at Sabraon on 10 February 1846. 60 year old Sham Singh Attari, Dressed in white and riding his white steed, the White bearded Sardar Sham Singh moved from column to column calling upon his men to fight to the last, to save an Imperial power, from the British East India Company. As the battle was in a critical stage, Misr Tej Singh fled across the Sutlej and sank a part of the bridge of boats after him. Sham Singh, far from disheartened by this, rushed into the thick of the battle. He made a desperate charge along with his fifty men against the advancing enemy. Within minutes he was overpowered and he fell to the ground dead. In the evening as the battle was over, The Sikh soldiers swam from across the river to recover the body. On 12 February 1846, Sham Singh was cremated outside his village. A samadh raised on the site now honours his memory, Built near the Samadhis of his family, and near the Samadh of family elder Mai Dasi. His death marked, the weakening of the Sikh Empire, And with Maharani Jind Kaur, being forcibly banished, away from the palaces of Lahore, In 1847, by the British and three years later 1849, The falling and crumbling Sikh Kingdom of Punjab, was annexed to the British Empire.
When Even Strongest Of Polingar Were Surrendering To British, The Ruler Of Nelkattunseval Fought Against Them Like A Tiger! Know The Story Of ‘Puli’ Thevar An Able Administrator And A Great Warrior!
Dr. Sindhu Prashanth