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Sardar Baghel Singh

Sardar Baghel Singh ( 1730-1802 ) was a Military General in the Punjab region in the 18th century. He rose to prominence in the area around Sutlej and Jamuna. Baghel Singh joined the Singh Krora Misl and in 1765 he became the leader of the Misl. He is credited with establishing many Gurdwaras in Delhi.

Baghel Singh was born in village Jhabal Kalan, Amritsar, Punjab around 1730 into a Jat Sikh family. He was descendent of Chaudhary Bhai Langaha, the Sikh Chief of 84 villages in the Majha, who along with his younger brother Bhai Peru Shah the grandfather of the famous Mai Bhago; had to converted to Sikhism, during the time of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, in the 1580s. Baghel Singh aligned himself with Karor Singhia Misl led by Sardar Karora Singh. After the early demise of Karora Singh, Gaghel Singh succeeded as a leader of Karora Singhia Misl in 1765. He is celebrated in the Sikh history as the vanquisher of Mughal Delhi. On March 11, 1783 Baghel Singh along with others Sikh warriors ( Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia ) entered in the Red Fort in Delhi and occupied the Diwan-Am ( hall of public audience ), where the Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam second, made a settlement with them that allowed Gaghel Singh to raise Gurudwaras on the Sikh historical sites and allowed them to take six annas of each rupee ( at all the octrai duties) and any other taxes collected by Mughal.

Baghel Singh set up camp in Sabzi Mandi area of Delhi, with 4,000 troops. He located seven sites connected with the lives of Sikh Gurus and had shrines raised on the sites within the space of 8 months ( April-December 1783 ). Guru Gobind Singh, while leaving for Nader ( in South India ) divided the Sikhs into 12 Misls and broadly allocated their areas of operation. Whereas these Misls operated independently in their own area under the respective Misldars, together they constituted Dal Khalsa under the leadership of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. Sikhs had been making incursions outside Punjab and restricting the influence of Mughal leaders. It is narrated that Sikhs had levied “ Rakhi and Kambli “ taxes for Saharanpur, Hardware and beyond.

Singh was a very good political negotiator and was able to win over many and adversary to his side. The Mughals, Ruhilas, the Marathas, and British sought his friendship. In the wake of decay of Mughal authority in the Punjab owing to Ahmad Shah Abdali’s successive invasions during the later half of eighteenth century, the Sikhs began extending their influence. Gaghel Singh fought with Ahmad Shah Abdali, along with other Dal Khalsa Misls near Malerkotlain in 1762 ( Vadda Gahlugahra ), where in one day of battle alone thirty to fourty thousands, women, children, and old Sikhs were martyred. After Abdali’s invasion, Sikh started consoliding the territories between Jamna and Indus by incorporating into Misls and Misls reporting to the Chief of the Dal Khalsa, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. Baghel Singh took possession of portions of the Jalandhar Doab and established himself at Haryana near Hoshiarpur. Soon after the Sikhs conquest of Sirhind in 1764, he extended his arms beyond Karnal , then he turned his attention towards the Cis -Yamna territories. Soon the Sikhs also won territories beyond Delhi including Meerut, Awadh, collecting tribute from the Nawabs of each area.

In February 1764, an army of 30,000 Sikh soldiers under the command of Sardar Baghel Singh and other warriors, crossed Jamna river and captured Saharanpur. They overran the territory of Namibian Ud Daulha, acquiring from him a tribute of eleven lakh rupees. In April 1775, with two other Sardars, Rai Singh Bhangi and Tara Singh Ghaiba crossed the Yumna river to occupy land robbed by Zabita Khan, the son and successor of Najib ud Daulhah. In desperation Zabita Khan offered Singh a large sum of money and proposed an alliance to jointly plunder the crown land. In March 1776, Sikhs defeated the forces of the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam second near Muzaffarnagar. In 1778, Shah Alam sent an army of about 100,000 soldiers in a counter attack against the Sikhs. The Mughal force was lead by the wazir Mirza Najaf Khan under the banner of the Crown prince. The Mughal forces and Sikh forces met in battle of Ghanaur, near Patiala. The Mughal army lost the battle and surrendered.

In 1783 Sardar Baghel Singh entered Delhi. Baghel Singh and Mughal Emperor contracted that a part of octrai of Delhi would be sent to Sardar Baghel Singh to build Gurudwaras in Delhi. In return Gaghel Singh would ensure that the Sikhs did not attack the capital again. Baghel Singh is credited with establishing several Gurudwaras in Delhi like Gurudwara Sis Ganj, Rakab Ganj, Bengla Sahib, Mata Sundri, Majnu Ka Tilla , Moti Bagh, Bala Sahib. Sardar Baghel Singh died in about 1802 in Haryana.

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