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Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (May 3, 1718 - October 23, 1783) was the founder of the Ahluwalia Misl, one of the 12 Sikh confederacies. When Nawab Kapur Singh became old, he appointed him in his place. He was a prominent Sikh leader during the period of the confederacy, being the supreme leader of the Dal Khalsa. This period was an interlude, lasting roughly from the time of the death of Banda Bahadur in 1916 to the founding of the Sikh Empire in 1801. He founded the Kapurthala State in 1772. He was against tyranny never Islam. His legacy remains inspiring warriors to fight for freedom, justice, equality, and legitimate sovereignty.

Jassa Singh was born into a Jat Sikh Bhangu family in village Ahlu, Lahore, Punjab. Jassa Singh was a great warrior, mighty general, and eminent organizer. He bore 32 scars of sword cuts and bullet marks on the front of his body and none on his back. He was a giant in body. Quiz Nur Muhammad who saw him fighting against Ahmad Asah Durrani called him a mountain. He led Sikh bands against the invaders while yet under 20 years of age. He was also Misldar of the Ahluwalia Misl.

In 1733, Zakariya Khan attempted to negotiate peace with the Sikhs by offering them a Jagir, the title of Nawab to their leader, and unimpeded access to the Harmandir Sahib. After discussion at Sarbat Khalsa, Sardar Kapur Singh was elected leader of the Sikhs and took the title of Nawab. However, in 1735 the agreement between Zakariya Khan and Nawab Kapur Singh broke down and the Dal Khalsa retreated to the Sivalik hills to regroup. Later the command of Dal Khalsa was taken by SardarJassa Singh Ahluwalia who was an able and powerful administrator.

In 1939, Nadir Shah, the Turkic ruler of Persia, invaded much of North India, including Punjab, defeating the Mughals at the battle of Karnal in 1739, he plundered the city of Delhi robbing it of treasures like the Peacock Throne, the Kohinoor diamond and Daryl-1-Noor Diamond. He took 2200 Indian Women as slaves to his country. Sikhs made a plan to free all the slaves. Sikh band attacked Nadir Shah forces, freed all slaves, and sent those slaves back to their families safely. Jassa Singh was 21 years old at that time.

Ahmad Shah Durrani, Nader Shah’s senior-most general, succeeded to the throne of Afghanistan when Nader Shah was murdered in June 1747. Starting from December 1747 till 1969, Abdali made a total of 9 incursions into North India. His repeated invasions weakened the Mughal administration of North India. Suraj Mal, founder of the Jat State of Bharatpur was killed on December 25, 1763, near Delhi by Najib-ul-Daulah. His son Jawahar Singh took the help of the Sikh Force and responded with a force of 40,000 under the command of Sardar Jassa Singh and Najib-ul-Daulah suffered defeat. Najib-Ul-Daulah suffered another defeat from Jassa Singh in the battle that lasted 20 days in the trans-Jamana area at Barari Ghat. A month later Sikhs defeated Daulah again in the Nakhas ( horse market ) and in Sabzi Mandi.

After the 1761 Third Battle of Panipat which had ended disastrously for the Marathas, the Afghan army of Abdali had captured thousands of Maratha women, who were being taken back to Afghanistan to be sold as slaves. When Sardar Jassa Singh learned it, he promptly left with a volunteer force, caught up with the Afghan army at Goindval on the Sutlej river, rescued the Maratha ladies, and took them back to their families. Thereafter, Jassa Singh was known as a Bandi Chhor or the Liberator.

Sardar Jassa Singh played an important role in the Vadda Ghalughara on February 5, 1762. The Afghan launched a surprise attack on a civilian Sikh Camp, consisting mainly of women, children, and elders. The Sikh Camp only had 5000-7000 Sikh warriors. These warriors formed a human shield around the Sikh civilians and fought the Afghan bravely, killing thousands of Afghan soldiers. In this battle, about 20000 Sikh civilians were killed.

The Sikhs under Sardar Baghel Singh had been raiding Delhi since 1764 but without success. On March 11, 1783, the combined Sikh army of Sardar Baghel Singh, Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, and Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia conquered the Red Fort of Delhi hosting Nishan Sahib. Jassa Singh died in 1783. He was cremated within the precincts of Golden Temple near Gurj Baba Atal Sahib. At the time of his death, the combined army of the Dal Khalsa ( Sikh army ) totaled approximately 200,000 men with 60,000 to 70,000 horses available at any time. Punjab was now free after 700 years. Sikh rule extended from Lahore, Multan, to Jammu, Kashmir, the Kangra hills to the environs of Delhi.

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