Banda Singh Bahadur is a legendary warrior in Sikh and Indian History. After being anointed as the leader of the Sikhs by Guru Gobind Singh, Banda Singh entered the Punjab and collected a vast army of 40,000 Sikhs and horse men. When the Mughal ruler of Srihand heard of the arrival of Banda he decided to confront him. H e declared a Jihad against him and the Sikhs and began to collect a vast army to meet the Sikhs.
The leader of the Muslim force was Nawab Wazir Khan who had earlier murdered the two younger sons of Gobind Singh by entombing them alive in a brick tomb. He collected a vast army including number of Ghazis (religious warriors). He also got ready a platoon of elephants and primed up his artillery against Banda.
In contrast Banda had no artillery and no elephants and only had horsemen and foot soldiers.
The preparation for battle
One of the fundamental principles of war as enunciated by Clausewitz is organization and planning. Banda keeping the paucity of his resources in mind organized his troops into two assaulting groups (Jatha). In the first group were the Malwais who were put under the command of Fateh Singh, Karam Singh, Dharam Singh and Ali Singh. The Majhel Singhs formed the second group under the command of Baba Binod Singh, bhai Baj Singh, Ram Singh and Sham Singh.
Wazir Khan marched out with his vast army for battle. Wazir khan kept his artillery at the rear for covering fire while his elephants were to lead the assault. An account of the battle is given by the British historian Irving in his book “Later Mughals”. As per Irving the battlefield resounded with war cries with the Muslims shouting ‘Ali, Ali’ and the Sikhs shouting ‘sat Sri Akal’. The entire atmosphere resounded with these war cries.
The Muslim artillery opened up and began firing on the Sikhs. Banda realized that the battle would be lost in case the artillery was not silenced
Heat of the Battle
Banda Singh mounted his horse and led a brave band of Sikhs along with his second of command Baj Singh. They charged the cannons of the Muslims. It was like the Charge of the light brigade immortalized by Tennyson, only in this came Band reached the gunners and cut them up. the irresistible Banda, with a single sally changed the whole scene.
The loss of the guns was a demoralizing effect on the Muslims who now faced the main charge of the Sikh Horsemen and foot soldiers. May 12 is a red letter date in Indian and Sikh history as the Moghul force was vanquished.
On 24 May 1710, Banda Singh Bahadur entered Sir hind city after it had been cleared of enemy fighters. The Nawab was also captured and killed and his body hung in the market at Srihand. This is a glorious battle of Indian History and laid the foundation of the Sikh empire which emerged later under Ranjeet Singh