Tibri Cantonment (Gurdaspur) – Punjab will observe September 12 as Saragarhi Day to commemorate the historic battle of Saragarhi, held on this date in 1897, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh announced on Monday.

He was addressing the soldiers of 3 Sikhs, with whom he was spending the Independence Eve.

A state-level function will be held on September 12 at the Saragarhi Gurdwara in Ferozepur to mark the occasion, which will be presided by Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, in the absence of the chief minister.

Capt Amarinder Singh will be in London for the launch of his book on Saragarhi, as part of the Saragarhi battle celebrations.

The chief minister announced a state holiday to mark the day, which will be celebrated every year on September 12 from this year onwards.

The Cabinet had in April decided to hand over the management of the Saragarhi Memorial Gurdwara to the administration of Saragarhi Memorial Management Trust, Ferozepur.

The Trust comprises of serving Army men as well as ex-servicemen. The site is located at Ferozepur Cantt in district Ferozepur.

The Battle of Saragarhi

In terms of the ratio on the odds faced, only a few battles come close to those faced by 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikhs in Saragarhi, North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) in present day Pakistan. On September 12, 1897 these 21 Sikh soldiers were up against approximately 10,000 – 14,000 Afridi and Orakzai tribes of the Pashtun. The staggering ratio of 1:500 stacked against the Sikhs is both unmatched and unprecedented, ensuring their “last stand” will never be forgotten in history.

Various ranks of the 36th Sikhs. From left: Jemadar, Havildar, Sepoy and Bugler

On this date, under the command of Havildar Ishar Singh, 21 jawans and one NCO attained martyrdom after killing hundreds of tribesman, who had attacked the Saragarhi outpost.

The British government had conferred the 21 soldiers with the highest battle honour — “Indian Order of Merit grade II”.

This day is celebrated on September 12 every year in Gurdwara Saragarhi Sahib to commemorate the sacrifices of these men.