Baba Baghel Singh
Baba Baghel Singh (1730 – 1802) was born in village Jhabal, District Amritsar. From humble beginnings he arose to become a formidable force in the area between River Sutlej and River Yamuna.
Karora Singh, head of the Karorsinghia Misl, was issue less and had adopted his personal servant, Baghel Singh, as his successor. After the death of Karora Singh in the battle of Taraori against the Nawab of Kunjpur in 1761, Baghel Singh who belonged to a poor Dhalival family succeeded him as head of the Karorsinghia Misl.As well as being a good soldier, Baba Baghel Singh was a very good political negotiator and was able to win over many an adversary to his side. The Mughals, the Ruhilas, the Marathas and British sought his friendship.
Baba Baghel Singh turned his attention towards the cis-Yamuna territories. Soon the Sikhs were invading territories in Delhi and beyond, including Meerut, Awadh, collecting tribute from the Nawabs of each area. He is celebrated in Sikh history as the vanquisher of Mughal Delhi.On 8 March 1783, Baghel Singh and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia encamped at a place later named as Tis Hazari, after the 30,000 troops of the Buddha Dal that were present there. This location has become synomous with the name of Baghel Singh. On the 11th of March 1783, the Khalsa forces composed of Buddha Dal chief, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and Baba Baghel Singh entered the Red Fort(Lal Quila) in Delhi and occupied the Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience). The Mughal Ruler, Shah Alam II had no option but to surrender to the Khalsa armies. The forces of Jassa Singh Ramgharia were also present and took away the infamous ‘sill’ of platform of the Mughal ruler.
Sikhs marching to the Red fort in 2014 to mark Delhi Fateh Diwas
Baghel Singh remained in Delhi and built seven Gurudwaras to mark Sikh interests: Gurdwara Mata Sundri, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, Gurdwara Bala Sahib,Gurdwara Rakab Ganj,Gurdwara Sis Ganj, Gurdwara Moti Bagh, and Gurdwara Majnu Ka Tilla. The Khalsa as part of their negotiations received taxes from the Mughals, Warren Hasting, Governor-General of India(1773 to 1785) recorded in a minute presented to his council:
‘While I was in Lucknow, they (Sikhs) carried their depredations to the very suburbs of Delhi, where two of their officers actually reside in a quarter called Subzi Mandi, which is chiefly occupied by shopkeepers, for the double purpose of levying their rauky (which is the name given to that contribution) and of protecting the inhabitants from the marauders of their own nations.’
Seven Gurdwaras built by Baba Baghel Singh in Delhi.
The SMI is working on rare documents related to takeover of Delhi by the Khalsa and preliminary work shows how anxious the the British were when Baghel Singh took over Delhi.
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management committee (DSGMC) will organise a two-day commemorative event Delhi Fateh Diwas on the 12th-13th March to mark the Khalsa’s victory on Delhi in 1783.