How the Sikhs Freed Multan

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In 1817 CE, the Muslim Nawab Muzaffar Khan attempted to seize Multan and place it under his imperial rule. He developed an enormous army to help him achieve his goal. The Sikhs felt duty-bound to oppose him, and a war was fought with great loss of life on both sides. At the final battle, the Sikhs were repeatedly rebuffed at the Multan fort, said to be the strongest fort in the country at that time. Its well-designed walls were able to withstand any attempt to penetrate them.

Singhs shouldering broken axle of Gun in jang-i-Multan

At this moment, a soul-stirring incident was recorded by the non-Sikh Ghulam Jilani in his work, "Jang-i-Multan":

During the bombardment of the fort walls, one of the Sikh guns lost one of its wheels at a time when another round of shots would have caused a breach therein. There was then no time for repairs, and any delay was extremely dangerous. The Sardar in charge of the gun saw no alternative other than to appeal to his comrades for the sacrifice of their lives for the honor of the Khalsa by laying their shoulders one by one under the axle on the broken side. Without doubt their lives would be lost under the enormous recoil, yet the Sikhs all jumped at the idea and readily agreed to do it. The Sardar, thereupon, ordered that they should come only in the order of seniority of rank, the senior-most man, meaning he himself, going first.

One by one, the brave gunners went forward to lay down their lives, and it was after the tenth or the eleventh shot, when as many of them had been sacrificed under the pressure of the gun, that a breach was seen in the wall, and Akali Sadhu Singh rushed to the spot and proclaimed the victory of the Khalsa with shouts of Sat Sri Akal.

Ghulam Jilani tells us that he was then moving about in disguise amongst the Sikhs, and that more than once, even he was so inspired by their extraordinary bravery that he felt like following them under the axle. But the only thing that kept him back, he says, was a desire to narrate to the world this unique spirit of sacrifice by the Sikhs in the cause of freedom.

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