Bibi Nirbhai Kaur

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Bibi Nirbhai Kaur was a fearless Amritdhari girl of 22. Her father, Jangbahadar Singh, head of the army of Sodhi Wadbhag Singh, had taught her horse riding and use of arms. She thougt of herself as a brave soldier; she has seemingly forgotten that she was a girl and not a boy. She was armed whenever she left the house. She was in the prime of her youth, about 6 feet tall having a well built body and a bright face. She was religious minded and never missed her daily prayers. She also helped her mother in household affairs. She was the only daughter of her parents who loved her a lot. In fact, she had the nature of a soldier.

Her girl friends were afraid of Afghan soldiers, but she always told them that they could not live like cowards and they would have to face these tyrant invaders. Once she was returning late at night from the house of a girl friend where she had gone to participate in a singing party held before a marriage. On her way back, she met two drunken Pathan soldiers who ordered her to stop. Before stopping, she drew her sword and cut the right arm of the soldier who stepped towards her. Seeing this, the second soldier ran away. Her sword was still red with blood when she reached home. Her father praised her for her bravery and presence of mind.

Blood for blood

Sodhi Wadbagh Singh was the chief of the territory of Kartarpur, near Jullundhar and he was, as well, the proprietor of valuable revenue producing land. He was also a respectable religious guide of the Sikhs and in charge of Gurdwara Tham Sahib, built by the Fifth Master, Guru Arjan Dev. Sodhi was informed by Janhan Khan, the Muslim commander-in-chief at Lahore that an Afghan soldier, who was coming from Sirhind to Lahore, was killed by somebody in the territory of Kartarpur. He compelled Sodhi to produce the culprit at once. Sodhi could not find the culprit. Jahan Khan then ordered the governor of Jullunder to execute Sodhi Wadbhag Singh and loot Kartarpur after killing anyone who refused to embrace Islam.

In fact, Jahan Khan was under instruction from Ahmed Shah Abdali (Durrani) to crush the Sikhs as they always harassed his columns on their return to Afghanistan, after looting Delhi. So the governor of Jullunder, with a large force, attacked Kartarpur at midnight and burnt most of the city. Sodhi, who had a small army, was caught and shut in a room. Even the 250 years-old sacred Gurdwara, Tham Sahib, was not spared that night as it was set afire and burnt to ashes. In the meantime, some soldiers who had caught four young girls, presented to their commander as a gift. Their clothes were torn. It seemed that they had fought with the soldiers to save themselves.

The soldiers reported that one of the girls, whose hands were red with blood, had killed two soldiers and was subdued, only after a great struggle. The lustful commander praised the beauty of the girls. He said to one of them who seemed very angry, “What's your name,” he asked as he tried to touch her cheek. She thundered a command, warning him to keep his hands away. She answered, her name was 'Death' to the enemy standing in front of her. A soldier admonished her to behave if she wanted to live. She fearlessly replied, “ 'Death' does not want to live”. The governor was surprised to hear the Sikh girl call herself Death and the fact that she had used her sword kill his soldiers, intrigued him. He ordered his men to take all four girls to his camp as he intended to enjoy their company that night. Having been unarmed, it appeared the girls were helpless, or so their guards thought.

Two of the girls get away

The governor rode to the city to inspect its destruction. He wanted to make sure that all its people had been massacred and that anything worth taking had been collected. There were a number of dead bodies. Some people were being thrown alive into the blazing fire. Just then one of his soldiers informed him that Sodhi, along with his head of the army, had escaped on horseback. The governor and some soldiers chased Sodhi, but they failed to catch him. When they were coming back, they saw two of the captive girls on horseback, fleeing the camp. Their horse was running so fast that the soldiers were unable to catch her. At his tent the governor saw that one of the soldiers who had been left to watch the girls was lying dead and that the other was bleeding profusely.

The bleeding soldier told Jahan Khan, the girl who told you that her name was Death, had overpowered his partner, snatched his sword, and killed him in the twinkling of an eye. When I tried to catch her, I was also injured. The other soldiers were away at a distance. When they came to our rescue, the girl had put her newlywed girl friend on one of our horses and disappeared.” It had been Nirbhai Kaur who had killed the soldier and injured the other, escaping with her friend. (It seems that she and her girl friends had been attending the marriage of their friend, when the marriage was disrupted and the house had been set on fire).

Nirbhai Kaur and her friend ran into Nirbhai's fiancé, Harnam Singh, a young baptized Sikh of twenty-four. They told him the whole story and asked for his help in rescuing their remaining friends from the chief. He told her that her father had left with Sodhi Wadbhag Singh and that her mother had been burned alive when her house was set on fire by the invading soldiers. Nirbhai was red with rage on hearing this and made up her mind to take revenge for her mother's death and all the atrocities.

Camp set afire

At midnight, she and her fiancé turned their horses towards the camp. Reaching there, they found that all the watchmen were enjoying a sound sleep. They had eaten to their fill and had drank a lot to celebrate their victory. She and her fiancé left the horses and her girlfriend at a distance and walked quietly towards the camp. At the camp, they heard the cries of a girl. They were sure that it was one of their friends, objecting to the advances of the Mughal chief. Harnam Singh cut through the cotton wall of the camp with his sword and they entered the camp from the rear. They saw the chief throw their friend on his bed, as she was struggling to save herself. At once, Nirbhai Kaur cut the arm of the chief with her sword and, before he could come to his senses, she killed him. The other girl was lying unconscious. Harnam Singh picked her up and Nirbhai Kaur put the whole camp on fire with the help of the camp's lantern. With fire spreading to their bedding the drunken soldiers came to their senses; confusion was everywhere. Fire was spreading quickly, as the men on fire tried to save themselves.

Taking extra horses, before chasing all the other away, the five rode into the darkness and disappeared in the thick forest before they could be chased. At a good distance they took rest for a few hours under a tree. At daybreak, they cooked the few vegetables they could find in the fields to save themselves from hunger. Nirbhai Kaur’s girl friends wanted to accompany her now, as they were afraid that their families would not accept them because they had been alone with the Muslim chief. They started towards the hills, as they were sure that other Sikhs would be there. At Anandpur, they joined up with Sodhi Wadbhag Singh and Jang Bahadur Singh. Here the girl friends of Nirbhai Kaur were baptized to fulfill their desire.

Joining forces with Adina Beg

Adina Beg, ex-chief of Jullunder, had revolted against Jahan Khan, the present chief, and was passing his time in those hills. He told Sodhi Wadbhag Singh that he was ready to attack Jullunder if the Sikhs agreed to help him. Sodhi Wadbhag Singh approached the Sikh chief, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, who agreed to the proposal. Now a huge force of Adina Beg, with the help of the Sikh forces, attacked Jullunder. The Jullunder chief gathered a large force and ammunition, but was defeated. Jullunder was sacked; Nirbhai Kaur’s desire of taking revenge was fulfilled. This all happened in December 1757. Nirbhai Kaur was married to Harnam Singh. Her three friends were also married to young Sikh soldiers of their choice.