Wazir Khan

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Nawab Wazir Khan head cut by Banda Singh Bahadur

Nawab Wazir Khan (d. 1710), a resident of Kuhjpura, near Karnal, now in Haryana, was the faujdar (leader) of Sirhind under the Mughals in the opening years of the eighteenth century. The hill chiefs who held territories in the Sivalik ranges often sought his help against Guru Gobind Singh, then living in their midst at Anandpur.

In August of 1700 they attacked Anandpur, but found the defences impregnable. Later, Guru Gobind Singh moved to a site 4 km south of Kiratpur. By this time a contingent of troops sent by Wazir Khan from Sirhind at the Rajas' request joined their forces. A fresh attack was mounted. The encounter that ensued is known as the Battle of Nirmohgarh. It lasted a whole week and Wazir Khan's troops even used cannon fire. On 14 October 1700, however, Guru Gobind Singh and his Sikhs broke the cordon and crossed the Sutlej into Basoli, a small friendly state. The imperial troops retired to Sirhind.

Guru Gobind Singh soon returned to Anandpur and spent the next few years in comparative peace. In the winter of 1704, Ajmer Chand of Kahlur waited upon Emperor Aurangzeb in the Deccan and secured from him orders for his deputies at Lahore and Sirhind to launch an expedition against Guru Gobind Singh. Wazir Khan advanced from Sirhind and Zabardast Khan came from Lahore, the two meeting at Ropar, where they were joined by the hill Rajas. A direct assault on Anandpur proving ineffective, they laid siege to the town and its protective fortresses, but were not able to force surrender. Wazir Khan sent messengers to Guru Gobind Singh, assuring him, on a solemn oath taken on the Qur'an, safe conduct if he would evacuate the town. The Guru expecting treachery sent refuse out in carts. These carts were immediately attacked.

During the night of 56 December 1705 the Guru left Anandpur and Wazir Khan set out in hot pursuit. Severe fighting took place on the bank of the rivulet Sarsa, which was unexpectedly in spate. The Guru succeeded in crossing the river, and, accompanied by his two elder sons and forty Sikhs, reached Chamkaur where he stopped in a large vacant house. Wazir Khan, receiving reinforcements from Malerkotia, closely encircled Chamkaur. In the battle that raged throughout the following day, 7 December 1705, most of the Sikhs along with the Guru's two sons were killed.

The remaining five entreated the Guru to withdraw to be able to reassemble the survivors of Sarsa and other followers. Guru Gobind Singh escaped through the besieging host in to the interior of the semi-desert region of Malva. Wazir Khan returned to Sirhind where he ordered the execution of Guru Gobind Singh's two younger sons, aged nine and seven, and their mother who had been betrayed into his hands by an old servant of the Guru.

He gave chase to Guru Gobind Singh and overtook him at Khidrana, modern Muktsar, in Faridkot district. But before he could attack him, he was confronted by a small hand of forty Sikhs. These were the same forty Sikhs who had earlier deserted the Guru and renounced being Sikhs. Their wives and families had heaped ridicule upon them and they had now saved their Guru and died as Martyrs. The forty fell fighting to a man. Wazir Khan's troops, worn out by long marches through a waterless tract, retreated.

Wazir Khan was overcome with jealousy and fear when he learned that Emperor Aurangzeb's son had been assisted by Guru Gobind in succeeding to the throne. The son, Bahadur Shah was not the zealot his father had been an had asked the Guru to travel with him to the Deccan. The two men were developing a strong friendship. Wazir Khan could well remember what had happened to Chandu Shah, the man behind the torture and death of Guru Arjan when his son Guru Hargobind and Jahangir became fast friends.

Alarmed at this development and fearing the possibility of a death such as Chandu's he dispatched two Pathans, one of them named Jamshaid Khan to kill the Guru. The assassins got their chance at Nanded, where finding Guru Gobind Singh alone in his camp, one of them stabbed him in his left side. The Guru killed his attacker the other was killed by one of his companions. Bahadur Shah's European physician stiched up the wound which seemed to be healing well. A few days later the Guru is said to have been trying out a strong bow for a planned shikar when the wound opened again, this time prooving to be fatal. He died on 7 October 1708, but he had already despatched to the Punjab Banda Singh Bahadur, newly converted to the Sikh faith, to chastise the persecutors.

Banda Singh Bahadur, joined shortly after his arrival in the southern Punjab by armed Sikhs from far and near, ransacked Samana, Ghuram and ChhatBanur. His next target was Sirhind. Wazir Khan, on his part, yelled jihad!, the old war cry and mustered a strong force, even though he had recently falsely sworn on his own holy book. A fierce action took place at Chappar Chiri, near presentday Chandigarh, on 12 May 1710. In the day long battle Wazir Khan was slain and his forces were completely routed. Fateh Singh is listed as the warrior who ended the reviled Wazir Khan's reign of terror by killing him during the furious battle.