Date: 4/3/2006


Who do we expect to resore his glory? Sonia from Italy? Abdul from Pakistan? Our man on Union Territory? Who? The NRI's? The SGPC that is about to be declared an illegal religious body?////// =======================////// In a message dated 02/04/2006 18:32:49 GMT Daylight Time, XXXXXXXXXXXXXX writes://///// Monumental Neglect ////// Date: 03/30/2006////// News Source: Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, one of the greatest Sikh generals, has not been given his due place in the Sikh history. Even the historic fort constructed by this great warrior has lost its very existence, reports Varinder Walia ////// Historians, the SGPC and Sikh institutions have not done full justice to Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, one of the greatest Sikh generals. /////// The two-and-a-half century old historic Qila Ram Rauni (Ramgarh), built by Sardar Ramgarhia, has already lost its very existence. This was the fort from which the Ramgarhia Misl got its name. The adjective "Ramgarhia" means "Custodians of the Castle of God". The chain of forts, including Ram Rauni Fort, Ahluwalia Fort and Gobindgarh Fort, were constructed to protect Harmandar Sahib from any foreign invasion. ////// Dr Ganda Singh in his book, "Sikh History" and another historian, A.C Arora in "Punjab Da Itihas", claim that Ramgarh Qila came into being in 1748 AD. ////// The SGPC, which considers itself as the custodian of the Sikh edifices, has put a big 'misleading' board, mentioning the 'samadh' (tomb) of Sardar in the Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh complex (Amritsar). ////// Contesting the claims (of the SGPC), a renowned Sikh historian, Bakshish Singh Adal, in his well-acclaimed monograph, "Maharaja Jassa Singh", claims that he (Sardar Ramgarhia) breathed his last at historic town Sirihargobindpur (Gurdaspur), and not in Amritsar, as mentioned by the Shiromani Committee on its board. ////// The tomb of Sardar Ramgarhia on the bank of the Beas was destroyed with heavy currents of the mighty river. No Sikh organisation made any effort to locate the exact place of his death so that appropriate monument could be constructed. ////// Sardar Ramgarhia was born in 1723 at Ichogil village, near Lahore. His grandfather took Amrit during the lifetime of Guru Gobind Singh, and joined him in many battles. Later, he joined the forces of Banda Singh. /////// One gets perplexed to see a white memorial belonging to Sardar Jodh Singh Ramgarhia, son of Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, in Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh complex, where the SGPC through different signboards has described it (the memorial) as tomb and birthplace as well. ////// The All India Ramgarhia Federation, headed by Mr Onkar Singh Sandhu, took up the case with the SGPC many times for carrying out the correction, but to no avail. Out of the 12 "samadhs" of the "Ramgarhia Sardars'", only this (Sardar Jodh Singh's) tomb has been protected. /////// Jassa Singh Ramgarhia had two sons, Jodh Singh and Bir Singh. Sardar Jodh Singh succeeded his father after his death. He participated in the Battle of Kasur (siding with Ranjit Singh). After the occupation of Kasur, the Maharaja wooed him by gifting him an elephant. Maharaja Ranjit Singh felt that unless Ramgarhia was befriended, he could not occupy the whole of Punjab. So, he wrote a letter to Jodh Singh, soliciting his friendship and cooperation. Historians say that with the goodwill gesture he always sided with Maharaja in the latter's expeditions against his adversaries. /////// Another edifice of Sardar Ramgarhia, which is losing its sheen, is twin minarets in Ramgarhia Bunga in the Harmandar Sahib complex. The rest of the 83 "bungas" were dismantled to widen the "parikarma" in the past. This three-storey building, a marvel of the Sikh school of architecture and built by Sikh warriors in 1794, faces threat to its very existence. Considerable damage has been done to this unique building by managers of kar seva. ////// The Babas of Kar Sevawale, who are using the "bungas" as their abode these days, have allegedly damaged certain portions of the building within the precincts of Darbar Sahib itself. They have built walls under the arches on the ground floor, and fixed doors to convert verandahs into rooms. The brickwork (the Nanakshahi bricks) has been plastered and painted at many places. Due to hindered ventilation, there is seepage in the basement of the "bunga", which could render irreparable damage to the building. ////// The Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Federation has criticised the SGPC for its attitude towards this monument. It has claimed that the former SGPC secretary, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, had initiated a move to convert the basement of the "bunga" into a war museum. However, some persons having vested interests scuttled the move. /////// The federation had requisitioned the services of Sikh architects, and with reference to old pictures, the minarets in the "bungas" were got repaired. The federation got the bricks chiselled, carried out restoration work on the north-western wall of the "bunga" facing Darbar Sahib, but abruptly and without any notice by the authorities in the SGPC, withdrew the seva from the federation. ////// According to Mr Joginder Singh Kalsi, an expert on Sikh heritage, all three storeys of the "bunga", supported by 44 pillars, parabolic arches for roofs and beams, and decorated by cornices and projections, are in a pitiable condition and need immediate repair. /////// While constructing the "bunga", care was taken to provide natural light and ventilation through ventilators, which open in the perambulatory path around the holy tank of Harmandar Sahib on one side and in the well dug on the other side. The basement just below the ground-level accommodates a hall for maharaja where he used to hold his court in "Diwan-e-Khas", accommodating around 300 courtiers and soldiers. Due care was taken to keep the level of the throne (made of marble and decorated with engravings)at a level lower than that of Akal Takht. ////// There is also a room that was used as jail for political prisoners. Another room on the other side of the wall facing the throne was the treasury where steel chests were installed for rooms of 'daffadars' (security in charge of treasury) and security staff. All these are in a dilapidated condition. /////// The federation has again offered to carry out the restoration work and to convert the basement into a war museum by providing entry and exit from the 'parikarma' of the Golden Temple. /////// The restoration work of two historical gates, named after Sardar Ramgarhia, has been hanging fire due to the allegedly callous attitude of the SGPC, even though the local Municipal Corporation had given its green signal by passing a unanimous resolution in this regard on January 17, 2003. /////// The federation believes that this gate was demolished after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. A map of the Municipal Committee, Amritsar, published before the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh depicts 12 historical gates, including Darwaza Ramgarhia and Darwaza Ahluwalia. Moreover, history books point out that Chattiwind was named after Jassa Singh Ramgarhia. The federation has also demanded the renaming of Katra Ramgarhia, which was developed in 1760 and was located between the Gilwlali Gate and the Doburji Gate (Sultanwind Gate) and was surrounded by Katra Dal Singh, Katra Mit Singh and Katra Garbha Singh. /////// The statesmanship and valour of Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia during the siege of Ram Rauni Fort is a great event in the Sikh history. Mir Manu, the Governor of Punjab, felt a threat to his authority and rule, from the rising power of the Sikhs and wanted to crush them. He intensified his violence and oppression against the Sikhs. There were only 900 Sikhs when he surrounded the Ramgarh Fort again. He sent his forces to attack Ram Rauni Fort of the Sikhs at Amritsar in October 1748 AD. This siege, under the command of Adina Beg, the Governor of Jallandhar Doab, continued for four months up to January 1749 AD. Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, along with his army, entered the fortress during the night and took the command of the besieged Sikhs and defended the fortress along with the besieged Sikhs against the repeated attacks of the Mughal Army. The siege was lifted in January 1749 AD and the Sikhs came out victorious. /////// Sirihargobindpur, one of the ancient towns of the state, founded by the sixth Sikh Guru, was made capital by Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia. Sadly, it is fast turning into ruins - thanks to the "callous" attitude of the successive state governments, the Department of Archives and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee that claim to be working for the preservation of the Sikh heritage. ////// The ruins of majestic historical buildings and the material used to build this "first capital of the Sikhs" are fine specimens of craftsmanship. Most of these date back to the time of Emperor Shah Jehan - a contemporary of Guru Hargobind - the sixth Guru. /////// After the sixth Guru, Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, too, used the town as the "Capital of Sikhs". /////// As many as 40 wells were got sunk by Guru Hargobind in a planned manner, but owing to the indifferent attitude of all concerned, most of these are now filled with earth. Shockingly, the SGPC seems to be unaware of the historical importance of the wells. The border district of Gurdaspur (Hargobindpur is part of it) was part of the vast area covered under the Indus Valley Civilisation. This civilisation developed prior to the Aryan Civilisation in the region. /////// Sardar versus Maharaja /////// The Ramgarhia federation says that Sardar Jassa Singh should be called "Maharaja" instead of "Sardar". It says Ramgarhia conquered the territories of his contemporary Rajas, who started giving him taxes to provide security - all qualities making his 'kingdom' sovereign. Sardar Jassa Singh occupied the area to the north of Amritsar between the Ravi and the Beas. He had also added Jalandhar region and Kangra hill areas to his state. He had his capital in Sirihargobindpur, a town founded by the sixth Sikh Guru. /////// Royal prisoner //////// A joint Sikh army known as Dal Khalsa, comprising forces of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Sardar Baghel Singh, attacked the Mughal ruler in Delhi and occupied the Red Fort in 1783. During the brief occupation by the Khalsa army, Sardar Ramgarhia removed the royal throne. He fettered it with chains and ropes and brought it to Amritsar to present it before the Almighty as a war prisoner. /////// Presently, the seat of the throne measuring six feet in length, four feet in breadth and nine inches in thickness is placed in a tilted position, symbolising its surrender before the Golden Temple in Ramgarhia Bunga (a Persian word for residence), which is situated on the premises of Harmandar Sahib. /////// 000000000