Chhota Ghallughara

Chhota Ghallughara (Punjabi: ਛੋਟਾ ਘੱਲੂਘਾਰਾ[tʃʰoʈɑ kə̀lːuɡɑ̀ɾɑ], “Smaller Massacre”) was a massacre of a significant proportion of the Sikh population living in the region around present day city of Lahore situated in Pakistani Punjab and the state of Punjab, India by the Mughal Empire in 1746. [1]Mughal army killed an estimated 7,000 Sikhs in these attacks while an additional 3,000 Sikhs were taken captive.[2]Chhōtā Ghallūghārā is distinguished from the Vaddā Ghallūghārā, the greater massacre of 1762.[3]

1746 massacre of Sikhs by the Mughal Empire

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Sikhism began in the days of Guru Nanak (1469–1539) and grew to be a distinctive social force especially after the formation of the Order of Khalsa in 1699. Since the martyrdom of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji in 1606, Sikhs have known the use of arms and the need of self-defense. The Khalsa was designated to oppose the tyranny of the Mughal Empire and any other form of injustice.[4] Through much of the early eighteenth century, the Khalsa was outlawed by the government and survived in the safety of remote forests, deserts, and swamplands of the Punjab region and neighbouring Kashmir and Rajasthan.[5]

Zakariya Khan Bahadur, the Governor of Lahore, offered lucrative rewards for the discovery and killing of Sikhs. A substantial monetary reward was offered for information on the whereabouts of a Sikh. A blanket was offered to anyone who managed to cut off the distinctive mane of a Sikh or Khalsa and a larger sum for the delivery of a Sikh skull.[6] The plunder of Sikh homes was made lawful and anyone giving shelter to or withholding information about the movements of the Sikhs was liable to themselves being executed. Zakaria Khan’s police scoured the countryside and brought back hundreds of Sikhs in chains. They were publicly executed at the horse market of Lahore, since renamed “Shahidganj”, “place of the martyred”.[7]

During the days of persecution Bhai Bota Singh who lived in the forest would come out in search of food from sympathizers and occasionally would visit Amritsar by night and take a dip in the holy pool around Harimandir Sahib. One day he was noticed by some people who thought he was a Sikh but a member of their party objected saying he could not have been a Sikh, for had he been one, he would not have concealed himself so. Other versions of the story say that Mughal guards were passing the forest when one said that the Sikhs were all deceased and there were none left.[8]

Vexed by the observer’s remark, Bhai Bota Singh set on a plan whereby he and his companion Bhai Garja Singh took up a position on the main highway near Tarn Taran. There, they proclaimed the sovereignty of Khalsa and collected a small toll tax from each passerby.[9] They also sent a notice with a traveller for the governor to get his attention.[10] After seven days 1000 soldiers[11] with 100 horsemen[12] came to apprehend the two Sikhs who then died fighting.[13]

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