(2/15) Delhi Executions Via: Santbir Singh
February 27 to June 9, 1716
Location: Delhi

Mughal Empire

Enemy Leader:
Emperor Farrukh Siyar

Panthik Leader:
Baba Banda Singh ‘Bahadur’

Total Shahids:
Over 5000 warriors & civilians tortured & executed

Basic Description:
Genocidal execution of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s army as well as other non-combatant Sikhs who who were captured by the Mughal Army.

Detailed Narrative:
The remains of the Khalsa Army were besieged at the village of Gurdas Nangal. After months of starvation the Mughals broke through the Khalsa defences and captured the emaciated warriors inside. The near dead Sikh army was captured and forced to march to Delhi, via Lahore, for the amusement of the Mughal authorities. Any Sikhs found in villages or towns along the route were either executed with their heads joining the grim march or were added to the hundreds of prisoners. In February of 1716 the horrific procession made its way into Delhi. It included 700 cartloads of Sikh heads and 2000 more heads on spears, their long Keas blowing in the wind. The remains of the Khalsa Army, 694 warriors, were paraded handcuffed with dunce caps on. The 46 remaining leaders of the Panth had the dunce caps but were also made to wear wooly clothes designed to make them look like savage animals. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was dressed in a red velvet clown costume. The Mughals were so terrified of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s supposed magical powers that he was locked in a cage on the back of an elephant. His arms were chained to two Mughal soldiers next to the cage and behind him stood a large Mughal soldier with an unsheathed sword ready to behead him. His legs, torso and neck were chained and locked to the bottom of the cage because they were convinced he could fly away. The Mughals thought that it was only through magic that Baba Banda Singh Bahadur had been able to free half of Panjab and create Khalsa Raj. They didn’t understand it was the power and guidance of GurBani and the promise of a transformed world through the Khalsa Panth that inspired the oppressed masses of Panjab to overthrow their tyrants.

This procession was meant to dehumanize and humiliate the Sikh prisoners; to destroy any trace of their dignity and make a dramatic statement of what happened if you became a Sikh.

The 694 Sikh prisoners were executed by beheadings in the centre of Delhi at a rate of a 100 per day. Their heads were stuffed with straw and displayed around the city. Their bodies were hung up from trees around Delhi so that no one entering the capital would be able to hide from the brutal fate that awaited those who dared to defy the Empire. The Mughals wanted to ensure that no one would ever want to be a Sikh of the Guru again.

The 46 Panthik leaders were imprisoned and tortured for three more months before being executed. The last execution was of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur himself along with his infant child, Bhai Ajai Singh, on 9 June 1716. It was a horrifyingly brutal execution in which Baba Banda Singh didn’t sway from his faith or bend to his torture for even an instant. A noble leader of the Khalsa to the end.

Breakdown of Losses:
– 700 cartloads of Sikh heads (not only from Gurdas Nangal but any Sikhs discovered from villages or towns on the way to Delhi). I’m unsure of how many Shahids 700 cartloads of heads adds up to, but it must be more than three thousand and potentially tens of thousands more.
– 2000 Heads of Sikhs on spears.
– 694 members of the Khalsa army who were executed at the rate of 100 a day.
– 46 leaders of the Khalsa Army, including Baba Banda Singh, who were tortured for three months and then executed.
Total Shahids: over 5000 at a bare minimum, potentially much more.

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