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1716: 100 Sikhs per day for a week

March 5th, 2009 Headsman

On this date in 1716, the Mughal Empire began disposing of 700-plus Sikh prisoners taken in its grueling campaign against Banda Singh Bahadur by beheading them 100 at a time in Delhi.

The peacable-at-first Sikhs had been a thorn in the Muslim Mughal rulers’ side for a century, militarizing in response to heavy official persecution. (The kirpan, the ceremonial dagger Sikhs still wear as a religious tenet, dates to this period.)

The Mughals finally succeeded in overcoming Banda Bahadur, who sacked a Mughal provincial capital and maintained a rival kingdom in the Punjab,

His 700 doomed adherents were borne into Delhi in a procession along with the heads of slain companions mounted on pikes, and Banda Bahadur himself carried in a cage. British envoys John Surman and Edward Stephenson described in a dispatch to the mother country (available in Early Records of British India) the fate of these unfortunates.

The great rebel Guru (Bandu, the Sikh) who has been for these twenty years so troublesome in the province of Lahore, is at length taken with all his family and attendance by the Subahdar, or Viceroy, of that province. Some days ago they entered the city laden with fetters, his whole attendants which were left alive being about 780,* all severally mounted on camels, which were sent out of the city for that purpose, besides about 2,000 heads stuck upon poles, being those who died by the sword inb attle. He was carried into the presence of the King, and from thence to a close prison. He at present has his life prolonged with most of his officers, in hopes to get an account of his treasure in several parts of his kingdom, and of those that assisted him, when afterwards he will be executed for the rest. There are one hundred each day beheaded. It is not a little remarkable with what patience they undergo their fate, and to the last it has not been found that one has apostatised from the new formed religion.

According to the obviously partisan source sikhism.com, one of the prisoners was a teenage boy whose “mother appealed to the Emperor that her son should be set free because he was not a Sikh, but the boy replied that his mother was lying, that he was indeed a Sikh, and that he must be executed in the same way as the rest.”

* Surman and Stephenson may have been mistaken about the exact count of prisoners.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,God,History,India,Known But To God,Martyrs,Mass Executions,Mughal Empire,No Formal Charge,Power,Religious Figures,Summary Executions

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