Saragarhi: The Forgotten Battle by Jay Singh Sohal


Jay Singh Sohal’s book recounts the epic battle of Saragarhi during the Afghan insurgency of 1897 using first hand sources and in depth analysis by the author. This paperback edition is published by Dot Hyphen Publishers and is available for purchase here:

The book begins with a chronology of events summarising the historical context leading up to and following the Tirah campaign. A preface by Captain Makand Singh MBE commends the author on his efforts in producing this book and bringing the forgotten battle to light. A foreword by the author explains the reasons behind his research and his goal to narrate the battle as factually as possible. The author shares his fascination surrounding the mindset of the Sikhs involved in Saragarhi, who were fighting for a queen and country they had never seen.

There is a general lack of well-written, easily accessible books which highlight the history of the Sikhs. This publication is unique in that it is available to readers across the world in English, thereby bringing the battle of Saragarhi to prominence for many who did not previously know of its place in history. The author has taken steps to ensure that the battle is no longer forgotten, and his efforts in providing a clear account of the battle can only be congratulated.

The author attempts to be as factual and unbiased as possible in recounting the events of 1897. In some places it is clear that his own viewpoint and links with the British Army may prevent a fully objective analysis of the army’s cause and its righteousness. For Sikh readers the book raises many questions regarding the legitimacy of fighting for colonial masters, and also poses interesting and important questions about the legacy of the British Empire which taints our perspectives to this day. Should Sikhs be involved in political power struggles between nations? Should Sikhs maintain higher ideals when fighting as Khalsas? Why did the Sikhs go from resisting the British in the early 1800s to fighting for them shortly after this?

There is no doubt whatsoever that the sacrifices made by the Sikh soldiers at Saragarhi is unparalleled and highly inspiring for Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike. The book highlights the efforts taken by multiple parties, including the British, to monumentalise the battle of Saragarhi and preserve the honour of those who died there. It is disturbing to think that such a battle can be easily forgotten in the annals of history. This in itself highlights the need for such publications to be promoted as widely as possible.

The book ultimately recognises the huge sacrifice made by our Sikh fathers and grandfathers, and provides readers with a unique opportunity to learn lessons from the battle. It is an excellent example of Sikh-inspired research and historical analysis which is now widely available for the public to read. We can only hope that the author and other writers will continue to produce further publications after going to similar lengths to bring the forgotten pieces of our history of light.

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