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VADBHAG SINGH, SODHl

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VADBHAG SINGH, SODHl (1716-61), a lineal descendant of Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) through the latter`s son, Baba Gurditta, and grandson, Dhir Mall, was born the son of Sodhi Ram Singh on 13 August 1716 at Kartarpur, in present day Jalandhar district of the Punjab. Vadbhag Singh became chief of Kartarpur owned by the family as a freehold grant since 1598, after the death of his father in 1737. Ahmad Shah Durrani during his fourth invasion of India in 1756-57 annexed Punjab to his empire and appointed his young son, Taimur, governor of Lahore, with his trusted general Jahan Khan as his deputy and de facto administrator.

In April May 1757, two Afghan troopers travelling from Sirhind to Lahore were murdered near Kartarpur. Jahan Khan had Sodhi Vadbhag Singh, the chief of the area, arrested, and tortured him mercilessly. The latter`s followers rescued him during the night and took him to a distant village, Mairi, in the hills that now form part of Una district of Himachal Pradesh. The Afghans, chagrined at the escape of the prisoner, pillaged Kartarpur and the neighbouring country and, helped by Nasir `All Jalandhar, burnt down the Sikh temple along with the sacred relic, Thamm Sahib, the Holy Prop, and desecrated the holy tank. When Sikhs, consolidated into the Dal Khalsa under the overall command of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluvalia, heard of the outrage, they conjointly with Adina Beg Khan, the ousted raujdar of Jalandhar Doab, attacked Jalandhar in December 1757 to avenge the spoliation of Kartarpur.

A 20,000strong Afghan army sent by Jahan Khan from Lahore was routed near Mahilpur and its artillery and baggage train were captured. A few months later, the Sikhs, aided by a strong Maratha army, drove the Afghans out of the Punjab. Sodhi Vadbhag Singh, however, did not return to Kartarput and continued to reside in Mairi where he died on 31 December 1761 and where a shrine called Dera Vadbhag Singh now stands in his honour, attracting visitors and pilgrims all the year round. The Dera is in popular belief connected with exorcism of evil spirits. Many go there to be so treated.

References :

1. Bhangu, Ratan Singh, Prachin Panth Prakash. Amritsar, 1914
2. Gian Singh, Giani, Twarikh. Guru Khalsa [Reprint]. Patiala, 1970
3. Gupta, Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1978-82
4. Ganda Singh, Ahmad Shah Durrani. Bombay, 1959

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