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RAM SINGH BEDI, BABA

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RAM SINGH BEDI, BABA (d. 1797), a Nihang warrior, was the son of Bhai Faqir Chand, of the village of Kotia Faqir Chand, in Sialkot district, now in Pakistan. The family claimed direct descent from Guru Nanak. Ram Singh took khande di pahul or vows by the double edged sword, thus entering the fold of the Khalsa. Tall and hefty of build and trained in the martial art as well as in sacred learning, and always carrying on his person a quintet of weapons, he became a legendary hero in the region. At the end of November 1796, Shah Zaman, grandson of Ahmad Shah Durrani, invaded India at the head of a host of 30,000 men his third incursion into the country.

The Sikh chiefs, following their time tested strategy of avoiding pitched battles against numerically superior forces, retired towards Amritsar allowing the Shah to advance unopposed to Lahore, which he entered on 3 January 1797. Soon after, however, the news of the rebellion in Herat by his brother, Prince Mahmud, compelled him to go back, leaving a force of 12,000 under his general, Ahmad Khan Barakzai, better known as Shahanchi Khan, to keep the Punjab under occupation. The Sikh sardars resorted to their usual tactics and kept preying upon the retreating Afghan columns right into the territory across the River Jehlum.Ram Singh, at the head of a small band of irregulars, took part in these operations.

Shahanchi Khan, planning to surprise the returning Sikhs, advanced from Lahore, intercepted some of the troops under the young Sukkarchakkia chief, Ranjit Singh, at Ramnagar and besieged them. The Sikhs fighting back desperately forced Shahanchi Khan to raise the siege and retire towards Gujrat. Ram Singh and his band of warriors overtook his column on the way. In the skirmish that ensued Baba Ram Singh Bedi fell fighting near the village of Paropi, where a memorial was later raised in his honour. Shahanchi Khan was also killed soon after in the main battle that took place a few kilometres east of Gujrat.

References:

1. Gian Singh, Giani, Sn Guru Panth Prakash [Reprint]. Patiala, 1970

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