Bibi Nirbhai Kaur
Nirbhai Kaur was a fearless and baptized girl of 22. Her father, Jangbahadar Singh, head of the army of Sodhi Wadbhag Singh, had taught her horse riding and use of arms. She treated herself as a brave soldier and had forgotten that she was a girl and not a boy. She was armed whenever she left the house. She was in the prime of her youth, about 6 feet tall having a well built body and a bright face. She was religious minded and never missed her daily prayers. She also helped her mother in household affairs. She was the only daughter of her parents who loved her a lot. In fact, she had the nature of a soldier. Her girl friends were afraid of Afghan soldiers, but she always told them that they could not live like cowards and they would have to face these tyrant invaders. Once she was returning late at night from the house of a girl friend where she had gone to participate in a singing party held before a marriage. On her way back, she met two drunken Pathan soldiers who ordered her to stop. Before stopping, she drew her sword and cut the right arm of the soldier who stepped towards her. Seeing this, the second soldier ran away. Her sword was still red when she reached home. Her father praised her for her bravery and presence of mind.
Sodhi Wadbagh Singh was the chief of the territory of Kartarpur, near Jullundhar and proprietor of land worth a lot of revenue. He was also a respectable religious guide of the Sikhs and in charge of Gurdwara Tham Sahib, built by the Fifth Master, Guru Arjan Dev. Sodhi was informed by Janhan Khan, commander-in-chief at Lahore that an Afghan soldier, who was coming from Sirhind to Lahore, was killed by somebody in the territory of Kartarpur. He compelled Sodhi to produce the culprit at once. Sodhi could not find the culprit. Jahan Khan ordered the governor of Jullunder to finish Sodhi Wadbhag Singh and loot Kartarpur after killing all those who refused to embrace Islam. In fact, Jahan Khan was under instruction from Abdli to crush the Sikhs as they always harassed him when he returned after looting Delhi.
The governor of Jullunder, with a large force, attacked Kartarpur at midnight and burnt most of the city. Sodhi, who had a small army, was caught and shut in a room. Even the 250 years-old sacred Gurdwara, Tham Sahib, was not spared and burnt to ashes. In the meantime, some soldiers brought four young girls and presented to the commander as a gift. Their clothes were torn. It seemed that they had fought with the soldiers to save themselves.
The soldiers reported that one of the girls, whose hands were red with blood, had killed two soldiers and was caught after a great struggle. The lustful and sexual commander praised the beauty of the girls. He said to one of them who seemed very angry, “What is your name?” He also tried to touch her cheeks. She thundered and asked him to keep away his hand. She told him that her name was Death of the Enemy, who was standing in front of her. A soldier admonished her to behave if she wanted to live. She fearlessly replied that the Death did not want to live. The governor was surprised to hear that these Sikh girls called themselves daughters of Death and they could use arms and kill a person to save himself or herself. He ordered that all the four be taken to his camp as he would like to enjoy their company at night. The girls were helpless as they had been unarmed.
The governor started towards the city to inspect the destruction, massacre of the citizens, and the property looted. There were a number of dead bodies. Some persons were being thrown in the fire. At the same time, a soldier came on a horse and informed the governor that Sodhi, along with his head of the army, had escaped on horseback. The governor and some soldiers chased Sodhi, but they failed to catch him. When they were coming back, they saw one young girl, taking another young girl on her horse, leaving the camp. Her horse was running so fast that the soldiers sent to chase her failed to trace her. The governor saw that one of the soldiers deputed to watch the girls was lying dead at the door of the camp and the other was bleeding profusely. The bleeding soldier said to the commander, “One of the girls who told that her name was Death jumped over the soldier, snatched his sword, and killed him in the twinkling of an eye. When I went to catch her, I was also injured. The other soldiers were away at a distance. When they came to our rescue, the girl had put another newlywed girl on one of our horses and had disappeared.”
It was Nirbhai Kaur who after killing a soldier and injuring another had taken with her one of her girl friends. She with her girl friends was attending the marriage of one of them when the marriage was disrupted and the house was set on fire. She along with her girlfriends was caught and presented to the chief. On her way, Nirbhai Kaur met her fiancé, Harnam Singh, a young baptized Sikh of twenty-four. She told him the whole story and asked for help to rescue her remaining two friends from the chief. He told her that her father had left with Sodhi Wadbhag Singh and her mother was burnt alive when her house was set on fire by the invading soldiers. She was red with rage on hearing all this and made up her mind to take revenge for all the atrocities.
At midnight, she and her fiancé turned their horses towards the camp. Reaching there, they found that all the watchmen were enjoying a sound sleep. They had eaten to their fill and drank a lot to celebrate their victory. She and her fiancé left the horses and her girlfriend at a distance from the camp and walked towards the camp. As they reached near the camp, they heard the cries of a girl. It meant that she was being forced by the chief to sleep with him. Harnam Singh tore the cotton wall of the camp with his sword and they entered the camp from the back. They saw that the chief was throwing the girl on his bed and she was struggling to save herself. At once, Nirbhai Kaur cut the arm of the chief with her sword and, before he could come to his senses, she cut his head and separated it from his body. Another girl was lying unconscious. Harnam Singh carried her and Nirbhai Kaur put the whole camp on fire with the help of the camp lamp. Now all the soldiers were awake and there was confusion everywhere. Fire was spreading to the other camps and everyone was trying to save himself.
Now all the five rode on horses and disappeared in the thick forest before they could be chased. They took rest for a few hours under a tree. At daybreak, they cooked whatever vegetables they could find in the fields and saved themselves from hunger. Nirbhai Kaur’s girl friends wanted to accompany them, as they were afraid that their families would not accept them because they had spent some time with the chief. They started towards the hills, as they were sure that other Sikhs would be there. At Anandpur, they met Sodhi Wadbhag Singh and Jang Bahadur Singh. Here the girl friends of Nirbhai Kaur were baptized to fulfill their desire.
Adina Beg, ex-chief of Jullunder, had revolted against Jahan Khan, the present chief, and was passing his time in those hills. He told Sodhi Wadbhag Singh that he was ready to attack Jullunder if the Sikhs agreed to help him. Sodhi Wadbhag Singh approached the Sikh chief, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, who agreed to the proposal. Now a huge force of Adina Beg, with the help of the Sikh forces, attacked Jullunder. The Jullunder chief gathered a large force and ammunition, but was defeated. Jullunder was destroyed and Nirbhai Kaur’s desire of taking revenge was fulfilled. It all happened in December 1757. Nirbhai Kaur was married to Harnam Singh. Her three friends were also married to young Sikh soldiers of their choice.