In the village where the Khatri’s wife was held captive, the people were busy with their daily chores.
There was an air of festivity in the Nawab’s palace, where he sat in the ‘Diwan Khana’, surrounded by a number of minor officials and hangers – on. A variety of dishes were kept heaped with delicious snacks and foods, while whisky glasses were being passed around.
In the ladies section also there was the hub-bub of activity. Richly dressed and bejeweled wives of the Nawab were sitting on a beautiful Turkish carpet. The Nawab had a number of wives, each more beautiful than the other. While the whole group laughed and chatted, one of them sat quietly, looking extremely unhappy. Though she too was dressed in rich silks and Jewels, she looked like a scared mynah bird imprisoned in a golden cage. At times she cried quietly, the tears dripping down her cheeks, her body shaken by deep sobs. The others tried to make her talk but she refused to look up or respond in anyway. One of them, feeling some pity said, "Leave her alone. She is still new, but soon she too will get used to all this."
Just then the maids brought in silver and gold plates laden with a variety of foods. Spreading a cloth or ‘dastarkhan’ on the carpet they placed all the platters on it. Saying ‘Bis millah’ the women began to eat. They tried to make the woman eat as well, but she refused and continued to weep. This infuriated the "Begums" who were ready to beat her when, one of them said ‘Don’t get angry, sisters. She can’t help herself. Remember when I was captured and brought here, how unhappy I was and look at me now," and she smiled contentedly.
The Begums forgot their anger but insisted that the woman must be made to eat something at least. Holding her downs they tried to pour some curry into her mouth. The woman resisted screaming, "Oh Lord Shiva, save me!"
Hearing the commotion the Nawab rushed upstairs stumbling a little as he had drunk quite a lot. He took in the situation at a glance. Roughly pushing his wives aside and cursing loudly he grabbed the weeping woman’s hand and pulled her out on to the terrace. His breath was reeking of liquor and the woman was sure that her modesty was about to be outraged. Desperately, he looked around for a way to escape even if it meant jumping off the roof.
The Nawab was enraged to see the fear and desperation on the woman’s face. Catching her wrist in a fierce grip he began to speak, "Ah – a – ah" but only strangled sounds could be heard as a strong hand gripped his throat.
From the village came loud noises as of fierce fighting and in a short while more Sikhs rushed into the palace. They caught hold of the Nawab and tied him up. The women-folk sat around in shocked silence while the maid-servants quietly slipped away through the back door. The young woman was unaware of all this as with eyes tightly closed she kept repeating, "As you saved Draupadi, save me Lord!"
Just then a Hindu man and woman came in. Hearing their voices, the young woman opened her eyes, but as they came near her, she said, "Please don’t come near me. I am no longer pure as I have lost my Hindu dharma!"
At this the woman asked, "Did you have physical relation with the Mughal ?" She replied, "No, no, its not that. But I have been forced to eat his food."
The woman looked relieved and said, "You are very good and strong. You have bravely faced the ordeal and retained your ‘dharma’ and marriage vows! You have nothing to be ashamed of. Come with us."
Quickly they descended to the ground floor along with the ‘Jatha’ of Singhs and the Nawab. Someone suggested taking some of the Jewels worn by the Begums. But Balwant Singh promptly stopped this with the words, "It is not part of the Sikh religion to terrorize women!" However the Nawab’s treasury was emptied out and all the valuables loaded onto the horses.
Meanwhile the villagers had all collected in the courtyard. An old woman walking unsteadily with the help of a stick called out. "May the Lord give you greater power and strength, oh Singh brothers? Please get me Justice so I can die in peace."
Hearing this feeble voice, Sundri asked her, "Mother, what is the matter?"
Old woman: "See this man who sits here, tied up like a common thief! He put my son to death. One day my son was passing his palace and happened to look up. This villain got furious and beat my son to death."
The Nawab’s face became ashen while the people looked grimly at him.
Just then a young Muslim woman came up. She was holding a small baby while two young children clung to her crying with hunger. Their clothes were dirty and torn. Sham Singh asked her — Bibi, what do you want ?"
Muslim woman: "I have heard you are good people. I too have come for Justice. My husband used to work for the Nawab and we were comfortably off. One day he got drunk and was rude to the Nawab, who immediately ordered him to be killed. Then he sent his soldiers who took away everything from our house and threw my children and me on the streets. Please save us from starving to death."
Many more came with similar tales of suffering. Sham Singh asked one of the Sikhs to bring some bags of gold coins they had taken from the Nawabs treasury and distributed the gold as per the loss suffered by each of them.