15. Bhai Tara Singh 'wan’
TARA SINGH, BHAI, the eighteenthcentury Sikh martyr, was a Buttar Jatt of the village Van, popularly known as DallVan because of its proximity to another village called Dall, in presentday Amri tsar district of the Punjab. His father, Gurdas Singh, had received the rites of the Khalsa in the time of Guru Gobind Singh, and had taken part in the battle ofAmritsar (6 April 1709), in which Bhai Mani Singh led the Sikhs and in which Har Sahai, a revenue official of Patti, was killed at his (Gurdas Singh's) hands. Tara Singh, the eldest of the five sons of Gurdas Singh, was born around 1702. Receiving the rites of initiation from Bhai Mani Singh, he grew up to be a devout Sikh, skilled in the martial arts. As persistent persecution drove the Sikhs out of their homes to seek shelter in hills and forests, Tara Singh collectd around him a band of desperadoes and lived defiantly at Van, where he, according to Ratan Singh Bharigu, Prachin Panth Prakash, possessed ajag'Iror landgrant. In his vara or enclosure made with thick piles of dried branches of thorny trees, he gave refuge to any Sikh who came to him to escape persecution. A government informer, Sahib Rai of Naushahra Pannuari, complained to the faujdar of Patti, Ja'far Beg, that Tara Singh harboured criminals. The faujdar sent a contingent of 25 horse and 80 foot to Van, but Tara Singh fought back and routed the invaders with several dead, including their commander, a nephew of the faujdar. Ja'far Beg reported the matter to Zakariya Khaa, who sent a punitive expedition consisting of 2,000 horse, five elephants, 40 light guns and four cannononwheels under his deputy, Momin Khan. Tara Singh had barely 22 men with him at that time. They kept the Lahore force at bay through the night, but were killed to a man in the handtohand fight on the following day. This happened on 24 December 1732. A Gurdwara now marks the site where Tara Singh and his companions were cremated.