Third battle of Panipat and Maharashtrian War-Prisoners. sign now
The Third Battle of Panipat took place on January 14, 1761 at Panipat (Haryana State, India), about 80 miles (130 km) north of Delhi. The battle checked the advance of the Marathas and, if for a brief period, restored the Mughal empire. The main battle was fought between the forces under Ahmad Shah Abdali and the Maratha host. It is believed that nearly 100,000 people either died or were injured on both sides in the one-day battle, though some historians estimate the total to be nearer to 60,000.
A conservative estimate places Maratha losses at 35,000 on the Panipat battlefield itself. At least 22,000 women and children were captured as prisoners and slaves. According to Mr. Hamilton of Bombay Gazette about half a million people were present there on Panipat town from Maharashtra and on any rate he gives figure of 40,000 prisoners as executed.
The Afghans losses were around 40,000. As far as battle casualties are concerned, the Afghans too suffered heavy losses. The enormous casualties on the Afghan side forced the invaders to abandon any plan of setting up an empire in India and retreat back to Afghanistan. However, the news soon arrived that Marathas had organised another 100,000 men in the south to avenge their loss and to rescue the captured prisoners. He left Delhi two months after the battle, heading for Afghanistan with his loot of 500 elephants, 1500 camels, 50,000 horses and at least about 22,000 women and children.
It is worth noticing the fact the Maratha empire provided the biggest challenge to the moguls in the erstwhile India keeping in check the influence of foreign invaders, forced conversions and oppression of the local people.
Descendants of Maratha Prisoners of War and their Modern Political Consequences.
The historical record states that a large number of prisoners, mostly female civilians fleeing the battle, were taken as slaves to Afghanistan. It is likely that many of these prisoners died, unaccustomed, as they were, to the climatic conditions of Afghanistan. However, a large portion of people in Maharashtra feel that some of the Marathan prisoners could have survived and settled in Afghanistan. They believe even now, after 244 years (circa 2006), that the enslaved descendants of prisoners of war can still be found at least Balochistan in Bugti and Marri tribal areas. Moreover, the belief holds that the Maratha Bugtis and Marri in Balochistan have become a separated social group - perhaps even a dedicated caste - under Islamic rule. This ethnic group would claim descent from Marathas captives of war brought back by members of the Bugti tribe, who served the armies of Ahmad Shah Durrani (Abdali) after the fateful battle of Panipat. In time these descendents most likely intermarried and converted to Islam, though they were once considered bonded labour and prohibited from buying or owning land. Unsurprisingly, a rumor exists among some Maharashtrians that, till a generation ago, Maratha-descended Bugtis and Marri could be 'bought' for twenty or thirty rupees. Rumors also circulate that, even today, Marathas-descended women living in Balochistan remain "fair game" for Bugtis and Marris.
The Maratha and Marri Bugtis took jobs as unskilled labourers, which their tribal overlords disdained. Over the years some of them have come to occupy higher positions. However they are still targeted and remain to be rescued. It is interesting to note that this caste-like phenomenon has endured for more than two centuries, even in a region largely devoid of Hindus.
After their defeat at Panipat, many Marathas women & children took refuge with local Sikh & Jat chieftains, possibly intermarrying with their hosts, and converting to Sikhism. It has been noted that women in the family trees of several Sikh families, have Marathi names like Gajanabai, Tukabai or Indumati. This raises the possibility that these women came from Maratha roots. Unfortunately for researchers, after the Partitioning of India, access to the Punjab province of the newly created Pakistan was resricted, and confirmination of any Sikh-Marathas lineage became difficult. Nonetheless, several Jat familes acknowledge about mixing of Maratha lineage, especially those settled around Panipat, Kunjpura & Karnal.
The fate of the descendants of Maratha prisoners taken to Afghanistan remains a poorly-understood to this day, and is likely to remain so for some time. Neither the Maharashtra nation nor Maratha leadership recognise the existence of Maratha descendants in Afganistan, nor is there much support for the rescue of these descendents, if they do indeed exist.
SO, THERE HAS SOMETHING TO BE DONE FROM THE GOVERNMENTS OR OUR SIDE SO THAT WE CAN ATLEAST FIND THE LINEAGE OF OUR ANCESTORS. I MENTIONED OUR ANCESTORS BECAUSE IT IS SAID THAT MAHARASHTRA LOST A COMPLETE GENERATION IN WORST BATTLE THAT CHANGED THE HISTORY OF MAHARASHTRA AND MAHARASHTRIANS.
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