The Sikligar Sikhs: Remembering the Forgotten People of India

Sikligar is a community from the northern states of India who lucubrate in the art of weapon-making

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Sikligar - Weapon Makers Of The Sikhs. Image source: www.sikharchives.com

So, what makes the natives look at the Sikligars with defiance and why is it not plausible for the community to head out and socialise? Here is why!

HISTORY OF ORIGIN- 

The word SIKLIGAR is derived from the Arabic word saiqal/sakli which implies polishing or furbishing, thus depicting the meaning “polisher of swords”. They are a community from the northern states of India who lucubrate in the art of weapon-making. Their craftsmanship in the sphere of making weapons like swords, spears and shields made the community an insistent and peremptory request in the post-classical era of ancient India, and was predominantly used by the Medieval Knight.

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The community is splattered in regions of Haryana consisting of partly Hindu and partly Sikh natives, in Gujarat as Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab with Gujarati as their common mode of communication. The community is said to be parted into a number of clans of equal status, the main ones of which are Junni, Dangi, Bhond, Bhori, Khichi, Tilvithya and so on.

(Image used for representational purpose) A Sikh man in front of Golden Temple. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
(Image used for representational purpose) A Sikh man in front of Golden Temple. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The community claims to have originated from Rajput with Kannauj being their ancestral home. Considered to be hailing from a lower caste, the community first came to the confluence of Sikh territories during the time of Guru Gobind Singh, who laid the cornerstone for the “practice of ordnance” and supported the fact of being recognised as an independent nation. They took over “MIRI AND PIRI” as the symbol of their community which betokens the two swords of secular and worldly power. Consequently, the community was propelled to master in their martial arts to sustain their livelihood.

THE PRESENT SCENARIO

However, the present scenario of the community remains hidden in the hilly regions and the bushy jungles of the Satpura range. When the Sikhs sing high about their community in the international conferences; this community of Sikhs still remain backward and lead a nomadic lifestyle in the interiors of unnamed jungles as they are being looked at with contempt and suspicion by the other communities of the region. What makes the natives look at the Sikligars with defiance and why is it not plausible for the community to head out and socialise?

The intelligence committee in the states of the community’s settlement claim that the Sikligar fraternity was involved in the manufacturing of country-made pistols and rifles recovered from the STUDENT’S ISLAMIC MOVEMENT OF INDIA extremists who were arrested in the year 2011. The Sikligars are interrogated even today for the unmindful manufacture of weapons and arms, which is certain from the community’s economic status that it is just their means of livelihood.

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In ‘SHIKLIGAR’ – a short documentary released in 2012, a Sikligar Sikh claimed the words of Guru Hargobind Singh that said “This is the work you must do. You’re doing a selfless service of weapon-making which depicts the essence of SACHHI PREET (meaning true love) and your traditions are unlimited. Remove the dirt and clean the rust; your discernment has surpassed your ancestors.” It is these guiding words of Guru Hargobind that made them propel the art of iron-making even today. The birth of British’s colonial rule compelled them to terminate their work of weapon-making and they continued to trade as blacksmiths who excelled in manufacturing products like bowls, locks and keys.

It is, therefore, mandatory for the natives of India to discern the fiscal stature of the Sikligars and pave them a path or way to earn their living, for manufacturing of arms is the only skill they possess. Being the backward and illiterate class- they must either be taught to earn their living by some other means or we should help them endure their ancestral artistry tranquilly without any intervention.

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