In the first half of the 18th Century the Mughal rulers and officials had taken a vow to destroy the Sikhs. It was lawful to plunder Sikh homes and destroy their property. They were hunted like wild beasts. Special rewards were offered for the capture and destruction of the Sikh men, women and even their children. Even non-officials were asked to lend a helping hand in this campaign of ruthless destruction. The Sikhs began to be haunted day and night, reported and/or killed at sight.
As a result, most of the Sikhs quickly left the plains and took shelter in far away off, like Shivalik Hills, forests, the sandy deserts of Rajasthan (a northern state of India) and even behind heavy bushes along the rivers. Only some of them would visit the Golden Temple at times during the night disguised as Pathans to take a dip in the Sacred Pool.
Believing all Sikhs to be dead, Zakria Khan, the Governor of Punjab, ordered repeated public announcements that the Sikhs were extinct in the Punjab and their will had been completely broken.
One night Bhai Bota Singh along with his companion Bhai Garja Singh, decided to go to Amritsar to bathe in the sacred tank. Both of them were spirited saint-soldiers. On the way, they overheard someone say that all Sikhs had been killed. It occurred to both the Singhs, to do something unique to prove the Government propaganda wrong and to make Zakria Khan realize that his boast was empty.
They both stood up boldly in the middle of the main road leading to Lahore, stopped all traffic, started collecting a nominal toll (tax) from the travelers using the road and declared that the Khalsa were the new rulers of the Punjab. Fearless as they were, they also quickly drafted and sent an open letter to the Governor. The letter was in Punjabi. It read like this:-
Thus wrote Bota Singh a letter,
With a big stick in hand,
On the road I stand,
Levying an Anna for a cart,
And a pice for a donkey load,
Tell sister-in-law Khano,
That this is the message from Bota Singh.
Reading the letter in disbelief, the Governor was red with rage. He ordered an immediate dispatch of one hundred armed horsemen under a Senior commander to arrest Bota Singh. Both the Sikhs held their ground to the last, fought bravely killing many soldiers who attacked them. They fell martyrs when all the soldiers made a joint attack and the unequal fight could not last long. They died but proved beyond doubt that the Sikhs had neither been vanquished nor extinct as claimed.
Their brave deaths re-established heroism and respect for the Sikhs in the hearts of the people.
This happened in 1739 on the Grand Trunk Road near Taran Taaran, in Punjab.

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