Third Battle of Panipat
The Third Battle of Panipat took place on 14 January 1761 at Panipat between a northern expeditionary force of the Maratha Empire and invading forces of the King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Abdali, supported by two Indian allies—the Rohilla Afghans of the Doab, and Shuja-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Awadh. The battle is considered one of the largest and most eventful fought in the 18th century.
The specific site of the battle itself is disputed by historians, but most consider it to have occurred somewhere near modern-day Kaalaa Aamb and Sanauli Road.
The battle lasted for several days and involved over 125,000 troops. Protracted skirmishes occurred, with losses and gains on both sides. The forces led by Ahmad Shah Durrani came out victorious after destroying several Maratha flanks. It is believed that between 60,000–70,000 were killed in fighting, while the numbers of injured and prisoners taken vary considerably.
The result of the battle was the halting of further Maratha advances in the north, and a destabilization of their territories, for roughly ten years. This period is marked by the rule of Peshwa Madhavrao, who is credited with the revival of Maratha domination following the defeat at Panipat. In 1771, ten years after Panipat, he sent a large Maratha army into northern India in an expedition that was meant to re-establish Maratha domination in that area and punish refractory powers that had either sided with the Afghans, such as the Rohillas, or had shaken off Maratha domination after Panipat.
Role of Jats
Ram Sarup Joon writes that ...The political aim of Ahmed Shah Abdali was to create differences between Hindus and Muslims and thereby strengthen the Delhi throne. To some extent he succeeded in his evil designs. With this ignoble policy, a country wide resentment spread amongst Hindus. By this time the Marathas had got sufficient power in Deccan. They became champion of the people's cause and decided to have a pitched battle with Abdali. They rushed messengers to all Hindu rulers and asked them to unite and support Marathas for the common cause of defending the religion.
On the other side all the Muslims rulers in India, united to support Ahmed Shah Abdali. Ahmed Shah cunningly invited Ghazi Uddin with the assurances that he would reinstate him as Grand Wazir. Suraj Mal permitted Ghazi Uddin to return to Abdali, but he was so heavily indebted to the Jats, that he categorically rejected Abdali's invitation.
History of the Jats, End of Page-163
An operational conference was held at Agra to discuss the plans for the battle against Abdali. Suraj Mal was a tactician of high caliber. He appreciated that the enemy had superior forces. The only way in which Marathas could win was by organizing their forces into highly mobile hard hitting groups. He suggested that they should shed their heavy baggage and their families and send them across River Chambal to the fort of Deeg for safety. He also advised that they should avoid pitched battle, conduct guerilla warfare and continue harassing and delaying the enemy till the on-set of the rainy season. By this time Abdali's forces which were not accustomed to hard life would get demoralized and worn out. Then the Marathas should attack, and neutralize the enemy forces. These tactics of Raja Suraj Mal were very much appreciated by all the Maratha Chiefs except (Sadashiv) Raghunath Rao Bhau, who considered the adoption of these tactics to be below his dignity. He bluntly told Suraj Mal that the Marathas did not need help or guidance from any quarter for the battle of Panipat. Inspite of this Raja Suraj Mal remained in support with Ghazi Uddin and 18,000 troops. In July 1760, Marathas occupied Delhi, Ghazi Uddin was appointed Wazir and a prince of Moghul dynasty was placed on the throne of Delhi. But soon after, much against the wishes of Raja Suraj Mal, the Marathas removed Ghazi Uddin from Wazarat and appointed a Mahratta in his place.
They ordered the golden ceiling of Diwan-e-Am to be removed. Raja Suraj Mal, disapproved of this action and told them that being a thing of beauty it should not be destroyed. He offered to pay a sum of Rs Five lakhs to Marathas, provided they spared the historical monument but Marathas did not desist from doing so and ultimately they got gold worth Rs 3 lakhs only out of it.
The patience of Suraj Mal got exhausted by these
History of the Jats, End of Page-164
The Marathas were badly defeated at the Battle of Panipat. A large number of them were butchered, their treasury was looted, their woman molested and they fled away from the battlefield helter-skelter, worn and weary, naked and hungry, the Maratha soldiers entered the territory of Raja Suraj Mal. He looked after them, gave them food and clothes and finally bid them farewell after giving one rupee and one seer of gram to each for their home journey. A sum of Rs 10 lakhs was spent by Raja Suraj Mal on this occasion.
- History of the Jats/Chapter X,p. 164-165
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