Sikhs during the 1750' constituted approximately 7% of the population of Punjab as against 50% muslims and 42% Hindus.* These were trying times for the Sikhs and the flower of the Khalsa had to under go many baptisms by fire.
This article is about little known ghalugharas or massacres which took place in Punjab during the period 1746 and 1762, this 16 year period saw copious amount of bloodshed. The first one being the chhota ghalughara (small massacare) and the wada ghalughara (big massacare).
In the first instance on 10th March 1746 a large Mughal force led by Yahiya Khan massacred 7000 Sikh civilians and non combatants. The modus was to rip open bellies of Sikh captives and stick a iron peg into the head. Additional 3000 Sikhs civilians were captured and taken to Lahore for a public execution.
The wada ghalughara took place in February 1762 and was perpetrated by Ahmad Shah Abdali of Afghanistan. Sikhs were an anthema to Abdali and the final straw came when the Sikhs attacked Abdali and his loot baggage and freed 5000 Hindu women and all the plunder from Delhi, Mathura and Vrindavan. In retaliation he asked his son Timur Shah now governor of Lahore to eliminate the 'accursed infidels'. Attacks and counter attacks were a common occurrence and the land was drenched in blood culminating in the wada ghalughara. On 5th February 1962 in a surprise raid on a large assembly of Sikh village folks at Sirhind, Abdali's army massacred 30,000 Sikhs mostly women and children who were being escorted to a safer location.
Over a period of 70 years starting around 1700 was a very tragic period for the Sikhs. It is estimated that Guru Gobind Singh in his battle with the Mughals lost 5000 men. Banda Bahadur at least 25,000. Abdus Samad Khan governor of Lahore killed 20,000 Sikhs and his son Zakariya Khan another 20,000. Yahiya Khan accounted for 10,000 Sikhs on a single day (chhota ghalughara). His brother Nawaz Hussain assassinated nearly 1000 Sikhs in 1747 his borther-in-law another 30,000. Abdali massacred 30,000 Sikhs in one single day at Sirhind. Abdali's deputy Najib-ud-Daulah killed nearly 20,000 Sikhs and petty officials may have killed 10,000. All in all nearly 200,000 Sikhs, men, women and children were killed in just 70 years.
The persecution of Sikhs has not ended even to this day, worst case in modern history was the 1984 Sikh massacare by fanatic Congress party workers who killed more than 3,000 Sikhs in Delhi and approximately 7,000 Sikhs in other parts of North India. No one has been arrested and imprisoned for their crimes to this day. 1984 was no less than any ghalughara in Sikh history.
* 1881 census
Source: Empire of the Sikhs by Patwant Singh