10 FACTS ABOUT FIRST GENERATION REVOLUTIONARIES – 1857 REVOLUTION
10 May 1857 was landmarked with one of the most significant event that would change the course of action in India’s struggle for independence. Or to put it correctly it was first event in the history of our nation that would strike chords of independence in the hearts of its inhabitants when all shall stand and shall do so unitedly. Known as “The First War of Independence” to us or commonly known to the Britishers as “The Indian Mutiny”, the revolution of 1857 laid the foundation of the agitation that would subsequently lead to India’s freedom. Certain stringent facts known and unknown have been posted here that will give you an idea of the revolutionaries whose efforts have been immortalised in our cultural folklore.
- The revolt was not only limited to the sepoys of the army and though most of us remember it as Mangal Pandey’s rebellion against the greasy cartridges but it had something more to it. Many nobilities and common folks also dedicated their lives for this struggle. Rani Laxmi bai or the Rani of Jhansi, Bahadur Shah Zafar who was named as the king under whom the revolt was carried out, Nana Sahib son of Peshwa Baji Rao II who led this quest also to defy Lord Dalhousie’s annexation policy called the Doctrine of Lapse, Rani Digambir Kaur, Begum Hazarat Mahal, Nana Sahib Dhondu Pant along with his commander Tantia Tope were some famous nobilities that were a part of it.
- The role of the intricate web of chappatis. Yes! You have guessed it right- chappatis. Before the uprising, in the month of February – March suddenly chappatis started circulating within the premises. Most people feared that they were a form of communication carrying coded information from one place to another. No proof was ever found about this everlasting chain which people were reluctant to break. But accounts suggest that people did seem dreaded when asked about it. Whatever it might symbolise but it does somehow contributed in this course of action.
- There were even Indian loyalists to the British crown. Call it the instilled fear or the selfishness from an anticipated future, some people extended their support. Bhurekhan, a tehsildar was executed while he was trying to protect the British treasury. Another example is of Rani of Basti who defeated 2000 rebels with her 800 rajputs and was rewarded afterwards for her loyalty.
- On the contrary, there were even British loyalists who supported the rebels during this quest. Merchants and court lords that have served Indians for a very long time fought their part adjacent to the revolutionaries. Sergeant Major Gordon also known as Shiekh Abdullah Beg fought with his European soldiers alongside theNawabs of Lucknow. Also, there are many accounts of Anglo Indian soldiers who supported their trusted allies until death.
- After crushing this rebellion millions of Indian soldiers were killed and tortured which led to a mass holocaust in 10 years following 1857. To tame the rising wings of the masses large villages and towns were destroyed to put up an example and demonstration of what follow’s a mutiny. Though an exact record is still not present but an estimate based upon the statistical calculation stated that they unleashed their wrath upon hundreds of thousands.
- A multitude of known people also served this cause. Begum Hazrat Mahal and Nana Sahib fought bravely and in the end instead of surrendering to the enemy the fled away to Nepal with thousands in their troops where they were subjected to the atrocities of belonging to an alien nation, at last died in misery and poverty. Also, there is evidence of a small Muslim town in Rajasthan called Tonk which contributed in this quest and fought until the end.
- Among these unnoticed contributors, there is a special tale that goes off a Dalit woman who disguised herself as Rani Laxmi Bai when the Britishers came to take a toll on her. Because they had never seen her, this gave a lucrative edge over them to her loyalty to her queen. Though some people saw this as anact of cowardice but they also agreed that it was important for the longer run.
- Various instances have also recognised the assistance and role of women in the revolution. There were prostitutes which played their part in rebellion by funding the quest. Examples of Azizan of Bareli suggest that she gave her full support and refused to bow down when captured. She was later executed after being recognised as a rebel. Also the properties of the courtesans who funded this rebellion were confiscated in order to crush any further development in this course of action.
- After this event Mughal King Bahadur Shah Zafar was put into house arrest. All his riches were stripped of him. Bahadur who was already in his 90s during the revolt later went and settled in Rangoon where he died of his old age in the end. With his death the Mughal Empire came to its end for Bahadur being the last ruler of this potent dynasty.
- The fact remains that this revolution was not the first revolution for India’s independence. The first revolution was led by Ali Wardi khan in 1754 in Bengal. Then followed the Vellore Mutiny of 1806 led by the Indian troops. After it was the Sannyasi Rebellion led by a religious leader in the late 18th Then was the Santhal Rebellion which was very similar to the revolt of 1857, the only difference being that it received no support from its peers. Though it would be true to state that 1857 revolution was first of its king owing to the fact that it united the nation for the first time for the quest of independence. Though it turned out futile but it was prolific in boosting the spirits of the freedom fighters.