History

Modern India Module 2: The Revolt of 1857 (Part 2)

PROMINENT LEADERS OF THE REVOLT OF 1857

MANGAL PANDEY

  • A sepoy of the 34th Native Infantry stationed at Barrackpore, Mangal Pandey, refused to use the greased cartridges on 29th march 1857 and appealed his comrades to oppose the same.
  • He in fact attacked and fired at the Adjutant and was arrested. Later he was tried, court-martialed and hanged on 8th April 1857.
  • He may rightly be called the first martyr of the revolt of 1857.

BAHADUR SHAH II

  • The last Mughal Emperor, he was the leader of the revolt in Delhi and was declared the King Emperor of Hindustan (Shahenshah-e-Hindustan).
  • He was a poet of considerable merit in both Hindi and Urdu and a patron of poets and literary men.
  • He wrote under the pen name ‘Zafar’.
  • He was deported to Rangoon where he died in 1862, at the age of 87.
  • He is known as ‘Saheb-i-Alam Bahadur’.

NANA SAHIB

  • In Kanpur the revolt was led by Nana Saheb. The real name of Nana Saheb was Dhondu Pant.
  • Nana Sahib was the adopted son of Pehswa Baji Rao II and the heir to the dispossessed late Peshwa’s title and estate.
  • Living at Bithur near Kanpur, Nana resented the gradual loss of his status and the consequent humiliation.
  • Baji Rao II was receiving a pension of Rupees 8 Lakh per annum from the British. when he died, Nana Sahib was to get this pension as heir-presumptive to the throne. But the company stopped the pension on the ground that he was not a natural born heir.
  • Nana Sahib sent his friend and envoy Azimullah Khan to England in 1853 to plead his cause but the British were not convinced. The result was that he conspired against the British and led the revolt at Kanpur.
  • He is also known as the ‘master brain of 1857 Revolt’.
  • Nana Sahib, after the failure of the revolt escaped to Nepal.
  • Azimullah Khan, who was Prime Minister to Nana Sahib, was an English lover. But at England, he could not plead the cause of Nana Sahib and while returning from England, he got an opportunity to visit Constantionople, in the Ottoman Empire.
  • Hum hain iske malik, yeh Hindustan Hamara’ (we own India) was the marching song of mutineers penned by Azimullah Khan.

TANTIA TOPE

  • Tantia Tope was the military advisor of Nana Sahib. His real name was Ramachandra Pandurang.
  • He launched successful guerilla campaign against British.
  • He also joined hands with Rani Lakshmi Bai to occupy Gwalior.
  • Tope was betrayed by his trusted friends Man Singh and defeated by General Napier’s British Indian troops
  • He was executed by the British Government at Shivpuri on 18 April 1859.

THE SIEGE OF CAWNPORE (KANPUR)

  • Siege of Cawnpore is also known as “Bibighar Massacre” or “Satichaura Ghat massacre”.
  • Before this event the British has approached Nana Sahib and ‘convinced’ him to support in case there is a mutiny at Kanpur.
  • By June 1857, the number of the rebellions got 3000. The place was mistaken as safe by the British, European families began to drift into the entrenchment as the news of rebellion in the nearby areas reached them. The entrenchment was fortified.
  • Nana Sahib entered as a friend of the British inside and declared that he was with the rebels, he proceeded with the soldiers to capture Cawnpore. He made the British officers surrender on a promise of safe passage to Allahabad.
  • Cawnpore was in siege till 15th July 1857 and 200 Europeans including women and children were massacred.
  • On 16th July the British Forces arrived and Cawnpore was recaputured. Nana Sahib disappeared and then fled to Nepal in 1859.

KUNWAR SINGH

  • Born in a noble family, Kunwar Singh was the proprietor of extensive estates at Jagdishpur in Shahbad in Bihar. He was a natural leader of men, and a popular landlord. He joined the revolt of 1857 when the Britishers threatened to confiscate his land and assumed leadership of the rebellious sepoys.
  • He stormed Arrah, defeated the British forces twice while occupying Azamgarh in February 1858.
  • Kunwar Singh is known as the Lion of Bihar and the Grand Old Man of 1857 Revolt.

Maza Pravas (or Majha Pravas, which translates into English as “My Travels”) is a Marathi travelogue written by Vishnubhat Godse, who travelled to the central and northern parts of India during 1857-1858, and witnessed several incidents of 1857 revolt. The book, written twenty-five years after his travels, is the first account of the 1857 events as seen through Indian eyes. He interprets the Rebellion as a righteous response to British interference in Hindu and Muslim inheritance.

JHANSI RANI LAKSHMI BAI

  • In Jhansi, the 22 year old Rani Lakshmi Bai led the rebels, when the Britishers refused to accept the claim of her adopted son to the throne of Jhansi.
  • Her real name was Manikarnika (Manubhai). She was popularly known as Jhansi Rani. Rani Lakshmi Bai was the Wife of Gangadhar Rao Newalkar who was the Maharaja of Jhansi.
  • Rani was joined by Tantia Tope and together they captured Gwalior.
  • She died in the battle field of Gwalior on June 18, 1857. She became a symbol of resistance to the British Raj for Indian nationalists.
  • Jhansi Rani was called “Joan of Arc of the revolt of 1857”.
  • Gen. High Rose who defeated Rani Lakshmibai remarked that “Here lay the woman who was the only man among the rebels”. He also described her as “most dangerous of all Indian rebel leaders”.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru described her as “the bright spot against a dark background”.
  • The novel Queen f Jhansi was written by Mahaswetha Devi.

KHAN BAHADUR KHAN

  • Khan Bahudar Khan was grandson of the Ruhela leader Hafiz Rahamat Khan. He raised the banner of rebellion in Ruhelkhand with epicenter at Bareilly (U.P).
  • Though seventy years old at the time, he defended four columns of British troops which had converged upon Bareilly, before he was forced to retreat into the forests of the Himalayan foothills.

BAKHT KHAN

  • In Delhi Bahadur Shah was the leader. But the real power lay with the soldiers.
  • Bakht Khan, who had led the revolt of the soldiers at Bareilly, arrived in Delhi on 3rd July, 1857.
  • Forced out of Delhi by the British in September, he is said to have been killed in battle during the last days of the mutiny.

BEGUM HAZRAT MAHAL

  • Begum Hazrat Mahal was the wife of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh, who had been deposed by the English in 1856.
  • She played a memorable part in raising the banner of revolt in Awadh.
  • She ruled on behalf of her 11 year old son Birjis Qadar with great wisdom and reorganized the machinery of administration.
  • She directed the attack on the Residency at Lucknow. (Lucknow was the capital of Awadh). Henry Lawrence, the Resident of Lucknow was killed during the war.
  • Finally the British forces captured Lucknow and she escaped to Nepal.

MAULAVI AHMADULLAH SHAH

  • Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah was one of the many maulvis who played an important part in the revolt of 1857
  • A native of Arcot (Tamil Nadu) Ahmadullah was educated at Hyderabad. He became a preacher when he was young and settled down at Faizabad.
  • In 1856, he was seen moving from village to village preaching jihad (religious war) against the British and urging people to rebel.
  • He was popularly called Danka Shah – the maulvi with the drum (danka).
  • He fought in the famous Battle of Chinhat in which the British forces under Henry Lawrence were defeated

SHAH MAL

  • Shah Mal, a resident of Barout in Uttar Pradesh belonged to a clan of Jat cultivators. He mobilised the headmen and cultivators moving at night from village to village, urging people to rebel against the British
  • Shah Mal’s men attacked government buildings, destroyed the bridge over the river, and dug up metalled roads
  • Locally acknowledged as the Raja, Shah Mal took over the bungalow of an English officer, turned it into a “hall of justice”, settling disputes and dispensing judgments.
  • He also set up an amazingly effective network of intelligence.
  • Shah Mal was killed in battle in July 1857.

POINTS TO REMEMBER

  • The English called the revolt of 1857 as the ‘Devil’s Wind’.
  • The ratio of Indian soldiers and Europeans in the Army at the time of 1857 Revolt was 6:1
  • John Nicolson who recaptured Delhi is known as the butcher of Delhi.
  • The revolt of 1857 was suppressed in the year 1858.
  • Lotus and Rotti were the symbols of the revolt.
  • Historian Sir Legal Greffin opined that “the revolt of 1857 swept the Indian sky clear of many clouds”
  • The novel based on the Revolt of 1857 “Amritham Thedi” was written by Malayattoor Ramakrishnan.
  • The first western scholar to describe 1857 revolt as the first war of Indian Independence was Karl Marx.
  • The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh released a Commemorative Coin of Rs. 100 to Commemorate on the “150th Anniversary of the First War of Independence 1857” in New Delhi on April 18, 2008.
  • The ‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’ is a Hindi movie based on the life of Mangal Pandey, the first martyr of 1857 Revolt. The film was directed by Ketan Mehta and released in 2005. Actor Amir Khan played the role of Mangal Pandey.

MAIN CENTERS & THE LEADERS OF THE 1857 REVOLT

  • Delhi…………….. Bahadurshah II, Bhakth Khan
  • Bihar, Arrah, Jagadishpur….. Kunwar Singh
  • Jhansi …….. Rani Lakshmi Bhai
  • Gwalior …….. Rani Lakshmi Bhai, Tantia Tope
  • Lucknow, Awadh, Agra …….. Begum Hazrat Mahal
  • Bareilly …….. Khan Bahadur Khan
  • Faizabad …….. Maulavi Ahammadullah
  • Assam …….. Diwan Maniram Putti
  • Mathura …….. Devi Singh
  • Kanpur …….. Nana Sahib
  • Meerut …….. Kadam Singh
  • Mandasor …….. Firoz Shah
  • Moradabad …….. Abdul Ali Khan
  • Allahabad …….. Liaquat Ali
  • Haryana …….. Rao Thula Ram

A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE MAJOR CENTRES OF THE REVOLT OF 1857

Centre Leaders British Officials  Suppressed the Revolt Fate of the Leader
Delhi Bahadur Shah, General Bakht Khan of Bareilly regiment John Nicholson, Willoughby, Lt. Hudson Bahadur Shah deported to Rangoon, Bakht Khan died in battlefield
Lucknow Begum Hazrat Mahal of Avadh Colin Campbell Escaped to Nepal
Kanpur Nana Saheb, Tantia Tope, Azimullah Colin Campbell, Henry Havelock, Henry Lawrence Nana Sahib escaped to Nepal, Tantia Tope was hanged, Azimullah died of illness
Jhansi Lakshmibai Hugh Rose Died in battle field
Arrah Kunwar Singh William Tyler and Eyre Died of wound sustained in the fight

 

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