Posts Tagged ‘Jhansi’

Rani &sahib

In the chaotic and uneven struggle against the British imperialism, 1857 shall stand as a milestone for India. India was still in the medieval time warp many princely states serving their narrow interests, unashamedly currying favor with their colonial masters whoever was on hand. There was no such concept as a single India and as such what began as a mutiny among the native sepoys the year would for better or worse test the inner motives of the ruled and their rulers alike.
That year proved Imperialism was vulnerable and the British Parliament would hasten to take measure to postpone the doomsday that was definite in coming. Did they not lose America in the west despite all their cunning and here was natives whose age-old antipathy to one another on their caste and religious sentiments showed closing in against their brute strength. The native sepoys stoked their ire against them at first by elevating Bahadur Shah II as their emperor of India. It was ominous.
In the short summary given hereunder one may see the evil implied in Imperialism. It gains foothold by stealth as Mercantile Britain did everywhere. It plays upon the weakness of local rulers and gains undue advantage. Thereafter their laws are those of brute Might. ‘Might is Right’ was first proven before the totalitarian system of Nazi Germany adopted it in 20t century. In dispensing Justice also you can see how one sided it is. Though the Imperial masters managed to hold on for long, when they found their stand untenable they left in ignominy, unloved and detested their glory tarnished beyond saving.
Nana Sahib had a genuine grouse against the British but caught up in circumstances he showed his motives never rose beyond his selfish interests. A mindset that still works among those guide the destiny of India, governing parties or opposition alike.Queen of Jhansi was an admirable woman by any account.

The East India Company had decided that the pension and honours of the lineage would not be passed on to Nana Sahib who was the adopted heir to Baji Rao II, the ex-peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy. Nana Sahib sent his envoy Dewan Azimullah Khan to London, to petition the Queen against the Company’s decision, but failed to evoke a favourable response.
Amid the chaos in Cawnpore in 1857, Nana Sahib entered the British magazine with his contingent. The soldiers of the 53rd Native Infantry by some misunderstanding let him in. Once Nana Sahib was inside the magazine, at the urging of the rebels, he announced that he was a participant in the rebellion against the British, and intended to be a vassal of Bahadur Shah II. Later it would prove he was merely biding time to advance his case. Nana Sahib met with rebel soldiers at Kalyanpur. The soldiers were on their way to Delhi, to meet Bahadur Shah II. Nana Sahib wanted them to go back to Cawnpore, and help him in defeating the British. The rebels were reluctant at first, but decided to join Nana Sahib, when he promised to double their pay and reward them with gold, if they were to destroy the British entrenchment.
As the news of Nana Sahib’s advances over the British garrison spread, several of the rebel sepoys joined him. By 10 June, he was believed to be leading around twelve thousand to fifteen thousand Indian soldiers. The Bibighar massacre horrified the British troops. There was equally violent retaliation against the local population of Cawnpore.
The massacre disgusted and embittered the British troops in India, with Remember Cawnpore! becoming a war cry for the British soldiers for the rest of the conflict. Acts of summary violence against towns and cities believed to harbor or support the rebellion also increased. In one of the villages, the Highlanders caught around 140 men, women and children. Ten men were hanged without any evidence or trial. There were many more similar atrocities.
In November 1857, Tantya Tope gathered an army, mainly consisting of the rebel soldiers from the Gwalior contingent, to recapture Cawnpore. By 19 November, his 6,000-strong force had taken control all the routes west and north-west of Cawnpore. However, his forces were defeated by the Company forces under Colin Campbell in the Second Battle of Cawnpore, marking the end of the rebellion in the Cawnpore area. Tantya Tope then joined Rani Lakshmibai.
Nana Sahib disappeared and by 1859, he had reportedly fled to Nepal.
After the revolt was suppressed, the British dismantled Bibighar. They raised a memorial railing & cross at the site of the well in which the bodies of the British women & children had been dumped. The inhabitants of Cawnpore were forced to pay £30,000 for the creation of the memorial; this was partially punishment for not coming to the aid of the women and children in Bibighar.
The remains of a circular ridge of the well can still be seen at the Nana Rao Park, built after Indian independence. The British also erected the All Souls Memorial Church, in memory of the victims. An enclosed pavement outside the church marks the graves of over 70 British men captured and executed on 1 July 1857., After Indian independence in 1947 The memorial to the British victims was replaced with a bust of the massacre leader Tantya Tope.

In her martyrdom, Rani Laksmi Bai of Jhansi served as a living inspiration for Indians who, however chose Gandhiji and the non-violence path in the freedom struggle against the British. She became the mascot for Indian nationalism.

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