The freedom movement of India in 1857. The First war of Independence.
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Prosperity and richness of natural resources of India had always been the source of attraction for foreign invaders. But invaders like Alexander and Mohd. Ghouri taking advantage of the mutual jealously of the Rajput Chiefs came just like robbers and fled away with bountiful booty. Then came Muslim invaders to settle down and they were clever enough to mix with the natives and in course of time they become part and parcel of the Indian soil. But European Traders entered India with a different motive and with a two edged sword. On the one hand they exploited the trade and commerce and on the other hand making use of their “Divide and Rule” Policy they annexed the territories ruled by chiefs both Hindu and Muslim and gradually subjugated practically whole of India. East India Company of United Kingdom thus succeeded in turning India into a British territory.
However, the Indian masses never accepted the sovereignty of the British Crown and there was always a feeling of restlessness, discontentment and anxiety among the Indians. Indian soldiers of the British Army were no exception to it. It was the grinding poverty of the people and the absolute dependence of the people that compelled them to lead the life of slaves and bonded labour.
In those days for the loading of guns, cartridges had to be lubricated. Somehow the Indian soldiers came to know that the lubricant used in the cartages was animal fat, fat of cows and pigs and religious feelings of Hindu and Muslim soldiers were equally hit. As a result some 85 soldiers refused to load their guns. How could the power drunk Englishmen tolerate this indiscipline. The 85 soldiers were unarmed and shattered. They were imprisoned in the prison situated in Victoria Park. When their counterparts in Meerut Cantt came to know that the 85 soldiers imprisoned in Victoria park were to be court-marshaled and executed on 10th of May, the revolution broke out. On 10th of May 1857 after 5.30 p.m. the commanding officer of the 11th Indian Army received the information about the revolution. Col. Finish immediately rushed to the spot unarmed. In the mean time major John George Henry commanding officer of the 20th Indian Army had also received their information and he also reached the spot or were heading towards it.
Even at such a criticed moment col. Finishing assembled his soldiers on the parade ground. Key of the armory was his possession. He addressed the soldiers and was successful in winning their confidence. But at the same time there was firing on the 11th Army by 20Th Army. Col. Finish against them. The revolutionists guessed his in link ion and it was col. Finish who received the first bullet of the revolution from the Mangal panday. This was the starting point of the 1857 revolution for freedom.
As a matter of fact the Indian masses were tired of the 100 years of British regime and revolution was inevitable. Minor incidents were taking place here and there but were controlled as support of the masses was wanting situation in Meerut was different. Indian soldiers marched towards Victoria Park Jail and rescued their fellow soldiers killing their British counterparts and officers who came in their way. From Victoria park the troops marched to Delhi in order to hand over the command of the revolution to Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Moghul Emperor. In the first instance the Moghul Emperor refused to support the revolution.
The troops retreated but did not give up. They decided to seek help from elsewhere and keep the fight on. But on the advice of General Bakht Khan the emperor decided to support the revolution and rushed to meet the revolutionaries. In the meantime the English commanders succeeded in winning over the queen Begum Zeenat Mahal and with the help of her accomplices and treacherous friends the king was entrapped in the Dargah of Khwaja Nizamuddin and was forced to surrender.
This is just a brief description of the revolution of a single region. The revolution spread all over the country. It was for the first time that religious feelings were exploited for the initiating the fight for freedom and it may be seen that it continued till the attainment of complete freedom in August 1947. It was the sprit of Hindu –Muslim unit that compelled the Britishers to leave the country although they partially succeeded to force division of the country.
English historian have been trying to mislead by giving the revolution the name of “MUTINY” just as they had tried to prove the to prove the Indian National Army a group of traitors. But this is nothing but a face saving device. Although the British nests succeeded in suppressing the revolution with the help of some traitors and their superior warfare but the spirit of Nationalism and extricate themselves from the bonds of slavery and 1857 movement was just the beginning thereof.
Because the fight for freedom had started from Meerut hence it was rightly decided to start celebration from spot that had provoked patriots to wake up from the century old slumber. Meerut was a walled city since Moghul period. All civilian population lived within the walls. To connect the city with the neighboring township there were gates named as Kamboh Gate, Baghpat Gate, Delhi Gate, Lisari Gate, Shohrab Gate, Shahpir Gate, Budhana Gate and Khair Nagar Gate. Some of the these gates are still in existence. East India Company had annexed the region from the Marathas in 1803. East India Company, in accordance with an agreement with Begam Samru of become the sole owner of her property near about Sardhana after her death. Meerut can’t was the creation of the Britishers because their strategy was to surround Delhi from all sides Meerut was most suited for them.
Celebrations of 150th anniversary of 1857 movement were really unique. School children from twenty states assembled in the city and presented different programmes. The entire proceedings were conducted under the auspices of Nehru Youth Centre Organization financed by Central Government. For proper presentation and peaceful completion of the programme 100 officers were given regular training in Modipuram. One thousand volunteers from different parts of the country were given necessary training in the campus of C.C.S. University on May 4 and 5. Nearly 30,000 volunteers coming from different states were provided insurance. In case of any incident resulting in casualty the guardians or the offing of the deceased would receive a sum of Rs. One Lakhas.
For peaceful march of the volunteers from Meerut to Delhi the Meerut Delhi Highway was closed for public traffic from 7th to 10th May i.e. for four days between 5 A.M. For the performance of the programme “Sajhi Shahadad, Sajhi Virasat” (Joint Martyrism, Joint inheritance) to commerate the 150th anniversary of 1857 freedom movement 400 artists from 21 states assembled in Meerut. Arrangement for their boarding and lodging was made in Deewan public School. They performed their rehearsal in the said premises. Main function was organized in the night of May 6, 2007 in Victoria Park. On behalf of Sub-Area commandant of Meerut Cantt a cultural programme was presented in Kulwant Singh Stadium on 7th May.
A group of 10,000 volunteers from different parts of the country left Victoria Park in the morning of 7th May 2007 for Delhi on foot to cover a distance of 70 kilometers. This group had their first halt at Ghaziabad on 9th May, finally reading Delhi Red Fort on 10th May where groups from other sides of the capital were also pouring in. after a night’s rest a gathering of some 40000 youths from all over the country put up their performance at Red Fort, Delhi, president Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and the prime Minister of India Dr. Man Mahon Singh addressed the gathering reminding them of their duty towards mother land as also giving them glimpses of our glorious past studded with selfish sacrifices.
It is said that celebration of 150th anniversary of Freedom Movement of 1857 will be performed throughout from May 2007 to May 2007 to May 2008 under the auspices of Nehru Youth Centre who took nearly one year for the celebrations performed during second week of May 2007 to 2008 under the celebrations performed during second week of May 2007. It is estimated that Red Fort Celebrations cost nearly six crores of rupees with an additional one crores over the March from Meerut to Delhi. For functioning of the scheme National Implementation Committee has been formed under the Chairmanship of Human Resources Minister Shri Arjun Singh. A sum of Rs. 13 crores has been allotted in the budget 2007-08 for the purpose.
While paying tribute to fallen heroes of 1857 it would be unjust not to remember the unknown priest used to infuse in them informed about the happenings in the country and used to infuse in them the spirit of nationality and patriotism. It is said that it was he who had conveyrd the information of fat lubricant being used in cartridges. This kali paltan temple has its own importance and is now a place worth seeking. There still exists one temple in the heart of the city surrounded by 100% Muslim population. It was here that meetings of Nana Sahib with Muslim Nawab. Azimullah Khan were held. Outside the walled city there is a temple at Surajkund, hardly a kilometer from the city. This temple was also a participant in the freedom fight of 1857.
Celebrations like these have their own importance. There can be no two opinions about this. But they are of any significance only and only if these are performed and supported by innermost feelings of the head and heart. And to achieve this and to inculcate the spirit of nationalism in the young and growing hearts our education policy must be such as to include lessons in the School & College text books giving the required information. It has been observed in the recent past that there have been objections and contradictions on the lessons included in the text books. Historical facts are also sometimes jeopardized in accordance with the personal feelings of those in authority. This amounts to playing with the future of our young ones by keeping them misinformed and misguided. It would be in better interest of the country that a uniform curriculum and uniform policy is followed all over the country in all states and in all languages.