[Assam] First war of independence and Assam

Pradip Kumar Datta pradip200 at yahoo.com
Sat May 19 03:32:25 PDT 2007

First war of  independence
It was in 1857, when the first salvo of  rebellion was fired against the British imperialist in India. Today after 150  years of the epoch making event the nation is celebrating it as India’s first  war of independence. Though the revolt was crushed down with an iron hand by the  colonial masters, yet it managed to inspire the masses to carry on with their  struggle. Ninety years later, the country finally got free from the British  subjugations and become independent. Looking back to those tumultuous days, the  first war of independence was a spontaneous outburst against the repressive  policies of the British. It was not only a revolt of the sepoys, as it was once  projected. Farmers, artisans, small land lords, came out to the front and fought  valiantly along with the sepoys against a superior and well organised force. The  revolt sparked off following the uprising of a sepoy Mangal Pande at Barakpur in  March 1857. Mangal Pandey’s action triggered a chain reaction.
 Soon the sepoys  were up in arms in Meerut, Lucknow, Gwalior, Jhansi, Bareily, Kanpur, Ghaziabad,  Allahabad and Bihar. A number of British soldiers and officers were killed and  their fortifications destroyed. The rebels stormed their way to Delhi and  declared the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Jafar as the ruler of the country.  The valour displayed by some of the leaders who led the revolt has become a part  of the folklore. The heroism of Rani Lakshmibai, Tantia Tope, Bakht Khan,  Azimulla Khan, is still very inspiring. In Assam too preparations were afoot to  drive out the British and restore the Ahom rule. Maniram Dutta Dewan Borbhandar  Barua took the leading role. But before the revolt would take place. Maniram  Dewan was arrested and hanged publicly along with Peali Barua. A good number of  patriots were deported to the infamous cellular jail in the Andaman. A host of  reasons can be attributed for the failure of the revolt. But inspite of it, the  revolt
 managed to build bridges of unity among different groups. The most  noteworthy being the Hindu-Muslim unity. However after crushing the revolt the  colonial masters with their manipulative skills adopted the divide and rule  policy, the effects of which are yet to disappear even after 60 years of  independence. Though programmes have been chalked out to commemorate 150 years  of the first war of independence, it is yet to catch the public imagination. The  nation must come out in a big way to pay honour to the great heroes of 1857 who  fought selflessly to ensure that the country becomes free. It would be very  shameful on our part if we don’t honour those great patriots.

Assam Tribune Editorial 19.05.07

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