[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 Indias 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 Pandeys 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 dont honour those great patriots.
Assam Tribune Editorial 19.05.07
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