Hindus and Muslims united to win us freedom; Let's now celebrate as one

Last Updated: Mon, Aug 13, 2018 12:57 hrs
Independence Day

India will be celebrating its 72nd Independence Day this week. This is a day that nation looks forward to every year and its significance is not lost on anyone, whether young or old. Kids grow up celebrating the day from their infancy, holding the tricolor and singing nationalist songs.

The freedom that we enjoy and take for granted came after Himalayan sacrifices by our elders. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs fought the British colonial rulers in multiple wars of independence losing their lives in thousands, being incarcerated in faraway places like Malta and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and spending their lives in unimaginable misery and suffering.

Throughout the freedom struggle, beginning in the immediate aftermath of the British rule being forced upon the nation, Hindus and Muslims fought the oppressive British regime together. While there are stories of valour even before the 1857 Mutiny, the sepoys and the freedom fighters belonging to both the communities , in the Mutiny, both fought shoulder to shoulder, supporting one another and even planning it together.

The communal divide that seems to have become all pervasive over the last two decades in the country was nowhere to be seen. Nana Sahib, who led the mutiny in Cawnpur (Kanpur) was ably supported and helped by none other than Azeemullah Khan who was his top aide and worked first as his diwan and then Prime Minister. Much before the first war of independence had broken out, Azeemullah Khan was sent by Peshwa to London to hold negotiations with British officials on his part. Before coming back to India, Azimullah went to Turkey and Russia and saw how the British forces were struggling in the war in Crimea. It reinforced the young bureaucrat's determination to see the British colonial forces driven out of the nation. He was a polyglot and spoke English and French as native speaker, something a rarity those days.

Kamladevi Chattopadhyaya, while writing in her book, 'New History of the Marathas, Vol-1' says: "About the time of the Meerut rising, there were assembled a larger number of Revolutionary leaders in the palace of Nana Sahib than could be found, at the time, in the palace of Lucknow, in the Subah at Bareilly, or even at the Dewan-i-Khas palace at Delhi. The Revolution of 1857 was conceived in the palace at Brahmavarta. It was there that the embryo also took a definite shape. And, if the birth also had taken place at Brahmavarta, the Revolution would surely not have been so short-lived. But, before complete development, the thunder at Meerut brought the Revolutionary child into being, unfortunately before its time; it was not, however, left to its fate; but strenuous preparations were made in the palace at Brahmavarta to sustain and nourish it even under such adverse circumstances."

"At the place of honour sat the proud and noble form of Nana Sahib, the very incarnation of the Revolutionary Spirit. His brothers, Baba Sahib and Bala Sahib, and his nephew Rao Sahib, were there, ready to sacrifice their lives, wealth, and comfort for the fulfilment of their leader's noble objects. Beside these sat the man who, from the low station of a menial servant, had risen in his master's favour by means of his industry and ability, the man who had studied the politics and warfare of Europe, determined to utilise that knowledge in the holy war of liberating his country from slavery. This was none other than Azimullah Khan. There also sat the lightning Queen of Jhansi, aiding now the experience of the Revolutionary leaders with her magnificent intuition and inspiring them with her own unbounded love of country and honour. But in this historical meeting, who is the warrior over there, sharpening his sword in the direction of the armoury? Readers, that hero in the armoury is the celebrated Mahratta Tatia Tope. He is the last valiant Maratha warrior of the School of Shivaji".

The freedom fighters had close coordination with each others and synchronized their efforts in a very harmonious manner for maximum benefit. When Nana Saheb eventually lost the war in Cawnpur and was driven out of Oudh too, he took refuge in Bareilly that was under the control of Khan Bahadur Khan Rohilla.

Sir William Wilson Hunter while writing in The Imperial Gazetteer of India, Volume 1 says: "In that year the troops at Bareilly rose on the 31st of May. The European officers, except three, escaped to Nainital; and Khan Bahadur Khan, Hafiz Rahmat's grandson, was proclaimed Nawab Nazim of Rohilkhand. On the 11th of June the sipahis went off to Delhi, and Khan Bahadur organized a government in July...On the 25th of March 1858, the Nana Sahib arrived at Bareilly on his flight from Oudh, and remained till the end of April; but when the commander in-chief marched on Jalalabad, he fled back again into Oudh."

Some sixty years later, when the Congress was still in infancy, the first Indian provisional government in exile (Arzi hukumate-e-Azad Hind) was formed in Kabul in the year 1915, it was a confluence of Hindu and Muslim revolutionaries. Raja of Hathras, Raja Mahendra Pratap, who was a renowned freedom fighter and worked hard to achieve the independence for the nation was its President, Maulana Barkatullah Bhopali, an ideologue and freedom fighter its Prime Minister, Ubaidullah Sindhi, a top scholar and disciple of Shaykhul Hind Mahmud Hasan as home minister, Maulavi Bashir as War Minister and Champakaran Pillai as Foreign Minister. These revolutionaries ran the provisional government for four years and had extensive contacts with German, Russian and Turkish governments.

The freedom that we cherish now and take for granted came after extraordinary hard struggle and huge sacrifices by revolutionaries. The human loss in Oudh, present day Uttar Pradesh was more than 1.5 lakh in the Mutiny of 1857 alone.

We should work relentlessly to preserve the freedom and the inclusive nature or Ganga Jamuni Tehzib of the nation.

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