“On 11th May 1857,16th of Ramzan, Bahadur Shah Zafar was sitting in the Jharokha doing his wazifa (recital of Quran) when the Indian sawars of 3rd Cavalry including Hindus and Muslims of East India Company came to Musamnan Burj and called out to him to lead them against British as the Badshah of Hindustan.”
Excerpt from Dastan-e-Ghadar by Zahir Dehlvi, a poet and contemporary of Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Today I quote this to remember 11th May 1857 start of the first War of Independence of India with Badshah Bahadur Shah Zafar as Commander in Chief.
But today when in remembrance of our brave hearts who fought British Imperialism under Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1857, we should know a dark reality that we may have words of praise for our freedom struggle movement which started in 1857 but in practice we as society still eulogise our colonial masters.
As William Hodson an irregular cavalryman who took Bahadur Shah Zafar’s three sons Mirza Mughal, Mirza Khizr Sultan and Mirza Abu Bakr after their surrender into captivity and later killed them in cold blooded murder as captive in Delhi, the actions were controversial even at the time, the future Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts (who later rose to become General, Field Marshal and Commander in Chief of British Armed Forces) then a junior officer serving in the Delhi campaign, called this action of Hodson a “blot”, but even today a prestigious Boarding and Day School, LaMartiniere College, Lucknow which has this “blot” Hodson’s grave and School in independent India still boasts of that it’s the only school in the world to have battle honours, a battle fought by Colonial British forces along LaMartiniere school boys and staff against Indian fighters under Command of Bahadur Shah Zafar, Emperor of India.
In 1858 battle this “blot” Hodson was killed.
Lamartinere College also has a Hodson House as one of the four houses and has given all respect and honour to this “blot” Hodson who disgraced and was inhuman to our the then Commander in Chief Bahadur Shah Zafar.
So, our best gesture of remembrance of India’s First War of Independence will be to remove this “blot” from Lucknow and transfer it to Britain at the earliest.
(picture of “blot “Hodson’s grave and charge sheet of Colonial power on Bahadur Shah Zafar)
Athar Husain, CORD