Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Tatya Tope, a remarkable patriot of valor and dedication - Great Indian freedom fighters - British India

"Tantia Topee's Soldiery"
Illustrated London News, 1858
en.wikipedia.org
Great patriot Tatya Tope (1814 – 18 April,1859).www.hindujagruti.org
Ramachandra Pandurang Tope (1814 – 18 April, 1859), popularly known as Tatya Tope (also spelled Tantya Tope) was a remarkable man of valor and dedication. He was a true patriot and spent most of life against the oppressive British company whose misrule affected every nook and corner of India. He was probably the best and most effective of the rebels’ generals. Tatya Tope, an Indian Brahman Maratha leader was born in 1814 at village Yeola of Nashik District (Maharashtra), was the only son of Pandurang Rao Tope, an important noble at the court of the Peshwa Baji Rao-II and his wife Rukhmabai. He moved his family with the ill-fated Peshwa to Bithur where his son became the most  favorite friend of the Peshwa's adopted son, Nana Dhundu Pant, known as Nana Sahib.
Tatya Tope after his capture in 1859.hanged to death in April,1859.en.wikipedia.org
Lord Dalhousie introduced the ''Doctrine of Lapse'' meaning the kingdom will be automatically under the full control of the British rule if the ruler does not have legal successor to the throne. When this unethical doctrine came into force, many rulers who had no legal heir by their legal wife, ran the risk of losing their crown as well as kingdom, a disgusting trick invented by the British. The ruler of Jhansi Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, adopted Anand Rao, son of his cousin, as the heir to the throne before his death in November, 1853 in the presence of the British political officer. The ruler lost his 4 month old kid, hence the adoption. Governor-General Lord Dalhousie,however, refused to accept adoption and annexed the state. In March 1854, Lakshmi Bai,ruler's widow was given a pension of Rs. 60,000 and ordered to leave the palace and the fort.

The accepted tradition of legal adoption of son as successor to the throne had been in vogue among the Royal Hindu rulers for several centuries before the arrival of the British.This angered the Hindu rulers who felt the colonial rulers were unnecessarily trespassing on their internal affairs and it was an affront to their regal status and dignity. Now, their legitimate right of legal adoption as a means to resolve the problem of choosing the next heir to the throne was in danger and  thus eroding their fundamental rights, their hatred for the British turned into abomination. The aim of the British was to grab the big kingdom under some pretext.

Tatya Tope, now a sworn enemy of the British in 1857 crushed the East India company troops under General Windham  stationed at Kanpur, by cutting off the supplies of  food, water and medicine,etc which further added to the misery of the British forces. He, with remarkable skill, established Nana Sahib's supremacy and authority which helped the British make a safe passage to Allahabad.Thus, Tope became the Commander-in-Chief of his revolutionary forces. Later Nana Sahib reoccupied Cawnpore (Kanpur) and other places.However, his reoccupation was only brief; the the Second Battle of Cawnpore - November,1857, marking the end of the rebellion in the Cawnpore area.He was defeated by Sir Colin Campbell on December 6.

Later he joined hands with Jhansi Rani Lakshmi Bai in March,1858 and boldly declared Nana Sahib as the Peshwa with the support of the Gwalior forces in spite of  protest from the British government. Tatya Tope decided to fight the British tooth and nail and see to it his friend Nana Sahib be installed as the ruler of Gwalior. This ultimately led to the confrontation of British forces led by Gen. Rose against the forces of Tatya with full backing from the forces of Gwalior.The Rani of Jhansi was besieged by British forces. The last battle went in favor of the British, but both Tatya Tope and Jhansi Rani managed to escape. Jhansi Rani,who again made a successful  assault on the British forces near Gwalior, finally attained martyrdom at a young age. 

After the loss of Gwalior and Jhansi Rani, Tatya Tope launched several guerrilla campaigns against the British and he operated from several places shifting his base from one region to another. He successfully operated in regions like Narmada, Sagar, etc  but had trouble in getting support from local rulers. After his unsuccessful stay in places like Indore, Chandri and Chota Udaipur, he came to the state of Jaipur, where he was camping in  the Paron forest. Here he met Man Singh, Raja of Narwar, a trusted friend. The relationship between him and the Raja of Gwalior was very poor. Taking advantage of his relationship with the Gwalior ruler, the British forced Raja Man Singh to betray his friend by revealing his whereabouts. After dodging the British for about a year, under duress, Man Singh at last fell into the trap and  became a whistle blower. Tatya Tope was  captured by the British forces lead by General Richard John Meade in the Paron forest area where he was camping that too while sleeping.The British court tried him at Shivpuri. He was executed at the gallows on April18,1859.
 

Tatya Tope gave his life for his close friend Nana Sahib, for Gwalior and for India. Being highly patriotic, he fought against the dishonest,highly corrupt British company and its hegemony till his last breath.Though he made a vain attempt to drive the foxy British out of India, his indomitable spirit to fight for the freedom of India gave inspiration to scores of people in the later years. His total dedication to patriotism was worthy of emulation.

Ref:

1857 - India's Struggle for Freedom - Tantiya Tope". Dec 19, 2014. Retrieved Dec 19, 2014.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatya_Tope