Saturday, 16 May 2020

Historical Flagstaff Tower, Delhi and 163 rd anniversary of 1857 rebellion against the British

Image of Flag-staff tower, Delhi. lookandlearn.com
Flag Staff Tower, Delhi .en.wikipedia.org/
The 163rd anniversary of the first war of Independence, also called the great rebellion  of 1857, took place on  May 10 this month without any fanfare because of Covid-19 pandemic that is squeezing the global community with no proper medication to stop its spread and the continuing death toll.  The culprit China  from where the virus started, is keeping quiet while other counties and people including India are under severe stress and facing  financial mess as well as  health problems of  their people in thousands.

During the height of freedom struggle against the corrupt East India company's misrule, the Flagstaff Tower on the Delhi Ridge, near the present-day North Campus of Delhi University in Delhi, was valiantly attacked by  frenzied Indian soldiers in 1857. The Kamla Nehru Ridge or Northern Ridge is  a wooded region in North Delhi and a section of the larger Delhi Ridge. Way past, the surrounding area was barren and there were no growths of trees, etc except  low-lying shrubs. The presence of trees  would affect the efficiency of the signal tower which is a single roomed structure. This historical tower, now a tourist attraction in Delhi  was built in 1828  by the British Indian Army, the building was part of the British cantonment  to serve as a signal tower  on plot higher than the surrounding areas  so that the signal from the tower could be noticed.  
Flag Staff Tower, Delhi indianetzone.com
Flagstaff Tower, as it is called now, became an  important  site when Delhi was under siege by the  rebels and later captured by the rebellious English forces in June 1857.  The morning of 11th May 1857 was a tense one for the European community living in Delhi as the hell-bent rebels were hunting them and killing, They never showed sympathy toward women and children,  and the panicked survivors -European personnel and Christian Indians  in the the Cantonment, Civil Lines of the city  started fleeing towards the Tower to avoid getting killed. Thus the tower became a place of refuge for  British women and children  at the time when the Indian soldiers were on a rampage. They managed to stay here under stressful, testing time  for some period until the help in the form of  additional enforcement came from the Meerut Cantonment.
-1857 Indian rebellion, wizard.com
In the Tower building there  is a circular room  that is large enough to  hold a  big crowd of around hundred people.  Though it  resembles a mini-fort, it is not a comfortable place from safety point of view. Obviously, unsafe to hide in this place during the  rebellion. Only after 1910, the area around the tower became a sort of forest.  Being a  "protected monument"  it is under  the administration of  the Archaeological Survey of India.   According to heritage activist Vikramjit Singh Rai, “Not many of us know that Nepal played a pivotal role in the 1857 revolt and helped the Britishers in the fight by deploying their troops''.  With a view to giving a better insight on the monuments connected to the 1857 revolt,  Rai, in the past, did  a  heritage walk called ''the 1857 Mutiny Trail''. The walk was an on-site discussion, which would help the participants to scientifically analyse the events.
www.slideshare.net
The great Indian rebellion 1857-58 dailyo.in
The East India company's despotic rule (then a proxy government for the British Crown), racial discrimination, scant respect for religious sentiments of the Hindus and Muslims in the army, their  land and kingdom grabbing spree through dishonest means  pushed the natives to the fag end of patience that later snowballed into one of the worst rebellion in the British Empire history. After 1858, the Crown administration took over the subcontinent from the corrupt EIC officials  and the new government had continued their  oppressive rule  till they left India in August 1947. Britain used India as a 'Cash Cow'  as long as they could to keep their economy in good nick. It is a known fact that it  was the vast revenue from India that financed the Industrial revolution in Britain in the 1800s.

Tit-Bits: 
British-style of execution of Indian natives:
The uprising  that started off at Meerut Cantoment (MP) was put down by the EIC with great difficulty.  But the most disgusting aspect of punishment given by the British  was just inhuman and nauseating. The western world were offended by the methods employed by the EIC officials against the natives who wanted them out of India for good. One common punishment was to tie mutineers/rebels  to the mouth of a cannon and then fire the cannon, completely obliterating the victim. The victim' body  will be flown to a long distance blown into smithereens.  

execution of  Indian rebels, 1857.columbia.edu/
Above image: "The judge's court-house and gallows at Allahabad," from the Illustrated Times, 1857
execution of Indian rebels, 1857 columbia.edu/
Above image: "Execution of mutineers at Peshawur (now in Pakistan): blowing from the guns, etc.," Illustrated London News, 1857; click on the image for a very large scan.  Source: ebay, May 2009.

execution of Indian  rebels, 1857.columbia.edu/
Above image: British civilization--how the English treat prisoners of war--blowing sepoys from guns in India, 1857," from 'Harper's Weekly', 1862; click on either half of the image for a very large scan; *the rest of the article that begins on the bottom of the page* Source: ebay, Apr. 2008.
execution of Indian rebels, 1857 columbia.edu
Above image: "Execution at Bombay of a Mutinous Havildar and Sepoy, by Blowing from Guns," Illustrated London News, 1857 Source: ebay, July 2009.