Friday, May 11, 2007

150 Years Annivarsary Celebrations of 1857 uprising in India. Hey! What about Sikh sacrifices?

Sadly again, India of today seems to be leaving Sikhs in the dark, making them look like second class citizens and on their own to defend Sikh freedom, tell and write and publish Sikh stories of sacrifices and heroism towards Indian Independence, preserve Sikh culture, heritage, writings, history, and oral traditions including preserving Punjab. Where are the museums showing Sikh heroes, Sikh sacrifices? Where are the libraries of Sikh books for teaching future Sikh youth let alone Indian or Punjabi youth? Where are the Sikh newspapers, printing magazines, publishers, media when we need them? Most sad part is that our own Sikh Prime Minister of India singing songs of Hindu-Muslim unity between 1847-2007 and seems not be showing any guts to question Indians about Sikh contributions, sacrifices, struggles towards freedom. Yes, Sikh soldier part and support for British in 1857 could be questioned as to why they favoured and alingned with those foreigners than supporting Dogra and Hill Rajput Chieftans and Princes who had time and time again betrayed Sikh Khalsa forces and aligned themsleves with British. Muslims who had committed atrocites of countless proportions on Sikhs before as well. It I say Sikhs and Punjabis better start writing more children books, publish more newspaper articles, create newspaper cartoons, toys, coloring books, museums and educational documentaries for coming generations about Sikh history, traditions, stories, heroes, heroins, generals, art to show the coming generations and the World. I wish someone would ask these hollow pride idiots as to who courted more arrests, received more jail sentences, received death penalities, got taxed more during British Raj? That’s okay! Sikh Spirit is everlasting and Sikhs will keep becoming more and more smarter, richer, wiser, intelligent, radiant and will outshine again and again. We just can’t wait for our 96 Crore Khalsa day to come!

1857 Uprising Anniversary ‘Vision’ may ruffle political
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 10President A.P.J Abdul Kalam today virtually ignited a political dynamite at the 1857 Uprising commemorative function here when he advocated a two-party system in the country and urged Parliament and Legislative Assemblies to emerge with “a new vision and leadership”.
The President’s candid remarks come at a time when the Presidential election is just about two months away and indications are that the ruling coalition is not interested in giving Kalam a second tenure.
The following is the relevant paragraph where Kalam ticked off the ruling UPA government. “Many challenges need to be responded to: the emergence of multi-party coalitions as a regular form of government, that need to rapidly evolve as a stable, two-party system, the need to strengthen internal security to cope with global terrorism and new forms of internal law and order problems; the widening of economic disparities during a period of high growth in the absence of a comprehensive National Prosperity Index in place of GDP alone; the rapid depletion of global fossil fuel reserves; and increasing threats to our territorial security by the development of new forms of warfare.”
Kalam called upon Parliament and Legislative Assemblies to emerge with a new vision and leadership to make the nation enlightened, prosperous and safe, invulnerable forever to invasion and infiltration across its borders.
The President was speaking at a function to commemorate the 150th anniversary of First War of Indian Independence in the Central Hall of Parliament where the top leadership of the country, including Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee were also present as speakers.
Another remark by the President in his speech ruffled many a feather. “National leadership has to radiate confidence in our people and boldly emerge by formulating and implementing new national missions, targeting specific time-bound goals,” he said. Kalam urged the young MPs to have a big aim and work for the nation in the Parliament and outside.
The President described the 1857 uprising as the turning point in the 19th Century. He said the freedom movement created a renaissance of visionary, devoted and passionate leadership across the entire spectrum of the civilisational heritage, in multiple fields such as politics, spirituality, literature, fine arts, judiciary, science and industry.
“The global environment, however, is still dangerous and India’s freedom, won by suffering and sacrifice, has to be alertly guarded, strengthened and expanded. Freedom and independence must be our continuing quest, and in such a manner as to accelerate our evolution as a free nation through a bold and swift development,” Kalam said.
Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat favoured the setting up of a museum of the National Struggle: 1857-1947. He said such a museum would serve as a guide and inspire the youth and future generations to preserve the hard earned freedom and would motivate them to build up a strong and fully developed nation worthy of the dreams of the freedom fighters.
He described the long period from 1857 to 1947 as the precious heritage of the unique struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights. This was so not only for the people of India but for the people all over the world who had been suffering under the subjugation of colonial and imperialist forces.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the nation could not forget the Hindu-Muslim unity that the 1857 uprising represented and observed that this unity held out as an example for subsequent generations.
The Prime Minister urged the countrymen to ensure that sacrifices of martyrs did not go in vain.

Uprising: 1857 vs 1845Treat Anglo-Sikh war as first: MPs
Tribune News Service & Agencies
New Delhi, May 10
Disagreeing with the view that 1857 was the First War of Independence, Tarlochan Singh, Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana, today said that it was a part of the movement for independence.
Tarlochan Singh, who was accompanied by Shiromani Akali Dal MPs Rattan Singh Ajnala and Virender Singh Bajwa, said that the 1845 Anglo-Sikh war was the fiercest battle against the Britishers.
He said the government was observing on a grand scale the 150th anniversary of the 1857 war but “no such functions were held during the centenary year in 1957 when Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was the Prime Minister.”
The MP said they respected the 1857 martyrs and wanted that all those who were part of the movement should be paid respects. The MPs said they had raised the matter in the Parliament and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal had supported their views.
Atwal argued that projection of 1857 as the First War of Independence was a "misnomer" as the Anglo-Sikh war preceded that.
The protest came midway through the function addressed by the President, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee. It was attended by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, leader of opposition L.K. Advani, ministers, MPs and senior leaders.
The Vice-President, who had risen to address the gathering, was caught unawares when Atwal raised the issue.
Tarlochan Singh and Bajwa later said the 1845 war, led by Sikh General Shyam Singh Attariwala, has to be treated as the first War of Independence.

Myth and Reality Punjab was not ‘quiet’
K.C. Yadav
“Siege Train to Delhi” near Ambala
A general notion persists at the level of both the historian and the layman that Punjab was “quiet” in the stormy days of 1857. The Punjabis, especially both the “dominant” communities, the Sikhs and Muslims, were, it is believed, absolutely loyal to the British, and helped them in their hour of trial.
The usual argument made for this typical behaviour of the Punjabis is that after the annexation of Punjab (1849), John Lawrence, and his band of dedicated and dynamic officers had not only turned the badly disturbed Land of the Five Rivers into the best governed province from 1849 to 1857 but had also given to its people peace, prosperity and happiness — something which they had not seen in their long history. Consequently, the “grateful” Punjabis stood by their benevolent rulers and saved their empire.
That’s untrue! Punjab was not “quiet” in 1857. Despite heavy deployment of troops (about 45 per cent of the entire Bengal army and about 60 per cent of its European troops), terribly tight bureaucratic grip over the people, and full preparation to meet any emergency on the part of the authorities, Punjab was afire, though in varying degrees. There were serious sepoy mutinies at Ferozepur, Hote Mardan, Jullundur, Phillour, Jhelum, Sialkot, Thanesar, Ambala, Hansi, Hisar, Sirsa, Lahore, Ferozepur, Peshawar, and Mianwali.
Some people underestimate these risings and negate the Punjabis’ role therein, by calling these risings as Poorbeas’ doings. This is also untrue: the regiments, which played a heroic role in these risings were the “mixed ones”. They consisted of Hindus (of high and low castes), Muslims, and Sikhs, Poorbeas and Punjabis. Through their concerted efforts, these people performed great feats.
There is yet another very interesting feature of these “mutinies”, which has remained hidden to a large extent. That is, the sepoys here did not rise anywhere without tacit understanding with and positive support of the local civil populace. Aberrationally, if they rose on their own anywhere, they did not succeed in their mission.
Ambala is a good example to prove the point. About nine hours before the outbreak at Meerut (10 May), the 5 NI, 60 NI and 4 LC regiments stationed there revolted. They attacked their regimental kotes, seized arms, and arrested their officers. They had no liaison with the civil populace in the city. Their rising failed! As opposed to this, the sepoys at Jullundur, Ludhiana, Thanesar, Hansi, Hisar, Sirsa, Ferozepur, Sialkot, etc., had leagued with their civilian brethren. They were successful.
Interestingly, we can see this phenomenon working even outside Punjab. The failure of the mutiny at Barahamur and Barrackpore, and its resounding success at Meerut, for instance, can be explained only in the light of this fact.
This revelation discredits the theory that the uprising of 1857 was a sepoy mutiny, pure and simple, and that it was started by the sepoys alone. The revolt was, at least in Punjab, everybody’s concern. Barring a few ruling princes and their hangers-on, the people belonging to different religions, castes and classes had interest - positive interest, to be precise — in it.
Surprisingly, even the poor, illiterate, the so-called outcasts were a part of it. For instance, when the “Siege Train” dispatched from Punjab to help the British forces fighting before Delhi to capture the historic city halted at Jagraon, the Sansis, Hermis, Bawarias, etc. counted the guns in the “Train” and, despite the best efforts of the district police to check them, supplied the intelligence to the rebel forces at Delhi.
“The lower orders and castes among the Hindus and Mohammedans” at his place, says the deputy commissioner of Ludhiana, “followed any casual leader that turned up and joined in promoting general disorder”.
According to the deputy commissioner of Sialkot, at his station “the menial servants were very generally implicated (in the revolt)”. At some places, where anti-Feringhee feeling was universally strong and deep, even such sections of the population who derived personal benefits from the British, and who were, for these reasons, on the side of the British almost everywhere, were not prepared to back their masters.
What about the Sikhs? They, too, were opposed to the British who had taken away their freedom, humiliated their Maharaja, and his mother, humbled their chiefs and sardars, insulted their religion and tradition, and ruined their economy and culture.
Even in the Sikh princely states, which were loyal to the British, the Sikh masses nursed a different sentiment, and, wherever they could, they sympathised with their countrymen fighting to destroy the Feringhee raj. The sentiment was so strong that, even some close kiths and kins of the Maharajas of Patiala and Nabha revolted against them for supporting “their enemies”.
On the north-western side, in the higher hills, the war-like Muslim tribes rose up and created a “people’s war” there. Most of these people did not know where Delhi was, but they stood under the flag of its Padshah, Bahadurshah and fought against the Feringhee fiercely. Their spirit was not the spirit of ordinary fighters. We saw them dancing in the face of certain death at Gogira and other places, report the British officials.
Contextually, there is an interesting story that brings home the truth clearly. There was a Swedish officer, Lieut. A.H. Lindin, who had taken part in suppressing the uprising for the British. He had no mind to write anything on the uprising. But when he saw the British writers circulating untruth, he wrote his memoirs to set the record straight. “It was not any lure of loot or attraction to lesser crime”, he wrote, “that prompted the Indians to participate in the uprising. Nobody can deny that the real stimulant of this uprising was with most people that most valuable, purest of all feelings, the love of freedom and of one’s own country”.
In this 150th year of the uprising, it seems appropriate that truth about the brilliant part of the people of Punjab in the uprising lying buried under the debris of falsehood be extricated, and presented in colours true to history.


Blogger Mai said...

I habitually address my Hindu friends as 'Mohammed' and 'Fatima' just to remind them of how it is that their ancestors were not forcibly converted to Islam. My ancestors fought and willingly died for the rights of all to have religious freedom.

In 1984, we found out how very grateful the Hindu nation is for our heroism. I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that there is no way for us to be treated with the dignity and respect which we deserve - have earned - within the Indian nation. Come to our blog and read our stories:

As to PM Manmohan Singh: it takes much more than a turban and the name Singh to make a person a real Sikh. Just my opinion.

1:21 PM, May 11, 2007  
Blogger Mai said...

I just read your profile. Do you really wish it were easy? Easier, possibly. But what would we learn, how would we grow, how much longer would we wander around Maya with 'easy'? Just a thought.

8:56 PM, May 11, 2007  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

I guess you are right, life would lose its meaning if things always came easy. Well, It is hard for someone like myself who could use more self-discipline. thanks!

4:13 PM, May 16, 2007  

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