The 150th anniversary of the first war of Indian Independence has been celebrated in the recent months. But what about the 150th anniversary of the Sepoy Mutiny? Should not the “valour” and “steely resolve” displayed by the British soldiers who crushed the rebellious natives be celebrated too? A group of Britons paid a brief visit here on Wednesday to do just that.
Meerut was a nerve centre of the 1857 uprising. It was here that the ‘Dilli Chalo’ call was first given by rebellious Indian soldiers who refused to literally bite the bullet.
Now, 150 years later, 19 members of the 60th Queen’s Royal Rifles — among the units which had held the fort at Meerut then — arrived carrying a stone plaque which they wanted to put up at St. John’s Church. The church stands on the periphery of the parade ground where Indian soldiers had revolted.
“To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the bravery and distinguished service of the First Battalion, the 60th, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps at Meerut and Delhi...,” the plaque read.
But their objective was not fulfilled. “The bishop denied them permission and told the group to take the plaque back,” said Narendra Singh Patel, additional DM, Meerut City. “The 60th QRR was one of the regiments that led the massacre of native soldiers,” said K.D. Sharma, a noted city historian. “Trying to put up this plaque was an insult to Indians.”