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Rani of Jhansi caught in image war

Bundelas seek a ban on Rani by London-based author Jaishree Misra, reports Rajesh Kumar Singh. Age of Intolerance

india Updated: Feb 18, 2008 01:47 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times

Rani Laxmibai had an affair with Robert Ellis, the East India Company’s political agent in Jhansi. Her husband Raja Gangadhar Rao was impotent. The Rani and Ellis also made love in a Jhansi garden.

These ‘facts’ are ‘fiction', claim angry Bundelas, upset that their Rani’s image is being tarnished.

Political parties and social groups across Bundelkhand have come together and demanded a ban on the book Rani by London-based author Jaishree Misra. They have even secured an assurance from the Uttar Pradesh government that its sale and distribution will be banned in the state.

But the zealous protectors of the Rani’s image want more, and plan to take their protest to Delhi. Pradeep Jain Aditya, the Congress MLA from Jhansi who raised the ban demand in the Vidhan Sabha on Thursday, said a group of political leaders, intellectuals and social activists would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Shivraj Patil to seek a countrywide ban. “We have already shot off a letter to President Pratibha Patil for a ban on the book.”

“Misra has hurt Bundelas’ pride by distorting historical facts and tarnishing the character of Rani Laxmibai. Though Bundelkhand is in grip of drought for the last four years, still people have enough left in them to continue the movement till the government imposes ban on the book,” said Arvind Vasistha, of the Virangana Rani Andolan Sangharsh Samiti, who is heading the movement in Bundelkhand.

Historians Janki Sharan Verma and Veer Singh Parmar said Misra had distorted facts to gain popularity.

"Before her death she directed one of her commanders, Gul Mohammad Pathan, not to allow her body to fall in the hands of the British. How can she fall in love with the political agent of the East India Company?” Verma said. “Even after 150 years of Rani’s demise the people in Bundelkhand region swear by her name,” said Gopal Bhai leader of Bundelkhand Mukti Morcha.

Vasistha said the Samiti had lodged an FIR in Jhansi against Misra who is based in London.