Jallianwala a picnic in comparison to backlash of 1857 uprising, says Dalrymple
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Jallianwala a picnic in comparison to backlash of 1857 uprising, says Dalrymple

Debate continues on whether it was the mutiny of 1857 or the first war of Independence.

punjab Updated: Dec 09, 2017 13:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Jallianwala,William Dalrymple,Jallianwala Bagh massacre
(From left) Maj Gen BS Grewal (retd), Mani Mugdha Sharma and Scottish writer-historian William Dalrymple during Military Literature Festival at the Lake Club in Chandigarh on Friday. (Anil Dayal/HT)

Scottish writer-historian William Dalrymple described the backlash of the 1857 mutiny as the worst massacre in the British colonial history, adding that the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that is mentioned so often was nothing but a picnic compared to it.

The author who has penned the books 'The Last Mughal' and 'White Mughals’ was the star speaker at the session '1987 — First War of Independence' at the ongoing Military Literature Festival here on Friday evening.

Dalrymple said the British Mutiny Papers in the National Archives at New Delhi make no mention of Indian heroes like the Rani of Jhansi, Tantia Tope and only a marginal mention of Mangal Pandey who he said were a part of a new-spun nationalist mythology.

"It was Veer Sarvarkar, founder of the Rashtriya Sevak Sangh (RSS) who gave it the name of the first war of Independence as late as 1910.”

He added that the first attacks of the sepoys in revolt were on the Indian Christian community living around the Darya Ganj area in Delhi.

The author is now writing a book called 'The Anarchy', which focusses on the East India Company and its role in colonising India. The session was introduced by Sukhmani Bal Riar, chairperson of the department of history, Panjab University, on how the uprising of 1857 still remained a mutiny for many, but Indian and Pakistani historians described it as the First War of Independence. She added that the subject was still open to more research.

Abhimanyu Singh Arha, a Rajasthan historian, spoke of the monument built to commemorate the people who revolted in Auwa tehsil in his state and said more research work was required. Journalist Manimugdha S Sharma laid emphasis on the repeated uprisings that led to 1857 and mentioned the 1978 Shyam Benegal's film 'Junoon' starring Shashi Kapoor, which captured the merciless deaths that followed to India and the poignant capturing of the spirit of the uprising.

The session was anchored by Maj Gen BS Grewal, who also read a poem celebrating the popular heroes of the revolt. Dalrymple also read a poem by Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal, addressed to Begum Zeenat Mahal in an English translation. He lauded the intellectual leanings of Zafar whose time gave great poets like Mirza Ghalib and Ustad Zauq.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 13:45 IST