Press Statements

Join ‘Mangal Pandey March’ to Build a New, Anti-Fascist Nationalism

Hit the Streets against Anti-National Lynch Mobs!

Hail the Revolutionary Legacy of 1857!

Join us on 10th May 2017 in Lucknow For the ‘Mangal Pandey March’!

This is the only way to save innocent lives in the current atmosphere!

Perspective 1857

We all know about 1857, India’s first Independence war. 

10th May 2017 marks the 160th anniversary of the event. 

But it is a devastating anomaly that after 70 years of independence we still have gravestones and plaques that celebrate the infamous deeds perpetuated by British officers on us Indians in 1857.

Based on 19th century labour records, I calculated in my two-volume book 'War of Civilizations: India 1857 AD', that during 1857 wars, which went on till 1867, around 10 million Indians were killed. 

But Awadh, which saw some of the deadliest battles, lost 25 lakhs, or one fourth, of its population.   

From July 1857, Lucknow and Awadh remained free from British rule for 10 months.

The British could take Lucknow only in March 1858. Lucknow battles were particularly bloody.  Tens and thousands of Indians embraced martyrdom. But the British too lost several officers… Particularly, four of their very best...

The story of these four officers and their graves encapsulates a campaign for the remaking of contemporary India

First the names...

Who were these officers?

1. Henry Lawrence:

As commissioner of Awadh (Oude), in Lucknow, Henry Lawrence was considered number 2 in the British hierarchy just below the then Governor General Canning.

In reality, Lawrence was a cold-bloodied racist.

He was one of the first British personalities to articulate modern communalism.  In a 12th May, 1857 speech to Hindu Talukedars, Lawrence said:

“…Under Mohameddan rule Hindus were taxed and slaughtered and converted by violence and force -- bullock’s flesh was crammed down their throats…”

Then turning to Muslims he said:

“…in the Punjab, under Sikhs…the blood of pigs was spilt over the tombs and mosques of the faithful…”

After the civil uprisings in Lucknow in May and June 1857, Lawrence leveled the area between Macchi Bhawan (today’s KGMC) and the British Residency. Several Maulavis, Pandits and ordinary citizens were killed. Lawrence began a spate of hangings near Akbari Gate for 20 days at a stretch. Each day, five members of a caste-social group were hanged. So if one day, five Shias were hanged, next day five Sunnis met the same fate. Brahmins living in Rani Katra were also killed. Hindu and Muslim traders came next. Then, Lawrence picked sweepers and laborers and had them flogged and hanged.

On 30th June 1857, at Ismailpur-Chinhat on Faizabad-Lucknow road, Lawrence suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Indian army. On 4th July 1857 he died due to injuries and a cannon ball shot by the Indian army. Lawrence was buried in the British Residency complex.

2. Major General Henry Havelock:

Havelock was a veteran of many battles. In August 1857 he tried taking Lucknow from Kanpur, several times—but peasant fighters consistently beat and pushed him back from Unnao, a district lying between Kanpur and Lucknow.

Havelock committed numerous atrocities while suppressing the uprising in Allahabad, Fatehpur and Kanpur. He hanged people left, right and centre. Nearly all trees lining the Grand Trunk Road had corpses in a row. Havelock also started the practice of running rollers over women and children. He said he “wanted to set an example”.  Finally, Indian army brave-hearts killed Havelock on 24th November 1857 during the second ‘relief of Lucknow’. The British buried him at Alambag, Lucknow. 

3. Brigadier General Neill:

Neill was famous for his ruthless behavior, killing of civilians and religious fervor. He was one of the most feared British officers the world over. At Allahabad, Neill killed systematically more than 500 people a day. He had fixed a target. Then, in Kanpur, on 25th July 1857 Neill passed an official order that made it mandatory for Hindus to be stuffed with beef and Muslims with pork before being hanged.

On 25th September 1857 Neill was marked out by Indian army warriors and killed at what is today known as the ‘Neill gate’ near the old High Court campus.  Neill was buried inside the British Residency Complex.

4. William Stephen Raikes Hodson:

Hodson was a respected military adventurer. His terror tactics were famous. From 14th September to 21st September 2017, Hodson put to death more than one thousand Indian civilians alone in Delhi. Hodson also killed the unarmed sons of Bahadur Shah Zafar.  On 11th march 1858 during the final assault on Lucknow, he was marked out and killed by Indian army soldiers.  The British buried Hodson inside the La Martiniere school complex.

British Memory and Lucknow

In British memory, Lucknow and Avadh are special. These were areas that resisted Imperialism till the last.

To humiliate Indians, people of Awadh, and Lucknow in particular, the Union Jack was flown even at night at the British Residency in Lucknow. This practice was not followed anywhere else in the British Empire. 

Indians too did not forget their humiliation. During the 1942 Quit India movement, freedom fighters attacked the British Residency, which housed the graves of Henry Lawrence and Brigadier Neill. They also raided Havalock’s grave at Alambag. An attempt was made to storm Hodsons grave lying within the La Martiniere complex. On 15th August, 1947, Indians again tried to storm the Residency complex in Lucknow. But Govind Ballabh Pant, the then Uttar Pradesh CM stopped them…

1857 Nationalist Forum

We in Awadh and Lucknow have decided to pick up the threads left by people of Lucknow and Avadh in 1947.  We have formed 1857 Rashtravaadi Manch or 1857 Nationalist Forum. The forum has started a political campaign called Rashtriya Apmaan Virodhi Abhiyaan (RAVA)…

RAVA shall implement a year-long plan aimed at reviving the lost feeling of 1857 nationalism--a current belonging equally to Hindus, Muslims and all castes, communities of India, a trend that carries forward and celebrates the revolutionary traditions of the Indian army and the peasantry, a movement that will once again unify India as a prosperous power en route to acquiring superpower status. RAVA rejects concepts of both Hindu Rashtra and traditional secularism.

RAVA upholds the 1857 ideology of Deen and Dharma functioning as the common meeting point of all religious creeds of the Indian subcontinent—Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists—hamare mazhab aur pooja paddhatee alag ho saktee hain, par hamara Deen (inner sense of righteousness)  aur Dharma (inner sense of duty) ek hai

RAVA affirms that Sikhs, even Anglo-Indian Christians, participated in the war of 1857 against the British. 1857 also was a continental phenomenon covering all areas of South -- and parts of West and South-East -- Asia. 

Thus, RAVA vows to put India back into the superpower league of the Maurya, Gupta and Mughal empires.

The New Campaign

Beginning May 2017, 1857 Rashtravaadi Manch (1857 Nationalist Forum) will launch a series of programmes as part of RAVA in three phases.

The first phase will extend from 10th May 2017 to 9th August 2017.

The second phase shall start from 15th August 2017 and stretch upto September 2017.

The third phase shall cover the period from October 2017 to May 2018.

The First Phase

The first phase shall start by asking UP Government to address the problem of offensive plaques of British officers in the Awadh and lower Doab region of  Uttar Pradesh, covering the districts of Lucknow, Faizabad (Ayodhya), Barabanki, Gonda, Bahraich, Shrawasti, Balrampur, Lakhimpur-Kheri, Sitapur, Unnao, Hardoi, Amethi, Rae-Bareilly, Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Kanpur Nagar, Kanpur Dehat, Fatehpur, Kaushambi and Allahabad.

The Second Phase

The second phase shall expand to the rest of Uttar Pradesh: middle and upper Doab, West UP, Bundelkhand, Rohilkhand and Poorvanchal.

The Third Phase

Beginning from Mumbai, the third phase shall cover all states of India: the entire North-East, South, East, West and Central India...

At some point in future, the movement will ask the British to issue an apology and give compensation for the atrocities they committed during their colonial rule…   

From 3rd to 10th May, in the first phase, RAVA will ask UP government to place new plaques representing the indigenous, Indian perspective, besides adulatory plaques on the graves of four British officers in Lucknow...

Samples of what we want

Summary of what is written on the grave of Henry Lawrence:

“In the memory of Major General Sir Henry Lawrence and the brave men who fell in defense of the Residency…”

What we want written from an Indian, nationalist perspective: 

“Here lies the grave of Henry Lawrence, a cruel officer of British Imperial army, who hanged thousands of innocent civilians. He was wounded by brave Indian peasant Sepoys who defeated him on 30th June 1857 in the battle of Chinhat. Lawrence was the communal, autocratic, imperialist who was in favour of pitting Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs against each other to perpetuate British rule. He failed…”

Summary of what is written on Hodson’s grave:

“William Stephen Raikes Hodson  Captain…Major and commandant of Hodson’s horse, fell in the Final assault at Lucknow March 11th 1858…”

What we want written from an Indian, nationalist perspective:

“Here lies the grave of coward Captain Hodson. From 14th to 21st September 1857 he killed more than 500 unarmed men, women and children in Delhi. He shot unarmed sons of Bahadur Shah Zafar at point blank. He also committed numerous atrocities against Jats, Gujars, Mewatis, Muslims, Sainis, Dalits and OBCs—he was finally marked out and killed by brave Indian warriors at Begam Kothi, Hazratganj, Lucknow on 11th march 1857.”

Summary of what is written on Major General Havelock’s grave: 

“British Army and Knight Commander of the Bath. Who died at Dilkhoosha, Lucknow produced by the hardships of a campaign in which he achieved immortal fame on the 24th November 1857. It was the aim of his life to prove that the profession of the Christian is consistent with the fullest discharge of the duties of a soldier.”

What we want written from an Indian, nationalist perspective:

“Henry Havelock was a cruel British officer. He hanged thousands of innocent civilians between June to September 1857 in Varanasi, Allahabad, Fatehpur, Kanpur and Unnao. He lined the GT Road with corpses. He burned hundreds of villages. Indians still suffer from the trauma Havelock left behind. He was justly wounded by Indian freedom fighters and later died on 24th November in Lucknow.”     

Summary of what is written on Brigadier Neill’s grave:

“This monument is erected over the remains of the late Brigadier General Neill by the surviving officers of the regiment…as a mark of esteem for their late comrades and in remembrance of their noble example and glorious deeds.”

What we want to be written on this grave from an Indian, nationalist perspective:

“Brigadier Neill was a bloodthirsty British officer. He transcended Jallianwala Bagh tragedy thousand times over. He made Indians lick blood before they were hanged. He blew Indians from the mouth of cannons. He officially dispensed with trial etc and ordered the mass killing of anyone who looked `brown’. Neill is a blot on the name of humanity. Brave Indian warriors killed him on 25th September 1857…”

‘Mangal Pandey March’ on 10th May 2017

Mangal Pandey was the first peasant-sepoy to pick up the gun against British Imperialism. Under his banner, on 10th May, 2017, the 1857 Rashtravaadi Manch or the 1857 Nationalist Forum shall march on Hodson’s grave in La Martiniere, Lucknow to erect the Indian version besides the original, British plaque.

Future Programmes

* On 27th June 2017 RAVA will celebrate Kanpur Vijay Diwas.

* On 30th June 2017 RAVA will organize Chinhat Vijay Diwas.

* On 5th July RAVA 2017 will organize Begum Hazrat Mahal Diwas in Lal Baradari, Lucknow.

* On 2nd August RAVA 2017 will organize Ayodhya Shaheed Mela to commemorate the martyrdom of Mahant Ramchandra Das, Maulavi Amir Ali, Pandit Shambhu Shukla and Achchan Khan, 4 Hindu-Muslim figures who died fighting hand in hand at Kuber Teela, in Ayodhya, Faizabad.

* Programs in Allahabad, Fatehpur, Kaushambhi, and the districts of Awadh including Ayodhya all through June and July shall create awareness of RAVA's 9th August 2017 mega-program: march on Lucknow Residency, which houses the graves of other major British officers.

Conclusion

RAVA aims at bringing back the peace, economic certainties, social harmony, rule of law, justice, wisdom and civilized behavior Indians yearn for…

With the Indian peasantry and the Indian army at its core, RAVA will strive to build a great, strong, unified India…fight the ideology of lynch mobs and hate by all means available…revive the indigenous discourse in India...support resistance movements against Imperialism...

RAVA will give alternatives in economic, cultural and political policy, penal code structure, representative and participatory democracy, ecology, gender issues…

Everyone is free to join RAVA…we are not taking the support of any Government or NGO. We want to create a new nationalist cadre of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, Leftists, as well as Nehruvians, Lohiaites, Ambedkarites, followers of Jai Prakash Narayan, Periyar, Sri Narayan Guru, Sant Kabir, Raidas, Dadu, Gorakhnath and other Bhakti and Sufi saints.

We are dependant totally on the support of the citizens of India… This program is being funded entirely by friends and well wishers of the cause…

Cash/Cheque/PayTM or direct expense payments accepted…small donations, even symbolic Rs. 100, are more than welcome...the idea is to reach as many people as possible...this is a mass movement...

We are organizing this only through small donations...and against tremendous odds...opposition parties are afraid...they are asking us to bell the cat first...we have the strength...but lack resources...if our effort fails only due to lack of resources it will be our collective failure...more lives will be lost...I am putting my life on line here...but I think about  the peasant toiling out there, the army Jawan giving up his life, the youth giving up his dreams...women fighting for gender justice, the Muslim/Christian/Sikh/poor Hindus giving up hope...and I become strong again...

You can contact me directly on...
91-9910924012
91-7317062567
misra.amaresh#gmail.com   
 
Amaresh Misra
National Convener,
1857 Nationalist Forum/1857 Rashtravaadi Manch

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