Trial & death of Tatya Tope
According to “Conflict of Evidence” written by an English writer, “after 1857, twelve persons of Tatya Tope’s family, including his father were kept in Gwalior Fort pending investigations into their intecedents. His mother Rukmini Bai and his sister Durga were among the prisoners. They were found to be innocent and were released. Ttatya Tope’s father and members of his family there upon came to Bithoor to settle there. Due to financial difficulties the family broke up; three bothers went away to Nepal. Another brother of Tatya Tope, Ramkrishna Panduran reached Baroda in search on employment. There he met the maharaja and said that he was the brother of Tatya Tope and wanted employment. The manahara apprehending trouble with the government, put the man before the Assistant Resident who took a written statement from him.
Of the questions the officers asked, one was, where is Tatya Tope these days? This was in 1862.
Now, when tatya Tope had been hanged in 1859, this question by a responsible officer would not have been asked if the man hanged was real tatya Tope.
The answer which ram Krishna rao had given to the Assistant Resident was significant. He had said: “I do not know. Since the time we separated from Tatya Tope, we have never met him not have heard about him.” If Tatya Tope was actually been hanged, the member of his family would not have been ignorant of his death.
Similarly, in 1862, when Rao Saheb, the brother of Nana Saheb, was being tried at Kanpur, this question was put to him. “Where is Tatya Tope these days? This question was also significant, having been put after the hanging of Tatya Tope three years back.
According to the procedure, which had been invariably adopted in the trial of mutineers and rebels the trial of Tatya Tope should have been held in Kanpur, the district of his residence. There was no need for his trial at shivpuri where he could not be properly identified. There was something suspicious about the whole affairs.
Khan Bahadur Khan, the revolutionary of Bareilly, was arrested in Nepal, but was tried at Bareilly. Rao saheb, the nephew of Nana Saheb, was apprehended in Kashmir, but tried at Kanpur. Moro Panth Tambey, the father of the Rani of Jhansi, was arrested in Datia, but was taken to Jhansi for trial. Jwala Prasad was surrendered himself in Nepal, but it was at Kanpur where his trial was held. Sita Ram, the son of Rango Bapuji, was brought to Satara for trial. Also, several other persons who had been arrested on the suspicion of being Nana Saheb were brought to Kanpur for identification.
Why then was Tatya Tope, who was arrested in the jungle of Peron, tried at Shivpuri and why he was not brought to Kanpur where he could have been properly identified?
All the leaders of the revolt who could be arrested by the government were prosecuted in the ordinary criminal courts of by special commissions. The case of Bahadur Shah Zafar and Rao Saheb are examples. Contrary to this , Tyatya Tope was court martialled. There was no need to make an exception in this case, but it was the intention of the authorities to hide certain matters from public attention. If he was prosecuted before an ordinary criminal court or before a special commission, the things which the authorities wished to hide would have been exposed.
The general belief that Tatya Tope was betrayed by Raja Man Singh is not free from suspicion. In the long statement which Tatya Tope maed after his capture it was clearly stated that prior to surrendering himself to the British, man Singh had made consultations with him (Tatya Tope). Further, the spies of Tatya Tope used to meet man Singh in the British Cantonment, where he was held. It is hardly possible to believe that the able and cautious Tatya Tope would so easily response complete confidence in a person like man Singh who was friendly with the British army officers and under their full control.
In the long statement of Tatya Tope there is no mention, direct or implied, of man Singh having betrayed him, nor are there any condemnatory remarks about him. If it was a fact that man Singh had betrayed Tatya Tope, then the latter would surely have said harsh thing about his former frien
After the surrender of Man Singh the British officers had given him a promise that if he could get Tatya Tope arrested government would use their influence with the Gwalior Darbar in getting back his jagir. But after the arrest and subsequent execution of Tatya Tope the British did not fulfill this promise. How could this be accounted for? If the person Man Singh got arrested was really Tatya Tope, then certainly the government would have got the ‘jagir’ returned to him as was done in the case of many other persons who had aided the British. The reason why this was not done in the case of Raja Man Singh is that the person who had been arrested through Man Singh was not the real tatya Tope.
Man Singh, who was in grate difficulties, was being helped by the British in order to induce him to secure the arrest of Tatya Tope because the latter could not be caught without the assistance of some person, such as Man Singh, who knew the whereabouts of Tatya Tope.
It was believed that Man Singh was shielding Tatya Tope from capture in the jungles of his former jagir. It was the conviction of the British Commanders that the militaryt forces alone could never apprehend Tatya Tope.
At that time General Napier and succeeded Sir Huge Rose to the command in the Central India, and the new officer began to think of plans to get on Tatya Tope. General Napier had under him Major Meade who was in charge of a cavalry regiment. Major Meade, in order to put pressure on Man Singh, arrested the ladies of his family. Man Singh was naturally anxious about the honour of his family and so he consulted Tatya Tope. Thus he (Man Singh) surrendered himself to the British as stated by Tatya Tope. In his statement Tatya Tope said that man Singh had consulted him before surrendering himself.
It was unthinkable that a brave and self-respecting person like Tatya Tope would have advised Man Singh to surrender. In the dilemma in which man Singh was placed he had to think out a way to save the ladies. So, it was settled between man Singh and Tatya Tope that the former should get the ‘double’ of Tatya Tope arrested and handed to the British so that the ladies could be released and at the same time the real Tatya Tope could also escape. There was no dearth of men in the camp of Tatya Tope who could sacrifice themselves for their beloved leader and one such person did actually come forward. And, it was who was the arrested by Major Meade, and hanged after a hurried trial.