Sunday, September 5, 2010

Indian Martyrs & Their Descendants

Where are the descendants of the legendary Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi? Historians and artists of the period immortalised the young heroine of the first war of independence of 1857, who fought valiantly against the British on the horse while tightly strapping her adopted son Damodar Rao to her back. While Laxmibai was martyred, there was no recorded account of whether Damodar Rao survived the war or not?

However, researchers working on more than 400-page first ever pictorial coffee-table book “Indian Martyrs & Their Descendants – 1857-1947,” claimed that Damodar Rao did survive the war and they even traced Rao's third generation descendant’s living in anonymity in India.

Manikarnika Tambe, a daughter of priest in court of Peshwa Bajirao at Bithoor married Raja Gangadhar Rao of Jhansi and became Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi. When Gangadhar Rao died, the British annexed Jhansi Estate under the Doctrine of Lapse and aggrieved by this, Rani Laxmibai joined the rebels in the first war of independence in1857 and was martyred in the struggle and immortal in history.

Damodar Rao lives on as a small footnote in history of India and in popular imagination as a little boy tied to a fearless heroine’s back, and the historians also ignored to find out his next generation. He lived the rest of his days in penury begging the British government to restore to him some of his rights without avail.

The book, compiled and edited by
Delhi journalist couple Neena Jha and Shivnath Jha, is being published under the aegis of “Andolan Ek Pustak Se” of Bismillah:The Beginning Foundation to rehabilitate Jeet Singh and his family. Jeet Singh is the third generation descendants of martyr Udham Singh living in anonymity and penury in Sangrur district. The family is engaged in a construction company for their livelihood.

Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Udham Singh had killed 76-year-old General Dwyer at Caxton Hall in London in March 1940 to take avenge of the Jallianwala massacre in which hundreds of innocent, helpless and unarmed people including women and children were killed.
The book comprises the descendants of more than 35 martyrs of 1857 and 1947 martyrs, including Rani Laxminbai,  Tatya Tope, Thakur Durga Singh, Azimullah Khan,, Jaipal Singh (who fought with Babu Kunwar Singh in Bihar), Mangal Pandey, Jabardast Khan and Surendra Sai during 1857 mutiny and Udham Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Matangini Hazra, Ashfaqukkah Khan, Khudiram Bose, Bhagat Singh, Satyendranath Bose, Ras Behari Bose, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Rajguru, Surya Sen, Batukeshwar Dutt, Baikunth Shukla, Bal Mukund, Avadh Behari, Amir Chand, Basant Biswal, Kushal Knowar, Bhaga Jatin, Chapekar brothers, Mahadev Ranade, Bazi Rout and others who laid their lives during the wars of independence (1857-1957).

Besides others, the grandson of Jatindranath Mukherjee alias Bagha Jatin, the founders of the Anushilan Samiti in 1900, and leader of Jugantar group of revolutionaries, Dr. Prithvindra Mukherjee has written a piece on his grand father. Dr. Mukherjee, who lives in Paris, also sent several priceless pictures for the book.

It will be the third attempt of the couple to rehabilitate descendants of the forgotten heroes from the proceeds of the books. Earlier, they have identified, rescued and rehabilitated Vinayak Rao Tope, the fourth generation descendants of frontline leader of 1857 mutiny Tatya Tope (who were virtually begging on the street of Bithoor in Kanpur) and Sultana begum, the great granddaughter-in-law of India’s last emperor and commander-in-chief of 1857 mutiny Bahadur Shah Zafar living in a slum in Howrah.

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