The great Indian revolt of 1857 was actually our first war of independence. It was an attempt to overthrow the yoke of British colonial exploitation. Though this failed but succeeded in igniting the fire of liberty and freedom in the hearts and minds of Indians. This was nurtured by the succeeding generations and finally gave us our independence in 1947.
The then prevailing situation prompted the great revolt as resentment was brewing in every nook and corner of the country. British imperialism was gradually strengthening its deadly grip over India. The increasing imports from factories of England were causing irreversible damage to Indian products. India was being reduced to the status of a supplier of raw materials and docile consumer of British products. Agriculture was in doldrums because of backbreaking burden of taxes. Famines became a recurring feature. Indian princely sates were being annexed one by one on this or that excuse. The last Mogul king was reduced to a prisoner who was counting his days and sustaining himself on the pension provided by the East India Company. His edicts did not run beyond the walls of Red Fort. Evangelism by Christian missionaries was causing resentment and heart burning among both Hindus and Muslims. The British were eagerly waiting for the death of the old and powerless king to capture Delhi, the capital of Hindustan.
Mutiny in Meerut provided the first spark for the great revolt, which was crushed with an iron hand and savage force. Lakhs of fighters and civilians were executed and massacred in cold blood. Thousands including the last Mogul king were tried by the military courts and thrown behind bars or exiled. Confiscation of properties and all other repressive measures were employed on a large scale in the cruellest possible manner.
Because the Muslims were in the forefront of this struggle they bore the brunt of British tyranny and were victimised and marginalized in a planned way after the revolt.
Now, 150 years after this First War of Independence we Indians are remembering the sacrifices rendered by those courageous souls. Radiance Viewsweekly is proud to present this special issue to pay its sincere tributes to the heroes who challenged the might of British Empire. They fought valiantly, did not flinch, did not think about saving their own lives and thought only about the future of their motherland. Had they not risen, taken arms and set a glorious example, the Indian wombs would have given birth to slaves only. It is because of their sacrifices that we are able to proudly raise our heads, stand on our feet and proclaim our independence. They laid down their lives, faced untold hardships and sacrificed the future of their families. They have written the brightest chapter of Indian history by their sweat and blood. As long as the spirit of freedom is alive India would remain indebted to them for their patriotism, sense of sacrifice and courage. It is because of their selfless sacrifices that we the 110-crore strong Indians are able to breathe as free men and women and enjoy the fruits of freedom and progress.
It is unfortunate that the dominant role played by Muslim rulers, Ulema, scholars and commoners is being downplayed by certain prejudiced elements known for their communal paranoid vision. It is high time that we bring to the notice of common Indian citizens the praiseworthy role played by the Muslims, the sacrifices rendered and hardships braved by them for their motherland.
On this occasion we remember and pray for Bahadur Shah Zafar, Maulvi Ahmedullah Shah, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Rani Laxmi Bai, Azmatullah Khan, Tantya Tope, Nana Rao, General Bakht Khan, Prince Feroz Shah, Maulana Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi and scores of other leaders and lakhs of those unmentioned unnamed and unknown fighters and mujahideen who challenged the might of British empire and laid the foundations of Indian freedom. May their souls rest in peace and may we succeed in building a peaceful and prosperous India whose people are not subservient to anyone other than God, and who, as citizens of this free country, establish the rule of law and justice for one and all here and also play their role as standard bearers of justice throughout the world.¨