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Bawani Imli: An unsung saga of the supreme sacrifice

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Suman Shekhar Rajhans
Suman Shekhar Rajhans
MA in JMC. Gallivanter. Epicure. History Buff. Mass Media Personnel.

India has always been a land of brave hearts. People since time immemorial have sacrificed themselves for the cause of Motherland. Some of them are remembered while some have been slowly erased from our history textbooks as well as memories. Here is one such tale of India’s only incident, where 52 revolutionaries were hanged together on a tree of Tamarind. Unfortunately, such a big event in history is still anonymous.

‘Bawani Imli’, a Famous tree, which also is a Martyr’s memorial located on the Mughal Road, 3 Kms West of the Tehsil headquarters near Khajua town in Bindki sub-division of Fatehpur District in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. On this tamarind tree on the 28th of April 1858, Braveheart Thakur Jodha Singh ‘Ataiya’ and his Fifty-one companions were hanged to death. The memorial is a symbol of the supreme sacrifice made by the freedom fighters. The Tamarind tree is still present at the spot and locals believe that after the massacre, the tree has stopped growing. This incident is also termed the 2nd Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

The Background

When in 1857, the Freedom struggle started in the Barrackpore Cantonment, its Echoes spread all over India. On 10th June 1857, revolutionaries in Fatehpur stepped in the same direction, led by Thakur Jodha Singh Attaiya. These Heroes took over Fatehpur’s court and treasury in a short period. The fire of Freedom was ignited in the mind of Jodha Singh Atiya after he made a friendly relationship with Tatya Tope. To liberate the motherland, these two fought together against the British on the banks of the Pandu River. After a fierce face-to-face battle, the British army fled the field.

The flames of Jodha Singh’s mind did not calm. On 27th October 1857, he burnt an English inspector in Mahmudpur village. On 7th December 1857, he attacked the Gangapar Ranipur police station. Jodha Singh organized the revolutionaries of Awadh and Bundelkhand and captured Fatehpur.

Seeing the convenience of transportation, the revolutionaries made Khajua their centre. On the information of a traitorous informer, Colonel Powell going from Prayag to Kanpur attacked this place. Colonel Powell wanted to break this fort, but Jodha Singh’s plan was infallible. He resorted to guerrilla warfare, whereby Colonel Powell was killed.

The British sent a new batch of the army under the leadership of Colonel Neil. This caused the revolutionaries great losses. But even after this, the morale of Jodha Singh did not decrease. He planned a fresh army organization, armaments and money collection drive. For this, they started migrating in disguise, but it has been a misfortune of this country that along with heroes, traitors also flourished. When Jodha Singh was returning to Khajua after consulting with the King of Argal, he was surrounded by the British cavalry near Ghorha village on the lead of an informer. After a short struggle, Jodha Singh was imprisoned along with 51 revolutionaries.

On 28th April 1858, he was hanged along with 51 of his comrades at the Tamarind tree on Mughal Road. But the barbarity of the British did not stop. The British made an announcement, “Whoever takes the body from the tree will also be Hung from the same tree.”

The dead bodies hung from the trees for 37 days. At last, Maharaja Bhavani Singh on the 4th of June, 1858 brought down the bodies from the tree and cremated them. That Tamarind tree situated between Bindki and Khajua is remembered today, as a martyr memorial.

About Thakur Jodha Singh

Thakur Jodha Singh belonged to the Rajput caste. He was a resident of the Ataiya Rasulpur village in the Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh. This village is at a distance of about 80 kilometres from Kanpur. His father Thakur Bhawani Singh was a prominent landlord of the district. It is said that Jodha Singh was greatly influenced by Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi. He took part in the 1857 revolution against the British as a close associate of Thakur Daryao Singh, the rebel leader of the Fatehpur district. He resorted to guerrilla warfare to defeat the Britishers. Troubled by all his misadventures against the government, the British declared Jodha Singh Ataiya a dacoit. His entire property was confiscated by the Britishers.

Thakur Jodha Singh Ataiya statue at Bawan Imli Memorial

Unsung Martyrs

Names of all the 52 martyrs have been engraved on 3 stone tablets and installed on the martyr memorial campus. Their names are as follows:

Sri Binda Singh, Bansi Dhar, Bidya Sagar, Bacchalal, Baldev Prasad, Badri Prasad, Bhagwan Deen, Madan Mohan, Chote Lal, Chaita, Durga, Girdhari Lal, Gaya Deen, Guljari, Gajodhar Prasad, Hari Prasad, Jagannath, Jai Ram Singh, Kallu Singh, Kadhai Lal, Sri Kedarnath Singh, Lacchua, Mannu Lal, Manbodhan, Mukund, Mathura, Manbodhan 2, Madan Mohan 2, Manni, Gajanand, Parag Narayan, Panna Lal, Prabhu Dayal, Phulmati, Ramdutt, Raghunandan, Raghunandan 2, Ramdas, Raja Ram, Shivnayak Singh, Shiv Narayan, Sohan Lal, Shiv Narayan 2, Shankar, Shiv Dutt, Shiv Shankar, Siddhagopal, Surajdeen, Yadunandan Prasad, Raghunandan Singh, Jodha Singh Ataiya.

Stone tablet with Martyrs name

Today our identity is attached as a ‘free nation’, but to achieve this recognition our freedom fighters dealt with the Britishers for almost 200 years. In this long struggle, the soil of our beloved country produced many heroes. Unfortunately, the names of only a few of these heroes have been recognised. Many unsung freedom fighters sacrificed their lives for the country but their names have been lost in the pages of history.

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Suman Shekhar Rajhans
Suman Shekhar Rajhans
MA in JMC. Gallivanter. Epicure. History Buff. Mass Media Personnel.
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