Amroha and The Patriotic Uprising 1857

It was a bolt from the blue. Order to use Enfield rifle with the greased Cartridge did hurt deeply the feelings of both Muslims and Hindu soldiers. They refused to fire the bullet. The spark of the unfired bullet caused an explosion that ballooned up in the form of Mutiny 1857. Invariably it failed to change the course of history but added a glorious chapter of sacrifice, valor and love for the motherland.

On the 11 th day of May 1857, sixteenth of Ramadan, rebel soldiers from Meerut landed in Delhi and were joined by Delhi regiments. Soon the walled city of Delhi was on fire. The jubilant deserters  were furiously looking for their white masters and putting them to sword. This evening Delhi was in control of Indians. True, there was loot and plunder all over the Moughal capital. By midnight a 21- gun salute from Royal Moughal Cannon announced the restoration of Moughal Empire. Bhahdur Shah Zafar was declared as the Commander-in Chief of Rebel forces. It was a new dream – a beginning of a new end.

The ripples of rebellion reached the shores of Amroha by 12 th May. There were three British officers posted in Moradabad region namely C.B. Saunders – the magistrate, J.J. Compbell – Joint magistrate and J Cracroft Wilson – the judge. Gursahay Jat was the Nazir in Collector’s office. Mr. Wilson was there in Amroha for 17 years. He was well posted in local affairs.

Please note that this scribe, by no means, is trying to produce a scholarly document that would satisfy the masters of historiography. This narration may or may not conform to the merits of experts. It is a simple narration as I read and heard in my journey to explore my roots. It is a short story of valiant attempts of ordinary Amrohvis who fought against the most powerful state  upon earth of their time.

The ancient Moughal capital was under intense turmoil now. News of rebellion at capital had warmed the blood of simple denizens of Amroha. On 17 th May 1857, the descendants of Dewan Syed Mehmood and Durwesh Ali Khan Saheb called a meeting of important dignitaries of the town inside the Dargah of Syed Sharfuddin Shah Wilayat. Public  gathered patiently outside the wall of dargah to learn the decision made by 30 city fathers. Majority of leaders wanted to stand up against the Raj and capture the reins of local administration. Some participants advised to use discretion, wait and watch. The decision to rebel against the usurpers was taken by majority vote and the meeting called off. On 19 th May mutineers broke the central jail of Moradabad and freed all the prisoners. Syed Gulzar Ali was the proud leader and commander of Amroha-Uprising. He arrived at Amroha with a group of freed prisoners. People gathered at short notice in the courtyard of Syed Ramzan Ali (Mohalla Katra) to chalk out the future strategy. Another meeting followed at the residence of another Ramazan – Sheikh Ramazan Ali (Moh Darbar Kalan). The clarion call was made there. The die was cast. Amroha was now a city of rebellion. Meer Madad Ali  and Shahmat Khan were Thanedar and  Jamadar of police department respectively at that time.

The appeal of Syed Gulzar Ali inspired thousands of young men and an ill equipped army of amateur soldiers attacked the police station and Tehsil of the town. Seventeen thousand rupees were confiscated from the government treasury. Thana and Tehsil were razed and put on fire. Many police officers were gunned down. Their graves are still lying undisturbed opposite the building of Old Thana near Mohalla Kali Pagri. Amroha was now in the hands of mutineers. The town munsif Saad Ullah Khan was rescued by Ali Muzaffar Khan who brought him home with his office.

This uprising is also the story of our weakness, disunity and conflicting motivations. It is also  the story of ordinary mortals caught in an extraordinary situation. It is story of human greed. It is a story of Jaichands and Meer Jafers.

On 25 th May 1857, Wilson arrived with a strong force that ruthlessly crushed the nascent revolt. The leaders of local revolution had to beat the retreat. They went underground.  The houses of Syed Gulzar Ali and other freedom fighters were razed to ground. The dream of freedom ended in smoke.

Government promoted Gursahay Jat as Chief Administrator and Amroha was given in care of a  Rampur Royal Nawab Abdul Ali Khan to soften the bruised contours of proud Amrohvis. Gursahay was rewarded a big Jageer (11 villages) by British masters. He was given the title Raja and there after referred officially as Raja Gursahay.

What followed later was a bloody, vicious and awful suppression. Heaps of dead bodies scattered around the police stations and streets. Homes were broken down and sacked. The ordinary town folk were falling victims of British ire. It took another 90 tediously long years to write the new chapter.

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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