Freedom Fighters
  Mahatma Gandhi
  Bal Gangadhar Tilak
  Sardar V Patel
  Bhagat Singh
  Ramaprasad Bismil
  Khudiram Bose
  Ashfaqulla Khan
  Madame Cama
  Tatia Tope
  Chandrasekhar Azad
  Subhash Chandr Bose
  Veer Savarkar
  Maulana Abul Kalam
  Lal Bahadur Shastri
  Jawaharlal Nehru
  Gopal Krishna Gokhale
  Aurobindo Ghose
  Dadabhai Naoroji
  Dr. Rajendra Prasad
  Sarojini Naidu
  Sucheta Kriplani

  Tenali Ramakrishna
  Bankim Chandra

  Purandara Dasa
  Kanaka Dasa
  Vijaya Dasa
  Muthuswami Dikshita
  Bhadrachala Ramadas
  Sant Tukaram

  Sanskrit Poets
  Veda Vyasa

Freedom Fighters:  Tatia Tope


A hero of the fight for freedom in 1857. His very name made the mighty English 
generalís tremble. Deceived by his friend, he faced death like a hero, for the sake of his country. 

Author - K.Shripaty Sastry

Tatia Tope 

The British troops had pitched their tents on the parade grounds near the fort of Shivpuri, 75 miles from Gwalior. The day was April 18, 1859. It was 4 o'clock in the afternoon. A smiling, charming prisoner was brought out of the prison. 

His hands and feet were chained. Under guard he was taken to the hangman's post. He had been condemned to death. The prisoner stepped towards the post fearlessly. There was no hesitation as he stepped upon the platform. It was the custom to cover the eyes of the condemned man with a scarf. When soldiers stepped forward with the scarf, he smiled and made signs to say, 'I don't need all this.' Nor did he allow the hands and feet to be bound. He himself put the noose around his neck. The rope was tightened. Then, at last, there was a pull.... 

In a moment it was all over. 

It was a heart-rending scene, which moved the whole country to tears. The man who was hanging lifeless on the gallows of the English was no criminal. He was not a thief, he was no cutthroat. He was the Supreme commander in the War of Indian Independence, which, in 1857, had challenged the hold of the British over India. It was he who, more than anybody else, shook the mighty British Empire to its foundations. Holding aloft the flag of freedom, he sought to break the chains of slavery and fought the military might of the English heroically. His name was Tatia Tope, a household word for bravery.

Nana Sahebís Right Hand 

Tatia Tope was born in 1814, the son of Panduranga Pant. Panduranga Pant belonged to Yewale, a small place near Nasik. He had eight children; the second was Raghunath. It was this boy who later became famous in the War of Indian Independence as 'Tatia Tope'. 

Peshwa Baji Rao the Second of Poona was then the ruling chief of the Marathas. Panduranga Pant was a respected member of his court. Occasionally the boy Tatia used to accompany his father during his visits to the Peshwa. It was not long before the smart boy with expressive eyes attracted the attention of the Peshwa. Impressed by the brilliance of the boy, The Peshwa decorated him with a 'topi' (cap) bright with jewels. 'Tatia' is a term of affection in Marathi. Those near and dear to Raghunath used to call him Tatia. Since the Peshwa presented the 'topi' it became his life-long companion. So he came to be called Tatia Tope and the name stuck to him to the last. 

By that time the English had become supreme in India. Those who came six thousand miles as merchants soon threw away the scales and took over the scepter; they became rulers and masters. The kings and princes of India were quarrelling among themselves. It became easy for the British to set one against the other. The British conquered territory after territory. Crowns rolled in the dust. Kingdoms fell like a pack of cards. The conquest of the whole of India was the much-cherished dream of the English. But the Marathas refused to yield to the British might. They kept there the arm that carried freedom. They were the swords for India. 

But the English were not disheartened. They were biding their time. It was not long before such a day arrived. By 1800 death had snatched away many Maratha heroes and statesmen. A week and pleasure -loving man like Baji Rao the Second became the Peshwa. Wisdom had departed. Greed and jealousy corrupted the people's minds. Many joined hands with the English. They were on the road to ruin. As a result, the Marathas were totally defeated in their war against the English in 1818. Unfortunate India stood humbled as slavery gripped her. 

The defeated Peshwa surrendered his kingdom to the English in exchange for an yearly pension of eight lakh rupees. He moved to Brahmavarta near Kanpur to live a life of retirement. Many Maratha families followed him to this place. So did the loyal Panduranga Pant. The boy Tatia Tope followed his father. All who were Tatia Tope's playmates in Brahmavarta later won deathless fame in the War of Independence. 

The most important of them was Nana Saheb, the adopted son of Baji Rao the Second, and later the brain behind the revolutionary war of 1857. His nephew was there, Rao Saheb. During the revolution Rao Saheb was to accompany Tatia Tope like a shadow in all his military exploits. Then there was a little gid Manu, the daughter of Moropant Tambe, a loyal Courtier of the Peshwa. The radiant girl was affectionately called 'Chabili',the same girl ho was to dazzle the country and the enemies later as 'Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi'. Brahmavarta was the home of such great little ones. 

There were teachers to educate the children. They were bound to one another in childhood affection, played games of war and learnt their lessons in sword-play and horse-riding together. Tatia Tope soon mastered the arts of war. 

After the death of Baji Rao the Second in 1851, Nana Saheb became the Peshwa. He had a strong sense of self-respect and a deep love of freedom. He wanted to wash away the shame of slavery. No sooner had he become the Peshwa than he picked up the sword, which his father had abandoned in 1818. To regain the lost empire and to avenge its loss was the one single thought that occupied Nana's mind. Tatia Tope was he companion, trusted friend and adviser. They shared the same dream.

To Dispel the Darkness of Slavery

The fall of the Marathas enabled the British to become supreme in India. They adopted all methods, fair or foul, to build up their empire. They paid little heed to the feelings of the people. With the arrival of Lord Dallhouse as the new Governor General, the map of India changed completely. He robbed the Indian Princes of their kingdoms on one pretext or another. Yet his hunger for land was not satisfied.

Moreover Christian missionaries had begun to come in large numbers. Theyíre one aim was to convert the people of India to their own faith, somehow or the other. Backed by their own Government they had none to fear.

The British gobbled up quite a number of states. It was not only small states that they grabbed; even the Mogul Emperor was brushed aside. The Nawab of ouch was pulled down and his kingdom forcibly taken away.Refusing to recognize the right of adoption, Dallhouse took over Jhansi also.

Then came Nana Saheb's turn.ThePeshwa was to be paid a pension of Rupees 8 lakhs; Dalhousie took it away with the excuse that Nana Saheb was only an adopted son. Nana Saheb was already boiling with rage at the many wrongs done by the arrogant British. Now insult was added to injury.

Tatia Tope staked his very life and fought untiringly to the very end, to drive the English out of this land. Why? What had he lost? He had no kingdom to lose and no pension to forfeit. Still he hated the British. Not because he himself had lost anything but because the country he loved had lost her freedom. To him his country was dearer than heaven.

Indeed the whole country was burning with discontent. The people were enraged. They were prepared to sacrifice their lives and all for the cause of Swaraj and Swadharma, rather than sit silent in slavery. Not even the armies and the guns of the British frightened them. The country was ripe for a revolution.

Nana Saheb Peshwa rose to the occasion. He recognized the fire that raged in the hearts of the people.He sought to translate into action the eagerness of his country men to fight for freedom. Tatia Tope was his right-hand man. The British were strong in India; what was the source of this strength? Of course, army the army in which Indians fought for the British! Nana Saheb and Tatia Tope tried to fill theminds of the Idian soldiers with patriotic ideals. To sow the seeds of the war to come, they got into touch with the regiments. Promi- nent princes were also secretly sounded in order to draw them into the war. The flaming message of the revolution spread. Bahadur Shah of Delhi, Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, Kunwar Singh of Jagadishpur and many others assumed the leadership of the war. Tatia Tope would be the Commander-in-Chief of the Peshwa. The Sepoys of every regiment were deter- mined to rise in revolt. The hands that once used to salute the foreigner now vied with one another to fire the first shot at the hated oppressor.

The vast movement had been organized in strict secrecy. A clear program was drawn up. There was to be an uprising at the same time all over the country on 31st May 1857. If only people all over the country had risen in revolt on one and the same day - is decided, the history of India would have been different. But alas ...

Tatia, The Sword of Freedom 

An unexpected incident occurred in Barrackpore. The 31 St of May was yet two months away when the sepoy regiment there struck the first blow. The hero to fire the first shot was Mangal Pande. Orders had been issued to the Indian sepoys to use new cartridges for the rifles. News spread that the new cartridges were greased with the fat of cows and pigs. The revolutionaries had spread this news throughout the country. The soldiers became wild with excitement. It was against their religion.Regardless of threats the sepoys at Barrackpore refused to use the new cartridges. The white officers ordered the sepoys to be disarmed. It was a great insult. One of the sepoys, Mangal pande, was not prepared to pocket this insult. He was a patriot, proud and brave. His blood boiled. A bullet from Pande killed the officer in charge, Hughson. Preferring death to loss of freedom and honor, Mangal Pande shot at himself. He fell down wounded. He was captured and tried before a court-martial. As his fellow- soldiers tearfully watched he was hanged on April 8,1857. So died the first martyr. 

Though his bravery was worthy of praise he had blundered in haste. He had upset the whole plan because he could not restrain himself till the appointed day, The revolution broke out in a haphazard way. 

Within a month after Barrackpore, the Meerut regiment rose in revolt. As the 10th of May dawned, the air of Meerut resounded with the cry 'Maro Feringhi Ko!' (Kill the foreigner.) Meerut was ablaze. Englishmen fled helter-skelter to save their lives. As Meerut fell, the sepoys marched to Delhi, 36 miles away. Chalo Delhi!' (On to Delhi) was the trumpet cry ! The next day Delhi fell. Bahadur Shah was proclaimed Emperor. 

The news reached Brahmavarta. But Brahmavarta was as quiet and calm as ever, Neither Nana Saheb nor Tatia Tope showed any outward sign of their fury and their plans. Both were waiting for the ripe moment. No trace of suspicion entered the British minds. 

Of course, the English had become nervous. Their chief at Kanpur, Sir Hugh Wheeler, suspected that a revolt was imminent. He was greatly concerned for the safety of English citizens as also of the large amount of 12 Iakh rupees under his charge. How best to guard it? He felt that the help of Nana Saheb would be valuable. He asked for Nana's help. 

Nana along with Tatia promptly arrived at Kanpur with 2 guns and 300 sepoys. He was entrusted with the task of guarding the treasury. Wheeler heaved a sigh of relief. Poor Wheeler! He failed to see the volcanic minds of the two deadliest enemies whom he believed to be his friends. 

No sooner did he arrive at Kanpur than Nana Saheb got into touch with the leader of the sepoys, Subhedar Tika Singh. Under the pretext of a boating excursion, one day Nana came down to the banks of the Ganga. There stood Tika Singh and his band of revolutionaries. They got into the boat. With the holy Ganga as witness, oaths were taken and plans were finalized. It was decided that Kanpur should strike at midnight on the fourth of June. 

At the appointed hour Kanpur struck the blow. The sepoys rebelled. It was a terrible war, a war of vengeance. Nana and Tatia assumed the leadership. The English had never been in such a plight. Many died and many more were in the jaws of death. A huge amount of twelve lakh rupees changed hands in a moment. The sepoys had captured Kanpur and their joy knew no bounds. Nana Saheb was ceremoniously proclaimed the Peshwa. The land had once again one of its sons as the ruler. 

Immediately Jhansi followed Kanpur by joining the battle of freedom. Lakshmibai, the Queen, staked her claim to the throne of Jhansi again. With her sword drawn, the young queen moved like lightning. The news of the revolt in Kanpur and Jhansi spread like wild fire. It inspired other regiments to rise in revolt. The whole of North India was aflame. The English, men and women, ran hither and thither seeking safety and shelter. A hundred years of cruelty and injustice pursued them. A sleeping giant had now awakened - and the English were terrified. But the victory was short-lived. Fresh British troops arrived at Kanpur. There was a fierce battle. In the end, on July 16, Nana's troops were defeated. Nana Saheb had to beat are treat with what remained of the army. Tatia Tope followed him like a shadow, determined to save him at any cost. 

Defeat greatly disheartened the sepoys. They could not fight the well-organized and disciplined British army. A big question now faced one and all. Who could undertake the task of rebuilding the army? Who could instill inspiration and great courage in the troops? There could be only one answer - Tatia Tope. Nana Saheb entrusted the huge responsibility to Tatia Tope and commanded him to keep the flag of freedom flying. Nana's command was law to Tatia. All through their lives they had been inseparable, but now they had to part. Tatia was not unaware how formidable the task was. Many difficult problems awaited solution. Organizing the scattered sepoys, providing food and shelter, securing arms and every thing which the army needed - a hundred such problems plagued him. On the other hand the English soldiers were fully equipped. Still Tatia Tope accepted the challenge. 

He first went straight to Shivarajpur. The regiment there had just then rebelled. Tatia won over the rebel sepoys to his side. A new army was created. With the large force so collected he swept upon Havelock, the victor of Kanpur, now advancing towards Lucknow. The suddenness of the attack stunned the English. It was a bolt from the blue. Well skilled in the guerilla tactics of the Marathas, Tatia attacked the British on all sides. It was hide and seek, hit and run. He appeared and disappeared with such swiftness that the enemy was baffled. Havelock's troops were terribly harassed. 

Tatia's eyes then fell on Kalpi. Kalpi was only 45 miles from Kanpur. Moreover, it was centrally situated linking Fatehpur on one side and Jhansi on the other, the headquarters of Nana Saheb and of Lakshmibai. It was a very important place. Like a lion from the hillsides Tatia Tope descended on the fortress. And in no time the fort was taken. 

He then proceeded to convert Kalpi into a base for his military operations. He strengthened the defense of the fort. He began to manufacture arms. Kalpi became a workshop. In the heart of the enemy territory Tatia was working wonders. In a swift sweep Tatia captured a series of forts. A chain of forts connected Kanpur with Gwalior. 

The Gwalior regiment was still inactive. Under disguise he reached the Scindhia regiment at Morar. The magic words of Tatia won over the sepoys stationed at Morar. Now he became doubly strong. The revolution was reinforced. 

At that time the garrison at Kanpur was commanded by Major Windham. News reached Tatia Tope that Windham was short of troops. Tatia got his opportunity. He acted swiftly. He collected his men, crossed the Jamuna and appeared before the unsuspecting Windham. Windham was taken by surprise. Tatia dealt him a crushing blow. The battle was fought on the banks of the river Pandu. Tatia Tope, with his sword flashing, appeared here, there and everywhere. He was revenge incarnate! The English army was beaten and battered. Its loss in men and money was crippling. Before the tears shed for the loss of Kalpi could dry, Kanpur was gone. By winning back Kanpur, Tatia had won back glory. 

Tatia Tope's fame reached every corner of Europe. His name struck terror in every home of England. In him, the world saw Indian heroism in action. The recapture of Kanpur had electrified the atmosphere. Kanpur was again in the hands of Nana Saheb. It became the rallying center for all the sepoys whom the British were pursuing. 

A British military chief, Sir Colin Campbell, was then busy in Lucknow. A master of military action as he was, he recognized that the leader of' the sepoy army was no fool. He saw with his own eyes what a terror Tatia had created. He resolved that Tatia must be captured, if the British were to survive. He acted at once. He mobilized all his forces. He fielded the best of his generals. He made a determined bid to capture the man whom the British dreaded most. A pitched battle raged. It was a struggle for Kanpur. But this time success smiled on the British. Nana Saheb's sepoys ran away. His palace was burnt down. The city was robbed of its riches. But to Campbell's utter disappointment Tatia Tope had slipped away. Campbell had risked many lives to catch the man. But the lion had defied all attempts to catch him. The British went in hot pursuit. But the swift footed guerilla was beyond their reach. 

Tatia Tope had arrived at Kalpi. 

Now Tatia Tope turned his attention to the native rulers and princes. They had been repeatedly requested to lend a helping hand. Some of the princes were patriotic enough to give help secretly atleast. There were others who, afraid of the British , remained neutral. But there were a few who chose to remain loyal to the British against their own countrymen. One such man was the ruler of Charkhari State. Not only did he turn a deaf ear to the call of freedom but had behaved in an arrogant way. He had shown Nana Saheb no respect. So Tatia Tope decided to teach every traitor the lesson of his life. The ruler of Charkhari was his first target. 

The news of Tatia Tope's approach gave this ruler the shivers. The traitor king trembled. In panic he sent an urgent appeal to the British for protection. Both Viceroy Canning and the Commander- in- Chief Campbell promised protection. They ordered a prominent British General, Sir Hugh Rose, to rush to the help of the faithful ally. But Sir Hugh Rose was held up at Jhansi and was unable to move. Tatia knew it before hand. He suddenly appeared before the capital of. Charkhari and besieged it. In no time the town was captured and with it 24 guns and 3 lakh rupees. The traitors had a lesson to learn that the promise and the pledges of even the Viceroy and the commander-in- Chief could no longer save them from the fury of Tatia Tope. What a damage to British prestige! Should he need money andarms, Tatia Tope would henceforth plunder these 'faithful friends' of the British. 

It was very clever of Tatia to have converted Kalpi into his military base. The Sepoys elsewhere had marched towards Delhi and had crowded the Capital. There were 80,000 in all. The first flush of victory had blinded them to the requirements of their plan. They did not realize that the enemy should be pressed on all sides. So when the British made a terrible onslaught on Delhi they had no need to worry about any other place. Delhi fell and all resistance was destroyed. Bahadur Shah was taken prisoner. The sepoys fled. It was a costly defeat for the cause of India's freedom. 

But 'Chalo Delhi' had not been TatiaTope's slogan. He built up Kalpi as a rival strong hold. He made it hot for the British. Kalpi had emerged as a symbol of the nation's pride and as a source of inspiration. It was a storehouse of armaments and a shelter for the hunted sepoys. Its architect was Tatia Tope.

For The Freedom of Jhansi 

After Kalpi the next important fort to defy the British might was Jhansi. 'Surrender my Jhansi? I will not. Let him try to take who dares' - Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi had thrown this challenge. She had put up a heroic resistance. The British led by Sir Hugh Rose, an experienced general, besieged the fort of Jhansi. The fort was pressed hard on all sides. All the points of entrance and exit were blocked. But Lakshmibai could not be cowed down. The twenty-three-year old widow and the handful of her soldiers faced all the dangers of the battle. The goddess of war, Lakshmibai, with her drawn sword, shone above one and all. Sir Hugh Rose, here enemy and the hero of a hundred baffles, called her 'The best and the bravest'. 

The news of the heroic resistance by Rani Lakshmibai thrilled Tatia Tope. That proud Rani was none other than the playmate of his childhood 'Chabili'. He was filled with joy. But this joy was short-lived. A message came from Jhansi that the fort was in danger. It had been hard pressed by Sir Hugh Rose. The supplies had been cut. Jhansi had no food, no troops and no arms. The fall of Jhansi and the capture of the Rani appeared certain. She had urged Tatia Tope to help her. 

Tatia could not resist this appeal. Now the first concern of Tatia Tope was to relieve Jhansi. Every moment was precious. He mobilized the army. Tatia marched at the head of a large army of twenty-two thousand. He was on the road to Jhansi, which was crying for help. Tatia kindled fires in the jungle, which told the Rani in advance that he was coming. The people trapped inside had passed many anxious hours. What a relief Tatia's approaching army gave them! But Jhansi was luckless. Sir Hugh Rose proved quite a match. He gave grim battle. 

Tatia's army suffered a terrible defeat. Tatia fought like a tiger but his army did not prove worthy of its master. It could hardly be called an army. It was mostly a collection of cowards who had fled from battles, an unorganized crowd of sepoys. They did not share Tatia's passion for the cause. At one blow the army fell like a pack of cards. The sepoys fled. Their guns fell into the hands of the enemy. Those guns were now turned against Jhansi itself. Tatia had to retreat to Kalpi and save as many men as he could. The defeat dashed every hope of victory. 

Tatia Tope's mission to rescue Jhansi had failed. The fall of Jhansi was now a question of time. Sir Hugh Rose had aimed at holding the Rani as his captive. But the Rani was fearless. Dressed as a warrior, she marched down the fort and in the middle of the night slipped out of the fort. When the British discovered it, they went in quick pursuit. The Rani crossed swords with those who followed her to catch her. Their chief Dowker was rewarded with a terrible wound. Her horse raced on the road towards Kalpi. Before the day broke Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi entered Kalpi. 

Lakshmibai and Tatia Tope met. 

Sir Hugh Rose turned his attention to Kalpi. As the seat of Tatia Tope Kalpi was mocking the might of the British. It was time for him to strike. So with a large army he marched to Kalpi and stormed the fort. Tatia Tope and Lakshmibai fought every inch. But the tide had turned. After a series of battles Kalpi fell. Wealth and military supplies in huge quantities fell into the hands of the British. Years of sweat and toil were rendered utterly useless. 

The rebel sepoys became desperate. They saw no sign of hope anywhere. But Tatia's spirit was undimmed. As soon as Kalpi fell Tatia disappeared. He had gone to Gwalior secretly. Gwalior was a Maratha kingdom. He had contacts there. He got into touch with the troops there. He stirred up their patriotic feelings. His burning patriotism moved every one. In no time he could rally them under the flag of freedom. The 'loyal' friends of the British, the king and the minister, had to run away. The British camp was still celebrating the victory of Kalpi when Tatia's capture of Gwalior took it by, surprise. Kalpi after Kanpur, and Gwalior after Kalpi - what a sensation Tatia had created! The sepoys began to beat their war drums from their new center-Gwalior. 

Sir Hugh Rose acted quickly. Losing no time he made a bold bid for the recapture of the fort. The fort was attacked on June 18, 1858. Tatia and the Rani took the lead. They left no stone unturned. But defeat was in store. And what a defeat it was! Rani Lakshmibai was wounded on the chest. Her right eyeball came out. To avoid being captured she made good her escape on horseback. Blood was dripping from her delicate body. But the British were in hot pursuit. She ran and ran. But the end was inevitable. Wounded and bleeding, bathed in blood, she at last dropped dead. The death of the Rani paralyzed the sepoys fighting for freedom. Tatia Tope was rendered friendless. 

The last stage had came. The flames of the revolution had begun to die down. The rebel leaders vanished. The sepoys were dispersed. No king was prepared to help Tatia. He was single-handed. Hopes of victory had been changed into certainty of defeat. He could see the noose round his neck. Yet his undaunted spirit refused to accept defeat. Give up the fight? No, never. 

The most dangerous of the rebels, Tatia, was still at large. To the British he was the enemy number one. Eight war veterans had already been in pursuit of the man for eight months, trying to catch him. But he eluded them all. Cities, forests, valleys and 
deserts - he wandered everywhere. Here today and their tomorrow, he would appear where he was least expected. When everything was lost he could still raise one more army, risk one more battle, suffer one more defeat, but fight he would. He could cross the Narmada in full floods. How he could accomplish such a feat, only God knew. He was a living legend! 

The struggle for Swaraj had failed dismally. Queen Victoria had made a proclamation. The rebel sepoys were given full pardon. They were asked to lay down the arms. Taking advantage of it many rebels surrendered themselves to save their lives. 

Tatia Tope was in a miserable plight, without any army, without any fort, without hope of any help from any quarter. The Nizam of Hyderabad had once promised help but refused to honor his promise. The Scindhia, the ruler of Gwalior, had rejected the hand of friendship. Defeat and despair greeted him everywhere. 

The flames of 1857 had ended in smoke. There was but one burning flame - 'Tatia Tope'. He had fought one hundred and fifty battles, big and small. He had kept more than ten thousand British soldiers on their toes. His sword had put to death many a renowned general. The English dreaded him most. 'The Devil' they used to call him. 

But now he was helpless, a tiger without claws. He had no foothold anywhere, no place to hide no roof to sleep under. He was a hunted lion. His pursuers were many. They vied with one another for the credit of catching the arch-rebel. Tafia carded a big prize on his head. Any clue to his capture would bring a great reward. Any show of sympathy would invite British wrath. Day and night Tatia had to run from place to place. 

He had but two ways open to him. He had either to fight and die fighting or to follow in the footsteps of others that surrendered to the British, begging for mercy. Surrender? Oh, no! Tatia would prefer death to dishonor. No doubt Tatia had been defeated but his spirit had remained unbroken. It was unbreakable. In that hour of despair Tatia remembered his old friend, Man Singh. Man Singh had formerly been a Sardar in the Gwalior army. He had deserted his king to join the revolution. Tatia Tope had welcomed him, helped him, and had honored him. In search of shelter he came to the forest of Paron where Man Singh was hiding. Tatia' believed that forest to be the safest place.

Man Singh's Betrayal

The British were watchful. They got scent of Tatia's hideout. Earlier, military might and skill had failed to catch him. He had made hairbreadth escapes. They did not want to run a risk again. So they sought the hand of treachery. They sent word to Man Singh secretly. He was asked to surrender Tatia Tope. They made tempting offers to Man Singh. He was assured of absolute pardon. A jagir was promised. Man Singh could not resist the temptation. Treachery triumphed. The shameless coward agreed to put Tatia Tope into British hands. A small troop was brought stealthily. Tatia who had fallen fast asleep believing it to be the safest place, was betrayed. As he opened his eyes he found himself a prisoner. It was the midnight of April 7, 1859 when the lion was caged. 

Tatia Tope was taken to the camp of General Meade at Shivpuri. The British put him on trial. The pretence of a fair trial went on for three days. He was charged with waging war against the British. Tatia held his head high. He was unrepentant to the last. He looked at the English with contempt and thundered: "I am not your servant. I have obeyed the orders of only the Peshwa who is my master. Except in just battle I have not shed any innocent blood. I do not ask for any mercy. I only ask you to blow me to pieces at the mouth of the cannon. Or hang me to death from the loop of the gallows."

How brave even in the presence of death! 

The show of the trial ended after three days. They had no hesitation in sentencing him to death. As he stood at the appointed place he displayed cool courage. As every one tearfully watched he was hanged. Tatia Tope died a martyr. He was a prince among the patriots! But the British abused him as a murderer. They called him a rebel and a robber. But how can our grateful country forget his sacrifice? The name of Tatia Tope is enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen. His memory is as green as ever.

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