7th November 2017 marks the 155th death anniversary of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal, and the first leader of India’s first war of independence. 24th October, 2017 marked Zafar’s 242nd birth anniversary. On that ocassion, I had written a post on how Zafar and 1857 nationalism are the only true antidote to the politics of the Sangh Parivar. You can see the post here.
People are ill informed about Zafar. They do not know how Zafar was organising Sepoys, much before 1857. Zafar was also in active contact with peasant forces in and around Delhi. I will release this information slowly, one or two proclamations at a time. 1857 is extremely relevant for the anti-fascist struggle we are currently waging in India. For if we have a 19th century picture of Hindu-Muslim unity and peasant participation in the anti-Imperialist, anti-British struggle, then our view of history changes.
1857 says India was not a land of discord and hatred between communities. On the contrary, Hindu-Muslim relations were excellent, better than today; also our democratic aspirations were not being expressed through western ideologies. Our own, indigeneous currents of thought were articulating the Indian angst, Indluding Modern-Democratic Aspirations against foreign rule. The Sarva Khap Panchayat was not an exclusive Jat Institution. It was an alliance of 36 Casts led mostly by Jats.
ZAFAR’S MILITANT APPEAL TO THE JAT SARVA KHAP PANCHAYAT.
“Leaders of the Sarvkhap Panchayat! Take your warriors and throw out the foreigners. You have brave and capable leaders.The British army has many times seen the strength of force of your young men. Today, the Nawabs and Rajas have fallen. They have accepted slavery to the British. The nation has faith and trust in you. Come forward and throw out these foreigners. On their removal a durbar (Court Assembly) shall be held, and the Panchayat shall rule and manage its own affairs. I have no objection”. From the records of the Haryana Sarv Khap as recorded by Mir Mustaq Mirasi.
ZAFAR’S LETTER TO SARVA KHAP PANCHAYAT. “It is my request to the Pradhan of the Haryana Sarv Khap, and to each person who resides in this nation of Hind, that after taking back our nation from these foreigners, a Panchayat of capable and skilful leaders be called. The nation should be entrusted to them. A national panchayat for the entire country should be formed on the lines of the Sarv Khap Panchayat, through that the country should be governed. I shall give all my authority to that Panchayat with pleasure”. By order of Bahdurshah Zafar, Badshah of Hindustan, July 1, 1857.