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Freedom Fighters

Sardar Patel

Bal Gangadhar Tilak Bhagath Singh
Khudiram Bose Ramaprasad Bismil
Ashfaqulla Khan Tatia Tope
Madame Cama
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Biographies of Great Indians & Hindus
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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 nemy 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 mobilised 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 feadess. 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 riced 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 paralysed 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 hadto 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 Sirdar 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.

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I have obeyed the orders of only the Peshwa ewho is my master
About Tatia Tope
Nana Saheb's Right Hand
To Dispel The Darkness Of Slavery
Tatia, The Sword Of Freedom
You are Here! For The Freedom Of Jhansi
Man Singh's Promise To Provide Protection
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