Friday, March 02, 2007

Stamp on Bahadur Shah Zafar: In memory of the King whose sons were killed, who himself got exiled and now his role erased from history

We are right now, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the War of Independence, termed as Ghadar or Mutiny by the British. 
Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar had to pay the most heavy price for leading the rebellion.
His sons' were brutally killed, heads were severed and brought before him as a gift in a tray. 
The Emperor was exiled, sent to Burma where he died and was buried. The Indian government had this stamp issued in his memory long back.

In Urdu, it carries his two couplets:

lagtaa nahiiN hai jii meraa ujRe dayaar meN/kiskii banii hai aalam-e-paaidaar meN
kah do in hasratoN se kahiiN aur jaa baseN/itnii jagah kahaaN hai dil-e-daaGhdaar meN

On NDTV, Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta on 'Walk the Talk' programme spoke to William Dalrymple, who said this about role of Zafar and 1857. 
"...I think in that sense Savarkar has kidnapped your narrative of 1857. He emphasised strictly Mangal Pandey in Barrackpore and Rani of Jhansi in Jhansi. Now, they are great heroic figures and great national heroes".

"...ultimately, in the story of 1857, they are frankly side-shows because of the 1,39,000 sepoys who rose against their British officers, 1,00,000 went straight to Delhi. Now these are upper-caste Hindus, and who do they get to lead the rebellion — the Mughal emperor.
Replying to a question that Zafar was emperor only in a name, Dalrymple says, '..still had enough prestige'. "...not even Palam, he just had the walls of Red Fort. And yet, the prestige of the name is such that these Hindus from the opposite end, not the local guys, but those from Eastern UP and Bihar, go to Delhi and ask Zafar to lead them. 
He further says that it was an army that had 85% Upper Caste Hindus and they needed a symbol and the symbol was Mughal power. They had no problem. This is an interesting interview and it will help you understand 'Shekhar Gupta' and our celebrity journalists' mindset, more.

Read the whole transcript of the interview AT THIS LINKAdd Image