Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sher Ali: The revolutionary Indian freedom fighter who assassinated the Viceroy

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
Do you know that a Viceroy was killed on Indian soil during the freedom movement?

Though many other revolutionary freedom fighters are remembered, the name of Sher Ali who was behind the assassination, is mostly forgotten.

In fact, Sher Ali's name barely finds a mention. Forget textbooks, the voluminous studies also have his name just in footnote.

It was in February 1872, when this revolutionary who had been sent to Andaman Islands [Kala Pani], assassinated Lord Mayo, the viceroy who was on a visit to the Andamans where the freedom fighters were kept incarcerated.

Richard Bourke, the 6th Earl of Mayo and Viceroy of India, was visiting the Andaman along with high ranking officials and security personnel, when Sher Ali stabbed him to death. When asked why he murdered the viceroy, the man from Tirah valley of Khyber said that 'Khuda ne hukm diya, is waste kiyaa'.

He was charged with murder and hanged on Viper islands the next year. Revolutionaries wanted to overthrow the imperial rule through force, as the felt it was by deceit and military might that the East Indian company had snatched their liberty. It was one of  the few ways in sight for the ordinary Indians to take on the power of the foreign imperialists, then.
We have read how Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Chandrashekhar Azad assassinated Saunders. Also, about Madanlal Dhingra, who in England assassinated William Hutt, there is little focus on the role of Sher Ali. 
Today, the assassinations are seen differently but it was colonial era, Indians were treated as second class citizens, they were exploited and brutalized, the freedom fighters were fighting the imperialists in different ways. But the fact remains that Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Chandrashekhar Azad and Madanlal Dhingra are heroes in India. Their sacrifices are taught in texts, every child is aware of their role, and annually they are paid homage. However, nothing has come in way of Sher Ali.

1. Here is the Link to the Wikimapia image [the map] of the coast of Andaman where 135 years ago this incident had occurred.
2. Also, a link to the Times of India editorial page article on Sher Ali.

On the 150th anniversary of 1857

[Above photo of Sher Ali on the left and the place on Viper Isles where he was hanged]