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Nana Sahib - leader in the Indian Mutiny
Transcript of Nana Sahib - leader in the Indian Mutiny
Nana Sahib (born 19 May 1824 – disappeared 1857), born as Dhondu Pant, was an Indian, Maratha aristocrat, who led the Indian Rebellion of 1857. As the adopted son of the exiled Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II, he sought to restore the Maratha rule and the Peshwa tradition in India.
Role in the revolt of 1857
After taking possession of the Company treasury, Nana Sahib advanced up the Grand Trunk Road. He wanted to restore the Maratha confederacy under the Peshwa tradition, and decided to capture Kanpur. On his way, Nana Sahib met the rebel Company soldiers at Kalyanpur. The soldiers were on their way to Delhi, to meet Bahadur Shah II. Nana Sahib wanted them to go back to Kanpur, and help him in defeating the British. The soldiers were reluctant at first, but decided to join Nana Sahib, when he promised to double their pay and reward them with gold, if they were to destroy the British entrenchment.
Recapture of Kanpur by the British
Nana Sahib's ultimate fate was never known. Up until 1888 there were rumours and reports that he had been captured and a number of individuals turned themselves in to the British claiming to be the aged Nana. As these reports turned out to be untrue further attempts at apprehending him were abandoned. There were also reports of him being spotted in Constantinople.
Nana Sahib disappeared after the British recapture of Kanpur. His general, Tantya Tope, tried to recapture Kanpur in November 1857, after gathering a large army, mainly consisting of the rebel soldiers from the Gwalior contingent. He managed to take control of all the routes west and north-west of Kanpur, but was later defeated in the Second Battle of Cawnpore.
In September 1857, Nana Sahib was reported to have fallen to malarious fever; however, this is doubtful. By 1859, Nana Sahib was reported to have fled to Nepal. In February 1860, the British were informed that Nana Sahib's wives had taken refuge in Nepal, where they resided in a house close to Thapathali. Nana Sahib himself was reported to be living in the interior of Nepal.
The Company forces reached Kanpur on July 16, 1857. General Havelock was informed that Nana Sahib had taken up a position at the Ahirwa village. His forces launched an attack on Nana Sahib's forces, and emerged victorious. Nana Sahib then blew up the Cawnpore magazine, abandoned the place, and retreated to Bithoor. When the British soldiers came to know about the Bibighar massacre, they indulged in retaliatory violence, including looting and burning of houses. On July 19, General Havelock resumed operations at Bithoor, but Nana Sahib had already escaped. Nana Sahib's palace at Bithoor was occupied without resistance. The British troops seized guns, elephants and camels, and set Nana Sahib's palace to fire.