May 08: The National Youth Rally, inaugurated by the Minister of Youth and Panchayati Raj, Mani Shankar Ayyar, started from the historical Victoria Park of Meerut on May 7, with rare spirit and enthusiasm towards its destination, Lal Quila. A similar rally on the same earth was brought by the soldiers of 1857 revolt, a century and half ago. Mondayâ€™s rally was brought in remembrance to the struggle our past generations had undergone to attain the freedom. This gathering of youths from different parts of India and the symbolic march on the same path is worth appreciating as it represents the drive for national unity. Events like these inspire the citizens and prepare for sacrifices for a national cause. 1857 revolt was not only an uprising against British rule but also a symbol of unity of different communities, sections and classes and an unconscious step to make up the nation.
The whole struggle started with Mangal Pandey, a sepoy (soldier) from Avadh, who revolted against British authorities opposing the use of new Enfield rifle. The rifle was to be loaded by biting the cartridge greased with pork and beef fat. This act, of British Company, hurt the religious sentiments of the sepoys belonging to all sections.
Mangal Pandey, a soldier of 34 BNI attacked on adjutant Lt. Baugh on May 29, 1857. He was arrested and executed on the charge of attacking a senior officer. But the storm did not fade here only. In Meerut soldiers of 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry refused to use the cartridges. Consequently they were imprisoned. Considering it as a gross injustice the soldiers of 11th and 20th native cavalry of Bengal army gathered and decided to free their comrades. They marched to Delhi to proclaim Bahadur Shah Zafar as their king
The revolt didnâ€™t serve interests of any special group or community. There were several economic, social, political reasons and secondary treatment that ignited the loyalty of Indian soldiers against the authority. The rebellion spread beyond military circles in Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi, Bihar, Bareilly and West Bengal. Though the rebellion was suppressed by British but it initiated the mass movement and brought realisation to the people of their potential to take their land back from foreign occupation.
Savarkar referred it as â€˜the first war of independence.â€™ British historians later pronounced it as â€œSepoy â€“Mutiny. The British author, William Dalrymple, observed it as an â€˜Uprisingâ€™. Whatever name it was given but such glorious moment can never fade in the minds of Indians. This was one auspicious moment which changed the fate of India.
Every citizen should be proud of its glorious past and the heritage of values which uprooted the most powerful empire of the time. At the same time many doubts flutter around. In a class, caste-ridden society, with differences in so many sections of society, for how long will these rallies be able to carry the message â€“ the message of unity, social harmony and peace. We need to go beyond small practices and incorporate the values in every walk of life. The march should be against all evils that bleed the society and hamper our development as a nation. It is a reminder that the time has come to put our heads and efforts together and rise to uproot the unwanted rule of corruption, poverty, crime and injustice. Let us march for a strong country with space for everyone.
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