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Sikh 'uprising' for status in history

ibnlive.com
May 10, 2007 at 02:03pm IST

New Delhi: Was the 1857 Uprising the real First War of Independence as it is officially claimed?

Some claim it was Veerapandya Kattabomman, 18th century Tamil king, who raised the first voice for independence by opposing British rule. Some try to give the credit to Tippu Sultan, the great hero of Mysore, as the first hero of the struggle for independence.

And the Sikhs claim it was the 1845 Anglo-Sikh war which should be treated as the First War of Independence.

VOICE OF PROTEST: Sikh MPs protested at a function in Parliament for not treating 1845 Anglo-Sikh War as the First War of Independence.

The First Anglo-Sikh War was fought between the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab and the British East India Company between 1845 and 1846. It resulted in the partial subjugation of the Sikh kingdom.

The issue was raised by Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal during a function in the historic Central Hall of Parliament on Thursday to commemorate the 1857 Uprising.

Atwal stunned President APJ Abdul Kalam and several other dignitaries when he protested against 1845 Anglo-Sikh War not being treated as the First War of Independence while commemorating the 150th anniversary of the 1857 Uprising.

Atwal and three other MPs from Punjab — Rattan Singh Ajnala, Veerendra Singh Bajwa (both Akali Dal) and Tarlochan Singh (Independent) — said projecting 1857 as the First War of Independence was a 'misnomer' as the Anglo-Sikh war preceded that.

Atwal's protest came midway through the function, which was addressed by the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister and the Lok Sabha Speaker.

Atwal's brief protest came when Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat rose to address the gathering comprising MPs, Ministers and senior leaders including former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition, L K Advani.

Earlier, when Speaker Somnath Chatterjee started his address, three other members created a flutter by staging the protest which caught the gathering unaware. Tarlochan Singh and Veerendra Singh said the protest was against attempts to rewrite history.

They said the 1845 war, led by Sikh General Shyam Singh Attariwala, needed to be treated as the First War of Independence.

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