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201st anniversary of Vellore mutiny against the British observed

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Remembered: Dignitaries, MLAs, policemen, Home Guards volunteers, and members of the public pay homage to the soldiers slain during the Vellore Mutiny at the memorial pillar in Vellore on Tuesday.
Remembered: Dignitaries, MLAs, policemen, Home Guards volunteers, and members of the public pay homage to the soldiers slain during the Vellore Mutiny at the memorial pillar in Vellore on Tuesday.

P.V.V. Murthi

Wreaths laid at the memorial pillar and homage paid to slain soldiers

VELLORE: After the death of Hyder Ali in 1782 A.D. his son Tipu Sultan crowned himself ruler and waged a war against the alien British rule in India.

He was killed in a historic battle in Srirangapattinam by the English army. The British kept Tipu Sultan’s family in the Vellore fort, the strongest fort in the southern region, where 1,500 native soldiers and 370 English soldiers were garrisoned.

In their attempt to propagate the Christian faith in this part of the country, the East India Company imposed a few changes in the dress code of the native soldiers forcing them to sport a cross-like emblem near the chest and wear leather shoes.

Hindu soldiers were banned from displaying their religious mark on their forehead and from wearing ear ornaments, while Muslim soldiers were forced to shave their beards and trim their moustaches. These changes strengthened the resolve of the native solders to revolt against British rule.

In May 1806, Lt. Col. Darley conveyed to his superiors in Madras the native soldiers’ displeasure over the changes. He received orders to send the revolting soldiers to St. George’s Fort, Madras, where one Hindu and one Muslim soldier were each given 900 whiplashes and terminated from service. Nineteen soldiers received 500 whiplashes each and were pardoned.

When the native solders planned to revolt against the British rule on July 14, Mustafa Baig, a soldier of the First Regiment, disclosed the plan to his officers.

In order to outwit the traitor the revolting soldiers advanced their revolt to July 10. At 4 a.m. on July 10 the native soldiers opened fire in the parade ground and spread the rumour that English soldiers were killing the Indian soldiers. The angered native soldiers fired at the English soldiers and killed the army officers.

Tipu Sultan’s second son Futheh Hyder was declared king. The Mysore flag was hoisted in the fort.

Major Gootes, an officer, rushed to Ranipet and informed Col. Gillespie about the revolution. The latter hastened to Vellore Fort with his troops and killed 800 native soldiers.

Seventeen officers were hanged on the western glacis of the fort.

While monuments were erected in memory of the slain English soldiers inside the Central Church, the first monument for the slain native soldiers was built in the form of a memorial pillar at the junction of Officers’ Line and Bangalore Road close to the fort here, and inaugurated by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on December 20, 1998.

Vellore Collector Dharmendra Prathap Yadhav, Superintendent of Police N. Arivuselvam, MLA C. Gnanasekharan, police officers, government officials, Home Guards volunteers, and members of the public laid wreaths at the pillar and paid homage to the soldiers who died in the revolt on the 201st anniversary of the revolution on Tuesday.

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