Thursday, August 10, 2006

Stuff they didn't teach me at school 1 : Azimullah Khan Yusufzai

When I started reading up on Indian history, I realised that there were great many interesting things that we have never been exposed to in school. I have decided to post some such interesting tidbits. Maybe, I was asleep in class and just do not remember being taught these things :-)

For instance, Azimullah Khan Yusufzai.

Azimullah was a poor muslim boy, who ended up at a school run by the british. There he learned French and English. He then became secretary to Nana Sahib.

Nana Sahib was the adopted son of the Peshwa who had been exiled to the kingdom of Oudh by the british. Since he was the adopted son, the british cut off his pension under the Doctrine of Lapse, which decreed that if the landowner died without a male heir, the lands would pass to the East India Company. He deputed Azimullah Khan to go to London to plead his case with the crown. Azimullah went there, charmed the upper crust (met Charles Dickens, the queen etc), was appalled by the conditions in London (the slums were worst than the worst that India had to offer, he thought) and on the way back came through Constantinople. There he saw the british getting a bloody nose at the Crimean War. He realised that the British wouldn't be able to fight both wars, if India rose in revolt.

When he got back, he told Nana Sahib 'Why beg for a pension when you can fight and regain your crown?'. He started publishing leaflets against the East India Company and started mobilizing the royalty against the british. He escaped with Nana Sahib when the revolt was suppressed and was never found. While we hear about Tatya Tope (Nana Sahib's general), we don't hear a thing about his secretary who was the big motivators behind the scenes.

Thinking about it, maybe the sepoys' mutiny which started off the whole thing probably came at a bad time for Azimullah. Maybe things started rolling before he could get orchestrate a proper rebelliob. He had to know that if the Sikhs backed the british, the rebellion had little chance of success, so perhaps he was trying to get the buy-in from them too. Perhaps the events overtook him. Of course, I am just speculating at this point.

I think they should have made the movie 'The Rising" about Azimullah Khan, not Mangal Pandey :-)


tilotamma said...

where did you find this ?
I also liked reading manohar Malgoankar's book on Tantia Tope..

I am surprised they are not more popular.

sambar42 said...

I caught bits of a PBS program on Victoria's reign as queen of England. They mentioned Azimullakh Khan. I was intrigued and googled him.

I think that his story is way more interesting than, Mangal Pandey's for instance.

tilotamma said...

Now I need to go back toThe Devil's Wind and see if they have mentioned this A.Khan.