It was 1857 and the month of May, when the fire of rebellion was spreading across the regions of Bharat against the Britishers.
Many Indians across the country were agitated against the British by this time. Rebellions had occurred in many places previously, but in vain. The incident with the greased cartridges had harmed the Indian soldiers’ feelings. Many British soldiers were off duty, and British officers stationed at Meerut Cantonment were getting ready to go to church that day.
Britishers attacked Baraut
At the cantonment, Indian soldiers attacked British soldiers, including officers. Meerut residents joined them. The attack killed 50 British citizens.
British forces attacked Shahmal Singh Tomar and his men at Badka village near Baraut on July 18, 1857. Tomar and the villagers resisted vehemently. Tomar was killed as a result of this attack. 32 of the freedom fighters who supported Tomarwere apprehended. They were strung up in a peepal tree on the outskirts of Bijraul village, near Baraut.
The British then destroyed Baraut’s homes, leaving everyone homeless. Not only that, but the British plundered the village, looting wealth and valuable possessions.
Shivdevi Challenged the British
Shivdevi Tomar, who was 16 at the time, saw the terrible things the British did. She never learned how to fight, but she decided she had to fight or die. She met in secret with Kishandevi, one of her brave friends, and a few other young people from the village. They together decided to attack the British.
She used her sword to attack the British soldiers, killing 17 of them and hurting many more. Her brave group of freedom fighters did, too. Shivdevi Tomar was the one who led to the deaths of the most British soldiers.
The rest of the British soldiers who were still alive ran away in order to save their own lives. There was not a single surviving British soldier or civilian in Baraut.
Shivdevi Tomar was severely injured, but the other villagers flocked around her because they admired her bravery. While her wounds were being treated, the British forces suddenly showed up and shot her several times. Her goal was to die a martyr’s death.
Shivdevi’s younger sister Jayadevi was shaken by this incident. But she was also determined to challenge the killers of her sister. She followed those officers with a group of young people. However the fate of that young revolutionary was decided. Jayadevi martyred in Lucknow where she was cremated by the local people.
These two ordinary girls are teach a big lesson about the greatness of life and the grit to face challenges in life. These unsung warriors of Bharat have immense potential to ignite the fervour of resilience among the people.
Saffron Swords, Manoshi Sinha Rawal