Lecture on ‘Indigenous Discourses and Perspectives on the Revolt of 1857’



ALIGARH : Shedding light on ‘Indigenous Discourses and Perspectives on the Revolt of 1857’ and giving an insight into the ‘vision of the vanquished’ and not just from victors’ recollections, Prof. Saiyid Zaheer Husain Jafri, (Former Chairman, Department of History, University of Delhi), pointed out that the Urdu works of Intizam Ullah Shahabi, Ghulam Rasool Mehr, Abrar Husain Farooqi, Ayub Qadri, Ateeq Ahmad Siddiqui and a host of other Urdu writers were overlooked by modern historians while tracing the root causes of the ‘Revolt’ of 1857.

Prof. Jafri was delivering a plenary lecture on major themes and issues in the study of the “revolt of 1857” at the Centre of Advanced Study, department of History, Aligarh Muslim University

He said, “One such seminal work by Ateeq Ahmad Siddiqui titled ‘1857: Akhbarat wa Dastawez’ containing facsimiles of the rare records from the Mutiny Papers, contemporary Urdu Akhbars and other indigenous material was also rarely used.”

“Though the revolt remained unsuccessful, yet it shook the foundations of British imperialism in such a way that saved many Asian countries from the clutches of colonial rule,” he contemplated.

Prof Jafri stressed the need to utilise such indigenous material for the study of the subject and brought to the notice of the audience an important text ‘Fateh-i Islam’, translated by the British officers as ‘A Cry of Jehad in Oudh’ which was a proclamation issued from Lucknow by the group closely associated with the Maulavi Ahmadullah Shah, one of the greatest leaders of the revolt in Awadh and Rohilkhand. He even defeated the British in the Battle of Chinhat on 30 June 1857 and emerged as the most powerful military commander at Lucknow.

Prof Jafri provided an alternative perspective to understand the uprising that shook the British rule in Delhi and Awadh and underlined the role of Urdu newspapers like Delhi Urdu Akhbar and Tilism e Lucknow in the ‘revolt’ of 1857.

In his presidential remarks, Prof. Mirza Asmar Beg (Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences) said, “The lecture was extensively researched and relevant to the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav programme. He said the ‘revolt’ of 1857 was one of the landmark events in the history of India and it is interesting to see how the politics of discourse creation through various indigenous mediums functioned throughout the period of the revolt.

Earlier, welcoming the guests, Prof. Gulfishan Khan (Chairperson and Coordinator, Department of History) stressed the fact that studying indigenous sources and vernacular material is of utmost importance to do research on any historical topic. She urged the students and young scholars to work on these themes and provide new insights and research.

She said Prof. Saiyid Zaheer Husain Jafri is also an alumnus of AMU and an acclaimed historian known for his researches on the economic and social life of pre-colonial Awadh and upper Gangetic Valley.

Convener of the programme, Dr. Sana Aziz discussed the topic of the lecture in detail, arguing that “no discussion on the freedom movement is complete without a reference to the uprising of 1857, which is often regarded as the earliest example of anti-colonial resistance or the first stage of national struggle for independence”.

She said that in spite of the fact that numerous historians representing various historiographical affiliations have worked on this subject, there is still a need for more research and discussion due to historical contestation and gaps in the mainstream historiography.


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