Kunwar Singh is known as Veer Kunwar Singh in Indian history. It is he who sacrificed his life to free his nation from British rule. But today he is a forgotten hero. Few remember him. His contributions have not been much highlighted in the pages of history. Remembering him as a great warrior this article proposes to highlight Kunwar’s contribution to India’s freedom movement.
The role that Veer Kunwar Singh played in the First War of Independence marks a magnificent part in the chequered history of our nation. He became a martyr for the cause of Indian independence. When India rose against the British rule in 1857, Kunwar Singh was nearly 80 years old. He fought bravely against the British and allied forces. He remained unbeatable till the end.
Veer Kunwar Singh was born in 1777 at Jagdishpur in Shahabad district (Now Bhojpur,Ara) of Bihar. He was born in a royal Parmar Kshatriya (Rajput) family of Jagdishpur. His ancestors belonged to the dynasty of the great Raja Vikramaditya as well as Raja Bhoj of Malwa.
In the freedom, movement Kunwar Singh led a band of armed soldiers against the East India Company and recorded victories in several battles.
On July 25th 1857 a miracle took place. The Indian army of British Fauz declared the Independence at Danapur and arrived at Ara. At that time Kunwar Singh was the Raja of Jagdishpur. He was at the age of 80 years. As soon as the Indian army of British Fauz reached Ara, he immediately assumed the command of that army. Under his leadership the English Treasury was captured. The prisoners from Ara Jail were released and English Offices were totally destroyed.
On July 29th 1857, Captain Danwar reached Ara. There were 300 English and 100 Sikh armies with him. In Aambag of kayamnagar he was attacked by Gorilla fighters of Kunwar Singh at night. Only 50 persons of British army were survived till the morning of 30th July. Captain Danwar was also killed there. Shahabad now was under Kunwar's control.
To relieve Ara Major Vincent Eyre advanced with his soldiers from Buxar. A fierce battle took place at Bibiganj, a place near Ara. The English army became successful in this battle and Kunwar Singh was forced to retreat. The Kila of Jagdishpur fell in the hands of Major Eyer.
After this defeat Kunwar Singh marched towards Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, with his followers. On the 27th of August he reached Rewa. There he got support from some prominent nobles. From Rewa, Kunwar Singh reached Banda to cooperate Tantia Topi. The combined forces of Nawab Ali Bahadur and Kunwar Singh attacked the Nimnipar fort on the 8th of October at Banda and completely destroyed it. The Gwalior troops joined Kunwar Singh at Kalpi and marched onto attack Kanpur on the 7th of November. Nana Sahib and Veer Kunwar Singh fought against the English forces at the battle of Kanpur in December 1857. Kunwar Singh was soon at Lucknow. There he was given ‘Khillat’, an honour by Nawab of Oudh.
In March 1858, Azamgarh came under Kunwar’s control. Colonel Mark Kerr came to control him. Kunwar Singh dodged him. He left Azamgarh on the 13th of April and advanced towards Ghazipur. After crossing the Ghaghra river he reached Maniar at night. On the morning of 21st of April Brigadier Douglas attacked Kunwar Singh at Maniar. He got injured. In spite of injuries Kunwar Singh crossed the Ganga at Sheopur Ghat. This place was 10 miles away from Balia.
When Babu Kunwar Singh was crossing the Ganges he was wounded in the arm by the enemies. He cut his arm and offered it to the Ganages. The British soldiers could not capture him.
After a long struggle against the Britishers, Kunwar Singh reached his capital Jagdishpur and again took-over his throne on April 22, 1858. But Kunwar Singh was forced to fight again within 24 hours of his arrival at Jagdishpur. Captain Le Grand attacked him on the evening of 22nd of April. A fierce battle was fought between Kunwar Singh and the Britishers at Dullaur. The place of battle was situated one and half miles away from Kunwar’s capital. This battle had taken place between the night of 22nd and 23rd April, 1858. This battle was again won by the injured Kunwar Singh. He regained his throne on 23rd April, 1858. He ruled again till the death. Kunwar Singh was not destined to live longer. The old and injured Veer Kunwar Singh died on 26the April 1958 as an independent ruler. India is proud of him.