Hyderabad Sepoy Revolt (1857)

Hyderabad Sepoy Revolt (1857): First war of Independence
After the Nizam signed the Treaty of Subsidiary Alliance with the East India Company in 1800, there were bouts of anti-British rebellions till 1857, led notably by Raja Mahipat Ram, Mubarez-ud-Dowlah, Moulvi Allauddin, and Turrebaz Khan. Among the noteworthy places of such uprising were Aurangabad, Udgir, Nizamabad, Raichur and Karimnagar. Within the Nizam’s army and the Subsidiary Troops of East India Company, men revolted against the European officers. Behind some of these rebellions were communities such as Bhils, Hutkers and Marathas.

In 1812, the Indian sepoys in the British Residency at Hyderabad broke into an open mutiny They tied their Commander Major Edward Gordon to the muzzle of the gun and threatened to blow him up unless their pay and pardon were guaranteed The sepoys stationed at Nizamabad, Nanded, Parbha- m, Berar, Sirivancha and Mahadevpura also rose m revolt against the British Major Gordon was eventually released and the ringleaders of the mutiny were caught and executed

The year 1857 was a momentous year in the history of the British rule in India. In the month of June of that year the whole of Northern India was ablaze with the mutiny of sepoys. It spread like wild fire from one military to another. Gradually the mutiny was spreading towards the south. A rebellion or mutiny of sepoys in Hyderabad which occupies a central position in the Deccan, would have offered a serous threat to the English in Decaan. The rebellion of a very serious kind did not break out in Hyderabad as The Nizam and all great nobles of his court were staunch supporters of the English. The majority of Hindus and Muslims expected their ruler to fight British shoulder to shoulder along with other princes of the native states.

The Indian Sepoys in Nizam’s army and the Subsidiary troops of East India Company revolted against the European officers when Hyderabad Contingent’s 3rd Cavalry was ordered to march to Delhi at Buldhana. 
Among them was Jamedar Cheeda Khan fled with 15 others to Hyderabad to bring the fire of mutiny to the Nizam’s turf. The moment Cheeda Khan reached Hyderabad, he was arrested by Nizam’s minister Salar Jung I who handed him over to the Resident as he was a British soldier. He was jailed as well as tried inside the Residency building.

On the 13th June two inflammatory placards were posted on the walls of a mosque in the city of Hyderabad exhorting the people to rise against the British and fixing a day for general uprising. The posters urged the Nizam to lead the revolt on the name of the almighty Allah. if he was a coward, he may wear bangles and hide himself in his house. A faqeer had been apprehended during the night addressing the populace and calling on them to unite in an insurrection and that they would be joined by the ‘Bownepally Fauj’. The regiment referred to by faquir was suspected to be the 7th light cavalry stationed at Secunderabad.

In the morning of 17th July, the Resident got the information through his assistant Thronhill that a jehad would be proclaimed against the British Government and he communicated it to the Minister who refused to give credence to it. At noon a meeting took place in the great Mecca Mosque where a green flag was hoisted. The crowd which assembled there, was dispersed by the Arab soldier who had been sent by the minister at 1 PM. At about 2 PM Muhammad Ghaus, the eldest son of Jagirdar of Toorkappally, who was one of the staunch supporters of the British in this crisis, gave the first information to the Resident of the outbreak of rebellion in the city.

After a meeting at Mecca Masjid, Pathan Turrebaz led the 1857 uprising in Hyderabad along with Maulvi Allaudin (who preached revolt in his Friday sermon), attacked the Hyderabad Residency, the home of British rulers, with around 5,000 rebels on 17 July 1857 at 5.45 pm.  About 500 Rohillas marched to the British Resident Col. Cuthbert Davidson’s castle and took up positions in two houses belonging to money lenders Abban Saheb and Jaigopal Das and opened fire at the Residency. Then they brought down the walls Azim Ali Khan’s house and tore off the hinges of the entrance near Putli Bowli as their comrades gave covering fire from the two double-storied houses. In spite of their spirited fight, the Rohillas failed to free Cheeda Khan. The British troops who were led by Major S. C. Briggs opened up their artillery, kept ready by the Resident, who was alerted by Salar Jung. The lightly armed men led by Turrebaz were no match for the trained soldiers of Madras Horse Artillery who fired from stationary positions from the fort. The firing went all night long and by morning, there were a few bodies and pockmarked buildings and scared residents of Putli Bowli and Sultan Baazar. Turrebaz Khan, who escaped then, was discovered and shot dead near Toopran; his body was dragged back and hanged naked near the Residency building. 

Moulvi Allaudin was caught near Mangalampally and was sentenced to deportation to Andaman where he died in 1884. The houses of Abban Saheb and Jaigopal Das were blown away after the mutiny. The Nizam Afzal-ud-Daula and his minister Salar Jung received laurels from East India Company for their “unflinching support during the troubled times and for letting down the rebels. The British Government will not forget that it has owed to his highness the Nizam and his most able minister,” wrote Col Davidson.

He lost several comrades in the attack and was captured by the British-Nizam forces on 22 July 1857 to be imprisoned for life to Kaala-Paani. He was sentenced to exile on the charges of sedition, and the British rulers confiscated his property. During the execution of the sentence imposed by the British rulers, the brave Pathan Turrebaz escaped from prison on 18 January 1859 before being deported to Kaala-Paani. By the time he ran, the British rulers had suppressed the revolt of 1857. The Nizam government announced a reward of five thousand rupees on him, dead or alive, on 19 January 1859. Alarmed by this announcement, Turrebaz Khan went around secretly and attempted to attack the British forces again. British troops and Nizam forces intensified his surveillance, who had escaped prison.

Finally, Turrebaz Khan was captured with help from Kurban Ali, who informed Nizam's soldiers about the former’s whereabouts. On 24 January 1859, the British forces received information that Turrebaz was at Tufran village in the surrounding areas of Medak district.

British armies and Nizam forces surrounded the area where Turrebaz Khan was staying, and he was shot dead by the enemy soldiers on 24 January. The body of Turrebaz Khan was moved from Tufran to Hyderabad and was chained and hanged naked in public at the current location of Sultan Bazaar Police Station in Hyderabad city. Englishmen treated the body of Pathan Turrebaz Khan in a cruel and humiliating way.

Ramji Gond
Telangana was an important territory with respect to tribal freedom struggles. As early as 1857, when the Sepoy Mutiny took place, the tribal tracts north of Godavari were rebellious under the leadership of Ramji Gond against the then rulers of Hyderabad State - the Nizam and the British Resident. Ramji Gond was successful in rallying around 500 Gond and joining hands with over 500 Rohillas and Deccanis against these rulers.

Initially, Ramji Gond was successful with his guerilla warfare techniques for over two years in the large forest tracts stretching from Nirmal-Narayankhed in the west and Chennur in the east bordering the River Godavari in the south.

09 April 1860: Ramji Gond and his accomplices were hanged to death on a Banyan tree in Nirmal village. The tree came to be known as Veyyi (thousand) Purrela (skull) Chettu or Veyyi Purrela Marri.

The hanging of 1000 Gonds of Telangana was a more brutal and earlier event than the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. At the time this mass hanging of Gonds did not get widespread attention.

Revolt of Raja Venkatappa 
A memorable episode of the War of 1857 was the rebellion of the ruler of Shorapur, Raja Venkatappa Naik, a vassal of the Nizam A staunch nationalist and made of heroic mould, the Raja cherished an ambition of gaining political independence He recruited Arabs, Rohillas and others for his army and sent emissaries to Nana Saheb Peshwa in a bid for a co-ordinated action against the British The British came to know of the Raja’s activities and sent a strong contingent to Shorapur to subdue him The stiff resistance put up by the Raja’s army forced the British to seek reinforcement In the end the British succeeded m capturing Shorapur but in the fight two commanders of the British army were killed Raja Venkatappa Naik fled to Hyderabad from where he was arrested by Salar Jung and handed over to the British He was tried and sentenced to death which was commuted to transportation for life Unable to bear the indignities of his capture, the Raja shot himself The trial of Raja Venkatappa Naik revealed the existence of a general plan of insurrection in the southern Maratha country and northern Karnataka, the centres of which were Miraj, Kolhapur, Nargund, Koppal, Raichur and Shorapur

In the month of April, 1859, one Ranga Rao, who was carrying with him some seditious letters and one proclamation, was apprehended by a British military officer. The proclamation invited all the princes, chiefs and people of Deccan to rise an join the army of Nana and exterminate Englishmen.

Chaudhuri, Nani Gopal. “THE REBELLION IN HYDERABAD IN 1857.” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, vol. 20, 1957, pp. 286–92. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/44304479. Accessed 11 Mar. 2023.
Freedom Movement in Hyderabad By Veldurti Manik Rao