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Veer Kunwar Singh, the legendary king of Jagdishpur who chopped off his own arm at the age of 80 for India’s freedom

Speaking on his 164th death anniversary, Amit Shah said that the heroic story of Kunwar Singh should reach every youth of today.

On April 23, to commemorate the 164th death anniversary of Veer Kunwar Singh, the then-king of Jagdishpur who is regarded as one of the greatest heroes of the First War of Independence in 1857, more than 75,000 Indians simultaneously waved the national flag for a full five minutes at Jagdishpur town in Bihar’s Bhojpur district. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had also attended the Vijayotsav celebrations of Veer Kunwar Singh held at Dulour Maidan in Jagdishpur, Bhojpur.

Speaking at the Veer Kunwar Singh ‘vijayotsava’ at Jagdishpur (Ara), the Union Home Minister said that the country could never forget the role of the 1857 war hero in India’s Independence.

While paying tribute at the historic land of Jagdishpur, Amit Shah stated that the Government of India would construct a grand memorial at Jagdishpur Fort in commemoration of Veer Kunwar Singh, whom he said historians did not give a proper place in history. Shah stated that the memorial would honor Babu Veer Kunwar Singh’s efforts in the country’s first battle for independence.

Speaking at the event that was organized under ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, Amit Shah said that Kunwar Singh’s heroic story should reach every youth of today.

Who is Veer Kunwar Singh

Kunwar Singh, also known as Babu Kunwar Singh or Kuer Singh, was a prominent leader during the first war of independence in 1857, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, or India’s First Struggle for Independence. It started on May 10, 1857, in the garrison town of Meerut, as a mutiny by British East India Company army sepoys.

The insurrection began when sepoys refused to use new rifle cartridges, which were considered to be lubricated with a mixture of pigs’ and cows’ lard and so religiously impure for Muslims and Hindus respectively.

While his army was in Barrackpore, a soldier named Mangal Pandey stabbed a British sergeant and injured an adjutant, sparking the rebellion.

When Babu Kunwar Singh severed his left hand to continue to fight the British

The Mutiny soon spread to Delhi, Cawnpore, Lucknow, Jhansi, and Gwalior. When the uprising reached Bihar, Kunwar Singh was called upon to lead a select band of armed soldiers against the troops under the command of the British East India Company. Kunwar Singh was 80-years-old when he took up arms against the British. He gave a good fight and harried British soldiers for nearly a year and remained invincible until the end.

Kunwar Singh, who belonged to a royal Ujjainiya (Panwar) Rajput house of Jagdispur, currently a part of Bhojpur district, Bihar, India, took charge of the men who had revolted at Danapur, Bihar on July 25. Two days later Singh along with his men occupied Arrah, the district headquarters. On 3 August, Major Vincent Eyre rescued the town, defeated Singh’s men, and burned Jagdishpur.

History has it that during the uprising, his army was forced to cross the Ganges. Brigadier Douglas’ soldiers started shooting at their boat. Singh’s left wrist was smashed by one of the gunshots. Singh thought that his hand had become unusable and that there was an additional risk of infection due to the bullet shot. He pulled out his sword and severed his left hand near the elbow, offering it to the Ganges.

Veer Kunwar Singh’s sword, which had vanquished the British soldiers in the 1857 rebellion, displayed at four places in the Bhojpur district (ETV Bharat)

The troops under the authority of the East India Company were comprehensively routed in his final fight, fought on April 23, 1858, near Jagdishpur. On the 22nd and 23rd of April, despite being injured, he battled heroically against the British army, driving them away with the support of his army, bringing down the Union Jack from Jagdishpur Fort, and hoisting his flag.

He returned to his palace on April 23, 1858, and died three days later on April 26, 1858, passing on the mantle to his successor and brother Amar Singh II.

Born to the Maharaja and Maharani of Jagdishpur (currently in Bhojpur District, Bihar) in April 1777, Kunwar Singh’s name is typically drowned amid the other notable names of the Revolt. Nonetheless, his contribution to the first fight for independence was immense. He is known as Veer Kunwar Singh because of his courageous fights against the British despite many odds stacked against him.

The life-sized statue of Veer Kunwar Singh shifted to Shaheed Veer Kunwar Singh Azadi Park (source: The Telegraph)

On April 23, 1966, the Republic of India issued a commemorative stamp to honor his contribution to India’s freedom struggle. In 1992, the Bihar government founded the Veer Kunwar Singh University in Arrah.

The Veer Kunwar Singh Setu, commonly known as the Arrah–Chhapra Bridge, was opened in 2017 to connect the north and south Bihar. To commemorate the 160th anniversary of Kunwar Singh’s death, the Bihar government transferred a statue of him to Hardinge Park in 2018. The park was also officially renamed ‘Veer Kunwar Singh Azadi Park’.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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