My Trustworthy readers,
The revolution of 1857 first started in India from Ambala Cantonment of Haryana and despite all evidences pointing towards this fact, it is surprising why Western historians and intellectuals of a specific category have presented it in their own account. Listening and reading this account made my heart yearn to present the true unabridged version of events to the people. The success of my attempt to scale this task will only be evident by the love and support this book received. The publishing of this to me took many years and saw its share of ups and downs. The process created some unforgettable bitter and sweet memories, some of which I’d like to share with you:
It was the year 1996-97, when I met cabinet minister Chaudhary Suraj Bhan, who was a classmate of my father, S. Joginder Singh Ahluwalia. At that time, I was in the process of publishing a book named ‘History of Ambala’. He told me to mention the fact that it was believed that revolution of 1857 had begun from Ambala and these words stuck with me since then and I resolved to work on this topic. I had always wanted to learn more about this revolution since my school days because my childhood was filled with stories of the same.
Later, I met renowned social worker and educator from Ambala Sh. Kirti Prasad Jain, and then Cabinet Minister Sushma Swaraj in November 1998. We discussed the revolution of 1857 and she invited me to visit her in Delhi. Me, along with Sh Kirti Prasad Jain, and Chairman of Raahat International, Sh J P Mehta went to meet Sushma Swaraj in Delhi. This attempt was expedited by Ambala’s BJP leader Raj Singh’s attempts. Sushma ji blessed me in the capacity of an elder sister and said that her blessings would always be with me for this noble work and approved my access to several libraries and in the archives department. This helped me easily access related departments and universities for my research. After a long struggle, I found a lot of facts and research on the history of 1857.
Then in the year 2000, I met Sh Anil Vij (the then M.L.A. from Ambala) along with Prof Ratan Singh Dhillon and Principal Gurudev Singh in Ambala Cantt. When we discussed the revolution of 1857 with him, he got emotional and told us that he also had some information about this topic. He mentioned that my work on this topic was commendable and that I should continue working on it. The information provided by him was helpful and he brought forward this topic in the Haryana Vidhan Sabha, and highlighted my book ‘History of Ambala – the battle of 1857’ in the Vidhan Sabha. At that time Anil Vij was an independent M.L.A. After his mention in the Vidhan Sabha, the discussions on this topic gained momentum. On 23rd March, 2003, my book ‘History of Ambala – Part 1’, was released and it had a chapter dedicated to the fact that the battle of 1857 was started in Ambala. It was released by Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Mr. B K Roy who was the chief guest for the event. Kurukshetra University’s Vice Chancellor Mr A K Chawla presided in the release of the book. During that event Mr B K Roy congratulated me and encouraged me to write a book dedicated to this fact that the battle of 1857 was started in Ambala so that this fact could reach the masses. During that time, the topic started to gain attention in many universities around the country by way of seminars and sessions.
In 2004, Mr A K Chawla introduced me to the then Chief Minister of Haryana, Sh. Om Prakash Chautala during an event organized in Kurukshetra University. There were discussions held on the books I had published on various topics in the history of Haryana. The CM honoured me by saying that Ambala had a big role to play in the battle of 1857 and I should continue working on this area without any political or religious influences. His vote of confidence gave wings to my focus as I further worked in this area.
I also want to share that I was employed as an officer in the Punjab Government and hence I had constraints on the time I could dedicate on writing historical books. Later Kumari Selja became the cabinet minister from Ambala and she also helped in the project and helped me meet Sh MS Gill who I regard really highly. He was a minister at that time and had been the DC in Ambala in 1965 where he was also a friend of my father. Along with his help me in publishing this book, he also introduced me with some high ranked officers and politicians in Punjab and Haryana, and their contribution in writing these books was invaluable.
In addition to Delhi, records were collected from many districts including Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Patiala, Panchkula, and Karnal. These records were captured in my books. After many years, after witnessing many topsy turvy roads, my book ‘Haryana the torch bearer of 1857’, ‘Historical saga of Cis-Satluj state, Ambala’ division (both in English), and ‘Daastan-e-1857’ (in Punjabi) were released. The book ‘Haryana the torch bearer of 1857’ was released on 28th Dec, 2008 at Kingfisher resorts in Ambala by Sh Kumari Selja and was presided over by Sh Anil Vij, who is now Haryana’s home minister. On this occasion many renowned IAS officers, judiciary officers and university principals from major universities were present. In this event Sh Anil Vij mentioned that if given a chance, he would definitely want to build a memorial in the memory of the people who initiated the battle of 1857 and gave their lives fighting for our independence. Perhaps, the words were meant to be and Sh Anil Vij did start work on a memorial for 1857 that would have an investment of over 350 crore. My sincere thanks and credit to Sh Anil Vij and the Haryana Govt for building this memorial.
Henceforth, I am pleased to present my next book ‘Daastan-e-1857’ Hindi edition, which is being published by Dr Deepinder Kaur Walia.
Tejinder Singh Walia
Journalist & Historian