Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi

A Long Shadow

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The accusations made against the Rani still echo today, perhaps as an example of the English saying that if you throw enough mud some of it will stick. In a book, first published in 1973, and published in a new edition in 2001, we find the following quote:-

Though the British had taken refuge in the fortress, they had emerged - it was believed on the safe promise of the Rani, that widow who so loathed the British for the annexation of her state - and they had all been murdered.

So far as I know, only one person, Mrs Mutlow, claimed that the Rani had promised safe conduct for the British and her testimony came sometime after the mutiny as she was confined to Jhansi. Further there were other contradictory and more plausible statements known to the British at the time.

Whilst the Rani had more than one reason to dislike the British there is no evidence for her loathing of them or acting out of malice towards them. Indeed reports of the British show that she cooperated with them.

The author does not state that the Rani was involved in the massacre but the implication is there.

Additionally, the account of her death varies from any other I have seen. This time she was 'struck in the side by a bullet, had kept her saddle only for a few seconds before falling from it, dead.'

I would not wish to suggest that this book is otherwise inaccurate or pro-British. On the first, I am not qualified to comment, and on the latter it certainly is not. The account of the destruction of Jhansi is largely taken from Godse's account. My objective is to demonstrate how the British calumnies live on, and the difficulties of discovering the truth.

The book is 'The Indian Mutiny' by John Harris, ISBN 1 84022 232 8.

Last modified: 2005-09-23 23:23:02.000000000