History abounds with heroes. I'm sure you've all heard some great stories. History books have taught us a lot and elders in our family also serve as a chest of memories, with amazing stories. But mostly those are of the heroes who gained fame and popularity.
But what about the ones that history forgot?
There are so many people whom we have forgotten. People who deserve to be remembered. One such man was Raja Rao Tula Ram from Harayana.
For Delhiites, he's nothing more than a signboard on a road called the Rao Tula Ram Marg. But let's forget the 'sign' and talk about the 'sign'ificance of the great man.
At an age when we are bothered about our upcoming board exams, 14-year-old Rao Tula Ram was forced to take up the mantle of Rampura (Rewari district). He was highly proficient in Hindi, Urdu & Persian and had a good hand at English as well.
He was born in 1825 and grew up in the years leading up to the mutiny of 1857, where his contributions, largely unknown, were highly significant.
In the May of 1857, he took over a few government buildings in Rewari and established his headquarters close by. The young leader proclaimed himself Raja and was eager to have a go at the British.
His tale of bravery was set to begin. He established workshops & took donations from the people of Rewari to build arms and made an army from scratch.
5000 people, ready to fight. For him, for India.
Upon hearing the news of Delhi being under siege from the Brits, he joined forces with the Mughals. But the enemy was too powerful and despite his best efforts, he could not help the last Mughal emperor keep his throne. Delhi had been captured.
Having lost men in battle, he knew that the British would soon move for him and attack his men at Rampura. So when the British came knocking, they found an empty fort. Much to their frustration, Tula Ram had evaded imminent defeat.
They sent a messenger to Tula Ram, asking him to surrender. But the braveheart refused. In fact, he decided to lock horns with those who had taken over his fort. His first attack was when he took them by surprise at Nasibpur near Rewari, where the enemy forces were resting. The attack forced the opposition to scatter. They did however have two other infantries waiting to provide help.
Help arrived, but their leader, Colonel Gerrard lost his life, leaving them disheartened. Tula Ram and his men captured more weapons and caused some significant damage to the forces. He had the upper hand, but ironically, the nearby Indian princely states sent to aid the British.
Allegedly, the likes of Jaipur, Alwar, Nabha & Patiala sent men who eventually tilted the war in the enemy's favour.
But again, Tula Ram escaped. The Brits were obviously frustrated again. This time he joined forces with Tatya Tope. But the mutiny was coming to an end. As the British were rounding people up for trial, they had promised to provide full pardons to mutineers, except those who had been involved in the murder of British officials.
Being part of the latter, he fled again. This time, he went to Iran. During his travels, he asked the Shah to help him. Rao Tula had believed that the only way talks could be held with the British was by first having equal firepower. He then travelled to Afghanistan, where allegedly he received a great reception and was promised by the then Emir that help to Indian forces would be provided. He had also made contact with the Russians. But he never left Afghanistan. An illness took his life.
One can't help but notice the similarities between him & the much-revered Subhas Chandra Bose. Like Bose, he too had fled from under the noses of the Brits so many times. He too was technically sound when it came to warfare. Both men believed in a more radical approach by matching the forces of the British in number & firepower.
They believed that if you are as powerful or more, the scales are more likely to tip in your favour. Bearing this in mind, both had established contact abroad to make Indian forces stronger. These two great men truly were ahead of their times. And sadly, both of them died on foreign soil.
Two heroes with similar ideologies, almost 70-80 years apart. But think of it this way. Imagine if that ideology would have come into effect all those years prior to the works of Netaji! It was 1862 & the British rule was clearly not as strong back then. Tula Ram was only 38 years old, when dysentery took his life. He had so many years ahead of him. What if he would've shaken the Imperial rule back then? Maybe their foothold wouldn't have been strong.
The master evader could have really made some serious dents in the British rule. If he inflicted so much damage with the numbers being against him, can you imagine what he could've done had the numbers been on his side? Help had been promised, and if he would've arrived with it, he could have wreaked havoc. But his untimely death interfered with what could have been a famous tale of heroism.
The saddest part is that it only remains a tale of what could've been. But if Netaji is celebrated and admired for his efforts, Rao Tula Ram deserves the same and his contribution should not be overlooked.