Shivdevi Tomar: 16 Year Old Jaat Girl Who Killed 17 British Soldiers during Revolt of 1857
We breathe free, we live free;
This freedom we owe truly
To adversity, martyrdom, strategy,
To love, patriotism, sacrifice
Of our brothers and sisters by our motherland.
We invoke you, O patriots!
O sons and daughters of Bharat!
To shower us with your prowess,
So that we keep up to your legacy;
Let your courage, let your nationalism
Prevail in this generation;
And subsequent generations for eternity.
Yes! We breathe free and live free because of the collective sacrifices of our freedom fighters. Who doesn’t know about the brave sons and daughters of Mother India – Bhagat Singh, Chandra Sekhar Azad, Subhash Chandra Bose, Rani Lakhsmi Bai, Mangal Pandey, to name a few?
But there are many unsung heroes and heroines of Indian Independence Movement, who have not found a place in History. Besides men, women too played an instrumental role in India’s struggle for independence.
Not everyone is familiar with 16 year-old Shivdevi Tomar, who bravely fought against the British during the Revolt of 1857. She hailed from Baraut, Baghpat, around 54 kilometers from Meerut, the place from where the Revolt started.
It was a Sunday. Date: May 10, 1857. Place: Meerut cantonment. By this time, many Indians across the country were agitated against the British. Rebellions did occur at many places earlier, but in vain. The episode of greased cartridges had been hurting the sentiments of the Indian soldiers. Numerous British soldiers were off duty and the British officers stationed at Meerut Cantonment were preparing to attend church that day. Indian soldiers at the cantonment attacked the British soldiers including officers. The people of Meerut joined them. 50 Britishers were killed in the attack.
Soon, this news spread like wild fire and many a son and daughter of Bharat Mata rose in revolt against the British across the country. The freedom struggle in the villages adjoining Meerut was triggered by one Shahmal Singh Tomar from Baraut. He laid siege of Baraut and declared independence. The flag of independence flew high in the Baraut sky.
On 18 July 1857, British forces attacked Shahmal Singh Tomar and his men at Badka village near Baraut. Shahmal Singh Tomar and the villagers fought bravely. Tomar was martyred in the attack. 32 of the freedom fighters who sided with Tomar were captured. They were hanged to death from a peepal tree in the outskirts of Bijraul village near Baraut. The British then destroyed the houses of Baraut, leaving everyone homeless. Not only this, the British also plundered the village, looted properties and left the villagers without food and shelter.
16 year-old Shivdevi Tomar was witness to the atrocities of the British. She was never trained in warfare, yet she decided to fight or perish. She held a secret meeting with one of her brave friends Kishandevi and few of the youths of the village. And they decided to attack. Holding a sword, Shivdevi Tomar, leading her group of few villagers attacked the British forces at Baraut.
Shivdevi Tomar fought like Goddess Kali. She tore the British soldiers into pieces with her sword, killing 17 of them. 25 of the soldiers fled to save their lives. Not a single British remained in Baraut.
Villagers gathered around the heavily wounded Shivdevi Tomar, appreciating her courage. Suddenly, while her wounds were being treated, the British forces arrived and attacked her. She attained martyrdom.
My India My Glory salutes the sacrifice of Shivdevi Tomar. Jai Hind!
Featured image courtesy: Wikipedia and ‘1551 mast jaat’ Facebook Page.
Primary Ref: Mahaveer Singh Jakhar’s book Jaaton ke Vishwa Samrajya aur Unke Yugpurush 2004, p.240-241.