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Rising at the Residency

If the Palladian columns of Residency signify British might, under the building is a symbol of Indian resistance. SERISH NANISETTI finds out


MARTYRS' BANE The prison inside the Residency building

Have you heard of Turrebaz Khan Road? Perhaps you haven't. It is that stretch of road near Women's College, Koti where pedestrians have to fight for space with the footpath vendors between the bus stand and Jambagh Road. Now the identity of the road is either the Kamat Hotel, or the Congress Bhavan or the Osmania Medical College. It wasn't always so.

"There was a time when we used to see the road sign Turrebaz Khan Road near the Koti end. Now I don't think it can be found," says Dr. G. Anjaiah, who teaches history at the Women's College. The watchman at the western gate of the Residency building complex too doesn't know where is Turrebaz Khan road though if he just turns his head he can see the pylon near the bus stand to mark the revolt of 1857. It reads: `Memorial to the martyrs of July 17, 1857'.

Today, as commuters mill round the bus stop, it is difficult to imagine that on July 17, 1857 at about 5.45 p.m. about 500 Rohillas marched to the British Resident Col Cuthbert Davidson's koti and took up positions in two houses belonging to moneylenders Abban Saheb and Jaigopal Das and opened fire at the Residency. Then the brought down the walls Azim Ali Khan's house and tore off the hinges of the entrance near Putli Bowli as their comrades gave covering fire from the two double-storied houses.

Housed inside the prison in the Residency was another of their comrades Jamedar Cheeda Khan. Led by a fiery Moulvi Allaudin (who preached revolt in his Friday sermon) and Turrebaz Khan, the mob wanted to free Jamedar Cheeda Khan who had revolted against the British when Hyderabad Contingent's 3rd Cavalry was asked to march to Delhi at Buldhana and fled with 15 others to Hyderabad to bring the fire of mutiny to the Nizam's turf.

No sooner than Cheeda Khan reached Hyderabad he was arrested byNizam's minister Salar Jung who handed him over to the Resident as he was a British soldier. He was jailed as well as tried inside the Residency building.

Walking diagonally behind the Palladian columns of the Residency building which almost looks like the basement entrance, Anjaiah stops and says: "It was perhaps here that Cheeda Khan might have been imprisoned." He flicks on a switch to light up rows of prison bars and a locking mechanism which is complex but doesn't reveal any conventional lock (the alumnus of the college would recognise GF1 and GF2 classrooms that flank the entrance). The prison is not a single room, but is a honeycombed structure arranged in a semi-circular fashion under the Darbar Hall.

Of course the Rohillas failed to free Cheeda Khan. The British troops who were led by Major S. C. Briggs opened up their artillery, kept ready by the Resident, who was alerted by Salar Jung. The lightly armed men led by Turrebaz Khan were no match for the trained soldiers of Madras Horse Artillery who fired from stationary positions. The firing went all night long and by morning, there were a few bodies and pockmarked buildings and scared residents of Putli Bowli and Sultan Baazar.

Turrebaz Khan who escaped was discovered and shot dead near Toopran, his body was dragged back and hanged near the Residency building. Moulvi Allaudin was caught near Mangalampally and was sentenced to Kala Pani where he died in 1884. The houses of Abban Saheb and Jaigopal Das were blown away after the mutiny. Oh! Salar Jung? He became the hero of the revolt for the British. "The British government will not forget that it has owed to his highness the Nizam and his most able minister," wrote Col Davidson.

As India celebrates 150th anniversary of First War of Independence, the place where the key revolutionary was imprisoned remains out of memory's pale.

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