What do we read in our textbooks regarding Nepal’s role in 1857 Indian War of Independence? That Nepal voluntarily supported the British and helped crush the opposition.
I will present you a statement from the quasi-official version of the East India Company and two more from two different books, poles apart, but which were written contemporareous to 1857 Indian War of Independence.
History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857–8 – Kaye and Malleson
Among the offers of assistance which, in the early days of the revolt, had been made to the Governor-General was one of peculiar significance. Jang Bahadur, the virtual ruler of the independent Hill State which, touching the British territory at Kumaun, extends all along the north-east border of Oudh, then rejoining British territory at a point in the Gorakhpur district due north of the station of the same name, continues the touch to within a few miles of Darjiling – Jang Bahadur had, in the month of May, placed the whole military resources of Nipal at the disposal of the Governor-General. The independent position occupied by Nipal, the known ability of the man, who, though only Prime Minister, wielded all real authority in the country, the certainty that the overthrow of the British could scarcely fail to offer great opportunities to an able general commanding a compact and well-disciplined army, gave to Jang Bahadur’s proposal the appearance of being inspired by a pure and generous friendship.
My Travels: the Story of the 1857 Mutiny(Translated from Marathi) by Vishnubhat Godse Versaikar
A Nepali general, Jang Bahadur, who commanded a ten-thousand-strong-army, fought on behalf of the Begum, aided by the Begum’s own armies. The first round was swift and harsh and the royal forces drove the British out of the town. The Begum heaved a sign of relief and began to pick up the reins of the administration once again. But soon, the British struck again. They had realised that Jang Bahadur was a capable man of great courage and with commanding abilities and decided to win him over to their side with the lure of money. They finally succeeded. Once Jang Bahadur had defected, Lucknow fell to the British toops after a fierce battle that lasted for five or six days.
The Siege of Lucknow: a Diary by Julia Selina Inglis
John told us yesterday that the first relief we might expect would be in three weeks, when three Goorkha regiments might arrive. Each had been promised £10,000; they were to come from Nepaul.
What exactly do they mean? Malleson says Jang Bahadur Rana volunteered to send a force to support the British. Vishnubhat Godse told, Nepal sent an army to support Begum Hazrat Mahal in Lucknow and that Jung Bahadur Rana sold the army to the British. Julia Inglis, the wife of the commander of Lucknow garrison after the death of Henry Lawrence put a price for which the army is sold. The first and three give the exact number of soldiers while the second one gives an approximation. Or, does the first and third give the size of the army which was left standing after the initial bout? Or is this an indication that a part of Nepali army rebelled against Jang Bahadur and returned home?
The truth is somewhere in between. But, the reality is this. Nepal sent an army to support Lucknow rebellion effort. But the Prime Minister of Nepal sold the army to the British for a price. Did he do it with the knowledge of his suzerain? If that’s the case, why did the major leaders of Lucknow theatre like Nana Saheb and Begum Hazrat Mahal escape into Nepal and are never caught by the British? If Jung Bahadur Rana is that overtly slavish to the British, will he not arrest these people? Or is this a sort of penance for the national guilt that it was negotiated that those who retreated into Nepal will be left free, if they don’t meddle in Indian politics again? And what happened to Nepal? Jung Bahadur has already toppled the king in 1856 and his position was precarious. Does this betrayal was a trade off for support to cement his position in Nepal in return for ditching his allies?
So, what exactly is the history?