LUCKNOW: The siege in Kanpur was a significant episode in the history of India’s first war of independence in 1857. The besieged East India Company forces and civilians in Kanpur surrendered to rebel forces under Nana Sahib in return for a safe passage to Allahabad. However, their evacuation from Kanpur turned into a massacre, and most of the men were killed. As an East India Company rescue force from Allahabad approached Kanpur, 120 British women and children captured by the sepoy forces were killed in what came to be known as the Bibighar Massacre. Their remains were thrown down a nearby well in an attempt to hide the evidence.
The revolt of 1857 in Kanpur and the events that led to the massacre was discussed in the session titled ‘A defining time in the history of India and the Raj’, in reference to author Andrew Ward’s book India’s Historic Battles: Kanpur 1857. The author and city-based writer Mehru Jaffer were the panelists. Nana Sahib was the adopted heir to Baji Rao II, the ex-Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy.
The evacuation did not go as planned. There was confusion on getting into the boats, and misunderstanding causing sepoys to fire at the departing British, known as Satichaura Ghat massacre. “Nana Sahib was a significant personality in the siege at Kanpur. However, he was a foggy figure. Some say he was sturdy, while some had other opinions about him,” said Ward.

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