Titumir

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
সৈয়দ মীর নিসার আলী
Syed Mir Nisar Ali
Born (1782-01-27)27 January 1782
Chandpur, North 24 Parganas district, British India, (now India)
Died 19 November 1831(1831-11-19) (aged 49)
Movement Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya [1]
Religion Islam
Parents Syed Mir Hassan Ali (father)
Abida Ruqayya Khatun (mother)

Titumir (Bengali: তিতুমীর; 1782 – 1831) was a rebel against the Zamindars and British colonial system in 19th century Bengal, a part of British India. He rebelled against them and put up an armed resistance. Along with his followers, he built a Bamboo fort (Bansher-Kella-বাঁশের কেল্লা in Bengali) which passed into Bengali folk legend. After the storming of the fort by British soldiers, Titumir died of his wounds on November 19, 1831.

Early life[edit]

Titu Mir was born as Syed Mir Nisar Ali on 27 January 1782 (14 Magh 1182 in Bengali calendar), in Chandpur village, in North 24 Parganas district (currently in West Bengal, India). His father was Syed Mir Hassan Ali and mother was Abida Ruqayya Khatun.[2]

Titu Mir’s education began in his village school, after which he moved to a local Madrassa. By the time he was 18 years of age, he had become a Hafiz of the Qur'an and a scholar of the Hadith and the Muslim traditions. He was also accomplished with Bengali, Arabic, and Persian languages. During this time he came under the influence of several Wahhabi seers, who preached a mixture of militant Islam and anti-colonial thought and saw both religious and political reform as in Bengal of that time.He was a disciple of Syed Ahmad Barelvi whose teachings of struggle against non Muslim oppression influenced his thoughts. [3]

Political activism[edit]

In 1822, Titu Mir went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj enjoined upon all Muslims, and on his return he commenced organizing the Muslim peasants of his native village against the landlords or Zamindars and the British colonialists. He also affected the tahband a tube shaped garment worn around the waist, in preference to the dhoti, seen as more overtly Hindu.[citation needed]

Confrontations with the zamindars[edit]

Titu Mir opposed a number of discriminatory measures in force at that time which included taxes on the wearing of beards and on mosques. The rift between Titu Mir and his followers on one side, and the local Zamindars supported by the British rulers on the other side, continued to widen, and armed conflict broke out at several places. Titu Mir had himself belonged to a "peyada" or martial family and himself had served under a Zamindar as a 'lathial or 'lethel', a fighter with the quarterstaff or lathi, (which in Bengal is made of bamboo, not wood) and he was actively training his men in hand to hand combat and the use of the lathi. This weapon in skilled hands is deadly against anything except projectile weapons. He thus started military training inside the Mosques and Madrassahs. Since his army was mostly made up of poor peasants, they had no horses as cavalry. To face the situation and to give protection to the peasants Titu Mir formed a "Mujahid"force and trained them in lathi and other indigenous arms. The increasing strength of Titu Mir alarmed the zamindars who however attempted involve the British in their fight against him. Being instigated by the zamindar of Gobardanga, Davis, the English kuthial (factor) of Mollahati, advanced with his force against Titu Mir, but were routed.[2]

Titu Mir filed a complain to the government of East India Company against the oppression of the zamindars, but to no result.[2]

Confrontations with the British[edit]

The followers of Titu Mir, believed to have grown to 15,000 by that time, readied themselves for prolonged armed conflict, and they built a fort of bamboo at Narikelbaria, near the town of Barasat. This was surrounded by a high double curtain wall of bamboo stakes filled in with mud cladding and sun-baked.

Titu Mir declared independence from the British, and regions comprising the current districts of 24 Parganas, Nadia and Faridpur came under his control. The private armies of the Zamindars and the forces of the British met with a series of defeats at the hands of his men as a result of his strike-and-retreat guerrilla tactics.

Finally, the British forces, led by Lieutenant Colonel Stewart consisting of 100 cavalry, 300 native infantry and artillery with two cannons, mounted a concerted attacks on 14 November 1831, on Titu Mir and his followers. Armed with nothing more than the bamboo quarterstaff and Lathi and a few swords and spears, Titu Mir and his forces could not withstand the might of modern weapons, and were overwhelmed. The bamboo castle was destroyed, and Titu Mir was killed along with several of his followers. The commanding officer of the British forces noted his opponent's bravery in dispatches, and also commented on the strength and resilience of bamboo as a material for fortification, since he had had to pound it with artillery for a surprisingly long time before it gave way.[2]

After a long-drawn trial, Golam Rasul, Titumir's nephew and second in command was hanged and some 350 others were sentenced to transportation for life.[4]

Legacy[edit]

Titu Mir has been a source of inspiration in the liberation for the people of Bangladesh.[5]

In 2004, listeners of the BBC's Bengali service have voted Titu Mir 11 on a list of 20 "Greatest Bengalis." The survey produced well over 100 names, and the top 20 was compiled on points awarded according to listeners' order of preference. [6]

In Dhaka, originally established as Jinnah College was renamed to Titumir College in 1971. Titumir Hall is also a dormitory of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology at Dhaka.

Bangladesh Navy has its principal base in Khulna named after him as 'BNS Titumir'.[7]

On 19 November 1992, Government of Bangladesh issued a commemorative stamp honoring Titumir on his 161st death anniversary.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

Mahasweta Devi wrote a novella called Titu Mir. A play named Titumir-er Basher Kella has been made for TV in Bangladesh.[citation needed] It has also featured as a theme for Puja pandals which are often done up as historical tableaux.[citation needed]

Further reading[edit]

  • Titumirer Bansher Kella (Bamboo Fort of Titumur, 1981) by Rabeya Khatun

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1], from Banglapedia.
  2. ^ a b c d "Banglapedia". Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  3. ^ PAKISTAN History,culture and Government by Nigel smith
  4. ^ "India’s Struggle for Freedom". Department of Information & Cultural Affairs, Government of West Bengal. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Mir Nisar Ali (Titu Mir)". 
  6. ^ "Listeners name 'greatest Bengali'". Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Bangladesh Navy Official Website
  8. ^ Bangladesh Stamps