Updated May 30, 2023
About Kunwar Singh
Kunwar Singh (commonly known as Babu Kunwar Singh) was 80 years old when he fought against the British army in Bihar. Born in 1777, Veer Kunwar Singh was a great leader and military commander who fought during the 1857 Indian Rebellion. His dedication to his country is inspiring, as he did not care about his age or health conditions and was ready to lead the army of soldiers.
Birth and Early Life of Kunwar Singh
Singh’s birth took place on November 13, 1777, in Jagdishpur of Shahabad, commonly known as Bhojpur, Bihar. His parents, Shahabzada Singh, and Panchratan Devi, belonged to the Ujjainiya Rajput Clan and had a family of four children: Amar Singh, Dayalu Singh, Rajapati Singh, and Kunwar Singh.
Raja Shahabzada Singh, his father, was one of the descendants of the rulers of Bhoj. After he died in 1826, Kunwar Singh took over the position of taluqdar (aristocrat) Jagdishpur, and his brothers inherited the villages. The brothers soon found themselves in conflict over the inheritance, but they eventually resolved it and restored cordial relations. He married the daughter of Maharaja Fateh Narayan Singh from the Gaya district. He descended from Maharana Pratap of Mewar and belonged to the Sisodia clan of Rajputs.
Kunwar Singh was the military commander in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. He was 80 years old during that time and had the same dedication and courage as a young soldier fighting for his country. He was the leader of the soldiers along with his brother Amar Singh and commander-in-chief, Hare Krishna Singh. Kunwar Singh is not only known for his bravery but also for the genius tactics that he used to puzzle the British army.
In 1857, the battle spread across western regions of India. Many rebels in nearby towns like Danapur, Chota Nagpur, Manbhum, Singhbhum, and Palamu fought along with Singh against the British forces. He led the rebellion in Bihar and was in charge of the soldiers stationed at Danapur on July 25, 1857. Two days later, he fortified the district headquarters at Arrah. He laid siege there till August 3. Major Vincent Eyre, a British officer, took Arrah back from Singh and raided Jagdishpur.
Singh also proceeded to other parts of India to rebel against British forces like Rewa, Gwalior, Lucknow, and Kanpur. In 1857, Singh failed to enter Rewa and continued to move toward Kalpi with Nishan Singh. In Gwalior, he joined Nana Saheb Peshwa II’s troops in the Siege of Cawnpore, but they weren’t successful. Kunwar Singh took over Azamgarh, now part of Uttar Pradesh, in 1858 by attacking the weakest British positions. It caused the Britishers to send Lord Kerr and Sir Edward Lingard to retrieve the control. Singh evacuated the area immediately and went towards Ghazipur.
While on the way to Jagdishpur, one of the British forces shot Singh in the wrist. But this injury did not stop Singh from fighting; instead, he cut his hand so that the wound in his wrist did not spread in the body and continued walking to the other side of Ganga. He also won a battle near his hometown, Jagdishpur, against Captain Le Grand and his troops. This battle killed many soldiers, including Captain Le Grand, and seriously injured Singh. Even in his fragile condition, he fought against the British soldiers and succeeded in hoisting a flag in Jagdishpur. The people of Jagdishpur made Singh the king and placed him on the throne on April 23, 1858.
Three days after the battle, on April 26, 1858, against Captain Le Grand, Kunwar Singh died because of his injuries in Jagdishpur, Bhoj, Bihar. He passed his mantle to his brother, Amar Singh II.
He is one of the rebels against the British in the 1800s who is not as well known. In 1966, the Government of India issued a postage stamp to commemorate the freedom sacrifices of Kunwar Singh.
Also, in 1992, Veer Kunwar Singh University was established in Arrah, Bihar.
The Arrah Chhapra Bridge, also known as Veer Kunwar Singh Setu, was inaugurated in the year 2017 that connects North and South Bihar.
And in 2018, Singh’s statue was shifted from the public roundabout to the historic Hardinge Park to celebrate the 160th death anniversary of Babu Kunwar Singh.
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