The winning battle that turned ugly

BANGALORE: According to  historians, freedom struggle in different parts of the country including  Kittur and Surpur regions of Karnataka began almost during the same period. The Bri

Published: 06th February 2012 09:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 05:50 PM   |  A+A-

BANGALORE: According to  historians, freedom struggle in different parts of the country including  Kittur and Surpur regions of Karnataka began almost during the same period. The British who waged war against Surpur started assembling their military force at Lingsugur and Devadurga under the leadership of Captain Windham and Major Hues. The combined military force marched forward and reached Surpur on 6th February, 1857.  But, the war that took place on the 7th turned ugly.  Captain Jorge Newbary  who was the head of Knight Force of Madras took his troops towards Surpur along with his Assistant Lieutenant, Stuart on the 8th when the military of Surpur Samsthana attacked  him and Stuart. In the ensuing battle, Captain Newbary was killed and Stuart sustained injuries.   “This was the first victory against the British in South India”, says Director, Research Centre of History of Surpur, Bhaskar Rao Madbul. But the Surpur King did not have enough force, to face the might of the British army. One Vaganageri Bhimrao from Surpur, a secret agent of the British, advised Venkatappa to flee to Hyderabad and seek Salar Jung’s help. Venkatappa escaped from  Surpur  and reached Hyderabad but Bhim Rao opened the fort door, and Surpur was occupied without much resistance.  Salar Jung too deceived Raja Venkatappa Naik and handed him over to the British who initiated court marshal proceedings and later  killed him on May 11, 1856 while spreading  rumours that the Raja had committed suicide by firing upon himself from the pistol of a British military officer. However,  Meadows Taylor states in his records, “ Was the act intentional, I think not: No one was with him (Raja), no one saw him, so the only conjecture about the event: I knew him well, don’t believe it was suicide.”  According to some British Military Records, Raja committed suicide by shooting himself in the stomach,  but nobody would commit suicide by shooting in their stomach which clearly shows  this was a British version of the incident.  The mortal remains of the gallant king is yet to be traced  while historians  continue with their research  on the history of Surpur kings.

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