|Queen Zeenat Mahal - Delhi||The Begam of Oudh|
|Photo inserted by Website||Illustrated Weekly Photo|
INDIA'S First War of Independence revealed, in an astounding manner, qualities in Indian women often associated with the great generals of history. It is said that Sir Hugh rose, who commanded the British armies at the time, was of the opinion that the course of the war might have gone differently for us had the command of the Indian forces at Kalpi or Gwalior been conceded to Laxmi Bai of Jhansi.
Besides the Rani Lakshmi Bai, there were three other heroines of 1857: Hazrat Begam of Oudh, the Rani of Tulsipur in Bahraich and Begam Zeenat Mahal of Delhi. Hazrat Begum was a shrewd politician and mother of the minor Nawab Birjis Qadar, who was proclaimed ruler of Oudh by the soldiers of freedom in 1857-58. She inspired the people of Oudh along with Maulvi Ahmad Shah so much that the toughest efforts had to be made by the British to win Lucknow and Oudh.
Hazrat Begam felicitated her troops in person in Alambagh and when Dilkusha was taken and the soldiers of freedom fought with desperate courage for the defence of Luknow this brave Queen never lost heart and moved among her men with a spirit that deserved better success. But nothing availed and all was lost except Musabagh which was defended by a valiant band of revolutionaries under the leadership of the heroic Begam herself till March 1858, when she left Lucknow for the north with her troops followed by Ahmad Shah. Both of them fell upon Shahjehanpur and tried to drive out the British from Rohilkhand. But there, too, failure followed her and she marched on along with other revolutionary leaders towards Nepal where she found asylum till her death.