Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

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Paying tribute to India’s freedom fighters

Pathan Turrebaz Khan

Hyderabad, Telangana

January 13, 2023 to January 13, 2024

Flames of the First War of Indian Independence were ignited majorly in North India, but this did not remain confined there and spread to many parts of the country. Kings, nawabs and Britishers could not stop the rebellion that got sparked across the country.

It was obvious that facing British rulers - equipped with modern weapons and huge military force - was not an easy task. Pathan Turrebaz Khan was a Rohilla military leader. Turrebaz Khan led the famous army of the Arabs and Rohillas. He was the son of Rustum Khan, a Pathan resident of Hyderabad. He joined the British Army and served as Jamedar in the British Cantonment of Aurangabad. Very little is known about him, but he was responsible for putting Hyderabad on the map of country's first war of independence.

Pathan Turrebaz led the 1857 uprising in Hyderabad along with Maulvi Allaudin. Pathan Turrebaz Khan, with the help of Maulvi Allauddin, attacked the Hyderabad Residency, the home of British rulers, with around 5,000 rebels on 17 July 1857. He lost several comrades in the attack and was captured by the British-Nizam forces on 22 July 1857 to be imprisoned for life to Kaala-Paani. He was sentenced to exile on the charges of sedition, and the British rulers confiscated his property.

During the execution of the sentence imposed by the British rulers, the brave Pathan Turrebaz escaped from prison on 18 January 1859 before being deported to Kaala-Paani. By the time he ran, the British rulers had suppressed the revolt of 1857. The Nizam government announced a reward of five thousand rupees on him, dead or alive, on 19 January 1859. Alarmed by this announcement, Turrebaz Khan went around secretly and attempted to attack the British forces again. British troops and Nizam forces intensified his surveillance, who had escaped prison.

Finally, Turrebaz Khan was captured with help from Kurban Ali, who informed Nizam's soldiers about the former’s whereabouts. On 24 January 1859, the British forces received information that Turrebaz was at Tufran village in the surrounding areas of Medak district.

British armies and Nizam forces surrounded the area where Turrebaz Khan was staying, and he was shot dead by the enemy soldiers on 24 January. The body of Turrebaz Khan was moved from Tufran to Hyderabad and was chained and hanged naked in public at the current location of Sultan Bazaar Police Station in Hyderabad city. Englishmen treated the body of Pathan Turrebaz Khan in a cruel and humiliating way.

A granite pillar with four statues of elephants guarding from four directions has been installed in the memory of Pathan Turrebaz Khan. In 1957, the government of independent India built a stupa at the city bus stand in Koti in his memory.