A few weeks ago I had brought to the readers excerpts from the book Rashtrano Swatantrata Sangram ane Gujarat (National Struggle for Independence and Gujarat) by Dr Shantilal M. Desai. In this book while the author elaborates the armed struggles against the British in Ahmedabad, Rajpipla, and other parts of Gujarat around 1857 revolt, there is hardly any reference to the struggle/s in Saurashtra.
The following excerpts from the book ‘Saurashtra no itihas – 1807 - 1948’ (History of Saurashtra), by A.V. Jani, published by Darshak Itihas Nidhi (Darshak history fund), gives some idea of the 1857-58 revolt in Okhamandal [As per this book, it would be interesting to note that by the year 1822, the area under British in Saurashtra barring Amreli under Gaikwad, Diu under the Portuguese, and Jafrabad under the Sidis, was 54,038 square kilometers and income 148, 87,000/-. This was a good enough reason for revolts I think!]
Excerpts from the book (Translated from Gujarati by me):
“The Vaghers’ of Okhamandal had declared revolt at that time. The Vagher community loved independence and was a militant community. …They were opposed to the rule of the Gaekwad or the British. They had revolted against the Gaekwad in the year1820, which was put out by the Gaekwad with the help of the British agency in 1822. The forefathers of Vaghers ruled this area. Therefore they wanted to remove the rule of the Gaekwad. In 1858, they revolted and took away Beyt and Dwarka from the Gaekwad. At the request of Gaekwad, the British agency called about 1400 soldiers from Mumbai under the leadership of Col. Donavan and sent another army from Rajkot under the leadership of Col.Scribe. This army destroyed the fort of Beyt and won/captured the same. In this (fight) the leader of the Vaghers Devo Chabani was killed. The British looted booty worth 3.5 lakhs from the temple of Beyt, which was returned later. Later they bombarded Dwarka and acquired it. The British army damaged the temple and the idols and looted the booty. The rulers of Jamnagar, Porbandar, Kutch as well as the business class expressed their opposition to this and asked to return the booty as well as repair the temple; otherwise they expressed fear of revolts in other places…
…Many people under the leadership of Jodha Manek ran away to the Gir and hid themselves there. From Gir they adopted guerrilla warfare. Their main leaders were Jodha Manek and Mulu Manek. They had hidden in the hills of Abhpara. Col. Homer had driven them out from there. This is how the revolt of the Vagher community came to an end. Many were caught and kept in the Vadodara jail. They ran away from there and came back to Okhamandal and once again Mulu Manek and Deva Manek, the nephews of Jodha Manek formed their team and began looting. However they were badly defeated in Macharda village under Jamnagar. At the fight in Macharda, the British commander in chief Captain Latush and Captain Hebart were killed. In the end, on 7-5-1869, the army of Porbandar surrounded Mulu Manek near Ranpur and killed him. This is how the revolt of the Vaghers going on for several years came to an end. The graves of the two British officers remain at Macharda.”
1. Sketches of Jodha Manek and Mulu Manek can be seen on the link: http://www.jhaverchandmeghani.com/life-2.htm
2. Jhaverchand Meghani, the well known figure in Gujarati literature has written about the life and struggles of these heroes in his book Sorthi Baharvatiya.
3. Those who wish to read further details of the Okhamandal revolt can also read: http://archives.peoplesdemocracy.in/2007/1007/10072007_1857.htm
4. It is interesting to note from the write up in People’s Democracy that to fight the Vaghers some of the princely states of Saurashtra joined hands and sent their army. It is noted in the article that the Porbandar State sent “Diwan Karamchand Gandhi with 200 soldiers.”