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Raja Bakhtawar Singh

(★ – 1858) – (Madhya Pradesh)

Raja Bakhtawar Singh was born in the former Amjhera State, Distt. Indore, Madhya Pradesh. He was the son of Shri Rao Ajit Singh of Amjhera and played an active role in the Great Revolt of 1857 against British hegemony in India. He ordered his army to attack the British and succeeded in capturing the fortress of Dhar. However, the British forces later besieged the Dhar fort on October 20, 1857.

The Raja’s troops numbered about 4,000 and made a brave stand against relentless artillery bombardment by the British. However, they had to evacuate the fort about ten days later. The rebel army escaped through a secret passage and joined the forces of Prince Ferozeshah, the son of the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah, in Mandsaur.

The British forces then moved towards Amjhera, and the Raja gathered his forces in the Lalgarh Fort, where he was joined by about 300 patriots from the aboriginal tribes inhabiting the area. The British forces did not dare to attack the fort and instead resorted to mean tactics by bribing the Chief Minister of Amjhera, Gulab Rao, and persuading him to betray the Raja. Unaware of the plot, the Raja agreed to meet the British for negotiations on the advice of Gulab Rao.

However, when he left the Lalgarh Fort on his way to Indore, the British attacked him. He was executed on the gallows by the British on February 10, 1858. The treacherous Dewan, Gulab Rao, was also hanged by the British. After India became independent in 1947, a statue was installed at Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, to commemorate the Raja’s martyrdom.