Khan Bahadur Khan, the ruler of Rohilkhand, who fought against the British to liberate the motherland, was born in 1781. Declining a very high official post offered by the East India Company, Khan Bahadur Khan revolted against the British at the age of 70.
He declared Independence at Bareilly, the capital of Rohilkhand on 31 May 1857. He created history by addressing the people of Rohilkhand as ‘people of India’ and gave a clarion call to them: ‘the auspicious day of our freedom has dawned. The English may resort to deceit. They would try their hardest to incite Hindus against Mussalmans and vice-versa. Mussalmans, if you revere the Holy Quran, and Hindus, if you venerate the cow-mother, forget your petty differences and join hands in this holy war. Fight under one flag and with the free flow of your blood wash away the blemishes of the domination of the English over Hindustan’.
Under the leadership of Khan Bahadur Khan, Shobharam had become the Prime Minister, who was known for his honesty, and Bakht Khan had become the Commander-in-Chief.
When the Green Flag, the symbol of independence was hoisted in Rohilkhand, the British rulers were shocked. Khan Bahadur Khan took various steps to ensure harmony among the Hindus and the Muslims. He banned cow slaughter during the Hindu festivals. As a result of his several efforts, the British could not split the Hindus and the Muslims in order to fulfil their selfish interests. This is even admitted by the British themselves in their reports. Finally, the British commanders laid siege to Bareilly with huge troops.
Khan Bahadur Khan fought against the enemy till the last minute, in an adverse situation. He retreated into the forests of Nepal with his nominal troops on 5 May 1858. But Jung Bahadur, the ruler of Nepal who was pro-British, handed over Khan Bahadur Khan to the British. They tried Rohilkhand leader Bahadur Khan and 243 others who had participated in the fight against the East India Company and executed them. All of them were hanged to a big banyan tree at the old office building of the British Commissioner in Bareilly on 24 March 1860.
Saluting the motherland, Khan Bahadur Khan, along with his compatriots merged into the soil of India.