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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Briton visits India Mutiny grave
By Ram Dutt Tripathi
BBC News, Lucknow

Members of British tour party in Lucknow
The British visit has stirred bitter memories for some in India
A member of a group of Britons seeking to pay tribute to those who died in an 1857 Indian revolt has defied protesters to see his ancestor's grave.

Sir Mark Havelock managed to sneak past police in the northern city of Lucknow to see his great-great-grandfather Sir Henry Havelock's grave.

Sir Mark visited the cemetery accompanied by an Indian friend.

The Britons spent Tuesday holed up in their hotel after being told not to visit the city's historic Residency.

Protesters in India say the trip is an insult to Indian freedom fighters.

Activists from India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (file photo)
Indian protesters say the visit is an insult

Hundreds died as rebels laid siege to the British compound in the city during the 1857 Mutiny against colonial rule.

Soldiers across different garrisons in northern India revolted against their British officers in 1857 but the rebellion was crushed by the British.

Sir Mark's friend told the BBC that policemen on duty near the Alambagh cemetery where many of the British dead are buried did not recognise him as he was not part of a group.

Memorial plaque

Sir Mark's ancestor, Sir Henry Havelock, died in 1857 after the siege ended. He led the recapture of Lucknow from Indian sepoys.

Sir Mark was able to take some pictures of the graveyard, and was happy that it was well maintained, his friend said.

The group of Britons - comprising retired soldiers and civilians - have now left Lucknow, after cancelling all their engagements in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Statue of Sir Henry Havelock in Trafalgar Square
British Victorian military hero, born in 1795
Fought in 19th century campaigns in Afghanistan and India
By 1857 he was Adjutant-General of the British Army in India
Rose to national fame in UK for suppressing the Indian Mutiny

The group's travel organiser, Prateek Hira, told the BBC that they had left because of security concerns following strong opposition to their plans by a section of local people.

Organisers say their trip became controversial when it was revealed that they planned to present a memorial plaque at a church to those British soldiers who died in 1857.

The plaque praised the "bravery" of British soldiers during the mutiny.

This was interpreted by some as an insult to local "freedom fighters", many of whom died in the mutiny.

A church service in Lucknow scheduled for Tuesday - which included prayers for the dead of both sides, two minutes silence and the playing of the bugle - was cancelled by the Archaeological Survey of India.

It said that the "cemetery located within the Residency complex is not a living monument, and any religious offering or ritual is not permitted".

A senior police official in Lucknow said that plans by the group also to visit Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi were also not safe given the present "hostile sentiments".

A spokeswoman for the party, Rosie Llewellyn Jones, said that all they wanted was "to understand the Indian point of view and remember the brave dead of both sides".

Anger over UK India Mutiny trip
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11 May 07 |  In Pictures
Indians mark revolt anniversary
11 May 07 |  South Asia
India pushes 'graveyard tourism'
27 Dec 06 |  South Asia
Indian mutiny was 'war of religion'
06 Sep 06 |  South Asia


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