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UK India mutiny ceremony blocked

New Delhi, September 24, 2007

Indian officials have refused to allow a British group to hold a remembrance ceremony in Lucknow to mark the 150th anniversary of an Indian revolt.

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

The group of retired British soldiers and civilians is following a trail of sites associated with the revolt.

India's main opposition party has called for demonstrations against the visit.

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

The Bharatiya Janata Party said it would not let the visitors into Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.

'At no cost will our party allow the group into the city. They are not tourists but family members of the killers of our freedom fighters,' said Lalji Tandon, a local BJP leader.

A senior Uttar Pradesh official ruled out a ban on the British group but said any prayers or celebrations planned for the fallen Britons would not be permitted.

'There is no problem if someone wants to pay homage to his forefathers in a peaceful manner but we shall not allow any celebration,' local media quoted the state's principal secretary as saying.

Officials of the Archaeological Survey of India said no prayer or ceremony could be allowed at the site, which is now a protected historical monument.

The UK group was due to arrive in Lucknow on Monday, a day ahead of the anniversary.

Sir Mark Havelock, a descendant of Gen Henry Havelock, who led the recapture of Lucknow from the Indian sepoys, is among the visitors.

It is reported that the group intended to present two portraits of Gen Havelock and a plan of the route soldiers took to recapture the city to a local museum.

The group has already travelled across Delhi, Agra and Meerut, which saw much violence during the uprising.




Tags: India | sepoys | revolt |

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