Maulvi Muhammad Baqir depicted in Vasily Vereshchagin’s painting.
Maulvi Mohammad Baqir (1810-1857) was a progressive Muslim of Delhi. He finished his education, brought press to Delhi and launched the first ever Urdu newspaper of Delhi, “Dilli Urdu Ikhbar”. He was the first Indian journalist to be executed by the British for spreading messages and news of Mutiny against the British. In September 1857 when the British recaptured Delhi, first thing they did was to confiscate the office of ‘Dilli Urdu Ikhbar’ and arrested the editor; Maulvi Muhammad Baqir. He was taken towards the bank of river Jamuna and tied with the canon and blown up, as depicted in the painting by Vereshchagin of the great Indian mutiny of 1857.
Vereshchagin, was a Russian imperial war painter. He painted several scenes of imperial rule over British India. He visited British India twice between 1876 and 1884. His epic portrayal of execution of Indian mutineer of 1857 in the year 1884 aroused much controversy by picture “Blowing from Guns in British India”; depicted executions carried out by tying victims to the barrels of guns. Vereshchagin’s critic argued that, ‘such executions had only occurred in the Indian Rebellion of 1857’, but the painting depicted modern soldiers of the 1880s, implying that the practice was normal. Because of its photographic style, the painting appeared to present itself as impartial record of a real event. In the Magazine of Art in December 1887, Vereshchagin defended himself, rather evasively, by saying that if there were another rebellion then the British would use it again. His painting almost depicts the execution of first journalist of India with other mutineer by British soldiers.
Few people argue that this impressive painting is inspired by Kuka Massacre. Inspiration for this painting actually came from the event of 1857 rebellion not 1872 Kuka Massacre. In 1872 Kuka Massacre rebellions were tied to the cannon by Chest not by back which is contrary to this painting. Before Kuka, thousands of Hindus and Muslims of Delhi were tied to the muzzle of the cannon and blown up. We can find written and oral documentary evidences in many books. Thousands of Hindu and Muslim children were brutally murdered, we should not forget thousands of victims of British East India Company Army, unfortunately some Indians were the part of that Army.