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First war of independence: 1857
<b>A History of the Indian Mutiny: And of the Disturbances which Accompanied it Among the Civil</b>... By T. Rice (Thomas Rice) Holmes
another good book
<b>The Red Year: A Story of the Indian Mutiny</b> By Louis Tracy

<b>India Mutiny</b>
good 7 chapters.
<b>Indian mutiny was 'war of religion' </b>
India celebrates the 150th anniversary next year of the Indian mutiny or "first war of independence", when Indian soldiers of the British army rebelled against their colonial masters.
Conventional history says native Hindu and Muslim soldiers, known as sepoys, revolted against the British East India Company over fears that gun cartridges were greased with animal fat forbidden by their religions.

Not so simple, says internationally acclaimed writer and historian William Dalrymple.

In the first of a series of BBC interviews with newsmakers in South Asia, he says his research for a book on the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar threw up startling revelations.

<b>Why do you say that the 1857 mutiny was primarily a war of religion when it has been widely regarded as a rising against British economic policies? </b>

Up to now most of the data used by historians exploring 1857 has come from British sources. In the research for my new book, The Last Mughal, my colleague Mahmoud Farooqi and I have used the 20,000 rebel documents in Urdu and Persian which survive from the sepoy camp and palace in Delhi, all of which we found in the National Archives. In the rebels' own papers, they refer over and again to their uprising being a war of religion. There were no doubt a multitude of private grievances, but it is now unambiguously clear that the rebels saw themselves as fighting a war to preserve their religion, and articulated it as such.

<b>So was it less a rebellion against foreign domination as commonly believed? </b>

The two are closely linked: but what the rebels most objected to in the foreign domination of their country was the way the British threatened their religions - the words din and dharma [the Urdu and Hindi words for religion] appear constantly in rebel proclamations, and were used as war cries by the combatants. They certainly appear far more regularly than secular declarations of the right to self-government or economic freedom, both of which are occasionally mentioned, but far less frequently than concerns over British intentions to impose Christianity on them.

<b>Would you call it the first Indian jihad or holy war? The majority of sepoys who revolted were Hindu, weren't they? </b>

Between 65-85% of the sepoys in each regiment were upper-caste Hindus. But as the uprising spread and progressed, the sepoys were joined by large numbers of freelance jihadis, while in Delhi the failure to provide pay or food for the troops meant that the number of sepoys gradually diminished as August progressed and many returned home, hungry and disillusioned.

By the end of the siege of Delhi, several observers estimated that the jihadis made up at least half of the remaining resistance, and it was they who put up the stoutest resistance when the British finally assaulted the city on 14 September.

<b>You say that the sepoys were revolting against the rapid inroads made by missionaries and Christianity in India? </b>

That is certainly the grievance that is articulated most frequently in the rebel papers we have translated. It may well be that Delhi is a different case to the various other uprisings elsewhere in the country.

<b>You say the first suicide fighters were born during the mutiny. How do you prove this? </b>

I have never said these were the first. There are references to suicide jihadis among the Ismaeli Assassins of Syria and Persia from the 11th Century onwards. But there are clear and specific references among the Mutiny Papers to a regiment of jihadis arriving in Delhi from Gwalior who are described as "suicide ghazis" who had vowed never to eat again and to fight until they met death at the hands of the kafirs [infidels] "for those who have come to die have no need for food".

<b>You say that the flag of jihad was raised in Delhi and the mosque was at the centre of it. What was the reason for this "Islamist" uprising in Delhi? </b>

It was much the same as the motivation behind the rising of the sepoys: a distrust of British intention with regard to the imposition of Christian laws, education and religious practices. In addition, there were those who believed they were following the Koranic injunction to turn the Dar ul-harb, the Abode of War, back into what they believed should again be the Dar ul-Islam, the Abode of Islam.

<b>Do you have any idea of how many Hindus who converted to Christianity or Christians were cut down during the mutiny? </b>

Yes. There are specific references to the sepoys hunting down and killing all the Christian converts they could find on the day they first took Delhi. The first to be killed was a very high-profile convert called Chiman Lal who used to run a hospital in Daryaganj and was an official of Bahadur Shah Zafar. His conversion to Christianity had been a huge scandal in 1852, and he was immediately pointed out to the rebel troops on the morning of 11 May.

<b>Do you think Indian historians deliberately overlooked or ignored the historical evidence when researching the mutiny? </b>

No, but it is rather remarkable that all these papers in the National Archives have never been properly explored before: I feel rather like an Indian historian would feel if he were to go to Paris and find almost unused the complete records of the French Revolution sitting in the Bibliotheque Nationale. I think the difficulty of the Urdu shikastah script, and the strange late Mughal scribal conventions must have deterred many researchers. And for cracking that I have to thank the skill and persistence of Mahmoud.

<b>What kind of evidence have you sifted through over what period of time to come up with your "war of religion" thesis? </b>

This has been a four-year project. As well as the material in the National Archives, remarkable material has turned up in London, especially in the India Office and the National Army Museum, in Rangoon and especially the Punjab archives in Lahore. I have also used two long, detailed and reliable first-person Urdu accounts of the uprising in Delhi that have never before been translated into English.

The most interesting of these is an account called the Dastan i-Ghadr of Zahir Dehlavi who was a young official in Bahadur Shah Zafar's household. I have been able to make numerous discoveries simply because, strangely enough, very little serious work has been done on 1857 in Delhi.

<b>Hindu nationalist and right-wing groups in India are still railing against conversions and many states are trying to ban them. Do you think the jihad continues and could there be a second uprising or rather huge social upheaval against Christianity in India? </b>

No. Those conversions that take place today are fringe activities usually taking place among tribal groups and sponsored by American Baptist organisations. What happened in 1857 was an uprising across the length of Hindustan, the modern cow belt, against the suspected religious activities and aspiration of the central government in Calcutta. So what is going on today - such as the church burning in Dangs of Gujarat in 1998 - is on a very different, much smaller scale.

<b>In view of your findings, don't you find next year's celebrations in India to celebrate the uprising slightly misplaced, in a sense? </b>

Not at all - 1857 was a pivotal point in Indian history. It changed everything, and the disastrous course of the uprising dramatically highlighted the shortcomings of the old Mughal feudal order. When Delhi fell in September 1857 it was not just the city and Zafar's court that was uprooted and destroyed, but the self-confidence and authority of the wider Mughal political and cultural world.

Only 90 years separated the British victory at the gates of Delhi in 1857 from the British eviction from South Asia through the Gateway of India in 1947. But while memories of British atrocities in 1857 may have assisted in the birth of Indian nationalism, it was not the few surviving descendants of the Mughals, nor any of the old princely and feudal rulers, who were in any way responsible for India's march to Independence.

Instead the Indian Freedom Movement was led by the new Anglicised and educated colonial service-class who emerged from English-language schools after 1857, and who by-and-large used modern Western structures and methods - political parties, strikes and protest marches - to gain their freedom. Had 1857 not happened, modern Indian history might have taken a quite different course.

William Dalrymple was speaking to the BBC News website's Soutik Biswas. His new book, The Last Mughal, is due to be published by Bloomsbury next month.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/09/06 15:00:03 GMT
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->one has to only read the countless Maratha letters that have been handed down to us or the letters of Rajput rulers like Sawai Jai Singh or Ajit Singh to find out the truth...

Your quotes from such primary sources of information are extremely valuable.
How did you get access to these letters?

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Your quotes from such primary sources of information are extremely valuable.
How did you get access to these letters?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Primarly through online books, like I said go through this site:


It has tons of books, I go through the interesting books there and whenever I come across interesting extracts from primary sources I post them here.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Instead the Indian Freedom Movement was led by the new Anglicised and educated colonial service-class who emerged from English-language schools after 1857, and who by-and-large used modern Western structures and methods - political parties, strikes and protest marches - to gain their freedom. Had 1857 not happened, modern Indian history might have taken a quite different course.</b> <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
They were good in grabbing power later because of western education and methods they used to sideline others in India.
One more from Deccan Chronicle, 1 oct., 2006
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Black September
Itihaas: By Akhilesh Mithal

April, for the English poet was “a cruel month”. But the cruel month in the history of Dillee, the beloved city, is September. In 1857, the well-equipped, professionally-led and hungry for loot British stormed into the then Nai Dillee (New Delhi) built two hundred years earlier by Shah Jahan. Called Shahjahanabad, the city was built between 1639 to 1650 by a ruler endowed with superlative good taste and greater wealth than anyone else in the whole wide world. It was designed to rival Paradise. The countries in the Indian consciousness of the 17th century were all Asian and Persia was prominent amongst them.

The inhabitants of Isfahan in Persia used to say, “Isfahan nisf jahaan” (Isfahan is half the world). Dilleewalas soon dropped the “Shah” of Shahjahanabad and called their city Jahanabad — the city which encompasses the whole world. In September 1857, the gunpowder happy Brits blew their way through Kashmere Gate to its citadel destroying life-size mirrors, hundred armed chandeliers, doors made of sandal, teak, ebony and mahogany and embellished with gold and silver, whole mansions made by master architects, gardens, aqueducts, and bridges. They massacred all they found  without consideration of age, gender or physical condition.

On September 20, 1857, the aged emperor and a few of his direct descendants took refuge in Humayun’s Tomb outside the city. Bakht Khan commanding the remnants of the rebel army, some five to six thousand sepoys, suggested that they all make their way to Lucknow to join Begum Hazrat Mahal and continue the struggle.  The Emperor’s hakim (physician) opposed this suggestion and cited the emperor’s age (82 years) as the reason against travel. He offered to negotiate a treaty which would guarantee the lives of the scions of the House of Timur and enable the emperor to return to the Red Fort and resume the life he led before the sepoys from Meerut burst into it and made him a titular leader of the struggle to oust the British from India.

The intermediary was Major Hodson, head of the British spies group. On receiving assurance that everything was going according to the plan, the emperor bid farewell to Bakht Khan and the hakim sent a word to Major Hudson that there would be no resistance to his taking the emperor prisoner. The emperor was startled by the aggressive manner of his captors. He was, however, in no position to protest even mildly. Hodson led him and the begums (queens) away to the city and having got them there, returned and asked the three princes still in the sanctuary of Humayun’s Tomb to accompany him without guards, ostensibly to join the emperor. As they got to what used to be Kabuli Gate of Humayun’s Dillee, Hodson suddenly alighted. He then shot the princes one by one in cold blood. As they fell, the princes cried out Haay Dughaa (Alas! Betrayal).

In the legend and folklore of Dillee, Hodson cut off the heads of the princes and suspended the headless bodies upside down on the wall of the Kabuli Darwaza. Their blood stained the stone. Whenever the rainwater washes away the grime and dust, the blood stains reappear. Dilleewalas believe that come the day of judgement the princes will collar Hodson and take him to the Kabuli Gate to demonstrate evidence of his treachery.

The folklore asserts that the severed heads of the princes were arranged in one of the gold plates (thalis) looted from the palace and covered with gold brocade before being placed as nuzzer (offering) from the East India Company to the emperor. The age-weary eyes of the emperor moistened at the sight of the blood-stained, lifeless heads of his sons and grandsons. He paused but for a moment to say — Al Hamdolillaah! Taiymour kee awlaad  eisay hee surkhroo hoakar baap kay saamney aaytee haiy (No one deserves praise except Allah! Timur’s progeny always comes into the presence of their father with their faces flushed with victory).

18 or 21 members of the Imperial family, including the emperor’s 80-year-old brother, Mirza Babur were hanged to death at the Kotwaali in Chandni Chowk. Mirza had been bedridden with rheumatoid arthritis for more than twenty years and had to be taken for cremation in a charpoy. <b>The English East India Company was founded on September 24, 1599. And September 24, 1857, saw it most powerful in the richest country of the world.</b> For Dilleewalas, the month of September has echoes of Muharram.

Google - download book
<b>The Siege of Delhi in 1857: A Short Account</b>
Publisher: Pioneer Press
Author(s): Arthur Gore Handcock
Publication Date: 1897

<b>Central India During the Rebellion of 1857 and 1858 ... </b>
Publisher: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts
Author(s): Thomas Lowe
Publication Date: 1860
Pages: 369
Dalrymple's spin..

Full text of above post with highlights

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The last Mughal and a clash of civilisations
William Dalrymple
Monday 16th October 2006

East and west face each other across a divide that some call a religious war. Suicide jihadis take what they see as defensive action and innocent people are killed. But this is 1857. William Dalrymple on lessons from the Raj for the neo-cons 

At 4pm on a hazy, warm, sticky winter's day in Rangoon in November 1862, soon after the end of the monsoon, a shrouded corpse was escorted by a small group of British soldiers to an anonymous grave at the back of a walled prison enclosure. The enclosure lay overlooking the muddy brown waters of the Rangoon River, a little downhill from the great gilt spire of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Around it lay the newly built cantonment area of the port - a pilgrimage town that had been seized, burned and occupied by the British only ten years earlier.

The bier of the State Prisoner - as the deceased was referred to - was accompanied by his two sons and an elderly mullah. The ceremony was brief. The British authorities had made sure not only that the grave was already dug, but that quantities of lime were on hand to guarantee the rapid decay of both bier and body. When the shortened funeral prayers had been recited, the earth was thrown over the lime, and the turf carefully replaced to disguise the place of burial. <b>A week later the British Commissioner, Captain H N Davis, wrote to London to report what had passed, adding</b>:

Have since visited the remaining State Prisoners - the very scum of the reduced Asiatic harem; found all correct . . . The death of the ex-King may be said to have had no effect on the Mahomedan part of the populace of Rangoon, except perhaps for a few fanatics who watch and pray for the final triumph of Islam. A bamboo fence surrounds the grave, and by the time the fence is worn out, the grass will again have properly covered the spot, and no vestige will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Moghuls rests.

The state prisoner Davis referred to was Bahadur Shah II, known from his pen-name as Zafar (meaning, paradoxically, "victory"). Zafar was the last Mughal emperor, and a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. <b>He was born in 1775, when the British were still a modest coastal power in India, and in his lifetime his dynasty had been reduced to insignificance, while the British transformed themselves from vulnerable traders into an aggressively expansionist military force.</b>

Zafar came late to the throne, succeeding his father only in his mid-sixties, when it was already impossible to reverse the political decline of the Mughals. Despite this he created around him in Delhi a court of great brilliance. He was one of the most talented, tolerant and likeable of his dynasty: a skilled calligrapher, a profound writer on Sufism and an inspired creator of gardens. He was also a serious mystical poet, and through his patronage there took place one of the greatest literary renaissances in Indian history.

Then, on a May morning in 1857, 300 mutinous sepoys from Meerut rode into Delhi, massacred every Christian man, woman and child they could find, and declared Zafar to be their emperor. Zafar was no friend of the British; but he was not a natural insurgent, either. He suspected from the start that the uprising - a chaotic and officerless army of unpaid peasant soldiers set against the forces of the world's greatest military power - was doomed.

The great Mughal capital, in the middle of a remarkable cultural flowering, was turned overnight into a battleground.

The Siege of Delhi was a fight to the death between two powers, neither of whom could retreat. <b>Finally, on 14 September 1857, the British assaulted and took the city, sacking the Mughal capital and massacring swathes of the population. "The orders went out to shoot every soul," recorded Edward Vibart, a 19-year-old British officer. "It was literally murder . . . The women were all spared but their screams, on seeing their husbands and sons butchered, were most painful . . . I feel no pity, but when some old grey bearded man is brought and shot before your very eyes, hard must be that man's heart I think who can look on with indifference . . ." </b>

Delhi was left an empty ruin. Those city-dwellers who survived were driven out into the countryside to fend for themselves. <b>Though the royal family had surrendered peacefully, most of the emperor's 16 sons were tried and hanged, while three were shot in cold blood, having first freely given up their arms, then been told to strip naked. "In 24 hours I disposed of the principal members of the house of Timur the Tartar," Captain William Hodson wrote to his sister the following day. "I am not cruel, but I confess I did enjoy the opportunity of ridding the earth of these wretches." </b>

A fascinating relationship

In 2002, researching in the National Archive in Delhi for a book on the life of Zafar, I found a remarkable collection of 20,000 previously untranslated Urdu and Persian documents that enabled me to resurrect in some detail the life of the city before and during the siege. Cumulatively, the stories contained in these Mutiny papers allowed the great uprising of 1857 to be seen not in terms of nationalism, imperialism, orientalism or other such abstractions, but as a tragic human event for ordinary individuals whose fate it was to be caught up accidentally in one of the great upheavals of history. Public, political and national disasters, after all, consist of a multitude of private, domestic and individual tragedies.

The Last Mughal, published this month, continues the story I began in White Mughals - the story of the fast-changing relationship between the British and the Indians, and especially Muslim Indians - in the late 18th and the mid-19th century.

<b>During the 18th century it was almost as common for westerners to take on the customs, and even the religions, of India, as the reverse. </b>These white Mughals had responded to their travels in India by shedding their Britishness like an unwanted skin, adopting Indian dress, studying Indian philo sophy, taking harems and copying the ways of the Mughal governing class they came to replace - what Salman Rushdie, talking of modern multiculturalism, has called "chutnification". By the end of the 18th century one-third of the British men in India were leaving their possessions to Indian wives.

In Delhi, the period was symbolised by Sir David Ochterlony, the British Resident, who arrived in the city in 1803: every evening, all 13 of his Indian wives went around Delhi in a procession behind their husband, each on the back of her own elephant. For all the humour of this image, in such mixed households, Islamic customs and sensitivities were clearly understood and respected. One letter, for example, recorded that "Lady Ochterlony has applied for leave to make the Hadge to Mecca". Indeed, Ochterlony strongly considered bringing up his children as Muslims, and when his children by his chief wife, Mubarak Begum, had grown up, he adopted a child from one of the leading Delhi Muslim families.

This was not an era when notions of clashing civilisations would have made sense. The world that Ochterlony inhabited was more hybrid, and had far less clearly defined ethnic, national and religious borders, than we have been conditioned to expect. It is certainly unfamiliar to anyone who accepts the usual caricature of the Englishman in India, presented repeatedly in films and television dramas, of the narrow-minded sahib dressing for dinner in the jungle.

Some 200 years before Zadie Smith, Monica Ali and Hari Kunzru all made it into the bestseller lists, and multiculturalism became a buzzword capable of waking Norman Tebbit and the Tory undead from their coffins at party conferences, the India of the East India Company was an infinitely more culturally, racially and religiously chutnified place than the most mixed areas of London today.

Imperial arrogance

<b>Why did the relatively easy interracial and inter-religious relationships so evident during the time of Ochterlony give way to the hatred and racism of the 19th-century Raj? How did the close clasp of two civilisations turn into a bitter clash? </b>

<b>Two things put paid to the easy coexistence. One was the rise of British power: in a few years the British had defeated not only the French, but all their other Indian rivals; and, in a manner not unlike the Americans after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the changed balance of power quickly led to undisguised imperial arrogance.</b> No longer was the west prepared to study and learn from the subcontinent; instead, Thomas Macaulay came to speak for a whole generation of Englishmen when he declared that "a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia".

<b>The other factor was the ascendancy of evangelical Christianity, and the profound change in social, sexual and racial attitudes that this brought about. </b>The wills written by dying East India Company servants show that the practice of cohabiting with Indian bibis quickly declined: they turn up in one in three wills between 1780 and 1785, but are present in only one in four between 1805 and 1810. By the middle of the century, they have all but disappeared. <b>In half a century, a vibrantly multicultural world refracted back into its component parts; children of mixed race were corralled into what became in effect a new Indian caste - the Anglo-Indians - who were left to run the railways, posts and mines.</b>

<b>Like our 19th-century forebears, today we have sometimes assumed that liberalism and progress are unstoppable forces in society, and that the longer the nations and religions of the world all live together, the more prejudices will cease to exist and we shall come instead to respect each other's faiths and ways of living.</b> The world since 11 September 2001 has shaken our confidence in this, and led to a reassessment (at least in some quarters) of assumptions about the melting pot of British multiculturalism. <b>Likewise, Company India moved from a huge measure of racial intermixing in the late 18th century to a position of complete racial apartheid by the 1850s.</b>

Pre-emptive action

Just like it is today, this process of pulling apart - of failing to talk, listen or trust each other - took place against the background of an increasingly aggressive and self-righteous west, facing ever stiffer Islamic resistance to western interference. <b>For, as anyone who has ever studied the story of the rise of the British in India will know well, there is nothing new about the neo-cons. The old game of regime change - of installing puppet regimes, propped up by the west for its own political and economic ends - is one that the British had well mastered by the late 18th century.</b>

By the 1850s, the British had progressed from aggressively removing independent-minded Muslim rulers, such as Tipu Sultan, who refused to bow before the will of the hyperpower, to destabilising and then annexing even the most pliant Muslim states. In February 1856, the British unilaterally annexed the prosperous kingdom of Avadh (or Oudh), using the excuse that the nawab, Wajid Ali Shah, a far-from-belligerent dancer and epicure, was "debauched".

<b>By this time, other British officials who believed in a "forward" policy of pre-emptive action were nursing plans to abolish Zafar's Mughal court in Delhi, and to impose not just British laws and technology on India, but also British values, in the form of Christianity.</b> The missionaries reinforced Muslim fears, increasing opposition to British rule and creating a constituency for the rapidly multiplying jihadis. And, in turn, "Wahhabi conspiracies" strengthened the conviction of the evangelical Christians that a "strong attack" was needed to take on the "Muslim fanatics".

<b>The eventual result of this clash of rival fundamentalisms came in 1857 with the cataclysm of the Great Mutiny. Of the 139,000 sepoys of the Bengal army, all but 7,796 turned against their British masters, and the great majority headed straight to Zafar's court in Delhi, the centre of the storm.</b> Although it had many causes and reflected many deeply held political and economic grievances - particularly the feeling that the heathen foreigners were interfering in the most intimate way with a part of the world to which they were entirely alien -<b> the uprising was articulated as a war of religion, and especially as a defensive action against the rapid inroads that missionaries, Christian schools and Christian ideas were making in India, combined with a more generalised fight for freedom from occupation and western interference.</b>

Although the great majority of the sepoys were Hindus, in Delhi a flag of jihad was raised in the principal mosque, and many of the insurgents described themselves as mujahedin or jihadis. Indeed, by the end of the siege, after a significant proportion of the sepoys had melted away, hungry and dis pirited, the proportion of jihadis in Delhi grew to be about half of the total rebel force, and included a regiment of "suicide ghazis" from Gwalior who had vowed never to eat again and to fight until they met death at the hands of the kafirs, "for those who have come to die have no need for food".

One of the causes of unrest, according to a Delhi source, was that "the British had closed the madrasas". <b>These words had no resonance to the Marxist historians of the 1960s who looked for secular and economic grievances to explain the uprising.</b> Now, in the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001 and 7 July 2005, they are phrases we understand all too well. Words such as jihad scream out of the dusty pages of the Urdu manuscripts, demanding attention.

<b>There is a direct link between the jihadis of 1857 and those we face today. The reaction of the educated Delhi Muslims after 1857 was to reject both the west and the gentle Sufi traditions of the late Mughal emperors, whom they tended to regard as semi-apostate puppets of the British; instead, they attempted to return to what they regarded as pure Islamic roots. </b>

With this in mind, disillusioned refugees from Delhi founded a mad rasa in the Wahhabi style at Deoband, in Delhi, that went back to Koranic basics and rigorously stripped out anything European from the curriculum. One hundred and forty years later, it was out of Deobandi madrasas in Pakistan that the Taliban emerged to create the most retrograde Islamic regime in modern history, a regime that in turn provided the crucible from which emerged al-Qaeda, and the most radical Islamist counter-attack the modern west has yet had to face.

Today, west and east again face each other uneasily across a divide that many see as a religious war. Suicide jihadis fight what they see as a defensive action against their Christian enemies, and again innocent civilians are slaughtered. As before, western evangelical Christian politicians are apt to cast their opponents and enemies in the role of "incarnate fiends" and simplistically conflate any armed resistance to invasion and occupation with "pure evil". Again, western countries, blind to the effect their foreign policies have on the wider world, feel aggrieved and surprised to be attacked, as they see it, by mindless fanatics.

And yet, as we have seen in our own time, nothing so easily radicalises a people against us, or undermines the moderate aspect of Islam, as aggressive western intrusion in the east: the histories of Islamic fundamentalism and western imperialism have often been closely, and dangerously, intertwined. In a curious but very concrete way, the extremists and fundamentalists of both faiths have needed each other to reinforce each other's prejudices and hatreds. The venom of one provides the lifeblood of the other.

There are clear lessons here. For, in the celebrated words of Edmund Burke - himself a fierce critic of British aggression in India - those who fail to learn from history are destined for ever to repeat it.

William Dalrymple is the India correspondent of the New Statesman. His book "The Last Mughal: the fall of a dynasty (Delhi 1857)" is published by Bloomsbury (£25) 

Good Dalrymple understands what goes around comes around. I am also gald he makes the link to sub-continental Muslims to the modern fundamentalists as I have done in the BR-IF mtg.
Dalrymple goes after 'lazy' historians
Bhaskar Roy

NEW DELHI: Before actually giving an account of the Mutiny in Delhi's summer of discontent, William Dalrymple has declared war on Indian historians, virtually accusing them of lethargy in accessing source material in the archives on 1857.

The Mutiny Papers a treasure trove of information on the 1857 Uprising have been gathering dust without any researcher bothering to take a look at them, Dalrymple bitterly complains in the introduction of his just published book The Last Mughal .

"It is a commonplace of books about 1857 that they lament the absence of Indian sources and the corresponding need to rely on the huge quantities of easily accessible British materials...yet all this time in the National Archives there existed as detailed a documentation of the four months of the Uprising in Delhi as can exist for any Indian city at any point of history," he writes.

He even pokes fun at the Indian historians' obtuse style and tendency to use jargon. Dismissed by some Indian writers as the "Bollywood historian" for a perceptibly simplistic and facile approach, it is clearly his turn to give it back.

"...lists of casualties, predictions of victory and promises of loyalty, notes from spies of dubious reliability and letters from eloping lovers all neatly bound in string and boxed up in the cool, hushed, air-conditioned vaults of the Indian National Archives," he goes on, stressing the flaw of the local historians.

However, historians well respected in academic circles reject Dalrymple's contention that he has accessed such documents for the first time.
Professor Irfan Habib of Aligarh Muslim University points out that way back in 1957, Athar Abbas Naqvi brought out a six-volume history of the Mutiny using Urdu and Persian documents.

Asked about Dalrymple's claim that such sources are being tapped for the first time, Habib says, "This is not correct". He claims that Naqvi's seminal work "helped change the perspective". Shireen Moosvi, another historian of the Aligarh school, points to a major project of the Indian Council of Historical Research to bring out the documents on the Mutiny from all available sources.

As for Dalrymple's claim of hitting a treasure trove, she says, "This is just an academic flourish every author says things like that." She does not seem to have been impressed by his writing either. "I have not taken him very seriously as a historian," Moosvi says.

"PM ignored 1857 during Oxford lecture"

Special Correspondent

Manmohan glorified ICS officers, says historian Irfan Habib

LUCKNOW: Eminent historian Irfan Habib on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of "ignoring the sacrifices made by the revolutionaries during the Revolt of 1857" during his lecture at Oxford University recently. Prof. Habib said Dr. Singh in his lecture remembered the contributions made by the ICS officers to India but did not remember the Great Revolt of 1857.

Delivering the Akhilesh Mishra Memorial Lecture at a seminar here on "1857--India's Freedom Struggle Against Imperialism", Prof. Habib equated 1857 with the struggle against imperialism in Korea, and more recently in Iraq.

He condemned the Indian Government's stand on Iraq that the death sentence awarded to Saddam Hussein was an internal matter of that country. Prof. Habib said India at the same time did not hesitate to vote against Iran on the nuclear issue.

Referring to the Government's decision to celebrate 150 years of the First War of Independence of 1857 in 2007, Prof. Habib said no good would be served by spending crores on the celebrations until the Government works for the anti-colonial cause as was done in 1857. The noted historian said seminars and discourses would serve no purpose.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Rare documents on display  </b>
By Our Staff Reporter
Bhopal, Dec 24: 'Mangal mangal mangal mangal mangal mangal ho...'

The song from the the film 'The Rising' seems to play in a viewer's mind as his gaze falls on a sketch of Sepoy Mangal Pandey at an exhibition of archival and other material relating to the Revolt of 1857, otherwise termed as India's First War of Independence. The nine-day event, marking the 150th anniversary of the epic struggle, is underway at the State Museum on the picturesque Shyamla Hills in this City of Lakes and is a joint venture of the Uttar Pradesh State Archives and the Directorate of Archaeology, Archives and Museums, Bhopal.

Just below the immortal soldier's sketch is a news item published in 'Gwalior Akhbar'. Under the headline 'News from Sialkot' information has been given about a paper -- found by the riflemen --which instructed the sepoys not to use new cartridges because they were greased with the fat of cows and pigs. It was certainly bad news for Indian soldiers using the Pattern 1853 Enfield Musket, as one animal was holy to the Hindus and the other was abhorrent to the Muslims. To load his weapon, the sepoy had to first bite off the rear of the cartridge, which became one of the historical factors that triggered the Mutiny.

''Though differences of opinion exist, the Revolt's planning and spread made it the First War of Independence and not merely a Sepoy Mutiny. We have exhibited archives in English, Hindi, Urdu and the Modi script, which was used by Maratha princely states,'' Madhya Pradesh government Archivist S Naimuddin said. He points at an enlarged photograph of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar's surrender -- the aged and feeble monarch is looking at a haughty uniformed British officer who glares back.

In the summer of 1857, the Commissioner, Meerut Division, sent a detailed dispatch regarding the outbreak to the Secretary, North-Western Provinces. He wrote that since April 1857, rumours were current in Meerut that the cartridges about to be issued to the troops were objectionably greased. On April 24, 1857, 85 'sowars' of the 3rd Cavalry refused to obey the command to use the cartridges. They were court-martialled, imprisoned, fettered and humiliated in the presence of the entire brigade on May 9. The following day the mutiny broke out and part of the Indian infantry of Meerut marched to Delhi. The several military engagements that followed have bloodied the pages of History. Lieutenant Cubitt, an officer of the 5th Fusiliers, was horrified by one such carnage.

''Before long the ground was covered with the dead and writhing bodies of sepoys. The piles, five feet high in places, were so densely entangled that the wounded could not extricate themselves from the squirming mass...''

A Home Department notification dated August 19, 1857 and issued from Fort William, Calcutta (now Kolkata) says,<b> ''It is hereby notified that the Governor General of India in Council will pay the sum of fifty thousand rupees (50,000 Rs) to any person or persons who may apprehend Sreemunt Dhoondoo Punt Nana Sahib of Bithour in the district of Cawnpore, commonly called the Nana Sahib, and deliver him into the secure custody of any British civil or military officer, or who may give such information and aid as will lead to his apprehension.</b>

Such person or persons will also receive a free pardon for any offences committed against the state; provided that he or they shall not have taken part in the murder of British subjects. By order of the Right Hon'ble the Governor General of India in Council,...'' The document bears the signature of the Secretary to the Government of India. Pictures of the Revolt's personalities Hazrat Mahal and Birjis Qadar of Lucknow, Nana Sahib, Tatya Tope, Babu Kunwar Singh, sepoys at rifle practice, artillery in action and disarming of sepoys at Barrackpore are also on display besides folk songs of the struggle.

<b>The one entitled 'Meerut' reveals the plight of a 'firangi' (European) in a market. 'His gun is snatched His horse lies dead His revolver is battered...' An eye-catching pencil sketch of Tatya Tope was drawn just before his execution at Madhya Pradesh's Shivpuri on April 18, 1859. </b>

<b>The documents include one relating to the martyrdom of women in Sikander Bagh (1858), Rani Laxmibai's letter to Rani Larai Dulaiya (1857), telegram regarding the arrest of Tatya Tope (April 1859), British control over Delhi and the arrest of the Emperor (January 25, 1858).</b>

1857 mutiny- a global Moslem conspiracy?
India is celebrating 150th anniversary of the 1857 mutiny which has been described by Veer Savarkar as India's 1st war of Independence. The 1857 war resulted in the termination of the Mughal rule in India and the establishment of the direct Crown rule. The causes of the mutiny are stated to be the use of Cow's and Pig's meat in the grease prepared for cartridges which infuriated Hindus and Muslims alike and which was regarded as an attempt by the British to convert Hindus and Muslims to Christianity. Bahadur Shah Zafar was the nominal Mughal Emperor at that time. The mutineers overthrew the Britishers but later on the Britishers made their entry into Delhi. Delhi was plundered by the mutineers as well as the triumphant British soldiers. The lanes and by-lanes of old Delhi and the Civil Lines area, Flag Staff road, Jama Masjid, Delhi Gate, Ajmeri Gate, and Khuni darwaza bore witness to massive blood shed and loot of property.

Willian Dalrymple's "The Last Mughal-the fall of a dynasty, Delhi 1857" bears testimony to the ghastly events in and around Delhi. The book is the result of four years of research and is based on the material- Urdu, Persian translations of the manuscripts stored in the National Archives and other information not available to the earlier writers. The book challenges the locus standi of the East India Company in trying Bahadur Shah Zafar. The company was not the ruler of India. The company took the position that Zafar received pension from the company and therefore was company's pensioner and thus a subject.
<span style='color:blue'>
However the actual factual position was considerably more ambiguous. While the company's 1599 charter to trade in the East derived from Parliament and the Crown, its authority to govern in India actually legally flowed from the person of the Mughal emperor who had officially taken on the company as its tax collector in Bengal, in the years following the battle of Plassey on 2nd August 1765.</span>

The illegality of the Trial abinitio is obvious. However, it was a trial by the military tribunal. The charge against him was of treason against the British. When the company was not the ruler, how could there be a treason. He was accused of leading the revolt which he denied stating that he was protecting his subjects. The charges against him were much wider and serious in scope than one could have thought of. The Emperor was accused of religious bigotry. The conspiracy, from the very commencement, was not confined to the sepoys, and did not even originate with them, but had its ramifications throughout the palace and city....Harriott in his prosecution speech stated.

"[Was Zafar] the original mover, the head and front of the undertaking, or but the consenting tool..the forward, unscrupulous, but still pliant puppet, tutored by priestly craft for the advancement of religious bigotry? Many persons, I believe, will incline to the latter. The known restless spirit of Mahommedan fanaticism has been the first aggressor, the vindictive intolerance of that peculiar faith has been struggling for mastery, seditious conspiracy has its means, the prisoner its active accomplice, and every possible crime the frightful result...The bitter zeal of Mahommedanism meets us everywhere... Perfectly demonic in its actions.." It was a part of a global Muslim conspiracy. He closed his two and a half hour speech about the uprising being an international Islamic conspiracy thus "I have endeavored to point out" he declaimed how intimately the prisoner, as the head of the Mahommedan faith in India, has been connected with the organisation of that conspiracy, either as its leader or its unscrupulous accomplice...". He added "If we now take a retrospective view of the various circumstances which we have been able to elicit during our extended inquiries, we shall see how exclusively Mohommedan are all the prominent points that attach to it. A Mohommedan priest, with pretended visions, and assumed miraculous powers- a Mohommedan King, his dupe and accomplice- a Mohahmmedan clandestine embassy to the Mahommedan powers of Persia and Turkey- Mahommedan prophecies as to the downfall of our power-Mohommedan rule as the successor to our own- the most cold blooded murders by Mohommedan assassins- a religious war for Mahommedan ascendancy- a Mahommedan press unscrupulously abetting- and Mahommedan sepoys initiating the mutiny. Hinduism, I may say, is nowhere either reflected or represented....." (pages 440-443)This charge gives a new twist to the interpretation of 1857 mutiny. This version reminds us of the present onslaught of global terrorism (mainly Muslim) on the Western world and India.

<span style='color:red'>Why the English rulers became soft towards the Muslims after the mutiny?. They did not find Hindu hand in the mutiny, then why did they give step motherly treatment to Hindus by way of separate electorates and weightage to Muslims in government services and India's polity, remain an unanswered question politicians and historians.</span>

RS Khanna, (The author is former Chief Secy GoMP) Manuj Features

From Deccan Chronicle, 7 Jan., 2006
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Honouring Godse

By Akhilesh Mithal

According to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, the English word “history” has its origin in Greek, relates to knowing by inquiry and means “A relation of incidents (in later times only of those professedly true)”. The Hindustani or Indian word Itihaas means “Thus it was”.
Bald, factual statements appear to be what is required of history and of Itihaas. This makes history, taught in the classrooms of schools, dull and uninspiring and the subject, unpalatable. The raw material is to blame. The majority of characters who people the political stage of any era are boring and uninteresting.

In our own country, for every Chandragupta Maurya, Babar or Ranjit Singh, there are dozens of nincompoops like Rafiusshaan, Rafiurdarjat and Kharak Singh. The average ruler being below average, and usually what is called saadharan or ordinary, makes him incapable of holding of attention. This is perhaps the reason why Indian chroniclers made well above life-size heroes of the characters they chose to portray and ignored the rest. This helped make chronicles like that rendered in English as “Tod’s Annals interesting although it earned Indians the title of people without a sense of history.”

The Presidents and Prime Ministers of today, whether Indian or the USA and Britain, are no better. They can hardly be said to be even entertaining characters — leave alone spell binding — nowhere near fascinating enough to hold the attention of listeners who need amusement, entertainment and education. Even the most erudite scholarly and versatile of them all (whether Indian or foreign) Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao, who nearly became the head of a Muthth, made no impact with either his deeds, actions, conversation, speeches or writings. His portfolios were amongst the most important and his oeuvre includes a non-bestselling novel. His inaction when the RSS brought down the Babari Masjid is an indelible black mark on the secular claims of the Congress.

<b>The early chronicles of mankind, and this includes India, were written by poets who wove magic, mystery and other such dramatic elements into their texts in order to make their subject interesting. The kind of “history” we favour today was not written in earlier times. The questions that arise are: “When did Indians start writing what we mean by ‘history’ or Itihaas? Which text or book can claim to be the very first narrative written so as to fulfil the requirements which help a work acquire the title of ‘history’?”</b>

Perhaps, and in honour of the 150th anniversary of 1857 which falls this year, we should stake the claim of the<b> Marathi work Maaza Pravaas: 1857 Bandachi Hakikat or My Travels written in 1877, edited in 1884 and published only in 1907. The work could not be published in the lifetime of author Vishnubhatt Godse because it had eyewitness and contemporary accounts and description of the events of 1857, 1858 and the delineation of characters playing a prominent role such as Nanasaheb Dhondhopant Peshwa, Maharani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and Tantya Tope.</b>

As 1857 represented a major failure of British rule in India and spelt doom of its perpetrator, <b>the English wanted East India Company either to be totally forgotten or only remembered as a tale of Oriental/Asiatic/Indian double dealing/betr-ayal and British steadfastness, resilience, bravery, dedication to honour and other such sterling virtues which were the monopoly of the ruling race.</b>

Maazaa Pravaas attracted little attention in the period 1907-1947 as the British were still in power and the iron fist was seen in all its stark nakedness as late as 1942 when thousands of unarmed Indians were mowed down in the streets of cities and towns of India to crush the non-violent Quit India movement. The Congress was the only nationalist force pressing for Independence while the rightist Hindus of the Mahasabha, the Rastriya Swayamsewak Sangh and their counterparts amongst the Muslims, the Muslim League and the Khaksaars aided and abetted by the Communist Party of India, were trying to prolong the stay of the British in India. The writing of the history of 1857 would have drawn the attention and incurred the wrath of the British rulers.

The power of Godse’s descriptions however caused an amateur historian/researcher of Maratha history, Dattatreya Balawant Parasnis, to write a book on Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. His claim that the book was based upon an account he had received from an old dependent of the slain ruler has been examined and found incorrect. Godse’s account of the Rani has been established as the source of information of this work published in 1894. This biography provided details of the daily life of the Rani, her exercise routine, her long baths, her horsemanship and her prowess in the battlefield.

<b>V.D. Savarkar was influenced by the Rani’s heroic life and her revolt against the British and the book he wrote on 1857 were the outcome. In 2007, the 150th anniversary of 1857, we should honour Vishnubhat Godse</b> for his seminal work by writing a fresh account of the uprising and dedicating it to this unusual karmakandi Brahmin <b>who could write as “modern” a history as any of his contemporary writers anywhere in the world.</b>

More from Akhilesh Mittal in Deccan Chronicle, 28 Jan., 2007
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->An orphan of history

By Akhilesh Mithal

<b>The great uprising of 1857-58 aka “The sepoy mutiny” or “The first Indian war for independence” remains an orphan of Indian and world history. We are in the 150th anniversary year of its outbreak and even the name of the event has not been determined and agreed. </b>This happens to orphans until they have the great fortune to be adopted by someone of consequence. Why are Indians of consequence ignoring 1857?  The total number of Britons (and that of the Indian mercenary soldiers in their armies in 1857) is known. This is not true of those who fought them and lost or those who were unfortunate enough to be in the way of the armies marching from battle to battle.

The total number of Indians who lost their lives could well have exceeded a crore (10 million) or one in every 100 of the population at that time, but nobody has bothered to calculate a figure and nothing comes out. This obliteration from folk memory is the fallout and outcome of Indians failing to get rid of their unwanted rulers, the British. The victors wrote the narrative and those who lost got killed along with their adherents, whether peasant or prince.

<b>Over a 1,00,000 trained soldiers rebelled against their employers, the English East India Company. No prisoners were taken and those 1,00,000-plus soldiers were killed alongside around a million adherents.</b> Ten times that number of people (including old men, women and children) who had the misfortune of living in the path of the vengeful British armies marching from the tribal areas of the North West Frontier province to Arrah in north Bihar were subjected to the sport of “peppering the nigger”.

This consisted of setting the thatched huts on fire after encircling the habitation with sharpshooters. As the people ran out to flee the flames, they were treated like wild game, sighted, aimed at and shot down. The bullets used were designed to wound and not kill outright. The burnt victim took time to bleed and die. The corpses were likened to roast and the pellets of black lead fired at them to pepper, hence the name of the game, “peppering the nigger”.

The 20th century has seen the Jews build up sympathy for themselves by establishing a figure for those who perished in the Holocaust and dwelling on it in feature films stories and all other forms of communication at every available opportunity.  This has enabled them to seize the sympathy of the most powerful countries in the world and paid them rich dividends in the form of creation of the state of Israel which gets aid as well as support against Palestinian and other Arabs.

Even the causes of the most traumatic event of the 19th century are yet to be established. The grease used in the cartridge came from animal fat or tallow. The sepoys believed that the source of the grease was cow and pig lard.  They remonstrated against the use of what was sacrilege for the Hindus and abomination for the Muslims. Although some officers tried to allay the doubts and soothe the disquiet of their men, they could not succeed as the other fats used dried too quickly for use in covering cartridges which could not be used immediately after manufacture and required to be stored.

The letters and dispatches of General Hearsey from as early as January 1857 warn the authorities of the unrest and disquiet in the lines of the army cantonments. A prince visiting Calcutta was asked how he and his peers viewed the dethronement and sequestration of Wajid Ali Shah. Although he stated that he and his fellow princes thought that the Nawab Vizier had been given cavalier treatment and was dealt with unjustly, no notice was taken.
The British were, like all rulers tend to be, too far removed from everyday reality to be able to assess the situation correctly and the uprising took them by surprise. Their reactions were often caused by panic.

<b>One side has to lose for the other to win. The Indians had no generals. After Tipu Sultan died (May 4, 1799) defending his capital against the British, no Indian was in command of an army or had experience of conducting a campaign. 1857 bears witness to the fact that bravery alone is not enough to win a war.</b> Despite it being a defeat, 1857 remains a saga of heroism and deserves more than a file in the shelves of the government of India waiting for “action taken” report to be placed back on the rack and forgotten forever. The ruins of Zafar Manzil and the empty grave where Bahadur Shah Zafar was to have rested cry out for attention. Is anyone listening?
Images of two letters of Maharani Lakshami Bai of Jhansi. She had written these to the king of her neighbouring estate Banpur - Maharaja Mardan Singh.

Notice that in the first letter she is clearly mentioning (Braj Bhasha) - "हमारी राय है कै विदेसियो का सासन भारत पर न भौ चाहिजै और हमको अपुन कौ बडो भरोसो है और हम फौज की तयारी कर रहे है" (Our opinion is that foreign rule should not be allowed to take over Bharat, and we are confident on ourselves, and we are preparing our army)

She is not concerned just about Jhansi, but Bharat. Also notice her use of Vikram Samvat and Hindu calendar (not Hijri prevalent then).

<img src='http://malaiya.tripod.com/images/jhansi1.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Second letter written from a camp in Kalpi near Kanpur, she is instructing the neighbouring prince about a tactical attack on company's encampment near Gwalior.

<img src='http://malaiya.tripod.com/images/jhansi2.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

One more article by Akhilesh Mittal in Deccan Chronicle , 4 Feb., 2007
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->What made Bengal fan 1857 revolt?

By Akhilesh Mithal

March 29, 1857 was to the British in India what 9/11 is and has been to the Americans. On that fateful Sunday, Mangal Pandey, a 26-year-old sepoy with an impeccable service record of nine years disturbed by the conduct of his employers, came under the influence of bhaang, took out his musket from the armoury and marched up and down the parade ground in Barrackpore openly preaching rebellion against the British.

When two British officers, first individually and then severally tried to engage him in order to apprehend and kill him, he successfully incapacitated them both without having to kill either or himself suffering even a graze. The overwhelming European superiority in weapons, “For we have the Maxim gun and they have not”, had induced a smug self-confidence which had bred a false sense of invincibility and bestowed a feeling of innate, by-birth and by-race superiority on all whites from Tommies to Generals.

When a common or garden native, a young sepoy with nine-years service, succeeded in flouting authority and injuring not one but both Europeans who tried to restrain him individually without any fear and apprehension, overpowered the British mind, heart and things were never the same again. Sir Frederick James Halliday, Lt Governor of Bengal in his overview dated September 30, 1858, states “hardly any district of Bengal has escaped either actual danger or the serious apprehensions of danger.”

<b>The 1858 overview was based upon a collation of all the reports from magistrates and commissioners received in response to a May 23, 1857 circular asking for reports on popular feelings and conditions. The genuineness of the grievances of the sepoys was never believed by the British. They convinced themselves that all the discontent was caused by badmaashs and malcontents and believed that a conspiracy was being and had been hatched against their rule and it was bound to surface as armed revolt anytime, anywhere.</b>

The fact that nothing happened was not enough to allay the apprehensions and fears of the European population who were constantly expecting an attack of the kind that had occurred in Delhi and Kanpur. The cantonments of Dum Dum, Barrackpore, Berhampore, Jalpaiguri Dacca and Chittagong witnessed voluble discontent amongst sepoys while some regiments of the Bengal Native Infantry were openly defiant. This had a disturbing effect on the civilian populations of these military outposts.

Where disbandment occurred the interaction between the cashiered sepoys and the civilians, thus causing tensions to arise. At border outposts such as Jalpaiguri and Chittagong, the British feared a ganging up with the neighbouring Bhutanese and Kukies while the ferment amongst the tribes in the independent kingdom of Tripura kept them on alert. With Nawab Wazir Wajid Ali Shah interned in Garden Reach, there arose the fear that the disbanded sepoys hailing as they did from Awadh, might make common cause with him and rise against the British.

The Nawab Wazir rarely moved out of his residence and therefore a strict surveillance was conducted on everyone who visited him. Colonel Cavanagh, the Town Major kept a diary on this account and mentioned on May 21 that Taluqdar Man Singh called on the prisoner and according to his informant, Man Singh had asked for Wajid Ali Shah’s sanction to a popular uprising in his favour.

The fear grew so much that Peter Grant, member, Governor General’s Executive Council, wrote on June 10, “We have, as enemies, three Native Infantry Regiments and a half, of which one and a half are the very worst type we know, one, two or three (for no one knows) thousand armed men at Garden Reach (Nawab Wazir’s residence), or available there at a moment: some hundred armed men of the Scinde Amirs at Dum Dum.”

All this fear led to the request that a general disarmament of natives be undertaken. Also that Europeans be allowed to form a corps of armed volunteers for self defence. Canning acceded and enrollment of European volunteers started under the name and title “Corps of Volunteer Guards of Calcutta”.  The corps consisted of a battery of four cannon, five troops of cavalry and seven of infantry. It was a paramilitary force under the command of Lt Col Orfeur Cavanagh, the Town Major in Fort William. Concurrently, the European population of Calcutta was arming themselves and an unprecedented sale of weapons occurred.

On July 23, the Police Commissioner wrote to the government, “...it is perfectly true that during the last three moths the sale of arms and particularly firearms in Calcutta has been enormous.” He took comfort in recording that the greater portion of those sold had come into possession of the Christian population of Calcutta. Perhaps it was this rift that was to lead Bengal into becoming the vanguard of the national movement of India’s freedom.
from Deccan Chronicle, 11 Feb. 2007
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Execution of Mangal Pandey

By Akhilesh Mithal

The trial and execution of the dying Mangal and the disbanding of his regiment failed to terrorise the sepoys into abject submission and May 1857 saw Meerut protest the bullet of abomination. The offenders were humiliated by having handcuffs and fetters welded on their limbs in the presence of colleagues and jailed with common criminals. This sparked a mass revolt.

Sepoys killed British officers, released their comrades and stormed into the capital Shahjahanabad Dillee to proclaim the emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, a surprised, 82-year-old man (even his father had never seen battle) as leader. Dillee withstood siege for four months. Leaderless sepoys repeatedly sallied forth bravely to attack and be repulsed from entrenched British positions. British agents infiltrated the emperor’s council of war. The information smuggled out and caused the city to be penetrated and lost in September.

The emperor retreated to Humayun’s Tomb where he had the option of going East to join forces with Begum Hazrat Mahal of Awadh with the troops that had survived. Beguiled by the offer of peace and honour, the tired and bewildered old man surrendered in good faith. As two sons and a grandson were nearing the city as prisoners, without warning ,were shot dead in full public view.

"Haye! Dughaa" (Alas! We are betrayed!) is all they could cry out before dying. Brutal vengeance was wreaked on the fallen city. Men were dragged out of their houses to be cut down by sword, shot or hanged. Women flung themselves into wells to avoid dishonour.

Boatloads of loot arrived in London and mule and donkey loads of gold and silver in the Punjab. The battle scene moved to Lucknow, Jhansi and Arrah and the Delhi pattern of atrocity, loot, arson, massacre was repeated. The emperor was tried for treason, found guilty and exiled by a trading company operating under a license granted by his ancestor.

The last flicker of the lamp of India’s freedom went out.<b> Delhi lost its central status. London became the capital. The major and abiding loss was of the long tradition of rich diversity, of learning from all sources. In the 19th century, new knowledge such as European sciences had started getting absorbed to add on to the traditional learning such as Sanskrit, Prakrit, Arabic, Persian and Turki. This rich and open tradition suffered sudden, brutal fracture.

Art, architecture, painting, calligraphy, book binding, jewellery; weaving and dyeing textiles of cotton silk, wool, gold and silver thread; music and dance; Islamic, Vedanta and Sufi studies — all these aspects of life and culture which had taken millennia to come of age and mature, suffered sudden loss of patronage and a slow death.</b>

<b>Transfer of wealth was institutionalised and made permanent by raising land revenue to unprecedented levels. With no surplus left to the peasant even a single year’s failure of rain spelt famine. Famine, an infrequent and localised occurrence in the pre-British period became endemic covering larger and larger areas. Millions died of hunger — many times that number, especially children malnourished in the growth stage, helped Indians became an almost subhuman species.</b>

The officers, all British, were paid inordinately high salaries, high enough to form a massive drain of India’s resources. <b>The Industrial Revolution started to take shape after the wealth of Bengal went to Britain in 1757 to provide the capital input. After 1857, there was no accountability or check on the drain of resources.</b>

Slavery abolition in Britain was made possible by the plentiful supply of bonded Indian labour under the title "indentured". <b>With Indian troops to win territory and Indian wage slaves to develop the new area, the British had the world at their feet. Playing God was natural and the alien rulers assumed the mai-baap’s (mother and father) and Indians forced to believe that whatever was done by the British was a favour. Any doubt or disagreement was tantamount to treachery.</b>

The British magistrate trying Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak ruled that "lack of affection" was disaffection or sedition and as such culpable enough to sentence Tilak to exile for eight years. Whenever Indians showed the temerity to disagree, question or complain, the British felt justified in accusing them of ingratitude and to exact submission at the point of gun, mouth of cannon, machine-gunning and even bombing from the air.

<b>Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi frequently suffered brutal physical violence and long periods of imprisonment. The 200 years of slavery has not been made up by 60 years of freedom. A deep-seated inferiority complex manifests itself in accepting British and Americans "expertise" on any and all aspects of Indian life including heritage and culture.</b>

India studies became unfashionable after 1857 and English-educated Indians rarely have access to the riches of their own tradition as they lack the language skills needed. They can perhaps be called <b>"toilet paper trained India illiterate" Indians.</b> We need many Mangal Pandyes to do away with this slothful hangover of British Rule in India.

New definition for DIE!
Lucknow's nawab Wajid Ali Shah was dethroned by East India Company on charges of misrule and bad administration. This article explores the episode of how British usurped Awadh state.


डलहौजी को सच मानें या इन अंग्रेज इतिहासकारों को !

सात फरवरी 1856 को गवर्नर जनरल लार्ड डलहौजी ने वाजिद अली शाह पर कुशासन और अयोग्यता का आरोप लगाकर अवध पर कब्जा कर लिया। इस पर बेहद नाराज जनता को शांत रहने के लिए यह समझा कर कि वे वापस लौटेंगे वाजिद अली शाह ने 13 मार्च 1856 को मटियाबुर्ज के लिए प्रस्थान किया। ऐसा इसलिए किया क्योंकि वे जानते थे कि बादशाह का खिताब हासिल करने वाले गाजीउद्दीन हैदर द्वारा 1819 में इंग्लैंड के राजा के साथ किये गये संवैधानिक समझौते की वजह से इंग्लैंड की रानी विक्टोरिया द्वारा राज्य वापस मिलने की उम्मीद ज्यादा है, इसलिये क्यों बिलावजह राज्य में खून-खराबा हो। क्रांति शुरू हुई 1857 में। इसलिये आइये इस बीच की अवधि का इस्तेमाल, खुद अंग्रेजों द्वारा किये गये वर्णनों से ही यह जानने में किया जाये कि वाजिद अली शाह कितने अयोग्य थे और कैसा कुशासन चला रहे थे और बदले में अवध को समृद्ध बनाने में ईस्ट इंडिया कंपनी कितनी योग्यता और सुशासन का परिचय दे रही थी।

  सन 1764 में अंग्रेजों के साथ बक्सर का युद्ध होने के बाद अवध के तीसरे नवाब शुजाउद्दौला अंतिम तौर पर हारे नहीं, लेकिन युद्ध में कमजोर जरूर पड़े। इसका कारण उनकी कमजोरी नहीं, वरन मुगल सम्राट शाहआलम और बंगाल के नवाब मीरकासिम की सेनाओं का युद्ध के मैदान से पलायन रहा। लेकिन इस युद्ध से एक काम जरूर हुआ, अंग्रेजों को अवध की संपन्नता और शक्ति का अहसास हुआ और शुजाउद्दौला दोबारा शक्ति संचय के लिये समय चाहते थे। इसलिये अंग्रेजों और शुजाउद्दौला के बीच संधि हुई। यह संधि अंतिम नहीं थी, फिर कई संधियां हुईं, जब तक कि वाजिद अली शाह ने अपने शासन काल में सख्ती से किसी भी नयी संधि पर दस्तखत करने से मना कर दिया। प्रकट रूप से इन संधियों में अवध में शांति और सुशासन बनाये रखने में अंग्रेजों की सदिच्छा दर्शायी जाती थी और उसके बदले में कुछ करोड़ रुपये वसूले जाते थे, जो सेना के रखरखाव के लिये होते थे। अप्रकट रूप में इनका मकसद अवध को लूटना व कमजोर करना था, जब तक कि अवध इतना कमजोर नहीं हो जाये कि इस संपन्न इलाके पर अंग्रेज कब्जा कर लें।

  16 अगस्त 1765 की संधि--बक्सर की लड़ाई के एवज में शुजाउद्दौला ने ईस्ट इंडिया कंपनी को करीब 50 लाख रुपये सालाना की आमदनी वाले कड़ा जहानाबाद और कड़ा इलाहाबाद के इलाके सौैंपे। बदले में कंपनी ने अवध में एक रेजिडेंट रखा, जिसे नवाबों को समय-समय पर सुशासन की सलाह देना और किसी बाहरी आक्रमण के समय अवध की सेना की सहायता करना था। ये रेजिडेंट कैसा सुशासन चला रहे थे, एक ही उदाहरण पर्याप्त होगा कि नवाब आसफुद्दौला की 1797 में मौत के बाद, अफवाहें फैला कर और कुछ षड़यंत्रकारी राजपरिवार के सदस्यों की सहायता से आसफुद्दौला के, गवर्नर जनरल द्वारा मान्यता प्राप्त उत्तराधिकारी पुत्र वजीर अली को अपदस्थ कर, आसफुद्दौला के सौतेले भाई सआदत अली खान को नवाब बनाया और बदले में उनके साथ 1800 में नयी संधि कर उस समय के अवध राज्य का लगभग आधा हिस्सा ले लिया।

  21 मई 1775--नवाब आसफुद्दौला के साथ संधि की, जिसके तहत लखनऊ की सुरक्षा के लिये नवाब को सालाना दो लाख साठ हजार रुपये सेना में नयी भर्तियों के रखरखाव के लिये देने थे। यह आखिरी संधि नहीं थी, उसके बाद भी संधियां हुईं। लेकिन तब तक ईमानदार अंग्रेज इतिहासकार भी अपना लेखन शुरू कर चुके थे। अंग्रेज इतिहासकार मिल और एक दूसरे इतिहासकार ने लिखा कि संधियों के रूप में यह सरासर लूट थी। ]

  कंपनी अपने स्वार्थो मसलन नेपाल की लड़ाई के खर्चे के तौर पर या ऐसे ही अवसरों पर रुपये उगाहने के लिये अवध के खजाने का उपयोग करती थी। जब कंपनी कमजोर होती थी, नवाबों की चापलूसी करती थी और जब शक्तिशाली होती थी, संधियों से उन्हें लूटती थी।

  उसका मकसद अवध के अंतिम तौर पर कमजोर होने तक,अपने स्वार्थो के लिये उसे लूटना था। 1765 से 1846 तक की अवधि के बीच कई साल ऐसे रहे,जब कंपनी ने अवध के स्वतंत्र राज्य के नवाबों से औसतन करीब 34 लाख रुपये सालाना लूटे।

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