One of the Best Narratives 1857

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I always wondered what happened immediately after the capture of Delhi. Seems our politicians and those newborn Indophiles have either not read history or just conveniently forgotten it. This is shamefully not even in our history books:

Fall of Delhi in 1857. Some extracts from Zia Khan’s book, Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis. Only those with the stomach to read about some of the worst brutalities should proceed.

Major Hodson, made three of the king’s sons strip naked in front of a crowd and then shot them in cold blood. Their bodies were brought to Delhi and left in a street for all to see. Hodson also burned twenty-three sepoys alive after they had fled to a building and was known to be a ‘consummate looter’.

Gallows were immediately erected all over the city, and the hangings began. Anyone suspected of complicity with the rebels was summarily tried and executed: ‘ ——- hundreds of natives were shot or hanged while British officers sat by puffing contentedly on their cigars and soldiers evidently bribed the executioners to keep the condemned men “a long time hanging, as they liked to see the criminals dance, as they termed the dying struggles of the wretches’ (History of the Indian Mutiny, T. Rice Holmes, London 1898, p. 398).

‘A soldier wrote to The Bombay Telegraph, decrying the orders to spare the women and children as ‘hokum’. They were ‘not human beings but fiends, or, at best, wild beasts deserving only the death of dogs’. ‘All the city people found within the walls when our troops entered were bayoneted on the spot; and the number was considerable, as you may suppose when I tell you that some forty or fifty persons were often found hiding in one house. They were not mutineers, but residents of the city, who trusted to our well-known mild rule for pardon. I am glad to say they were to be disappointed.’ (Indian Empire; vol. II, by R. Montgomery Martin, London, 1860, p.449).

‘Mirza Ghalib noted in his Dastanbuy (p. 40), ‘The victors killed all of whom they found on the streets. When the angry lions entered the city, they killed the helpless and weak and they burned their houses. Mass slaughter was rampant and streets were filled with horror.’ All prisoners were slaughtered out of hand.

‘It was the same story all over the affected areas. Men in villages around Meerut that were suspected of harboring rebels were burnt alive as a matter of course (Raj, p.276). During the campaign in Malwa, Dr. Sylvester noted: ‘Having seized on the native liquor shops, they (British soldiers) then commenced looting and killing every thing black, old men and young, women and children —– Streete says he saw a room full of dead women with children sucking at their breasts. Other women brought out dead children supplicating for mercy’ (The Great Mutiny, pp. 331, 377).
‘Bahadur Shah was kept on display to European visitors whilst awaiting trial, ‘ —– the dim-wandering eyed, dreamy old man, with feeble hanging nether lip and toothless gums, who sat on his haunches —– dressed in an ordinary and rather dirty muslin tunic and small thin cambric skull cap’.
‘The revenge was appalling. Old men were shot without a second thought; groups of younger men endeavoring to escape from the city were rounded up and executed in the ditch outside the gates. No one with a colored skin could feel himself safe. The murders were committed without compunction or regret—.’

‘Many who had never struck a blow against us —– who had tried to follow their peaceful pursuits —- and who had been plundered and buffeted by our own countrymen, were pierced by our bayonets, or cloven by our sabers, or brained by our muskets or rifles (The History of the Indian Mutiny, by Sir John Kaye, Allen & Co., London, 1876, p. 635).

‘Some women came out of their houses along with their children and killed themselves by jumping into the wells. Others were killed by their husbands or fathers. “We found fourteen women with their throats cut from ear to ear by their own husbands, and laid out on shawls, for fear they should fall into our hands —- their husbands had done the best they could afterwards and killed themselves” (The Narrative of the Siege of Delhi, as quoted in The Great Mutiny, p. 313).

‘Asadullah Khan Ghalib, managed to hide in a basement undetected, for a month, until food and water ran out. He was duly produced before a court for sentencing. Fortuitously for him, he had in his possession a letter of thanks from the Secretary of State for a eulogy he had composed for Queen Victoria. It saved his life.

‘Once the killing had subsided, the entire population was driven out of Delhi. Tens of thousands of inhabitants were expelled into the country and forced to give up their possessions to the soldiers at the gates. The city appeared like a deserted charnel house. A surgeon reported, ‘The wretched inhabitants have been driven out to starve ——-’

‘Mirza Ghalib wrote: ‘In the entire city of Delhi it is impossible to find one thousand Muslims; and I am one of them. Some have gone so far from the city it seems as if they were never residents of Delhi. Many very important residents are living outside the city, on ridges and under thatched roofs, in ditches and mud huts’ (Dastanbuy).

‘In a letter Ghalib noted: ‘The female descendants of the king, if old, are bawds; if young, are prostitutes —- you would have seen the ladies of the Fort moving about the city, their faces as fair as the moon and their clothes dirty, their pyjama legs torn, and their slippers falling to pieces. This is no exaggeration.’ (The Last Mughal, p. 463.)

‘The people are abject because they are starved out, banished and plundered. Thousands of Muslims are wandering houseless and homeless; the Hindus, pluming themselves on their assumed loyalty, strut about the streets giving themselves airs. Let not the public think that Delhi has not been punished. Wend through the grass-grown streets, mark the uprooted houses, and shot-riddled palaces’ (Mufussilite, June 1860, as quoted in The Last Mughal, p.461).

‘Preferential treatment of the Hindus was part of a deliberate and carefully crafted policy to drive a wedge between the two communities. As the Viceroy, Lord Canning, wrote to the Board of Control in London, ‘The men who fought us at Delhi were of both creeds. —- As we must rule 150 million people by a handful (more or less) of Englishmen, let us do it in the manner best calculated to leave them (Hindus and Muslims) divided’ (Canning Papers).

‘There were strident calls among the British to obliterate the city altogether as ‘a just retribution’. The Lahore Chronicle asked to level Delhi completely. This was echoed by people in Britain, like Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, ‘Delhi should be deleted from the map. Every civil building connected with the Mohammedan tradition should be leveled to the ground without regard to antiquarian veneration or artistic predilections’ (letter dated 9th October 1857, Canning Papers). Others called for all mosques, including the Jamia Masjid, to be razed or converted into churches.

‘Fortuitously, the administration of the city was transferred to the Punjab Government in early 1858. Its Chief Commissioner, John Lawrence, managed to persuade the Viceroy Lord Canning that it was in Britain’s long term interests to end the indiscriminate mass slaughter (in his words, ‘war of extermination’) and limit the destruction of the city.

‘Even so, there was considerable devastation as large-scale demolition operations went on for another two years, according to the Delhi Gazette. The king’s palace was the first to go. It was a huge complex. ‘The harem alone had occupied an area twice the size of any palace in Europe, measuring about 1,000 feet each way. —- Even the fort’s glorious gardens, notably Hayat Bakhsh Bagh and Mehtab Bagh, were swept away. All that was left at the end was about one fifth of the original fabric. —- what remained of the fort became grey British barracks —- without those who carried out this fearful piece of vandalism, thinking it even worthwhile to make a plan of what they were destroying or preserving any record of the most splendid palace in the world’ (History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, by James Fergusson, London, 1876, as quoted in The Last Mughal, p. 459).

‘Vast swathes of land were cleared in the vicinity of the Red Fort. Four of the most magnificent palaces were completely destroyed after the British troops had looted everything inside. Centuries-old priceless carpets, paintings, jewelry, precious stones, decorative pieces, art work and anything else they could find was taken away and lost forever. Some of the city’s finest mosques, such as Akbarabadi and Kashmiri Katra Masjids, along with Sufi shrines, imambaras, beautiful buildings and exquisite havelis belonging to Muslim aristocrats were razed to the ground. Jamia Masjid was a heap of rubble that served as the barracks for Sikh troops. The great caravanserai of Shah Jahan’s daughter, Jahanara, was demolished and replaced by the town hall. Shalimar Bagh was sold off and put to agricultural use. The only Mughal buildings left standing were those occupied by the British.

‘After some weeks, Hindus were permitted to return to the city and allowed to take possession of their properties, on payment of ten percent of the value to the Prize Agents. Confiscated properties of Muslims were sold to Hindu bankers and money lenders. These included the city’s two most famous mosques — Fatehpuri Masjid and Zeenat-ul-Masajid.

‘Muslims continued to languish and perish in the wilderness. It wasn’t until 1860, more than two years later that they were re-admitted and allowed to take possession of what was left of their properties. The rate of payment to the agents in their case was fixed at twenty-five percent of the value. In addition, they were required to provide proof of their loyalty to the British. Any one unable to do so had his property confiscated.’

WhatsApp Share From a Pakistani-American: Author Unknown

4 thoughts on “One of the Best Narratives 1857

  1. What rotten beasts but then beasts must do beastly acts. Shame that we even retained any link. Indeed, humanity has witnessed many times the dastardly acts of man against man and each out-worsted the other in despicableness and inhumanity. Yes, unadulterated true history must be taught so that right perspective is built and right lesson drawn. May the perpetrators of crimes against humanity from time of civilization to the Pharaohs to the enslavement and massacre of free people in the Americas to all colonizers, to Hitler and Vietnam etc etc may be destined to Hell.

  2. I wonder if Muslim have ever made any attempt to take revenge or at least raised this massacre at world level to make the queen to apologise. I wonder also how Muslim now living in GB have ever told this barabarism of English brutals to their children or Muslim are happy that they enjoy living in UK.

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