History of the *Bijnor* Rebellion (1858)
CHAPTER VII -- Conclusion
A man should think about those events which happen in the world, and strive to instruct himself from a study of their consequences. The turmoil of violence which happened was only a punishment for the ungratefulness of the Hindustanis. There are many men today who have experienced only English rule in their lives. They not only were born under English rule, but came to maturity under it. In short, the sights which they saw were exclusively the sights of English rule and not of any other. In Hindustan, people are not at all accustomed to learn about former times from the facts of history, nor from reading books. It is for this reason that you people were not acquainted with the injustice and oppression that used to take place in the days of past rulers. Whether rich or poor, a person in those times could never be at ease. If you had been acquainted with the injustice and excesses of those past days, you would have appreciated the value of English rule and given thanks to God. But you were never grateful to God, and remained always discontented.
God has punished you Hindustanis for this ungratefulness, and allowed you to experience again a sample of the Government of former times, after he suspended English rule for a short time. Oh inhabitants of District Bijnor! Think of the three events which happened to you -- how with just a short suspension of authority, nobody's rule possessed any real power and force. How unjust and barbarous people were to their fellow men in those days, with thousands of homes looted, scores of villages razed by fire, hundreds killed, and thousands robbed and impoverished. There was no one who was powerful enough to insure himself a safe journey from one village to the next.
Think how the Muslims, both in the beginning and at the end, grew strong in the District, and those who were called traditional governors ruled as if it had been only their elders, and no one else, who had established the District. Take a view of their rule, and recollect how the Hindus of the District were ruined, murdered, and plundered. Great Rais-es of the District were ruined and driven into exile. Scores of innocent Hindus were seized and killed while their property, effects, and houses were all looted. The Muslims, for their part, might well ponder the question of why those Nawabs did not harm them. Even this was only a matter of political expediency, for the wretches were only interested in keeping the Muslims on their side. God forbid -- if their Government had stabilized itself just a little, then you Muslims would have seen how your co-religionists could be cruel and unjust to you.
In the interval between the time when the Nawabs were in the ascendent [and the government regained control], the Hindus became strong enough to dominate for a few days, so that the Chaudhris were able to rule the District. You could then taste the government of Hindus, and see what Muslims experienced at Hindu hands: how many houses looted, how many villages razed, and even your own womenfolk ravaged. Speak truthfully then. The English ruled fifty-four years in this District. Did any person, Hindu or Muslim, experience any trouble or annoyance then? Can you not recollect what were the disasters brought down on your head by this Hindustani government, in those times of rebellion? Go to the history books on the rule of the former great emperors to measure the extent of the cruelties and disasters borne by the common folk of those days of organized governments.
Not even one hundred-thousandth part of the ease was present then, which fell to your lot in English times. Look how Hindus and Muslims are living with all ease and in peace under English rule. The strong cannot tyrannize the weak now. Each worships God and his Creator according to the requirements of his religion. There is an atmosphere of live and let live. The Hindu builds temples in which to worship; the Muslim builds mosques where prayers are read and the call to prayer is uttered. There is no one to stop them, and no one to forbid. The merchant pursues his trading affairs, entrusting goods worth thousands to an infirm and aged agent, who is sent thousands of miles to earn a profit; and there is no fear of dacoit or thug. And roads -- how perfectly secure they are; women, adorned with jewelry worth thousands of rupees may ride at night in horse-drawn carriages from stage to stage, all quite free of anxiety. The owner-cultivator is busy in the fields; no one takes an iota more than the appointed rent for these fields.
In short, this justice, this ease, this liberty, and this non-interference, which all exist in this era of British rule -- none of them were experienced before, under the rule of anyone else, regardless of stories or boasting to the contrary, or of religion and people. You people did not thank the Lord Almighty for these favors to you. Retribution fell, and gave you a pleasure or two to taste with the alteration of Government. The Almighty's wisdom was manifest in all this, for now you may assay the worth of our English Government and appreciate that the shade of its protection on your head is really better than the shadow of the phoenix [the symbol of Mughal rule]. You may continue to show your sincere gratitude to God.
It has been customary in Hindustan that when any mighty person gained control of some country, the common people accepted the obligation to obey him; everyone became his companion and supporter. When he departed and someone else came, the newcomer was also obeyed by all; try to understand this matter. It is not improper to associate the English Government with this tradition. The common people did not enjoy liberty under former Hindustani governments; the rulers of the day kept them crushed under all kinds of injustice and violence and improper government. Their property, in truth, was the property of those tyrants who seized what they wanted and levied fines on whomever they pleased without regard to fault. In direct contrast to our English rule, the common people enjoyed no rights under such Government.
Now the people have obtained freedom, and each person is master of his own affairs; he does as he wishes. To the extent that the English Government protects its own right, to the same extent does it also protect the rights of the people. If the lowly Chamar [shoemaker] subject of the Government knows that the Government has unjustly taken even his paisa, he can bring an action against his own Government to obtain justice. It is as though the people and the authorities were partners in the Government. Under this kind of Government, there is one duty that falls on the subject, that each person must necessarily and properly fulfill. This duty requires that the subject must take the side of his Government. Failure on this account renders one delinquent and guilty. It was incumbent on each subject of Hindustan in that delicate time that he should side with the Government and do his duty by the Government. Such partiality has these meanings: to support and help the Government to the maximum extent possible, and to refrain from helping the opponent of the Government, so that the entire common people of Hindustan would become the Government's support.
The enemies of the Government would then encounter firm resistance in
each place; the Government would, for its part, pay more attention to the
condition of its common people, who would thus acquire more freedom and
honor. Just as the excellence of a Government may be found in its care
of the subjects and its dispensing of justice, so in like measure, the
faith of the subject is found in his partiality toward the Government.
In this regard, you people were found negligent. On the contrary, even
more than negligent, for you have brought dishonor on all your fellow countrymen.
Would that you had not done so! For would the evil days at retribution
which fell to your lot have then come? Even now you ought to do your duty
by the Government, so that you may wash away with the cool water of obedience
and sincere assistance to the Government the dishonor which was your lot,
and so that you may find the outcome to be good.
Whereas, to repay its three servants for their loyalty during this sedition, the Government proposed that on account of the report of Mr. Alexander Shakespeare (may his fortune increase!) dated June 5, 1858, Number 56 and June 23, 1858, Number 75; and report of the Commissioner of Rohilkhand dated July 1, 1858; and report of the eminent authorities of the Sadr-DiwaniAdalat dated June 29, 1858, Number 732; and Government Order dated July 12, 1858, Number 2379: Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, Bijnor, be appointed Sadr-al-Sudur [the Principal Sadr Amin or Subordinate Judge], Moradabad, and in addition receive a pension of Rs. 200 a month for the duration of his life and that of his eldest son; and that Muhamad Rahmat Khan, Deputy Collector, Bijnor, be granted villages in zamindari near Khorja, District Bulandshahr, whose assessment for the land revenue may not be less than Rs. 5,000 a year; and that Mir Turab Ali Tahsildar be promoted to the rank of Deputy Collector and Deputy Magistrate and be granted villages in zamindari in District Agra whose assessment for land revenue may not be less than Rs. 2500 a year. Approval for these was granted in a letter from Secretary to Government dated July 29, 1858, Number 2703.Now look at the patronage of our patron Government, and how it exalted the worth and dignity of those who, in this sedition, showed their loyalty.