The Nawab's soldiers were alerted by this time; Sa'd Allah Khan, the munsif at Amroha, who had joined up with the Nawab, mounted an elephant and took some sowars with him to see what was happening. After viewing the Chaudhris' army, he returned to Mahmud Khan with information that they were attacking. Mahmud Khan turned pale and nearly swooned. In the meantime, Chaudhri Nain Singh and Chaudhri Jodh Singh reached the bazaar of Bijnor mounted on horses. Sayyid Turab Ali and I were standing at the door of the tahsil office at this very moment. I asked Chaudhri Jodh Singh what was happening. He answered with a shout that the Nawab had thrown dust on his Nawabi [rule] with his own hand, and that we would soon see what was to happen.
In a short while, the two Chaudhris had blocked the roads of the city and posted men to assure that the city would be safe from outsiders and would-be looters. These arrangements were carried out so well that, truly, the safety of the city that day was entirely the work of the two Chaudhris. The Muslims did not take any steps to help the Nawab that day against the Hindu landlords. Seeing that matters had come to such a pass, the Nawab perforce mounted an elephant and went to the field with those men of his army who were on hand, about 400 men and 30 or 40 sowars.
The actual clash took place at the Bukhara Gardens. An initial volley of muskets was fired on both sides. As a result, there were four wounded and one dead on the Chaudhris' side; I did not see any wounded or any dead body on the Nawab's side. However, people say that there were some dead and wounded among the Nawab's men too. Meanwhile, the Nawab's sowars scattered to attack the artillery piece, when suddenly there was a round of fire from it and from each of the jezails.
On hearing the noise of the artillery piece, the Nawab turned his elephant towards his residence, from where he fled, after seating his younger son on the elephant too. His elder son, Ghazanfar Ali, escaped barefoot on horseback. His men and sowars scattered for their lives, and the Nawab suffered a shameful defeat. Mahmud Khan and Sa'd Allah Khan reached Najibabad with their small escort by way of Mandawar. Ahmad Allah Khan had already reached Najibabad a short time before, after running away from Sherkot. There, the throng of fugitives fell into each other's arms for a good cry.
Directly after this victory the three Chaudhris set up their quarters in the Collector's residence, which Mahmud Khan had just vacated. The villagers could not be controlled; for, to tell the truth, they had joined in the fighting solely for loot. In a sudden swoop, they set alight the bungalow of Mr. George Palmer and the straw [[thatched-roofed?]] barracks of the sowars which Mahmud Khan had built. General looting started. In addition, a list of looted items would include: the effects of those locally-born Christians which had been loaded in carts for dispatch to Najibabad; the effects of Mahmud Khan; and the collections of books, music, and miscellaneous goods of the Collector that were still in his residence; official treasury items such as opium, stamped paper, and postage stamps; the furniture, goods, and equipment in the jail and dispensary; and finally, the money in the residence, estimated by some at Rs. 17,000. It is most probable that the actual amount was close to this figure. However, the empty residence of Mr. Lemaistre escaped undamaged, because of the contrivances of Chaudhri Jodh Singh. It is notorious that the villagers had been pledged to spare the city and Lemaistre's residence, but no one placed any value on the Government's offices or its property and effects.
The by now excited villagers next attacked the Cutcherry [court building], to loot the English reference books and the volumes of survey maps. They looted whatever could be looted. After thatching had been thrown inside, the Collectorate and Criminal Courts were set alight; miscellaneous bundles from other rooms were taken out one after another to be thrown on this burning fire. The roof of some burning rooms of the Cutcherry fell in. The neat offices of the Criminal Court, the Collectorate, the Sadr Amini, and the Registrar of Deeds, all of whose files had just been arranged alphabetically, were thus turned into ashes.
The quarter of Bijnor known as Pakka Bagh, separate from the city and near the jail, was looted and burned for two days during this commotion. It was at this time that a proclamation was heard in Bijnor, in the name of the Chaudhris, to the effect that: "The People belong to God, the Country belongs to the King, and the Government belongs to Chaudhris Nain Singh and Jodh Singh of Bijnor and the Chaudhris of Haldaur." Boom! Boom! On hearing these words, I was reminded of the power of God. When I heard this proclamation, I said to myself, "Good God! We have been used to reading that two kings cannot exist in one country, and here we have five kings in one District! No! No! Perhaps it would be more suitable to talk of ten mendicants sharing one woolen blanket!"
In short, no harm came to the people of Bijnor in this affray. A trooper came to the tahsil office from Maharaj Singh at one o'clock, when we were both sitting behind closed doors, in order to call us for an interview. When we arrived, our hearts throbbed to see flames shooting out of the windows of the Government offices. Particularly bitter was the sight of the looting of the Government opium then going on. After a while we returned to the tahsil office. At four o'clock all the Chaudhris came to the tahsil office; and a few minutes later Chaudhri Maharaj Singh set out for Haldaur with a small escort, while Chaudhri Nain Singh and Chaudhri Jodh Singh took over the administration and protection of Bijnor and its people.
Most of the villagers returned to their villages by evening. While en route, a group of these villagers looted Muslim weavers at Khari and killed some of them. The Jats of Sawaheri looted some rich Muslim hucksters of that place and broke down their mosque. On August 8, 1857 the Jats of Chitawar killed Asghar Ali, an honorable person with whom they had been feuding for a long time. They dragged his corpse by the leg with a rope and destroyed the mosque of Chitawar. In Bijnor city itself, a dispute took place between the Muslims and the Gujars in the chain-mens' quarters; one man was killed and there were wounded on both sides. The Gujars looted this quarter and also the Qazi's quarter. Muslims were about to be slaughtered when Chaudhri Nain Singh came to stop the violence.
Such incidents continued to spread uninterruptedly; the tree of Hindu¬Muslim aversion for each other, which had been planted in the fighting at Sherkot, became very tall and too firmly rooted to be dug out. Chaudhri Nain Singh and Chaudhri Jodh Singh were alert to this danger, and Hindu-Muslim disputes did not increase. They quieted the Muslims and admonished the Hindus, but they had no legal and regular force of men to heed their orders. Those villagers, on the other hand-- how much respect did they have for the Chaudhris?
The Chaudhris of Haldaur and the Chaudhri Sahib of Tajpur returned to their own places after these victories. The Chaudhris of Bijnor stayed in Bijnor, while Chaudhri Umrao Singh and Chaudhri Basant Singh took up quarters on August 8, 1857 in the fortress at Sherkot.
I do not think it out of place to say something here about the forces on both sides. All the Nawab's troops were salaried employees. Most of them had their own muskets, which they knew how to shoot. Many of the Pathans were even crack shots; and about 40 rebel soldiers, whose officer was Ram Sarup, Jemadar of the jail, were very well-trained soldiers indeed. The others were weavers and carders who had never held anything in their hands save cotton thread. The Nawab's sowars were very good, particularly a few sowars of Government regiments who were present then in the District. They knew all types of warfare; and while they did not train many recruits to be well ¬disciplined troopers, they did make sepoys out of them
On the Chaudhris' side, however, there was nothing but men called from hither and yon, for when the rustic bugle sounded in the ears of these villagers they used to come together in droves. The Chaudhris who had mobilized them had to keep on feeding them with chappatis [wheat cakes] and other food day and night. This expense was very heavy for the Chaudhris. For a time, thousands gathered around Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur, who fed between five and six thousand men. Because of Chaudhri Partab Singh, many men rallied for the attack on Sherkot. The very large mobilization at Dhampur, and the participation of the Chaudhris of Kant with their men, were possible only because of Chaudhri Partab Singh. And for this very reason, the expense of feeding them all was very heavy for the Chaudhri Sahib. The Chaudhris of Haldaur carried the burden of feeding their villagers in the same way for a very long time. With my own eyes I saw the Chaudhris feeding villagers day and night at Haldaur. At any one time, whether day or night, one could see between two and three hundred men sitting and eating there. The Chaudhris of Bijnor, too, bore the same expenses to the limit of their strength.
As for the villagers, they had mobilized simply out of greed for loot. The only thing that had substance and meaning for them was looting. Their sense of discipline was extremely limited. They just did what they wanted to do. Quite often they even cursed and railed before the Chaudhris themselves. The hapless Chaudhris had to submit. As for their fighting mettle, the courage of these villagers was such that they would take to their heels at the sight of someone among them falling down dead or wounded. Even if bound with ropes, they still would not stand their ground. Quite a few used to say: "O Brother! you ran as fast as you could to fill up on puris [fried wheat cakes] and now you are running away!" Nobody used to listen. Their weapons were limited; out of the largest throng, only a few -- say, less than ten -- possessed muskets. Most had spears, broken swords, or pole-axes; others had only crude clubs.
The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that the defeat of the Nawabs was due to accidental circumstances. No sensible person who knew the state of affairs on both sides would dream of saying that this mob of rustics had conquered the Nawab's army. The true cause of these two victories was that the Nawab had only two pieces of artillery at the time, and both were at Sherkot. One suffered a burst barrel; the other fell over. Ahmad Allah Khan fled from the fortress out of fear that he would not be able to face the artillery of the Chaudhris, and out of shock at seeing the mass of his opponents. Mahmud Khan did not have any artillery at Bijnor. In those early days there was much fear of artillery, but later experience taught us the lesson that nobody can die from a Hindustani artillery piece.
I feel a sincere need at this point to say something about the artillery. The artillery and artillerymen on both sides were of such caliber that if the Himalaya Mountains were to stand in place of their usual targets and they were told to shoot, one could still anticipate that, with God's assistance, they would always miss the target. And if, by error, they might not miss, then that in itself would be erroneous. On the day of his defeat at Haldaur, the artillerymen of the Nawab must have fired no fewer than seventeen times at a building where the Deputy and I were staying. But they did not scare us a bit, although they had a clear range of fire and ample time to take most careful aim. When we began to fire on them from this house, with our jezail and muskets, they removed the battery from directly opposite the house. I can swear that not one man will die in all this fighting from an artillery ball.
I also think it is a good idea to write about the popular view of this affair. That is, whether in the battles that did take place, the people of both sides also thought that to fight in this way with such and such a person was to wage war against English sovereignty. I do not doubt for a moment that it must have been clear to all, by reason of his boasting and action, that the Nawab was against the British Government and that his main aim and prayer -- may God hurl this prayer back on him! -- was to bring about the downfall of the Government. The Chaudhris, for their part, could be assessed as neither selfish at heart nor interested in grabbing more power and land.
But the situation of the people of the District was such that to fight along with the Nawab and against the Chaudhris did not also mean for them that they were making war against the English Government nor fighting with the English Government. Uppermost in the minds of all was the contest between the Nawab and the Chaudhris. In this contest, the Government stood quite apart and removed from the middle-space between the two sides. There can also be no doubt that the people who sided with the Chaudhris regarded themselves as the well-wishers and helpers of the Chaudhris. For all concerned, the English Government was a separate matter altogether. The facts related above, along with the burning of the Government offices and the looting of official property, serve to confirm this opinion.
After this fighting, Mr. Alexander Shakespeare wrote a letter to the Chaudhris of Haldaur, to Chaudhri Partab Singh Rais of Tajpur, and to Chaudhri Umrao Singh Rais of Sherkot. The Chaudhris then took counsel with each other to write their own account of these events to the British authorities. A copy of the Collector's letter of August 7, 1857 from Mussoorie follows.
"We have recently heard some news about Bijnor. From all these reports one discovers that it is only in your area that the administration is working as well as can be expected. The Nawab has raised the land revenue so much that all the taluqdars are angry. Enough. You well understand that on my leaving the District, its administration was handed over to the Nawab in the expectation that with goodwill all might go well with him. We have not had news from the Nawab for some time now. There is no response to the letters sent to him. This letter is being written to you under compulsion of these circumstances and in view of my own ignorance about the true condition of the District. You are to regard the administration of the taluqdars of your own area as your individual responsibility from now on and until further orders. Keep the Government installment money with yourself as a deposit. Enough. A letter has also been sent to the Nawab today. One must examine the reasons he will offer to explain why my letters are unanswered. You can be positive that you will be informed if a reply from him is received in a few days. To write more is useless, since you are well-informed about the position of those shortsighted ones who have committed themselves to disloyalty. It will certainly be only a few days before the Government intervenes. Be confident, and understand well, as before, the lesson that all people who demonstrate their goodwill in these times will be extremely well-treated."
The Deputy Collector was in Haldaur during the fighting while the three members of our committee -- myself, Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar of Bijnor, and Pandit Radha Kishan, Deputy Inspector -- were all in Bijnor, each in his own locked house. It is impossible to describe the tension that we felt. It did not even enter our minds that the Nawab was about to be defeated. We were all quite convinced that the Nawab was not going to spare us. Besides, the substantiated "offenses" that he had levelled against us -- that of our being supporters and well-wishers of the Government, and of our secret correspondence -- a deep suspicion had also grown in his mind that we had instigated the Chaudhris to fight, particularly the Chaudhris of Bijnor, a charge about which we were totally innocent and uninformed.
We began to breathe again after the Nawab's defeat. Now that the tyrant was no longer on hand to block our way, we wanted to cross the Ganges to reach Meerut. The ghat [the river bank] was held by the Chaudhris, and sedition held such sway over the roads that we could not even take a step on them without the support and aid of the Chaudhris. Therefore, in all humility, for several days we asked the Chaudhris of Bijnor for permission to leave. But they would not permit us to escape. Our miserable fate remained unchanged.
I am not accusing the Chaudhris of wrongdoing in not letting us escape. They may have suspected, unjustifiably, that we would try to build up our names and records for loyalty with the English authorities at their expense. Or they may have thought that we would give a point-blank account about the burning and looting of the Government offices and property. In a few days, they came to realize that it would be impossible to run the District if we left, and the common people would be disheartened too. The prospect of staying on made us very depressed. We were so completely helpless and we always took it for granted as a matter of course that the Nawab would seize and kill us after he retook Bijnor.
At this time, when we were thinking about escaping and presenting ourselves in person to the authorities, we three men also sent communications to Mr. Wilson and to the Collector about the fighting and the defeat of the Nawab. We sent a formal account of the destruction of the court buildings, as well. The Chaudhris increased their established correspondence with the authorities about local conditions after the arrival of the letter from the Collector. Pandit Radha Kishan, Deputy Inspector, a member of our committee, was continually helpful to us in this matter. Because of his superior education, he knew about the natural wisdom and bravery of the English Government, and he was constantly alert to dispel, in suitable words, the arguments of those who stressed that English rule would be difficult to maintain because of the disloyalty of the entire Indian Army
My own personal view and statements, which ever remained in harmony with each other, were that victory and defeat depended neither on the size of armies nor on individual acts of valor. More to the point in determining victory or defeat were wisdom, foresight, tactics, and the theoretical and practical use of weapons. How can a crowd of sheep and other animals confront a lion? After considering these views, the Chaudhris also dispatched their own individual reports to the authorities, in order to review these events in the District and to underscore their obedience. Along with other useful papers, Pandit Radha Kishan discovered the farman which had been addressed to Mahmud Khan. Chaudhri Jodh Singh, Rais of Bijnor, personally set out for Meerut to deliver this farman to Mr. Wilson, Special Commissioner and Judge of Moradabad.
Our anxiety about staying on in Bijnor was undiminished. We received reports that Mahmud Khan, Shafi Allah Khan, and Ahmad Allah Khan, in particular, were all busy refitting their equipment and building up their strength in numbers to about 4,000 men. They would certainly aim to attack Bijnor. Twice, the city became bedlam on the mere rumor that the Nawab was about to attack. Such was the strange state of affairs there in the wake of these rumors that Chaudhri Jodh Singh, who had been looking for money in the well, scampered home in such an upset condition that all gave themselves up for lost. Even Chaudhri Nain Singh lost his composure in this uproar.
Our anxiety about staying on in Bijnor was undiminished. We received reports that Mahmud Khan, Shafi Allah Khan, and Ahmad Allah Khan, in particular, were all busy refitting their equipment and building up their strength in numbers to about 4,000 men. They would certainly aim to attack Bijnor. Twice, the city became bedlam on the mere rumor that the Nawab was about to attack. Such was the strange state of affairs there in the wake of these rumors that Chaudhri Jodh Singh, who had been looking for money in the well, scampered home in such an upset condition that all gave themselves up for lost. Even Chaudhri Nain Singh lost his composure in this uproar.
Chaudhri Randhir Singh is an intelligent man. Except for our lives being lost, we told him, there really was no advantage to anyone in forcing us to stay. "Take pity," we begged him, "and allow us to cross the Ganges." Chaudhri Nain Singh was also willing to let us go to Haldaur, on our promise to come back. We viewed our escape from Bijnor to be a great blessing. Chaudhri Nain Singh sent some trusted men with us under instructions to bring us back to Bijnor. Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar, Pandit Radha Kishan the Deputy Inspector, and myself set out for Haldaur on August 12, 1857. Of course, on reaching there, we refused to return, except for Pandit Radha Kishan, who had to return for his wife and children, who were still in Bijnor. He reached there again on August 13, 1857.
When we reach Haldaur we found Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur, present there. Mir Sadiq Ali, Rais of Chandpur, had also come. The subject of discussion was district administration. We flatly refused to take part in the administration without clear instructions from Government. Mir Sadiq Ali argued that since each Rais should look after his own area, as was stated in the letter of the Collector of August 7, he had maintained a separate government for the pargana [sub-district] of Chandpur. This council in Haldaur sent further joint communications to Mr. Wilson from the Chaudhris collectively and from myself, Sayyid Turab Ali, and the Deputy [Inspector], who were all present in Haldaur. We also sent Kanhyal Lal Dogri, writer in the office of the Sadr Amin, to Meerut as a courier. On the same day Chaudhri Randhir Singh, Rais of Haldaur; Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur; and Mir Sadiq Ali, Rais of Chandpur, all set out for Bijnor on administrative business. Mir Sadiq Ali left for Chandpur on August 14, while the Chaudhris stayed on in Bijnor.
In all these exchanges we found Chaudhri Partab Singh to be outstanding, both for the excellence of his views and for his fear of the English Government, which the others did not exhibit to the same extent. He would constantly interject that "such and such an idea is feasible; but what," he would ask, "would the English do in a similar case?" We reported our intentions to Chaudhri Budh Singh after these meetings -- in particular, our plea that he should help us get across the Ganges. On our insistence, he proved agreeable, and picked 50 men for the assignment. It was also agreed that Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar would go to Nagina with the aid of Ram Dayal Singh. The latter was about to leave for Nagina that very day to administer the place and bring back the casting-mold [[sanchah]] of the artillery piece that Nathe Ram had ordered made for the Nawab. Turab Ali was then to collect his family so that we could all cross together. Sayyid Turab Ali was also instructed to stay in Nagina for a time, in order that he might admonish the Hindus and Muslims there to keep the peace. He left for Nagina on August 14.
When these communications reached the authorities at Meerut, agreement was thereupon reached to send a token force accompanied by some officials to the District. A proposal for this token force was also drawn up. Mr. George Palmer played a very helpful role on this question. The authorities at Meerut also agreed to the proposal, and sent a request for the required troops to the Government at Agra, to which they had as yet no reply. They also proposed that Muhammad Rahmat Khan Sahib, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, should carryon the administration on behalf of the Government until the return of the English officers to the District. The following letters about District administration arrived at Haldaur on August 15, 1857 in the evening: a letter of Mr. Wilson addressed to Muhammad Rahmat Khan, Deputy Collector; a letter from Mr. Wilson, Commissioner of Meerut, addressed to both of us; and a letter from Mr. George Palmer, Joint Magistrate, addressed to both of us. They were all dated August 13, 1857. Although we later burned these letters in Bijnor when disaster overtook us -- to be related further on -- and although when we later reached Meerut we could not find the office copies (as they were written very quickly at a delicate time), I will nonetheless summarize them now from memory in the hope that the result will not be misleading.
We learned from your letters and from those of the Chaudhris of Bijnor that the injustice and oppression of the Nawab have resulted in a clash in which he was defeated and obliged to flee. Inasmuch as the administration of the District is urgent now, both of you are addressed that as government agents, you are to consider yourselves as the managers of the entire District on behalf of the Government which you are to administer conjointly. All the Chaudhris explicitly desire that the District administration remain in your hands.
The reply to the reports which the Chaudhris had written was as follows:
Rehmat Khan Sahib Bahadur, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, have been named to administer the District. You people should be their helpers and supporters. The English authorities will soon come with an army.
Mr. John Currie Crawford Wilson wrote a letter to Chaudhri Umrao Singh, landlord of Sherkot, which we obtained for him. We reproduce it here word for word.
To the Noble and Esteemed Chaudhri Umrao Singh Sahib, may God's mercy be on you! We have your letter describing the outrages and tyranny of Nawab Mahmud Khan. It is indeed a matter of great sorrow that you are bearing these great injuries and that Shiv Raj Singh and his family have been killed. God does not allow that such tragedies to happen without also providing for relief later. If your Pathans had not committed such tyranny -- that is to say, plunder of property and killing of dear ones -- would you, the Hindus, have been able to come together as one to throw Mahmud Khan out? Now the united Hindus, standing together, have actually thrown out the tyrant Nawab. If, in former times, you had behaved in this way, would it have been difficult for us to strike at the rebel army that was then in the area? Would it have been necessary for us to depart from there, and would the resultant disaster have come upon you? So be it. All things are dependent on their appointed hour. By God's grace, your troubles will soon be dispelled. We have written to Government in order to go to Bijnor, and we have also called Shakespeare from the mountains. Soon military preparations are to begin, so that we can come with a small and reliable force. We have written to Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, and Rahmat Khan, Deputy Collector, that they should carry on the administration very well until our coming.
Mr. Palmer Sahib, Joint Magistrate of Bijnor, recently inquired about you. He has been in Muzaffarnagar and has now come to Meerut. Tonight he will be at Miranpur for the letter that you wrote to the Ruler of Rampur. We too wrote an English letter to the Ruler of Rampur, and we will also write another English letter to him today, as requested by you. The Postmaster of Meerut has set up a courier service as far as the Ganges. Appoint on your side a trusted courier who may be armed, and keep us informed daily about events there. Please arrange a skiff for the crossing by the courier.
You wrote about the artillery piece which was put near your house by the nephew of that tyrant Nawab. The people of India who have never seen artillery before are afraid of it. But when artillery is in untrained hands it is not the weapon which people need fear. If these Pathans fire on you Hindus, then you ought to carry out this strategem: men shall separate from each other to all four directions in groups of two, and leave a space of 100 feet clear in the middle. Attack the artillerymen at the same time from all directions when they have fired a round. Consider that you have already reached it when there is a space of only 50 feet remaining between you and the artillery piece. Understand well that you will indeed suffer a great deal whenever you stand together like frightened sheep in one place. Otherwise the artillery can do nothing at all. Just a few days ago a European company took 8 large pieces from rebel soldiers at the Hindaun River. You also can set to work in the same way. Written August 14, 1857.
I have hesitated much about relating what follows since I will, in effect, be writing about myself. Still, I have the fortitude to go ahead since, in truth, I am not the writer, but am really repeating the views of my master. If I am very happy about what my master has said, why may I not speak or write about it? It is the duty of a servant to be pleased at a statement of his master, and to reveal his own just pride by relating it.
This is to say that when I reached Meerut and was ill and in much pain, my master, Mr. John Currie Crawford Wilson Sahib Bahadur (may his fortune last!), Judge and Special Commissioner, increased my honor by himself coming to visit me. He made the following remarks at that time:
"You are such a loyal servant that even in that delicate situation, you did not leave the Government in the lurch. Despite the deep hatred between Hindus and Muslims, and the rising of the Hindus to resist the Muslim Government, when we wanted to turn over responsibility for the District to you and Muhammad Rahmat Khan Sahib, the Deputy Collector, we found out that your good character, conduct, and extreme dedication to the Government's cause had been such that all the Hindus who were big and well-known Rais-es agreed with perfect joy and deep desire to accept you Muslims as their rulers in the District. They even specifically requested that you be picked as rulers over all the Hindus of the District.
Knowing you as its loyal and well-disposed servants, the Government too, in this delicate situation, turned over the District to you with complete confidence. You remained throughout faithful and loyal servants of the Government. Even if, by way of compensation, we should make a picture of you as a remembrance for generations to come, so as to promote the honor and pride of your descendants, it would be insufficient."
I am extremely grateful to my master for the favor which he has shown me and for his just appreciation of my merit. May God preserve him. Amen.
Orders addressed to us from the Commissioner, District Meerut, and the Judge, District Moradabad, and the Joint Magistrate, District Bijnor, dated August 13, 1857 were received on August 15, 1857 at evening, to the effect that the Deputy Collector and Sadr Amin should jointly carryon the administration of District Bijnor until the return of the English District officers. We were on duty in Bijnor immediately on receipt of these orders, while Chaudhri Randhir Singh and Chaudhri Bodh Singh, both Rais-es of Haldaur, and Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur, are also present in Bijnor. With the help of the aforementioned Rais-es and the Rais-es of Bijnor, we have become busy with District administration and have circulated, in appropriate fashion, orders and announcements in various places. Plans have been made to scatter those who have come together in different places to disturb the peace. Accordingly
It is Ordered: That a copy of this record should be sent to the Commissioner Meerut Sahib Judge Bahadur, District Moradabad, and Joint Magistrate, District Bijnor.
IWe issued a later announcement in Bijnor, by beat of drum, that persons should return looted Government property or the effects of the English that they had taken during the recent disturbance. They could do this in secret at any place; if the property were not returned or were wasted and destroyed, they could be declared criminals. A miscellany of office records and of books belonging to the Collector, some dispensary supplies, stamps, and many survey maps came to hand in the wake of this announcement. Registry documents and law books also came in. These were all placed in the tahsil Court building. Hari Singh, inspector of allotments, sent in some bound survey maps that he was able to collect after much effort; and Chaudhri Nain Singh, Rais of Bijnor, sent in whatever books he could find. We had hoped for more things to come in like this, but unfortunately our advance estimates were not borne out.
When the District came into our charge, I thought that the wording of the proclamation should be altered. That is to say, the words khalq khuda ke, mulk padshah ka, hukam kampani sahib bahadur ka["The People belong to God; the Country belongs to the King; and Authority belongs to the Company Bahadur") should be changed so that instead of the phrase "the Country belongs to the King," it should be shouted that "the Country Belongs to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Sovereign of London" [mulk malaka mu'azmah viktoriya shah landan ka]. I thought that words should be used in the proclamation that permitted the common people to grasp without any uncertainty whose country it was, who was their sovereign, and whose subjects they were. But I did not think it proper to alter such an old procedure without orders from my superiors. I kept my own special views on this subject in abeyance until another occasion
Mr. George Palmer Sahib Bahadur was thoroughly attentive to the situation in the District. He settled in Miranpur so that he might know daily what was happening. This was a great encouragement and comfort to us. In addition to the record mentioned above, we also sent him a report on the District, which is reproduced at this point.
Copy of Report of Muhammad Rehmat Khan, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, Managers of District Bijnor, addressed to Mr. George Palmer, Joint Magistrate, August 16, 1857.
The situation in the District is as follows: peace prevails everywhere except in the paragana of Najibabad. More people have banded together to disturb the peace in the towns of Nihtaur, Seohara, Memon, and Nagina. Plans have been completed to disperse them. They are most probably scattered by now or soon will be. Present in Bijnor in suitable strength are Chaudhri Randhir Singh and Chaudhri Budh Singh, Rais-es of Haldaur, and Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur. Together with the Rais-es of Bijnor, they are helping the District administration in every way.
From Najibabad the news is as follows: it is heard that Mahmud Khan now has an army of 5,000 men and a newly-made brass artillery piece. He is having a piece made at Najibabad. They are looting and burning all the villages near Najibabad. In our opinion, their numbers will increase as long as the Government army is kept from coming to Bijnor. They will disperse at once if the Government army comes quite soon.
The situation of the mail service is as follows: the Commissioner of Meerut and the Judge of Moradabad have ordered that the mails should continue as before, that is to say, from Raoli to Muzaffarnagar. We are trying to implement this decision in connection with your request for daily reports to be delivered at Joli or Miranpur. It will be necessary that we try to send news from here by a sowar, since Your Excellency's purpose will not be served through the Muzaffarnagar mail service. We will maintain the Muzaffarnagar mail service as before and also send Your Excellency, by a special sowar or mail-runner, reports each day on the situation in the District.
"The situation in the District is normal now. There is nothing really new to report, but still some points are worth submitting. After studying them, Your Excellency may acquaint himself with the detailed replies. First, despite all that has happened, Mahmud Khan is busy with his plans to mobilize men and serviceable artillery. To the extent Your Excellency is delayed in coming, Mahmud Khan will continue to repair his war material.
Second: the Rais-es of the District do not keep hired soldiers, but all the zamindars and their brotherhoods come together at the time [when they are called]. It is impossible for these people to remain together a long time in these circumstances. Over and above this, if they do stay together, soon the expenses for daily food become so heavy that there is not a single Rais who can endure them. Agriculture is completely ruined and at a standstill. The damage will, in the end, fall only on the Government, and will lead to destruction of the zamindars. The early coming of the authorities and of the Government army is necessary in these circumstances.
Third: the management of the District was entrusted to us as employees until the return of the officials. With the help of the Rais-es of the District we are busy with this task. It is clear that the administration of the District will become impossible should their assembly of men disperse. For we have no force of our own, such as an army or bank of men, etc., through which the District might be administered. The peons and orderlies at the thana [[office, police station]] are absent for the most part. For this reason, we cannot carry on the administration of the District with only those people at such a time.
Fourth: if the District were free of the fear of an attack by Nawab Mahmud Khan, several administrative difficulties would not exist at all. In these circumstances, the Government army should come as quickly as possible; otherwise the administration cannot endure. Nawab Mahmud Khan still has with him the large amount of money and equipment that he took from the Government. He need not have second thoughts or anxieties about maintaining the army.
Fifth: by your writing that you are staying in Miranpur for the sole purpose of getting news of the District on a daily basis, we can assume that your coming to the District is to be postponed for a while. We consider this delay as tantamount to the destruction of the District and collapse of the administration. We are hopeful that you may write to assign the date you are coming, so that arrangements can therefore be prepared to take care of the men brought together at that time."
Mr. George Palmer, in his own sincere way, was more than matching our insistence that the army should come to Bijnor. However, no answer to the report they had despatched had yet come from Government. For this reason, the aforementioned officer could not fix a date for sending the army or for his own arrival. He satisfied us and the Rais-es in every respect. He kept busy with wise plans to encourage the public to believe that the Government army would soon be on its way to Bijnor.
We worked hard to organize and get the post going. We wrote to Muzaffarnagar about arranging the mail-runners to the ghat of Raoli. We set up a new post from Bijnor to Meerut by way of Miranpur. We put in charge of our own post office Babu Kanak Lal, Deputy Postmaster, who had been discharged through the tyranny of the Nawab. Two mail-runners were arranged at Bijnor, and two at the ghat of Daranagar. Mail-runners from Daranagar went as far as Dhampura, whence Mr. George Palmer arranged postal relays. This arrangement worked well, and the regular dispatch of mail proceeded. On August 17, 1857 we informed the aforementioned officer that the post had been established and was functioning
Pandit Radha Kishan, Deputy Inspector, proposed that he should go alone to Miranpur in order to give Mr. George Palmer an oral report on the entire situation in the District and, if possible, to arrange a meeting between the aforementioned officer and the Chaudhris, so that they might report to him on the local situation. The aforementioned officer would be thoroughly informed on the situation in the District, while both the Chaudhris and all other people would feel more at ease. Accordingly, on the 17th Pandit Radha Kishan, Deputy Inspector, accompanied by one of his own men and a sowar of Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur, left to pay his respects to the aforementioned officer in Miranpur, where he gave an oral review of the situation in the entire District. It was agreed that the Chaudhris would come to pay their respects at Dhampura on the banks of the Ganges.
The Chaudhris were called. Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur; Chaudhri Randhir Singh, Rais of Haldaur; and Chaudhri Nain Singh, Rais of Bijnor, went to Dhampura. Chaudhri Jodh Singh, who had crossed previously, was also present to pay his respects to the aforementioned officer on August 18, 1857. The aforementioned officer comforted everybody. The sensational false report that the Nawab had attacked Bijnor reached Dhampura at this time. The Chaudhris paled on hearing this rumor, and they began to make gestures which revealed extreme agitation and loss of composure. Chaudhri Randhir Singh, as usual, remained firm. He advised the aforementioned officer well and prudently by noting that such and such an action might be taken if the news were authentic, but that, in truth, the news was unfounded. The aforementioned officer dismissed everyone after this discussion; and all these people, together with Pandit Radha Kishan, Deputy Inspector, returned to Bijnor on the same day.
Ahmad Allah Khan and Shafi Allah Khan continued with their evil ways. They continued to harrass the Hindus and to loot and set fire to villages in the environs of Najibabad. Shafi Allah Khan, for example, burned down the village of Musapur. Mareh and Abdullah Khan (whom the Nawab had appointed Tahsildar of Nagina after dismissing Maulvi Qadir Ali Tahsildar) looted and set afire Hasanpura, Mohanpura, Shafiabad, Kardili, Narayanpur, and Patijatan -- all villages inhabited by Jats.
Mir Jiwan Ali, Rais of Memon, was also present in Najibabad and was understood to be a participant in these matters. Therefore, on August 19, 1857 I wrote to His Excellency Mr. George Palmer to request that he should write to Jivan Ali to withdraw. I also asked that he write to Rae Himmat Singh, Rais of Sahanpur, since his area was adjacent to Najibabad and he might help stop these disorders. I asked for a letter to be written to Mufti Muhammad Ishaq, Rais of Kiratpur, so that he should not permit any fresh violence in his area. I reproduce herewith word for word the aforementioned officer's answer, and his letters to the landlords.
Dear Muhammad Rehmat Khan Sahib, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan Sahib, Sadr Amin.
Greetings. Your letter of today's date has come. You should continue to write daily on the situation there, as I will send your letters regularly to the Commissioner of Meerut, and also to the Collector, for by today's news I learned that he has reached Meerut to set up residence there. At your request two letters marked "Rae Himmat Singh, Rais of Sahanpur," and "Mir Jiwan Ali, Rais of Memon" are being sent through you. Please deliver them as soon as possible. We learn, too, that a letter had already been dispatched to Mufti Muhammad Ishaq, landlord of Kiratpur, before the arrival of your letter. It is to be hoped that a clash of arms will not disturb the haven of Bijnor. In any event it is necessary that anarchy should not prevail in Bijnor. You must have made plans, I am sure, with a view to the coming first ten days of Muharram.
Be confident that the Collector and I, together with assistance, intend to come to the District soon. With this in view, the Commissioner of Meerut is constantly busy bringing together a sizeable army for the management of the District; but as is quite apparent to you, our coming would be unsuitable without such a fully equipped army. It is best that for a little time more, you carry on the administration with the cooperation and favor of the Rais-es.
The mail relays by runners from Bijnor to Meerut have been well organized. Please work out a plan to move ordinary letters. With respect to what is new here, it may be divulged at the time when it can also be viewed as a settled matter. What has been learned about your dedication to the Government and struggling in its cause will clearly not be forgotten. Please greet all the landlords in our name. It is now too late at night to write to them separately. Our meeting with them has eased our minds a great deal. May you always keep us informed about the situation there. Written August 19, 1857.
Dear Rae Sahib! Greetings. Charge of the Government Treasury and District administration was given to Mahmud Khan from the day when the Collector left Bijnor. It was known after an interval of several days that trouble developed between the Nawab Sahib and the Chaudhris until there was open conflict, whereupon the Nawab Sahib left Bijnor for Najibabad. In these circumstances, may it be clear to you that the Commissioner of Meerut has ordered Muhammad Rahmat Khan, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, to take over the administration, with the help of the Chaudhris of the District, until the administrators of the District may return. It is necessary that they be helped in every way, and that their orders should be accepted as the orders of the Government. We learn, moreover, from several people that the Nawab Mahmud Khan intends to attack Bijnor. You are requested to take steps so that this confrontation may not be allowed to happen, for otherwise anarchy and destruction of the ryots [[peasants]] will again prevail. Always keep us informed of your situation. Written August 19, 1857
Mir Sahib, Dear Friend. Greetings. An armed conflict has taken place after a dispute between Nawab Mahmud Khan and the Chaudhris and Taluqdars of the Hindu people. The Government is deeply saddened by this bloodshed in the District. It may be known to you that a few days ago the Commissioner of Meerut appointed Muhammad Rahmat Khan, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, to take over the District administration pending the return of the administrators of the District. Be informed of this measure. May the decision be unmistakable to you that the administrators of the District intend to return very quickly with a Government army to organize this dependency./1/ It is therefore incumbent on you to keep your own State in good order so that there may not be any incidents of violence. You are the Rais, and the Government will hold you responsible at the hour of inquiry. Written August 19, 1857.
We sent these letters to the aforementioned landlords and reported as much to His Excellency George Palmer, Joint Magistrate, at Miranpur on August 22, 1857. With a view to the coming first ten-day period of Muharram,/2/ we circulated the customary notices that used to be broadcast in this period during the time of the Supreme Government; and we also took all precautions to assure that violence might not occur.
When Nawab Mahmud Khan learned that Mr. George Palmer, Joint Magistrate, was resident at Miranpur and in regular correspondence with the Chaudhris, he himself wrote on August 14, 1857, to complain about the excesses of the Chaudhris and their resistance against him. He complained that the Chaudhris had thrown him out after a struggle, and spread anarchy in the District. After studying this letter, the aforementioned officer wrote his reply on August 21, 1857. The text is written at this point.
Dear Nawab Sahib. Affectionate greetings to Muhommad Mahmud Khan Sahib. Your letter of August 14 reached me today. Its contents are understood. The original of the letter was sent to the Collector and the Commissioner at Meerut. Before its arrival the Government had learned that a struggle took place between your men and the Taluqdars and the Chaudhris at Sherkot and Bijnor. This violence and bloodshed is a matter of great sorrow to Government. For the sake of the District administration, the Commissioner has ordered Muhammad Rahmat Khan, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, to take over the District administration. [May it be clear to you] that the administrators of the District are returning very soon with a fully-equipped army to investigate both sides of the matter. It is necessary that you keep your servants from taking part in any kind of fighting. You are again being informed that a letter sent to you by the Commissioner through the Tahsildar of Muzaffarnagar was twice returned by the post. Now it is being sent to you. Salaam. August 19, 1857.
The Commissioner's letter mentioned in this letter was dated August 15, 1857. In this letter the Commissioner gave Nawab Mahmud Khan, in writing, noble advice, and required him to desist from excesses such as bloodshed, violence, oppression, and his demand for uncollected revenue. He also reminded him of the fate of Nana Rao Dhandu Pant Maratha for disobedience and non-performance of duty. This letter made him clearly understand that those who obediently executed their duty would benefit in the end, but those who acted contrarily would be disgraced, impoverished, and made liable for punishment.
Despite all these plans, Mahmud Khan remained dissatisfied. The Chaudhris, for their part, were irresolute about whether or not to attack Najibabad. Our colleague Pandit Radha Kishan, Deputy Inspector, wrote to Mr. George Palmer about their predicament. The two letters which came by way of reply are reproduced in their original form [[with their original English spellings]]. The first letter:
Meeranpore, 19th August 1857
My Dear Radha Kishen,
I send by this post two letters to the Chowdries from the Commissioner. Explain to them that the difficulty regarding the troops arises from certain orders issued by the General Commanding at Delhi, irrespective of Bijnore, and that it is strongly hoped by the Commissioner, as well as myself, that they will be so far overlooked by Sir John Lawrence, the Chief Commissioner of the Punjab, as to enable us to re-occupy Bijnore shortly. I enclose for you a note from Mr. Wilson that I received last night; it may assure them at all events that neither he, the Commissioner, or myself, are sparing any pains to come to their aid. I have written to the Rais of Keerutpore telling him to take care and not aid disturbers of the peace.
With regard to Nujeebabad, which you said they did not like to attack without orders from Government, they should use discretion. Of course now the Government looks to their aid for the preservation of order in the district; and until a force is sent to do so, they are perfectly free to attack that place; or to do anything that they may think really necessary to maintain order. But, if possible it would be better to wait a day or so, till they have more certainty regarding our return; and also I should think that it would be in itself a very hazardous undertaking.
George Palmer, Junior
P.S. They should be prepared for the Mohurrum tomorrow.
The second letter:
Miranpur, 19th August, 1857
My Dear Radha Kishen,
I have received a letter from the Nuwab at Nujeebabad and replied to it. Tell the Talookadars to on no account let their people stop mine by the way. The purport of my letter was to warn him against fighting with them, or anywhere else. Tell them therefore that, if he is disposed to keep to his own place at Nujeebabad, and leave them alone, then they had better do the same by him. I sincerely trust there will be no more fighting till we come. Mr. Shakespear has arrived in Meerut; a Regiment of Sikhs is to be in Mozuffernuggur today; I hope we shall get the number we want from them, but this depends on the military authorities. I sent letters to you, and to the Rueeces and to Mahomed Rehmut Khan and the Sudder Ameen by Sowar this morning. I send you an extract from a letter from Mr. Muir/3/ at Agra, with recent news. Translate it to them. I send bits of news from the last papers.
George Palmer, Junior
P.S. Your letter has arrived -- come to me tomorrow. The Raieses had better wait a day or so before going to Nujeebabad, unless the Nuwab comes out to fight them. They will probably get orders on the subject from the Commissioner the day after tomorrow.
It is proper at this time for us to say something about the situation at Nagina. Before Ram Dayal Singh left Haldaur, the blackguards of Nagina looted village Nandpur. Ram Dayal Singh therefore stayed in village Phulsanda while Mir Turab Ali went to Nagina. On the next day Ram Dayal Singh came to Kala Khetri, which is two miles south of Nagina. There he opened talks for a compromise with the people of Nagina. His coming to Nagina was most unwelcome to Nathu Khan and Mandhu Khan, servants of the Nawab. For this reason Ram Dayal Singh moved to village Puraini, which is three miles east of Nagina. Ram Dayal Singh had the bugle sounded to bring men together. The group of Rais-es in Nagina -- that is to say, Maulvi Muhammad Ali and Shaikh Najaf Ali; Mir Ashraf Ali, son of Amir Ali; Kunwar Kishan Singh and Pradhan Nila Pat; etc. -- were on the side of peace, in accordance with the wishes of Sayyid Turab Ali, but the servants of the Nawab and the officers of his army who were also present were determined on a struggle
Mandhu Khan and Ashraf Ali went to Najibabad from Nagina. They wanted Abdullah Khan to become Tahsildar at Nagina again. He had been Tahsildar before he had run away with Ahmad Allah Khan. When Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar saw that violence was increasing and that the aggressive element were no longer under control of their Rais, he left that place together with Mir Latafat Ali Thanadar and the members of both their families. Several Muslims of Nagina, and Pran Sukh Bishnoi,/4/ also went with him. At village Puraini they met a band of villagers who wanted to rob them. Jai Raj Singh, the number-dar [a farmer and revenue-collector] of the place, protected them. He had to take them back to Nagina personally, by way of Bijnor, because it was impossible to save them from being robbed by the excited villagers.
When Sayyid Turab Ali reached Nagina, Mandhu Khan, and Ashraf Ali son of Ali Bakhsh, had already come from Najibabad with some 400-500 men and two jezails. Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar advised the Rais of Nagina to send these people back to Najibabad if at all possible. They all agreed, both Hindu and Muslim. After much effort and many strategems they managed to send them back.
We got word of this development in Bijnor, where the Rais-es were debating the question of whether or not to attack Najibabad. Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur, was opposed to more violence. He argued that one could not predict the outcome. We should try, he said, to keep the peace in the District for a little while longer at all costs. In his opinion, it had been improper for men to go to Nagina and lay the foundation there for further violence. On the other hand, the views of Chaudhri Budh Singh Sahib, Rais of Haldaur, as a natural consequence of his manliness and valor, favored an attack on Najibabad by the combined group.
They were encouraged by their previous successes against the Nawab. We had never felt that these people called up from here and there could be victorious in Najibabad, or that these villagers could take the alleys of the city and the solidly-built residence of the Nawab. Our opinion proved to be extremely sound and irrefutable. We thought, moreover, that it was most unwise for so much violence to be stirred up over only one gun in its casting-mold in Nagina, whose manufacture, firing, and these causing someone's death because of its shell, would be a most fanciful, fantastic event, and not about to take place. I fully realized that the District administration would be, in the end, damaged if violence in Nagina should increase. Our advice was correct, for this is what happened in the end
We very much wanted the fighting to cease at Nagina and remain suspended for a few days, to the extent possible. We took it as a certainty that the appearance in Bijnor of even a token Government army would be all that was needed to restore the administration, and that in the process, there would doubtless not even be need for an actual battle to be fought anywhere. The return of the English officers would serve to erase forever the basic cause of violence -- namely, those fears that if the Muslims were to prevail, the Hindus would be killed and looted; or those contrary fears that if the Hindus were to prevail, then it would be the Muslims who would be killed and wiped out. Meanwhile, we learned that violence at Nagina had ceased. We were very happy to send this report to Mr. George Palmer (may his good fortune last!), and to give him our views about an attack on Najibabad, and to request his guidance.
Transcript of Report by Muhammad Rahmat Khan, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, dated August 20, 1857
The situation here is that recent news sent you about a fight at Basigorwan and the advance of Shafi Allah Khan on Kiratpur appears, on investigation, to have been false. It is only accurate to this extent: that Ahmad Allah Khan has sent some of his men to Kiratpur to gather rations; neither his tent nor advance baggage have appeared there yet. The violence at Nagina has been disposed of. All the Rais-es at Nagina, both Hindu and Muslim, stood together. They decided that some 600-700 men who had come from Najibabad on account of the violence, plus some of their own rogues, should all leave and not be allowed to commit violence in Nagina; it is heard that these people have gone to Najibabad. Until now, however, we do not have a letter from Mir Turab Ali; it appears certain that either his letter will come or that he himself will return today. All the Chaudhris have been advised against disbanding their men for any reason. They are fully cooperating in this matter, although it is reported for a fact that Nawab Mahmud Khan and his allies have set alight some zamindari villages belonging to the Chaudhris of Haldaur and to Rae Himmat Singh, Rais of Sahanpur.
Notwithstanding all this, we do not consider it wise that the Chaudhris attack Najibabad, because of the related evils that we anticipate. We also consider improper the decision that everyone should encamp at Kiratpur. Our counsel is that the Rais-es should stay at Sawaheri so that all the roads out of Najibabad may be blocked, thus postponing for a few days the contemplated attack on Najibabad. We are absolutely certain that everybody will at once become submissive out of fear, on the mere appearance of a small Government army. Our hope is that the tension will somehow not reach the level of actual struggle. If our view holds good and a Government army comes soon, then the lives of hundreds will be spared from slaughter, and the Government's subjects will remain at peace. In the future, you may write your views and advice on this subject so that your wishes can be carried out. As a measure of expediency we have not collected revenues yet, because most of the taxpaying zamindars of the Chaudhris' party are present in the army. When you return to the District and the zamindars are again residing in their villages, collection of revenues due to Government will begin at once.
A representation was submitted yesterday to you about writing letters. I am sure that they must have been written. It is most urgent that an order be sent from you on this very subject to Ahmad Allah Khan, who was Tahsildar in Najibabad in your time. They may be sent since reports have been received that Ahmad Allah Khan is not allowing his army to disband. Your order to him at such a time will be very helpful in disposing of the mischief. In light of Muharram, we have made arrangements to avoid any possibility of a dispute between Hindus and Muslims. Through God's intervention, our arrangements may certainly be effective and peace in the District preserved.
Mr. George Palmer to Muhammad Rahmat Khan, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin. Greetings. Your letter of today's date and its contents are understood. In accordance with your wish, an order in strong words is made therein, that he will be considered culpable is he keeps and supports the intentions which the Nawab may have to oppose the Chaudhris. Please send this letter to Ahmad Allah Khan quickly.
What you requested was sent yesterday, so you must have them by now. In our opinion, your advice is very much to the point about the Chaudhris' staying at Sawaheri and blocking the roads of Nagina, Najibabad, and Mandawar. To speak truthfully, however, we do not know where Sawaheri is, and we don't have any maps with us now. Therefore we cannot give clear guidance on this point; if the aforementioned Sawaheri is not far from Bijnor, and if it is such a place that the roads can be well protected, then it is a very good place for the Chaudhris to stay. It is necessary to think about preventing harm coming from the direction of Nagina. On account of seasonal rains and rising of the rivers, it is certain that the road to Afzalgarh is completely closed. It is also certain that communications on the roads of Moradabad are under supervision. This plan is being thought out with great caution. But as the Commissioner and Mr. Wilson dispatch their letters to Nawab Yusuf Ali Khan, Wali of Rampur, while letters are being written by me to Nawab Mahmud Khan, and orders are just now being sent to Ahmad Allah Khan, it is certain that the District will not witness any armed conflict. We have nothing from Lahore. An English newspaper of Lahore has been sent to you. You will know its contents through Pandit Radha Kishan. Finis. August 20, 1857.
We have previously inserted the letters to the Rais-es mentioned in this letter: that is to say, a letter each to Mir Jiwan Ali, Rais of Memon, and to Rae Himmat Singh, Rais of Sahanpur.
Dear and Worthy Muhammad Ahmad Allah Khan: May you be well. The Government became very angry when it was known that there had been fighting at Sherkot and Bijnor between the servants of the Nawab and the Chaudhris of the Hindu people. You know what the Commissioner has ordered Muhammad Rahmat Khan, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, to do with respect to District administration at present. Keep this in mind. According to the accounts of some people, it is becoming well-known that the Nawab again intends to attack the Chaudhris, and that he is bringing his army together at Najibabad for this purpose. I certainly hope that this news is, in fact, wrong. But be completely sure in your mind that such a clash is most improper and will be viewed by Government as extremely unpleasant; should it be established that the Nawab got administrative and personal support from you, the Government would then regard you as a malefactor. Keep this order firmly in mind, for it is certain that an English army will soon come to take charge of the District and then a thorough investigation will be undertaken of all circumstances. Dated August 20, 1857
We sent this order at once to Ahmad Allah Khan and reported the same to His Excellency George Palmer on August 21, 1857.
After the arrival at its destination of the letter of Mr. George Palmer to Mahmud Khan, and of the above order, these people showed ostensible signs that they wanted to be obedient. Ahmad Allah Khan began to perform his revenue duties at Najibabad, and to send us his reports stamped with his signature seal. We accepted them as a matter of expediency. Mahmud Khan also sent in a letter of obedience to the Government. We sent this letter and our reply to His Excellency George Palmer. Transcripts are reproduced at this point, together with the letters of approval from Mr. George Palmer and Mr. Alexander Shakespeare.
Dear Muhammed Rahmat Khan Sahib, Deputy, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Sadr Amin, District Bijnor. Greetings. Please take note that your letter dated on the envelope August 21, together with copies of the letters from the Commissioner, District Meerut, and Joint Magistrate, District Bijnor, which the aforesaid person had addressed in your name, was received on August 22 at 11 o'clock. After carefully studying their contents, I think they can be useful to you in admonishing the Chaudhris to stay in their individual places and to avoid coming together in large numbers and breaking the peace. As per the orders in this letter, we do not intend to make any kind of disturbance with anybody. The proclamation bills already sent relate to the same matter -- to avoid violence. Those people, the Hindus and Muslims, who have come together at Puraini, Hargampur, Sawaheri, Nangal, and Bijnor itself ought all to be told that they should go to their own individual places, that they will be declared culpable if they break the peace, and that since you are now administrator of the District by order of the illustrious English administrator, those who break the peace will have their liability entrusted to the mercy of the English for judgement. In this situation you ought to pay attention to and act upon the specific means to prevent violence. Some arrangement for the ghats is also necessary, as rebellious people frequently come to our side from these crossings. We are obedient to those letters. All others are well. Muhammad Rahmat Khan (Seal)
Greetings, Nawab Sahib. We beg to acknowledge receipt today, August 22 at 11 o'clock, of your letter postmarked August 21, and the copies of letters sent you by the Commissioner, District Meerut, and the Joint Magistrate, District Bijnor. You write that we should admonish the Chaudhris that they should each stay in their own places and not band together and disturb the peace; that you do not want to fight with anyone; and, finally, that those people who are in camp at Puraini, Harganpur, Sawaheri, Nangal, and Bijnor City should return to their own places. We explained your instructions in accordance with the contents of the letters to the Chaudhris.
These people also have a point of view to present. They say that, "we don't want to disturb the peace by clashing with the Nawab Sahib or with anyone." These people state further that they did return to their individual homes after the events at Sherkot and Bijnor; that they had disbanded the groups of men that had been brought together; that Chaudhri Partab Singh also returned to his own place, as did the Chaudhris of Haldaur; and that the Chaudhris of Bijnor resided at their place without any grouping of men, but that they later continously received reports that you aimed to invade Bijnor, Tajpur, and Haldaur; that you were assembling an army and making ready your artillery; that you had set afire and looted the villages around Najibabad -- villages Musapur, Shafiabad, Mohanpur, Narayanpur, Kardili, etc.
For these reasons, these people came to the conclusion that if they did not band together, the outcome could only be bad for themselves. They explain that they have come together in different places to protect themselves and to stop any attack by the Nawab Sahib on Bijnor, Haldaur, and Tajpur. They explain the bringing together of men at Puraini as their response to the havoc visited on Nagina by Nathe Khan and Mendhu Khan, who are your servants.. They say that you have had a large artillery piece made ready to be taken to Najibabad, and that you bar access to the police station, the post, and the tahsil office; that you prevent compliance with the orders of Government; and that the Chaudhris are informed that there are about seven to eight thousand men assembled near you. These people therefore explain that "it is impossible for us to have any confidence about the future, as long as the Nawab Sahib does not disband his men."
These people also tell us that they sent a letter to Sa'd Allah Khan in Najibabad, after the fighting, that he should try to bring about a settlement with you to avoid future aggression; that they also sent two letters to Mufti Muhammad Ishaq, Rais of Kiratpur, that a settlement was possible only if their fear of an attack by the Nawab could be dispelled; and that they asked the Mufti in a third letter to go to Najibabad as their representative in order to bring about a settlement on all issues. In sum, the account of the Chaudhris amounts to this: that they do not want to create a disturbance or to fight with anyone; and that if the Nawab Sahib disbands his men, ceases to order new guns, and abandons his intention to fight, then they will certainly return to their separate homes.
As we, for our part, are also dedicated with all our energies to keeping the peace, we petition you as your well-wisher that you also should cease to group your men and artillery, and that you should keep firmly in check such scoundrels as Mareh and Mendhu Khan. The bulk of the Chaudhris will then most likely separate from each other and return to their homes, and the administration of the District will be able to function properly, and the people of God and the subjects of the Government will remain in peace. If any person does make trouble, a detailed report will be sent to His Excellency the Commissioner, and the outcome will be bad for that troublemaker.
You should be thoroughly aware that orders are continuously reaching us from field headquarters; furthermore, the Joint Magistrate is himself now residing near the Ganges at Miranpur, in expectation of the coming of the Government army; that the Collector has come down to Meerut from Mussoorie in the mountains; and that the Commander-in-Chief and the provincial Governor have already issued orders to dispatch the army to Bijnor. An army with artillery is reaching Miranpur very soon. The Collector, the Joint Magistrate, the Commissioner, and Mr. Wilson will then come to Bijnor. Our deepest desire is that all may stay at ease in their own homes until the field headquarters come. After their coming, the officers who have been mentioned will regulate the District in the manner they deem best. Salaam.
Dear Khan Sahibs Bahadur, Muhammad Rahmat Khan Sahib, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan Sahib, Sadr Amin, District Bijnor, greetings. We received your letter of today's date together with the letter of Nawab Sahib and a copy of your reply. I think your letter is proper from every point of view. According to your wishes, I have sent the aforementioned letters to the Commissioner of Meerut. You are discreetly informed that the Commissioner's letter that Nawab Sahib mentioned was written two weeks ago, that is, before knowledge of the Sherkot affair. It came back twice because of the stoppage of the post. It was sent to Nawab Sahib, together with your letter, a third time. We hope that another confrontation between the Nawab Sahib and the Chaudhris will be avoided. It is clear that you are busy and active with this objective in mind. Thanks to your vigilance, it is evident that a compromise is possible for the Nagina trouble and that violence may be checked. As requested, orders have been written to the Chaudhris with this object in view. After reviewing their contents, please dispatch them if they appear proper to you. May you keep us informed of events there. Written August 22, 1857 at night
Mr. George Palmer to Karim Bakhsh, Shafi Najaf Ali, Muhammad Ali Rais of Nagina, and Sayyid Imtiaz Ali, Sayyid Shuja Ali, and Sayyid Nabi Ali of Nihtaur Since it is learned there is anxiety that a Hindu-Muslim clash is about to occur in your city, and the Government desires that such violence should not occur on any account, you must take all possible steps to assure that a disturbance does not happen. If you strive earnestly, then it will go well with you. In the event of disturbances, you will be considered criminals by the Government. Be it known to you that Sahib Collector Bahadur and myself intend to come very soon with a powerful army to administer the District. Be reminded. Dated April 22, 1857 AD
Khan Sahib, Dear Muhammed Rahmat Khan Sahib, Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan Sahib, Sadr Amin, District Bijnor. Greetings.
We understand the situation through the mail received today which includes your letter, the letter of Mahmud Khan, and a copy of the answer to the aforesaid which you sent. Your answer is very proper. This letter is being written to you now so that you may again admonish Nawab Sahib to obey the letter written August 21 concerning our order that he and his relatives Shafi Allah Khan and Ahmad Allah should remain in Najibabad, and that they should not interfere on any pretext in District matters, and that they should cease all unjust violence and disturbance. If he will not do this and is again guilty of impropriety, it will not go well with him. He will be included in the mass of rebels as an emeny of the sovereign Government. Enough.
Concerning what you wrote about our coming quickly to Bijnor: the Government army is coming quickly, after having devastated and disciplined the rebels and intimidated the mischief-makers. With God's help, I will also come soon. Whatever the circumstances, you ought to be confident, since the mischief-makers who know what is wrong will soon have their ears property twisted. Enough.
A letter has come from Chaudhri Nain Singh and Jodh Singh, Rais of Bijnor, about the issuance of an order for current wages for employees in the administration. In my view, the request is proper. Some money may be taken from the mahajans [money-lenders] of the District and then distributed as wages to the employees. Money may also be spent on your order for administrative ends. You may give a receipt, duly signed, to those from whom money is taken, so that on our arrival this money will be returned; you ought to be attentive to this. Through mutually conselling with each, and so far as may be possible, let not these small matters of administration and good will be overlooked. Keep us informed about your situation. Others are well. Dated August 18, 1857 at Meerut.
At this very time, Mr. John Currie Crawford Wilson ordered Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur, in keeping with his role as a Rais, to arrange to send Rs. 10,000 to Nainital,/5/ since it was clear at the moment that there was no violence afoot and that the disorder at Nagina had been dispelled. In order to send this money, Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur, set out for Tajpur on August 21, 1857; but he left behind in Bijnor his regular army of men and a jezail.
It is sad, but fresh violence broke out in Nagina again. The whole incident happened after Mendhu Khan left Najibabad and came to Nagina with sepoys. Ram Dayal Singh replied to this move by mobilizing even more men at Puraini. The Rais of Nagina told the soldiers from Najibabad to return there at once. All the while, the army of men at Puraini grew steadily bigger. The Bishnois of Nagina, who were blackguards and opportunists (save Puran Singh, Dildar, and Faizu who remained well-intentioned throughout), prepared for violence. They told the people of Nagina that Ram Dayal Singh was coming to attack there, while they told Ram Dayal Singh in the same breath that the people of Nagina were coming to attack Puraini. As a result, Ram Dayal Singh advanced on Nagina from Puraini while Mendhun Khan came out from Nagina with some of the men he had collected there.
The clash took place on Friday August 21, 1857 near Badriwala Bagh. There were killed and wounded on both sides. Mendhu Khan was defeated. The men of Nagina abandoned the field to hide in the town. Ram Dayal Singh followed them into the town. He looted and set alight Nathu Khan's house. He also looted and set alight the serai [caravansarai] of the Shaikhs. The Muslims of Nagina rallied, and men on both sides were killed in the clash of swords and musket¬fire. Ram Dayal Singh went to the serai of the Bishnois. The fighting ended at dusk.
Ram Dayal Singh sent a message at night to Maulvi Muhammad Ali that bygones should be bygones. "We will go into the fortress and create no disturbances," he said, "and peace will prevail. For their part," he also said, "the Muslims should all stay quietly at home and not come out." Maulvi Muhammad Ali and Ashraf Ali, son of Amir Ali, made a great effort to admonish the Muslims, who agreed to stay quietly each in his own house. A proclamation of peace was put out by Ram Dayal Singh in the morning of August 22, 1857. He came to the fortress of the tahsil with his men, while no Muslims came out of their houses.
1) ilaqa -- attachment, dependency, jurisdiction, tenure, State, etc.
2) The Prophet Muhammad's grandson, al-Husain, was killed on Muharram 10 (October 10, 680) at Karbala in Iraq. Consequently, the first ten days of Muharram are devoted to mourning throughout the Islamic world, and especially by the Shi'a Muslims.
3) Sir William Muir, later Governor, and noted for his polemical works on Islamic history.
4) A Hindu sect, important as bankers and traders in Bijnor.
5) The provincial summer capital.