Very few people realize that 2007 is the year of 150th anniversary of the 1857 war of independence from the colonial rule. It is also the year of 250th anniversary of battle of Plassey, where the British colonialists used every dirty trick besides massacres and war crimes to consolidate their grip in South Asia. Within these hundred years, were the darkest ages of Moghal Indian history which are never taught, told or written in any mainstream history books these days to our children.
Over 2 million Indians of all faiths were slaughtered, hundreds of thousands died in famines and disease, entire local industry was destroyed, lands were confiscated, billions of rupees worth goods were stolen to England and the entire social fabric of the society was swept away in massive rule of tyranny by the East India Company.
Within these 100 years, dozens of rebellions and desperate freedom struggles were ignited throughout the Moghal rule which culminated in the final outburst of freedom struggle in 1857. It is little known that freedom fighters in 1857 also wanted to take revenge for defeat of 23 June 1757 too and would always remember that day annually to renew their struggle against invaders. Both these dates are inseparable in our freedom struggle.
The East India Company (the multinational of that day) was only interested in loot and plunder and rape and murder and not in creating any system of governance and rule of law in annexed lands. Their policies destroyed the hundreds of years of industry, culture and social fabric, stealing the entire wealth of a continent in thousands of ships which sailed with goods and jewels worth tens of billion of dollars in today’s exchange rates. The crimes, genocide and slaughter as well as policies of those days crippled India and subsequently Pakistan till date –” not to speak of continued colonialism or de facto colonization.
Some of our finest men and women (both Hindus and Muslims) who were loyal to Moghal Kings and had put up heroic resistance to the invaders were mercilessly slaughtered, raped and butchered in these times. Sirajudu Daula, Tipu, Rani of Jhansi, Begamat of Oudh, Hazrat Mehal, scholars like Maulvi Ahmad Ullah and hundreds like these were ruthlessly hunted and hanged. Hundreds of villages were burnt along with their hundreds of thousands of occupants of all ages as rampaging and victorious British armies took revenge after the failure of the uprising.
Bahadur Shah Zafar was gifted the head of his sons and the poor old king died an unknown man while his tomb was decimated and a forbidden place till 1921 to prevent any rekindling of nationalist feelings in India subjects. What happened to his loyal subjects is so horrific that it defies humanity. These histories, even the British scholars recognize as darkest but deliberately hide and do not write.
In one of the text books taught in our schools, only the following criminal and shameful text is written about the entire 1857 war and the genocide by the British which preceded and followed it.
“In 1857 some nationalists tried to throw out the British but the rebellion failed and India came under the British rule”
It is time that we use our media and education system to inform and educate ourselves about these horrendous crimes against our forefathers and if we have some honor, instead of serving their interests as puppets, we should demand apology and compensation from the British over these crimes and genocides. Our children should know that Musharraf and Karzai like personalities are not something new. We must let them know what happened to their earlier generations and how traitors in the ranks sold their honor, wealth and faith to the invaders.
Today we face similar crisis and threats and history remains our guide to the present and reflection of the future. Other “East India Companies” backed by plundering armies are once again rampaging in Muslim lands and traitors in our ranks are collaborating as eagerly as Mir Sadiq and Mir Jaffar.
Muslims in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan must celebrate 2007 as the 250th and 150th year of both Plassy and war of 1857, and demand for compensation and apology from the British government. They must find out ways to break the chains of de facto colonization. State media and education departments and the national leaders, intellectuals and writers must recognize and deliberate our history and remember and honor our unsung heroes. TV programs, drams and movies must be taken out.
India has just released a movie on Mangal Pandey, one of Hindu heroes of that war and also pay stipends to the children of freedom fighters even now!!.
It is time for Pakistanis also behave as free and dignified nation and not subservient touts and courtiers of an evil empire which drowned humanity in the blood of its helpless victims. If we want to remain free, we MUST remember the freedom struggle and takes lessons from it. There are plenty in it for today. If we could end direct colonial control, we can end the de facto colonization as well.
Abid Ullah Jan co-authored his latest book, “The Ultimate Tragedy: Colonialists Rushing to Global War to Save the Crumbling Empire,” with Rory Winter and was released in December 2006.