Sindh and the Indian Mutiny of 1857 By C.L. Mariwalla, BA.

(Read before the Sind" Historical Society 011 21st August 1940) The mutiny of 1R57was the last armed upheaval to overthrow the British in India. It was not only a sepoy mutiny but the mutiny of the Indian people as a whole. Thus wrote the Press, London. dated lst August 1857:_ "If the disaffection is confined to the sepoys and the civil population arc with us what on earth docs the Government of India mean hy troubling us with its calls fl'r European troops and its telegraphic alarms? There are men enough within its reach to raise ten armies from if the people be only well affected to us, as the ministers and directors state". And it makes an interesting account to be recapitulating the part Sindh played in that futile attempt. Before we recount the incidents of this unsuccessful attempt in Sindh, it would not be out of place to consider the immediate causes of the rebellion and the elaborate arrangements made, inspire of a vigilant Government, Here is a version of how the army discontent was roused, as given by the Bombay Times, dated 2nd June 1857. Cartridges for the Enfield rifle were contracted to be made at Dum Dum in India. One day a Clashce who was engaged in making the new cartridges. met a Brahmin sepoy, lotah in hand. The Clashcc asked for a drink which the Brahmin declined to give as he did not know the other's caste. "Caste", replied the Clashcc, "In a few days, you will have no caste, for you will have to bite cartridges greased with the Iat of the bullocks and pigs". The Bengal army contained high class men and this news soon spread among them. Pollusion and conversion to -Christianity was thought to he the aim of the introduction of the new cartridges. But that could not be the only cause of the mutiny, though it was the main cause. In the houses of Parliament it was brought to the notice 01 the members that contrary to contract. some fat in question had rcallv been used and thi~ informal ion resulted in a retort from Mr.' Disracli who was in opposition at that time, The second and the final cause, in the words or the "Bombay Times" is as follows:_ "What lies at the bottom of the existing contumacy is a desire for increase in Pay." lncrcascd ~25Sind!, Obscrv ..t! heaviness of duties due to the attempt at extension of the British Empire made the sepovs feel that they had a claim to higher pay. Whatever. might have been the ulterior motives of the leaders of the mutiny, these two were quite potent causes and it is surprising that no active sleps were taken to nip the trouble in the bud: instead, some interested persons were Janning the fire successfully. The success of a country-wide mutiny greatly depended on the speed of communications. For this purpose a novel plan was put into force which proved to be immensely successful. Here is the story and a comment thereon from the Friend of India, dated 24th March 1858:- "One morning towards the end of the last month (he officials of Fatehgarh were all in commotion, From Thana after Thana there arrived lillle.chappaties about 2 inches in diameter, It appeared that a few evenings previous, a Chowkidar from Cawnpore ordered a Chowkidar in Fatehgarh to make and bake 12 Chappaties such as the one he showed. Two he was to retain. Two more were to be given to each of the five nearest Chowkidars. The order was obeyed and long there was running and baking of Chappaties. The five' obeyed orders also and distributed their message to 25 and so the affair went on, the cakes sweeping over the district at a speed at which no Indian post yet travels. The wave has not stopped yet. Is there to be an 'explosion of feeling', or only of laughter? Are the Chappaties of the Fiery Cross or only an indigestible edible, a cause of revolt or only of the Colic." Having seen that the communications were prompt, and the people willing, thus "armed the mutiny broke out at Barrackpore. . " Sindh had just been relieved from its Chaotic state under the Talpurs, in 1843. It was enjoying the benign rule of Sir Bartle Frere. The people had just settled down to a normal Peace-Time when the mutiny broke out. They were fully conscious of the great advantages of the new rule. They hardly mutincd. Not that alone. They helped the rulers considerably, to quell the rising. Here is a short diary of the events that look place in Sindh during the mutiny: _ Early in 1857, soon after Ihe out-break of the mutiny at Barrakporc, the harrowing talc~ ·of the butchery of the Europeans reached Karachi. The community was up and alarmed. They met i;l a public meeting on the 2()th (If June, under the Presidency of Sir 22(1Sind" and the Indian Mutin» of 1857 Bartle Frore. All bore anxious faces. It was a tense atmosphere. At last Sir Bartle broke the icc. He gave a brief account of the mutiny as culled from the official information received by him. He assured those present that they need not be afraid since there was no danger of an out-break in his province. This greatly relieved those present and the meeting dispersed. As soon as the mutiny assumed an All-India form, the Government of India passed the Press Gagging Act. This greatly handicapped the Press, who contemptuously termed it as the Black Act. Here is what the Sindh Kossid, a Bi-weekly of Karachi, of those days, says about it: - Never was a gubernotical act more ill-timed or ill-judged than that which has placed a tyrranical censorship over the Indian Press." And in Sindh the axe first fell on the Sindh Kossid itself. This is how an editorial dated Friday 18th September 1857 details out the incident: - The proprietor printer and manager of the Sind" Kossid were summoned on Tuesday last to attend the Magistrate's office to answer for 'an article'. that appeared in our journal. The summons being for 'immediate' attendance and the vague allusion to 'an article' put us about not a Jittlf'_ first to • procure swift steeds to do ourselves the honour of 'immediate' attendance and secondly at looking. over all the paper in question and wondering what article it might bethat we were called upon to answer for. However the several parties attended, being escorted by the Editor who had fearlessly taken the brunt upon himself to answer all enquiries. The Magistrate, having received the usual salutations from the men of the Press, proceeded, with paper in hand, to read a part of our Kotri correspondent's letter regarding an incident that had taken place at Kotri. Having accomplished this task of reading aloud. the authority before whom we were standing assured us (hat there was not the slightest truth in the statement, and that such mis-statements would oblige him to 'stop the press'. He desired to be acquainted with the authority for the statement, which of course we 'declined to furnish under any circumstances. We on our part assured "he Magistrate that the statement had been conveyed to us lhrough a gentleman upon whose veracity we had the utmost confidence and that it found a place in our columns under the impression that it Was correct. that we were sorry to find. [rum . thc Magistrate's a~~lIrance. it was not so and that we should be careful in Iuturc nut til lay ourselves open to any such st;.ll\:l1Jcnt~. \The Magistrate exerted agall1 and reitcnlLcd hi, intention or "''''7--,Sindh Ohsl'''w/ "stopping the press" should any mis-statements again find their way into our paper." As the distress of the European community increased, a dcmi- official voluntary aid fund was started at Karachi. to which all ungrudgingly subscribed. This proved of great avail to the refugees. As the circumstances required, the Commissioner issued proclamations prohibiting sale of lire-arms and ammunition to the native population without previous Government permission. as also transmission of lead. sulphur, salt-petre, gun-powder etc. except for Government purposes. The Commissioner ordered a recruiting depot to he established in Upper Sindh, which in a short time, recruited battalians of Bcloochees for active service against the mutineers. Seth Naumal of Karachi made a gesture of loyalty hy promising to furnish a loyal and sturdy force of 3000 strong from Africa, if the Government provided the conveyance. He and the other Sethias of Karachi gave all the facilities that the Europeans mostly needed at this time . • The Government also opened a camel train from Karachi to Mullan, having stations after every 20 miles or so, where at each station were stationed about 50 camels ready for work. By means of this arrangement and the Indus Flotilla, the regiments were sent to the Punjab to suppress the rebellion there. But all was not quiet in Sindh. Lieut: Battis Combe received news on the 9th September of a plot at Hyderabad fixed for the 12th instant. 'The cool courage of Brigadier Morris, and a timely gallop of the mounted police sufficed to prevent the signals of the disaffection taking effect." The Native infantry was ordered a special parade immediately, where they were disarmed and the ring-leaders arrested. Even the native guard on the Fort was replaced by the ~u;trd of the Royal Fusilicrs and the fort guns were mounted for any crncrgcncv, A Court Marshal was held where the arch conspirator H a\ aldar Coornbarsing \Va!'>ordered to be shot from the guns, his accomplices were either to he hanged or were transported for life, only two being acquitted. 'When the Havaldar came 10 face his ordeal. he lashed his hack to the muzzle. The port fire was lighted- rl';ld~' lirc- and ;",,'ay' he went full sweep. a portion of the hack-bone nc.ulv kuockiru; I Ill' Dl'!1l1ly Collvrtor from his camel."Sindh and the lndian Mutinv tit 1857 A dreamy hut dark suspicion of the fidelity of the 21st. N. I. stationed al Karachi, had been entertained due to its containing a numher of Bengalis. .On Sunday 13th September at 11 p.m. two Oudh Brahmin native officers or the 21st N.J. betrayed their comrades by informing their officers Major Mc. Gregor about the mutiny planned by the regiment at 2 p.m. on Monday morning. An orderly of the 21st. N.1. independent of the Oudh Brahmins, had similarly informed the Major. It had been decided to capture the treasury. murder the officers and proceed tn I-Iyderahad. Prompt arrangements were made to meet the situation. Major Mct ircgor immediately "consulted the Brigade Authorities, who without a moment's delay ordered the whole of the European troops to he assembled and marched to the scene of anticipated revolt. The troops were lined up .Irthe parade ground or the 21st N.L, with two Artillery guns on each flank. After due arrangements, the assembly of the 21st N.I. was ordered, which met after due reluctance. This ncccssuatcd two Nine Pounders to he summoned for any eventuality. The roll was called and alkr a few words being addressed to them. the order to tile arms was given and was promptly obeyed. without a murmur. The European Infantry tonk charge of the arms and on inspection. 40 lire-locks were [ound loaded. After the disarming a strict search 'vas made of the huts of the 21st N.t. and nothing beyond a few swords were recovered", "All this was done within three quarters of an hour" and 'so quietly that the majority of the town-folk wen: not even aware of the military movements, until after many hours: All this points to the prompt way in which the situation was handled hy the authorities, 36 men or the 21st N,I. were found missing. Of these (i were caught immediately, 1 were secured in camp the next day, and 11 more were captured while crossing the H ubb: hut' still some ring-leaders were at large, specially the chid conspirator Color Havaldar Ramdin Pandey. The police force of I:'iO and 4 companies of drilled infantry under. Major Marston, assisted bv captain Pirie and Khan SaheiJ Ghoolam Hussain, the adjutant of the force. pursued the 3(, fugitives and brought in or otherwise accounted for them all. Immediate steps were alsu taken to safeguard every European resident. Ladies Iound a fine rcndczvou« in the capacious mess room of the. Second European Light Infantrv and the Civilians armed themselves against any auack. The principul roads of the Cantonment were lined in the twinkling of an eye with a complete chain (If fO;lt and horse patrol. 22()Si"d" Oh.~t'/wd who kept open the communication and prevented stragglers or bad- characters from perambulating the streets or looting the deserted Bungalows. Volunteer Corps for night patrol were started in Camp to relieve the European troops for a state of efficiency in emergency. Here is a circular issued by the commissioner to that effect dated ]6th September lS57: - "By the desire of Major General Scott, commanding the Division, all able-bodied non-military men possessing a horse and arms and willing to volunteer for patrol duties in and about the station, are invited to report themselves to Major Goldsmith or to Captain Johnstone who will give them instructions regarding the duty to be performed. It is suggested that for the present none should offer themselves who have family tics which render it a primary duty to remain at home and protect .their household." Sd: H.B.E. Frere. European residents were promised easy supply of lire-arms for defence. The 14th N.I. was not touched due to their proven loyalty. At the time these incidents took place, the Commissioner Sir Bartle Frere was at his Bungalow at Clifton. Major Goldsmith' was with him at that time. The Commissioner was immediately informed of the situation by Captain Johnstone. On hearing of the disturhance Sir Bartle came to town and inspected the Native lines. He found the state quite satisfactory. Out of the deserters 10 were caught and Court-Marshalled on the Hith and 17th of September. Of them 7 were sentenced to be hanged and the rest were to be shot from the guns. Seven more were captured and 3 others died during the capture. At long last the Arch-conspirator Ramdin Pondey was' secured and shot from the guns on the nrd September, while his remaining accomplices were transported for life. They were marched along the Bunder Road under police escort to the Bundar to board the "Chusan" bound for Bombay. There was a semblance or a mutiny in the 16th Native Infantry at Shikarpur, but the trouble was nipped in the bud. The battery rose at mid-night and from their barrack-square commenced firing in all directions from which that place was accessible; but the prompt action of Colonel Stewart, the collector, and Colonel Montgomary, the police chief, out-witted and captured them. Soon after the force sat down before Delhi, the Frontier tribes planned their rising. Their leader Durriah Khan, the Chief of the Jakranis was to come to Jacohabad at 5 p.m., and his co-traitor Oil 2~OSindh and 'he Indian Mutin» 1)( 1857 Murad, the chief of the khojas, was to follow at 10 a.m. the following day, when they had decided to butcher Major Mcrewcthcr and his officers who were to sit in durhar on that day. But lit 5-30 p.m., half an hour after his arrival Dhurriakhan was on a fast trotting camel on his way to Sukkur, heavily ironed, to he placed on board the steamer lying ready to start for Karachi. Two days later Oil Murad Khan, who made. off for the hills on hearing of his fcllowtraitor's fate. followed in the same manner and the out-break was prevented. On the whole there was no serious trouble in Sindh. For this the Commissioner was chiefly responsible. He had so pleased the populace that they willingly recruited and formed into those brave Balooch regiments which were responsible for the capture of Delhi by the Government. Here is what seth Naumal says about the altitude of the Commissioner during the days of the mutiny: - "1 cannot sufficiently admire the patience. thought, judgment and courage evinced hy Sir Bartle Frere during these troublous and trying times." But Sir Bartle 'had to seck the co-operation of the people. Inspire of the fact that ..the generality of people in Sindh said that the English rule in India had well nigh come to a dose", they fully co-operated with the Government. Sir Fredrick Goldsmith wrote in the Asiatic Quarterly Review as follows:- When speaking of the dead, those natives must not he forgotten who enabled Frere in the hour of danger to British Rule to dispense with his legitimate garrisons and trust to the resources drawn to himself from the hearts of the people he governed. . That has heen the tendency of Sindh all along. Thus Sindh played its part jn the mutiny of 1H57. Authorities quoted: - Nil. I 'Memoirs of SCIh Naurnal'. No.2 'Sindh Kossid Filc~. 1~57. Nil ..' 'Our Paper' File IR67

Good Wishes