J. D. (John David) Rees.

India; the real India (Volume 19) online

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papers, which published effusions from youths at
college, were severely criticised as having contrib-
uted to the creed that the Liberal Government
would yield to any demand, however unreasonable,
for anything called, however erroneously, popular
rights. ^vj

It would be difficult to state the case better, but
the Parsee Chronicle is not concerned to conciliate
those who regard a fur coat as equally suitable for
hot and cold climates and the liberty of the press
to libel the Government as one of the essential
virtues and necessary features of British rule in all
parts of the globe.

The native newspapers in Bombay are to a very
small extent Mohammedan, but chiefly Mahratti
and Gujerati; the former, which is entirely under
Brahmin management, being violently anti-British
and the latter fairly moderate in tone and charac-
ter. The Brahmins who control the press are here,
as elsewhere, lawyers, landlords, writers, money-
lenders, priests, clerks, and Government servants,
and the Mahrattas are landlords, cultivators, trad-
ers, and followers of other professions and callings.
The Brahmins, who live in Poona and exercise
such journalistic influence, are often described as
Mahratta Brahmins, but they are of course not
Mahrattas, and do not represent the Mahratta race,
or any race. They represent their own caste, the

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INDIA

most exclusive and aristocratic in the world, the
pretensions of which they have persuaded socialists
and democrats in England to champion, a proof
that the Brahmin's right hand has not lost its
cunning.

The papers they inspire breathe fire and slaughter
against ourselves. The editor of the Vehari, for
instance, taking a poem by Mr. Wilfrid Blunt as
his text, said that India had fallen into slavery,
and that the ultimate means of acquiring indepen-
dence was by the sword, which must eventually be
unsheathed. The High Court of Bombay sentenced
him to two years' imprisonment, and he had pre-
viously described the empire of the Feringhees
(Europeans in India) as "Hell on Earth," and "the
English as surpassing Nero, Nadir Shah, Tamerlane,
and even Satan in cruelty. The whole world hated
the English, and the mercifulness of God was being
doubted because success was being granted to them."
For these mild expressions of party feeling he had
been bound over to be of good behaviour, but this
was asking too much of a Brahmin in command of
a Mahratti newspaper, and he soon again offended.

The Deccan Herald printed a manifesto calling on
all honest Bengalis to rise and throw the Feringhees
into the sea, killing 50,000 of them, and the pro-
prietor and editor of the Punjaubi newspaper of
Lahore were deservedly sent to gaol for the publica-
tion of an article in which it was practically stated
that all Englishwomen who frequented dances came
thither for purposes of prostitution.

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UNREST

In the spring of 1907 the Punjaubi accused a
European officer of wantonly shooting a policeman
for some trifling offence. There was no shadow of
evidence to support the story, and the two journal-
ists concerned were convicted, the convictions being
confirmed, though the sentences were reduced, in
two successive Courts of Appeal. The men were
treated as martyrs; an explosion of anti-British feel-
ing took place as they were removed to prison, and
the usual complaints were made in the House of
Commons that liberty of speech and of the subject
was being endangered in India.

But while the Bengali Babus were sowing sedition
amongst the Hindoos of the Punjaub, and seditious
editors found support in the British Parliament,
Mohammedans in Ludhiana were petitioning the
Lieutenant-Governor for Europeans to replace the
Hindoo personnel of the administration, and at one
of the towns they erected a triumphal arch for His
Honour, on which was inscribed: "For God's sake
save us from the rule of our fellow-countrymen."

The editor of the Hind Swarajya of Bombay was
bound over to be of good behaviour, over-lenient
treatment, surely, for publishing an article headed,
"Do that which has to be done." In this precious
production it was stated that the English led the
Indians along the path of sin, and took away their
arms in order artificially to keep up British rule.
By their teaching, adultery had begun to spread in
Indian homes, and women, becoming independent
and pressing men down, had begun to be led along

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the wrong path. The Indians should engage in
battle against the enemy.

But though a Bombay paper is not by any means
incapable of disaffection, the Bengali press leads the
riot of disloyalty and no one more richly deserved
the punishment he received than Bepin Chandra
Pal, who last autumn got six months' imprisonment
a sentence which the High Court of Bengal con-
sidered upon appeal not too severe, in view of the
deliberate attempts this Babu made to frustrate the
administration of justice. He had refused to be
sworn and to answer questions in the prosecution of
the conductors of Bande Mataram, and ostentatiously
demanded the martyr's crown at open-air meetings
of students. He announced that he had ceased to
edit, and though he was believed to be still closely
connected with the conduct of the paper, this was so
managed that responsibility could not be brought
home. A barrister, Mr. A. N. Bannerji, who subse-
quently apologised and was released, was also arrested
for making seditious speeches, and a youth who had
been birched for participation in a riot was presented
with a gold medal by Mr. S. N. Bannerji, whose
relations with the Bengali were similar to those of
Babu Bepin Chandra with Bande Mataram.

Bannerji had been a member of the Bengal Civil
Service, which he left in 1874, in circumstances into
which it is unnecessary here to enter, at a time
when Lord Northbrook was Viceroy, Sir George
Campbell, Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, and Lord
Hobhouse, legal member of the Council.

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UNREST

About the time the Indian Budget was discussed
in the House of Commons in the session of 1907 the
Government of India warned the Bande Mataram
newspaper that it would be prosecuted for sedition
unless it mended its ways. Babu Bepin Chandra
Pal was believed to be the writer or inspirer, and he
was, at any rate, the editor, of articles designed to
create prejudice and dislike against the English Gov-
ernment and the English people; and assailing Mr.
Morley's declaration that British rule will continue,
ought to continue, and must continue, with bitter
criticism as being fatal to the great issue of Indian
self-government, though elsewhere the hand of God
is traced in Mr. Morley's blindness and the text is
then Quern Deus vult perdere. The reception of that
speech in the House of Commons, said the Bande
Mataram, saved the Indian nationalists the trouble
of further argument, and proved the delusiveness
of the prevalent faith in the ultimate sense of jus-
tice of the British people. Babu Chandra Pal urged
Mohammedans and Hindoos to join in finding a
leader and suggested the Amir of Afghanistan. He
said India was destined to be a republic with an
Upper Chamber of feudatory chiefs and a Lower
Chamber of the common people; than which no
greater nonsense, even from the Congress point of
view, could well have been conceived.

The Yugantar of Calcutta cried: "Revolution is
the only salvation for an enslaved society. With a
firm resolve you can bring English rule to an end in
a single day, dedicate your lives as an offering at the

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INDIA

temple of Liberty, without bloodshed the conquest
of the goddess (the mother of Bande Mataram) will
not be accomplished, let the heads of their intruders
be given as an offering, let 70,000,000 hands take up
the sword, beggars and fakirs (religious mendicants)
have distributed pamphlets among the native army
in Rawal Pindi, the cup of the English is full." At
the same time a personal canvass of the troops was
attempted, and the prevalence of the plague in the
Punjaub was a valuable makeweight; indeed, it was
actually alleged that the British introduced this
scourge, and the tone in which questions on this
point were put in the House of Commons almost
suggests that there are in England those who be-
lieve this extravagance. It was only an additional
charge that the Government was also accused by
secret slanders of poisoning the wells.

In the pamphlet supplied to the troops, Sikhs,
Punjaubis, Mohammedans, and Rajputs are asked
why they fight for the English, and why they accept
lower wages than the British soldier, when the
negroes in the American army are paid at the same
rate as their white comrades. The writer also states
that the Russians in Central Asia treat their Mo-
hammedan subjects as equals, and sepoys are adjured
to understand that they are eating their own salt,
not the salt of the English. The leaflet was pub-
lished in a journal called India., and purported to be
a letter from a frontier soldier in America to a native
soldier in India. It was arranged that 100,000 copies
should be printed for private and free distribution to

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UNREST

the troops, in languages which included that of the
Ghurkha regiments, and the organisation of the
Arya Sanaa j, of which Lajpat Rai is alleged to be
the leader, was believed to be actively engaged in
this transaction. At any rate there is doubt that
bar libraries have been particularly active in the
propagation of seditious sheets, and there is nothing
surprising in this in view of the fact that lawyers are
at the bottom of the agitation and unrest and are
the most influential element of the Babu class.

While seditious utterances in the Bengal press
were unfortunately by no means without precedent,
a new and more serious aspect of the unrest was the
appearance of the like discourses in the newspapers
of the Punjaub.

Were it not that the press of that province is
under the control of Bengalis, it would be extraor-
dinary that the latter should exercise so much
influence over races who regard them with ill-con-
cealed dislike and contempt. The leaders of the
Bengali clique had set before them the necessity
for constituting themselves leaders in the Punjaub,
and the Arya Samaj and the native press were the
weapons to hand. The Arya Samaj is at present
chiefly a political society, the ethics of which have
been widely adopted in the educational establish-
ments of the Punjaub. It aims at the amalgama-
tion of reformed Hindooism with the new forces
developed by the spread of education. No law is
binding in their eyes unless its source be the Vedas.
They have the legal element wholly on their side,

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and it is this class, here as elsewhere in India, which
has provided the leaders of the agitation and has
established vernacular journals to aid its propa-
ganda. The forbearance of the Government was
mistaken for weakness, and the students as usual
were brought up to do the shouting and to persuade
the peasants that the Government was not treating
them fairly in the matter of water rates and assess-
ments. The deportation of Lajpat Rai and Ajit
Singh scotched the agitation, but the Arya Sanaa j
is still there.

The arrest and deportation of Lajpat Rai and
Ajit Singh put an end to open agitation and plainly
showed that the political propaganda of the Arya
Samaj inspired the whole movement, the Arya Samaj
being itself a society which had its origin in Bengal,
from which province agents had been despatched to
the Punjaub in order to sow sedition and foster ill-
feeling against the Government. The object there,
as in Bengal and Poona, and wherever the Congress
agents are active, was to obtain control of the admin-
istration for the English educated classes, to secure
an India preserved from the attacks of other nations
by the British army, but from which the British
themselves should be excluded. The warlike char-
acter of the people of the Punjaub, our partial
dependence upon it for the raw material of our
best soldiers, the chance of exciting disaffection in
the army where it would be most dangerous these
were considerations present in the minds of those
who selected the Punjaub as the scene of active

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UNREST

agitation. They reckoned without the firmness and
absence of panic which distinguished the treatment
of the case at home and in India, but the germs of
disaffection proved disappointingly easy to plant,
and the situation needs, and at the hands of Sir
Denzil Ibbetson's successor will receive, the utmost
care and attention.

The Regulation III of 1818, under which the agi-
tators were deported, provides that reasons of state,
embracing the security of the British dominions
from foreign hostility and internal commotion, occa-
sionally render it necessary to place individuals under
personal restraint, and in 1897 the Natu brothers
were arrested under these powers at Poona, besides
which they have been used in order to incarcerate
certain dangerous Moplah fanatics in Malabar. In
native states such powers are, as has been already
said, freely exercised, and last year the Nizam of
Hyderabad expelled the head of one of the great
families of the state, Nawab Syed Jung Syed-ud-
Doula, for writing to him or of him in an imperti-
nent and offensive manner, to the prejudice of good
government and proper respect for the ruler of the
state.

It is urged by the Congress critics that these
powers were given before legislative councils were
created, but that does not in any way prove that
they are not as necessary at the present day as they
were when no one would have thought of question-
ing the right of the state to act in this manner.

In November Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh were

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released, after being detained for about six months,
whereupon the Bengali expressed a fear lest the
policy of conciliation should do harm to the new
spirit of national consciousness, the comments of
other journals of the like character being less ingen-
uously disaffected. Efforts were also freely made to
represent the order for release as the personal act of
the King-Emperor, who desired to right the wrong
done by his agents. The action of Government met
with general approval as it was taken at a time when
the extremists had fallen into disrepute and the agi-
tation was subsiding, and only those from whose sails
a certain amount of wind was taken adversely crit-
icised the course taken by the administration.

Other than domestic causes contributed to the
success of the agents of the Bengali agitators in the
Punjaub, among the warlike races of which province
the Russo-Japanese War has no doubt quickened
the ever-present martial spirit. The defeat of Rus-
sia has inspired the Babu classes with the idea of a
United India, wherewith to replace the previously
existing Congress programme, while the establish-
ment of the Duma in Russia and of a Parliament
in Persia have also somewhat stimulated vague
aspirations of an aristocratic oligarchy for indepen-
dence. Meanwhile the Bengali anti-English policy,
which was transplanted to the Punjaub not two
years since, first fastened on the Land Alienation
Act, which traders dislike but agriculturists rather
favour, and next attacked the Punjaub Colonisation
Bill. In the last twenty years rainless tracts in the

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UNREST

desert have been irrigated and populated by means
of magnificent canals, upon the banks of which
colonies have been planted, which extend to over
3,000,000 acres of irrigated land, and have a popula-
tion of upwards of 2,000,000. These were controlled
by colonisation officers, who endeavoured to perform
practically all the functions of Government in their
own persons, till this bill was introduced to legalise
existing conditions and the powers they exercised.
Unfortunately, however, some of its provisions gave
colour to the charge that the conditions of land
tenure were being somewhat altered. The most
was made of this, but the bill was altered and passed
by the Punjaub Government, which was falsely
accused, by the newspapers edited by the Bengali
Babus or their agents, of having broken faith with
the occupiers of the colony lands. Though the
Viceroy subsequently disallowed the bill, the mis-
chief had been done. In like manner the riots
which occurred at Rawal Pindi were due to discon-
tent promoted against the new land settlement. As
was stated in the chapter dealing with the land sys-
tem, settlement in the Punjaub is effected for twenty
years, at the expiration of which period the assess-
ment is generally raised, because prices usually rise
and the revenues of villages automatically increase
near great towns like Rawal Pindi. Most of the
land belongs, however, not to agriculturists, but to
traders and Babus, who at once seized the oppor-
tunity of persuading the peasants, who hitherto
had had profound faith in the district officer, that

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INDIA

rents were to be doubled all round. As a fact the
increased assessment in the Rawal Pindi district
was due to the greater area under cultivation, not
to excessive enhancements. The revision of the
water rates upon the Baridoab Canal, which was
also attacked, was carried out in the interests of the
general taxpayer, who was getting insufficient return
from irrigation works constructed out of taxes col-
lected from his pocket, and similar revisions had
been made in respect of other Punjaub canals, with-
out any objection, before the Bengali agitators came
upon the scene.

Nevertheless there can be no doubt that the sedi-
tious propaganda of the Bengal agitators has worked
great mischief amongst the martial races of the
Punjaub, where the Government can only last as
long as the people believe it to be strong, and the
same may be said in a greater or less degree of every
part of India.

No doubt the revenue system of the province is
somewhat inelastic, and the Punjaub Alienation Act,
intended to relieve the peasants from the yoke of
usurers, has not been much welcomed by the Sikhs.
On the other hand, Punjaub Canal Colonies have
been a marvellous success, and it is the irony of fate
that the enemy should have found in them an occa-
sion to blaspheme. j

In Madras the agitators met with scant encourage-
ment, though the visit of Bepin Chandra Pal was
followed by insubordination in the Rajamundry Col-
lege, which, however, speedily subsided, without being

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UNREST

elsewhere imitated, when the Government supported
the principal in the disciplinary measures he thought
it advisable to take.

It is without surprise, however, I see that Sir H.
Cotton has stated "that Madras is disturbed and
unsettled in sympathy with the feelings of other
parts of India." The fact, of course, is that this
sober and well-doing province has exhibited no par-
ticle of such sympathy, but has been a sad disap-
pointment to Babu Bepin Chandra Pal and his
friends. An article recently published in a Bengali
paper sadly acknowleged the fact, and ended by
exclaiming, more in sorrow than in anger, "Alas!
for Madras." Neither has the southern province,
or satrapy, as Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff used to
call it, contributed to any great extent to the war
chest of the Congress, though among the local law-
yers are some who speak and write on its behalf and,
being as rich and capable as any men in India, could
give pecuniary assistance if they chose.

The press, then, of Bengal and Poona, and in a
less degree of the Punjaub, has contributed in no
small degree to the present situation, and the par-
tition of Bengal was invaluable as a magnet to which
all the disaffected were drawn, though the charge
brought against the Government of India of having
rushed the matter through without inquiry, and
without any regard to the feelings of those con-
cerned, is wholly untenable.

The question was thoroughly and publicly dis-
cussed, but no division would have satisfied the

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Congress party, who see in a divided Bengal a
weakening of the influence which that overgrown
province was in a position to exercise. The Moham-
medans, two-thirds of the population, are notoriously
in favour of the change, and the anti-partition move-
ment is, in point of fact, nothing but an anti-British
agitation. It is quite untrue that the majority of
the Bengal Civil Service was opposed to the measure,
and the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Andrew Fraser,
strongly supported it, saying that amongst the senior
offices of the province, with the exception of one,
there was complete unanimity in accepting the pro-
posal. The suggestion that Behar and Chota Nag-
pur should have been, and w 7 anted to be, made into
a separate province, is negatived by their memorial
protesting against separation, and the obvious line
to follow was that previously taken when the Assam
Chief Commissionership was formed out of Eastern
Bengal in 1874 by making a separate administra-
tion of Assam and certain Bengali districts. It fol-
lowed, almost as a matter of course, that any further
subdivision of the overgrown and unwieldy Govern-
ment would be accomplished by the addition of more
Bengali districts to the little province previously
carved out of the big Presidency. The Bengalis are
not, in the English sense of the word, a nation, and
such solidity or nationality as they now possess is
mainly the result of British education and British
government. That nationality, however, such as it
is, is in no sense impaired by the levelling up of
Assam with the districts previously transferred in

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UNREST

1874, and with the districts since transferred in 1905,
into a Lieutenant-Governorship; that is to say, an
administration of exactly the same grade and char-
acter as that of the Lieutenant-Governorship, which
once included the whole area. The two divisions of
Bengal are administered by the same civil service
and subject to the same rules, laws, and regulations,
and Eastern Bengal is in no way altered except in so
far as it receives the undivided instead of the divided
attention of a Lieutenant-Governor. The scheme,
be it good or bad, was not, as is often asserted, the
invention of Lord Curzon, nor is it true that the
creation of a Lieutenant-Governorship of Behar and
Chota Nagpur would have been acceptable to those
concerned. On the contrary, the press of Behar
protested against any such proposal, and the press
of Behar is as good as the press of Bengal, and
better in that it is loyal and moderate in tone. The
people of Behar no more favour this proposal than
the people of Eastern Bengal object to partition.
Indeed, the Amrita Bazaar Patrika ungratefully threw
overboard the Congress representative, Sir H. Cot-
ton, who advocated the creation of a Behar province
in Parliament, saying, "We trust he and his friends
made it quite clear the movement was initiated with-
out the knowledge of the leaders in Bengal. As a
matter of fact there is a vast number of people in
Bengal and Behar who are very much opposed to
separation from Bengal."

No individual can speak to the opinions of many
millions of illiterate peasants, but it is possible for

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them by mass meetings to give expression to some
extent to their opinions, and the Mohammedans,
two-thirds of the population, have expressed their
strong approval of the creation of the new prov-
ince. In like manner the Hindoo tenants of the
landlords of Eastern Bengal have met and protested,
not against partition, but against the agitation
against partition, and against the boycott, which
was enforced for a time, to the extreme incon-
venience of the population, and to the prejudice of
British trade and British goods.

Whether or not it was wise to subdivide Bengal
is an open question, and had the results been fore-
seen the measure probably would never have been
carried through. However that may be, the objec-
tions raised have been purely factious and artifi-
cial. But the English-educated and English-hating
Babus were far too shrewd not to see how this
change affected the unduly privileged position they
had gained as a result of excessive administrative
concentration at Calcutta. They hoped to bring
pressure to bear on the authorities by injuring the
commerce of the capital by their Svadeshi and boy-
cott policy, and at the same time, by the same meas-
ures, to coerce the Mohammedans into opposing
partition, or to force the Government into opposi-
tion to the Mohammedans by involving them in
riots and disturbances which they themselves, not
without success, set to work to provoke.

It will be asked, then, Is there nothing in the
objection raised to the so-called partition? There is.


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Online LibraryJ. D. (John David) ReesIndia; the real India (Volume 19) → online text (page 13 of 21)