By: Sahadev K. Associate, Centre for South Indian Studies (CSIS), Hyderabad
1) What is Bhima Koregaon battle?
This battle refers to a one day battle between British East India Company (BEIC) and the Maratha army led by Peshwa Baji Rao II.
2) What led to war between BEIC and the Marathas?
The Maratha confederacy (comprising the Peshwa of Pune, Scindias or Shendes of Gwalior, the Holkars of Indore and the Gaekwads of Baroda) was one of the important native empires in India. The Anglo –Maratha Wars from 1770 – 1817 had seen the British slowly gain the upper hand. Following the Maratha defeat in the Third Anglo-Maratha War of June 1817, the Peshwa was forced to flee from Pune, their capital.
3) Was the Battlle of Bhima Koregaon a decisive battle?
No. The Battle of Bhima Koregaon took place on 01 January 1818. The Maratha army of Peshwa had already left their capital Pune on 17th Nov, 1817. On that day, the British flag – Union Jack was unfurled on Pune fort. A series of incidents along with this battle led to the downfall of the Maratha Empire and the complete colonisation of India by the British. Chhatrapati Pratapsinh Maharaj and Peshwa Bajirao II both were exiled to Benares and Bithoor respectively. The British Rule in India was a period of darkness that lasted for 150 years. In these 150 years, millions died due to barbaric British policies.
4) Where did the Maratha army led by Peshwa Baji Rao II go after leaving Pune ?
Peshwa Baji Rao II proceeded towards Satara where he collected a strong force of about 28,000 men at Satara comprising 20,000 cavalry and 8,000 infantry), to attack Pune, which was by now under the control of the British East India Company (BEIC).
5) Who is a Peshwa ?
The office of Prime Minister under the Maratha Empire was known as a Peshwa.
6) What led to the Battle of Bhima Koregaon?
The Maratha army of Peshwa Baji Rao II was pursued by a large British force under General Smith and Pune was placed under a garrison under Colonel Burr. As the Peshwa escaped from his pursuers, he retraced his steps and moved back towards Pune. Colonel Burr hearing of the arrival of the Marathas asked for help from the Company’s troops stationed at Shirur. A contingent of troops under the command of Lt Francis Staunton left Shirur to reinforce the Poona Garrison. Marching all night, they reached the village of Talegaon and at 10 a.m. on 1st January, 1818, they spotted the advance guard of the Peshwa Army across the Bhima River. Thus BK battle was a chance encounter between BEIC army and the Maratha army.
7) Which units of British East India Company’s army participated in the Bhima Koregaon Battle?
The total strength of the BEIC army was 824. 24 European Gunners, around 500 troopers of the 2nd Battalion of the Bombay Native Infantry, 300 horsemen of Poona Auxiliary Horse (later Poona Horse – one of India’s most illustrious Armoured Regiments) along with a contingent of artillery with two six-pounder guns, under the captainship of Francis Staunton. The British army comprised of Europeans, Muslims, Marathas, Mahars, Rajputs, and few Jews.
8) Which units of the Maratha army participated in the Bhima Koregaon Battle?
The total strength of the Maratha army which participated in the BK battle was 1,800. Three units of Maratha army comprising of
Arabs (Muslims) – 600
Gosains – 600
Marathas of all castes – 600
The three attack troops of the Peshwa detachment were led by Bapu Gokhale, Appa Desai and Trimbakji Dengle.
9) How long was the BK battle fought?
The battle of BK was fought for one day only, from about 10.00 am in the morning till 9 p.m. in the night.
10) What were the casualties of the BK battle?
Out of the 834 BEIC troops that fought in the Battle of Bhima-Koregaon, 275 were killed, wounded or missing. The dead included two European Officers – Assistant Surgeon Wingate and Lieutenant Chisolm, while Lieutenant Pattison died, later, of his wounds in Shirur. Among the infantrymen, 50 were killed and 105 wounded. Among the artillery, 12 were killed and 8 wounded. The dead BEIC soldiers of Indian origin included 16 Marathas, 22 Mahars, and 8 Rajputs, 2 Muslims and 2 Jews and 11 European soldiers.
Maratha army’s casualties were estimated at 500-600 killed or wounded.
11) Did any of the two sides claim victory?
No. By night the fighting had ceased and by day break the Maratha army had left the place. No official British record has called this battle a ‘victory’. Even the inscription on the pillar at Bhima Koregaon says that it was erected to commemorate the ‘defence of Corium’
12) Who erected the Bhima Koregaon Memorial pillar?
British East India Company.
13) When was the memorial erected?
On 6 July, 1818, Elphinstone in a letter to Warren Hastings, then governor-general, recommended the building of a war memorial in memory of the soldiers who lost their lives in the Bhima Koregaon battle. Accordingly, John Wiley, assistant surgeon of the Madras Artillery, was given the task of designing the memorial. It was finally built in 1822 and carried the names of all those who died or were injured in the battle.
14) What does the Bhima Koregaon Memorial pillar signify?
The pillar signifies “One of the proudest triumphs of the British Army in the East”. This victory pillar is a symbol of the victory of a foreign power against a local ruler.
15) What is inscribed on the BK Memorial pillar?
As soon as one enters the Bhima-Koregaon Memorial Complex, one sees two stone inscriptions – one placed by the BEIC giving a brief of the Battle of Bhima-Koregaon and the other more recent one giving a later “Roll of Honour” of the Poona Horse in various Battles.
On 2 sides of the memorial a narration of the battle in English together with the names of the Corps and list of European officers engaged and men killed or wounded in the Battle of Bhima Koregaon – the detachment of Madras Artillery, 110 Batt 1st Regt. Bombay Native Infantry and the Poona Auxiliary Horse. On two other sides of the memorial, details of the battle and the names of those who were killed/ wounded are inscribed in the Marathi language.
A close up of the names of European officers is inscribed on the memorial.
1) A History of the Mahrattas by James Grant Duff. Volume III published in 1918 by R Cambray & Sons.
By Sahadev K, Associate, Centre for South Indian Studies, Hyderabad.
“..Promoting the prosperity and advantage of the people of Islâm, and of overthrowing the unrighteous Infidels, you will do whatever may be in your power, to increase the lustre of the firm religion of Mahommed…
That all Musulmans should unite together; and, considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labour, to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that object”
The massacre of Hindus, large scale conversion into Islam especially Hindus of Kerala and Kodavas from Coorg are well documented in various literature. These actions of savagery were part of Tipu’s open declaration of ‘Jihad’. He made it clear through his manifesto distributed to a large number of Muslim religious heads that he has declared ‘Jihad’ on the infidels (kafirs) and sought the help and co-operation of Muslims across the country. His letters to various Muslim clerics, nobles across India reveal his clear cut plan for establishing an Islamic state in India, guided by the principles of Islam and Shariah law.
The barbaric manner in which Tipu went about killing innocent Hindus and Christians was well documented by various sources. They are no less in their savagery to the killings of ISIS in recent times, which thanks to modern technology, have been captured in great details. Fr. Paulinus of St Bartholomew who spent 14 years in India was residing at the headquarters of the Catholic order in South India at Veropoly when he came to know about the atrocities of Tipu Sultan. While Tipu Sultan was on his way invading up to the borders of the allied states of Travancore and Cochin in 1789, and when the invasion proceeded into these allied states, Veropoly (Varapuzha) was also at great risk being an important location.
Fr Paulinus has narrated in his book that he got the opportunity to communicate with several Christians and Hindus who escaped from the fury and it’s most probably from them that he came to know in detail about these atrocities. The book was published in Italian language in 1796 and in German language in 1798. An English translation of the book titled ‘A Voyage to the East Indies’ translated by William Johnston in 1800. The book contains graphic details of the savagery unleashed by Tipu on the hapless citizens of Calicut. In addition, Tipu’s own letters to his commanders and officials confirm his actions in executions and forceful conversions into Islam. According to Fr Paulinus:
“…first mothers were hanged with their children tied to necks of mothers. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants to move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces. Temples and churches were ordered to be burned down, desecrated and destroyed. Christian and Hindu women were forced to marry Mohammadans and similarly their men were forced to marry Mohammadan women. Those Christians who refused to be honoured with Islam, were ordered to be killed by hanging immediately…“
PRE-PLANNED CONVERSION OF KODAVAS TO ISLAM:
In a letter (Letter No 117) addressed to his Sipahdar, Tipu ordered that after the attack on Kodavas, both the slain and the prisoners are to be converted to Islam.
“we have addressed another letter, which is enclosed. You are, in conjunction with him, to make a general attack on the Koorgs, when, having put to the sword, or made prisoners of, the whole of them, both the slain and the prisoners are to be made Musulmans. In short, you must so manage matters, as [effectually] to prevent them from exciting any further sedition or disturbance”
Through another letter (Letter No. 202), Tipu narrates that he had had converted into Islam 60,000 Kodavas and incorporated them into his army. The Ahmedy regiment was made up entirely of converts in to Islam from Hindus and Christianity.
“BY the favour of the Almighty and the assistance of the Prophet, we have arranged and adjusted the affairs of the Taalûk of Zufeerâbâd in the most suitable [and satisfactory] manner; the tribe of Koorgs, to the number of fifty thousand men and women,* having been made captives, and incorporated with the Ahmedy class.
Having accomplished this object, we returned prosperously and victoriously to the seat of empire at Putn, on the 11th of Yoosûfy of the year Jullo. This being an event calculated to give strength to the people of Islâm,* we wish that brother all joy on the auspicious occasion.
This letter shows that victory over Kodavas was achieved through the favour of Almighty (Allah) and Prophet Mohammed. Even before the attack was over, Tipu had taken a decision to convert Kodavas into Islam and accordingly ordered his generals to execute his orders.
ESTABLISHING ISLAMIC STATE – PRIME MOTIVE FOR SAVAGERY OF TIPU:
The brutality of Tipu in his dealings with non-Muslims whom he invariably referred to as kafirs (infidels) came as a shock to many contemporary writers and commentators. Killing thousands of innocent fellow Indians just because they did not accept his condition of conversion to Islam is hardly the quality of a person who is being projected as a ‘ freedom fighter of India’. The intentions of Tipu become very clear when one studies the ‘Manifesto of Jihad’ prepared by Tipu and widely circulated to a large number of Muslim religious chiefs across the country.
In the preface to the book ‘SELECT LETTERS OF TIPPOO SULTAN TO VARIOUS PUBLIC FUNCTIONARIES by William Kirkpatrick published in 1811, the author wrote:
“ Thus, the various murders and acts of treachery, which we see him directing to be carried into execution, were not criminal, but, on the contrary, just, and even meritorious, in his eyes. They might, and most likely did, in a great degree, proceed from a disposition naturally cruel and sanguinary: but, perhaps, an intolerant religious zeal and bigotry were not less active motives to them. The Koran taught him, that it was not necessary to keep faith with infidels, or the enemies of the true religion… With regard to the secret murder of his English prisoners, his dreadful slaughter of the Koorgs and Nairs, and his forcible conversion of so many thousands of the two latter tribes to the Mahommedan faith, he most probably thought such enormities no less warranted, both by the example and precepts of the founder of his religion, than the infraction of oaths and engagements in transactions with unbelievers”
MANIFESTO OF TIPU SULTAN – CALL FOR ESTABLISHING ISLAMIC STATE THROUGH JIHAD
Through his letter ( Lettter No. 265) dated 28th Ahmedy ( 3rd May ), circulated to large number of Kazis, Bakshis, Dewans and other officials, Tipu lamented the decline of the ‘true faith’ and non-promulgation of divine commandments issued in the past under the seal of the last Prophet. In his manifesto replete with quotations from the Quran, he clearly proclaimed his intentions to establish an Islamic state through waging of the holy war (Jihad) on fellow non-Muslim Indians. He ordered recipients of his manifesto to make more copies, explain and distribute it amongst as many ‘people of the faith’. In other words, he wanted every Muslim in the country to understand that Jihad is his holy duty and all should join him in implementation of this divine commandment of Jihad so that ‘the worthless kafirs (infidels) may be chastised by the hands of the faithful, and made either to acknowledge the true religion, or to pay tribute’. In his covering letter enclosing the manifesto, Tipu declared that:
‘the persons most distinguished here for virtue and excellence, have extracted from the traditions, theological tracts, and commentaries, certain religious doctrines, a copy of which we enclose for your benevolent notice”
Tipu’s manifesto for establishing Islamic state begins as follows:
“IN the time of the seal [or last] of the Prophets (with whom be the blessing and peace of God) the divine commands were promulgated. Since then, owing to the decline of the true faith under the succeeding princes, they have ceased to be promulgated: we, therefore, with the help of Almighty God, now issue the aforesaid commands; and, accordingly, the above mentioned commands are enclosed, herewith, under our seal and signature, to serve as a guide to the true faith.
You are, in the best [possible] manner to explain the same to all the people of Islâm, to the Kâzy, and to the other superiors of your Kuchurry [or department], considering the communication thereof to the ignorant as one of the most incumbent and obligatory duties of religion: for such is the recompense of holy war (Jihad) “. You must cause numerous copies of the commands herewith sent to be made, and must distribute the same among the people of the faith, the Kâzies and others belonging to your department, to the end that they may obtain the utmost publicity.
“WHEREAS, in conformity with the commands of God and the Prophet:
‘Fight with those who do not believe in God, and in the last day; and who do not consider those things as unlawful, which God and his Prophet have prohibited, and profess not the true religion; and [fight] with those, unto whom the scriptures have been given, until they pay tribute (Jiziya) by right of subjection, and be reduced low.’
Tipu’s proclamation starts with the Quranic verse which calls upon Muslims to wage Jihad against the unbelievers (Kafirs) and collect Jiziya. This sets the tone for the rest of the proclamation and also makes it amply clear that Tipu’s ultimate aim was a not an India free from British rule in which there will be equal respect for all religions and equal treatment of all citizens but a pure Islamic state guided by the principles enshrined in Quran. This should be contrasted against attempts to project Tipu as one of the earliest freedom fighters of India against the British rule in India.
The Tafisir to this Quranic verse by Ibn Al Kathir makes it clear that paying Jizyah is a sign of Kufr and disgrace. ‘The Kafirs should be disgraced, humiliated and belittled. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honour the people of Dhimmah or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced and humiliated. Do not initiate the Salam to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley. This is why the Leader of the faithful `Umar bin Al-Khattab demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their continued ‘humiliation, degradation and disgrace.’
CONSTANT REFERENCE BY TIPU TO OPPONENTS AS INFIDELDS (KAFIRS) :
….“it is our constant object and sincere intention, that those worthless and “stiff-necked infidels, who have turned aside their heads from obedience to the “true believers, and openly raised the standards of infidelity, should be chastised “by the hands of the faithful, and made either to acknowledge the true religion, “or to pay tribute: particularly at this time, when, owing to the imbecility of “the princes of Hind, that insolent race having conceived the futile opinion, that “the true believers are become weak, mean, and contemptible; and not satisfied “even with this, but, preparing for war, have over-run and laid waste the “territories of the Moslems, and extended the hand of violence and injustice on “the property and honour of the faithful.
DECLARATION OF JIHAD ON KAFIRS:
Tipu declares that having come to the resolution of prosecuting a holy war [against them], deem it expedient [agreeably to the text], deem it expedient (quotes Quran 7.157) to make known what is
the pure Mahommedan law, to all and every class of Musulmans, both far and near, and thereby to extract the cotton of negligence from the ears of their understanding”. We, trusting to the divine power and aid, and supported by our holy religion (Quotes 61:10-13)
OPEN CALL TO MUSLIMS AND MUSLIM SOLDIERS WORKING IN OTHER ARMIES TO REBEL AND DEFECT:
Continuing his appeal to fellow Muslim soldiers in service of his opponents as well as Muslim citizens living under other rulers in India, Tipu quoting Quranic verses (Quran 2:9-15), reminds of the great rewards that await the faithful in after life-perpetual life, flowing rivers, great mansion to live in and other luxuries of life.
“Do not obey the unbelievers and hypocrites, for certainly God is omniscient and all-wise. They seek to deceive God and those who do believe… “
Reminding Muslims of Quranic verses calling upon them not to obey the unbelievers, Tipu made an open appeal to Muslim soldiers working in the armies of other dominions to follow Quran and break their contractual obligations with infidels and to defect to his army. Relying upon the Islamic doctrine of Herat, he reminded fellow Muslims that it is their indispensable duty to quit the territories of the unbelievers. Herat is defined as ‘emigration from home or place to another land or place for the sake of Allah’. This clearly defined in Quran 4:100 – “And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the Earth many [alternative] locations and abundance. And whoever leaves his home as an emigrant to Allah and His Messenger and then death overtakes him – his reward has already become incumbent upon Allah. And Allah is ever forgiving and Merciful”
Tipu’s manifesto goes on:
“More especially those persons “who, unmindful of the meaning of the sacred text, “have yielded obedience to the infidels, and engaged in the service of those miserable tribes. It is therefore written to all those who reside in the dominions “of the infidels, …“and to whose situation the verse may be justly applied, that considering it to be their indispensable duty to quit the territories of the unbelievers, “they should repair, with confident hearts and assured minds, to these parts, “where, by the Divine blessing, they shall be still better provided for than they “are at present, and their lives, honour, and property, remain under the protection of God: while such as are without the means of subsistence there, shall “have a suitable allowance made to them here.
DEFECTORS TO BE WELCOMED AND PROVIDED FOR WHILE MUSLIM SOLDIERS WHO DISOBEY ORDERS TO DEFECT IN HONOUR OF ISLAM TO BE CONSIDERED AS KAFIRS:
Adopting a carrot and stick approach Tipu’s manifesto says;
“We have accordingly issued pre-emptory orders throughout our dominions to “this effect: ‘Receive into your protection all persons seeking refuge [in our “territories”] and report to the Presence the particulars of their situation, in “order that, if it please God the Aider, due provision may be made for them.’
“Whosoever shall refuse to give ear to these words, or shall contravene their “promulgation, shall be considered as destitute of [every particle of] honour [or “zeal], as a stranger to [or no participator in] the bliss derived from [a steady] faith, “and as deserving to be banished from the presence of God, to be excluded from “the circle of the faithful, and to be accounted as one of the accursed infidels.”
In another letter ( Letter No. 277) addressed to Muslim religious heads at Aurangabad, Bajau and Hyderabad, enclosing his manifesto of Jihad on infidels, Tipu sought their assistance in doing whatever they can to promote Islam and overthrow the unrighteous infidels.
“We, in the meanwhile, trouble your reverence with the present address, in the confidence that, turning your mind, in an especial manner, to the means of promoting the prosperity and advantage of the people of Islâm, and of overthrowing the unrighteous Infidels, you will do whatever may be in your power, to increase the lustre of the firm religion of Mahommed.
Actuated by similar motives, the persons most distinguished here for virtue and excellence, have extracted from the traditions, theological tracts, and commentaries, certain religious doctrines, a copy of which we enclose for your benevolent notice. We request of your reverence, also, to assist the cause, by your admonitions to the faithful”
LETTERS TO MUSLIM RELIGIOUS FIGURES TO OVERTHROW KAFIRS AND ESTABLISH ISLAM
In a covering letter ( Letter No. 277)enclosing the manifesto discussed above and which was addressed to different Muslim religious figures at Aurangabad, Bajau and Hyderabad, Tipu made a fervent appeal to “Promoting the prosperity and advantage of the people of Islâm, and of overthrowing the unrighteous Infidels, you will do whatever may be in your power, to increase the lustre of the firm religion of Mahommed.
… We request of your reverence, also, to assist the cause, by your admonitions to the faithful “
Tipu was, at all times, in communication with various Muslim clerics belonging to the different shrines in peninsular India even though they were under other rulers. The fact that these religious heads exchanged such risky correspondence with Tipu and accepted his regular gifts shows that they were also committed to establishing an Islamic state in India. Motivated solely by their objective, these Muslim clerics were indulging in promoting treason at great personal risk. This in turn encouraged Tipu to rope in their services to take the last Muslim, the message of overthrowing the kafir rulers through Jihad and establishment of Islamic state.
ANY FELLOW MUSLIM CO-OPERATING WITH INFIDELS IS CALLED RENEGADE BY TIPU:
Tipu considered the army of the Nizam of Hyderabad as ‘renegade’ and the Maratha army as ‘infidel army’. Perhaps no other king at that time classified his opponents based on religion as was done by Tipu for whom everyone had to be evaluated through the eyes of Islam and Quranic teachings.
Tipu did not spare Shah Alam, the Moghul emperor of India, whom he contemptuously called ‘servant of the Marathas. In a letter addressed to Kutbudeen Khan dated 29th Daraey (1st August), he questioned the reading of Khutbah in the name of Shah Alam terming it as ‘manifest sin, and repugnant to the laws [usages] of the Muselmâny faith’. He directed that the Khutbah should be read in his name alone.
“As to those idiots, who at this time introduce the name of Shâh Allum into the Khûtbah, they act through ignorance; since the real condition of the above-mentioned is this: he is actually enslaved, and a mere cypher; being the servant of Saindeah ( Scindia), at the monthly wages of fifteen thousand rupees. Such being the case, to pronounce the name of a dependent of infidels, in reciting the Khûtbah, is a manifest sin, and repugnant to the laws [usages] of the Muselmâny faith. For these reasons it is written, that the Khuteeb* of that place [Adoni] must be directed to introduce our name constantly in the Khûtbah.
LETTERS TO MOGHUL EMPEROR AND THE GOVERNOR OF AGRA – ANNIHILATION OF INFIDELS IS A SACRED DUTY:
In a letter (Letter No. 71)to Shah Alam, the Moghul emperor at Delhi, Tipu once again reiterated his intention to firmly establish the ‘religion of Mahommed’ and determination to completely destroy the enemies of the faith (Islam).
In a letter ( Letter No.334) addressed to the Governor of Agra, Mohammed Beg Hamadani enclosing his manifesto of Jihad against kafirs, Tipu once again reiterated his resolve to annihilate the infidels and establish an Islamic state in India. He wanted to encash upon the opportunity offered by teetering Moghul empire in India, setbacks to the Marathas and use the same for ushering in Islamic rule. He also vent his anger on fellow Muslim rulers who had joined hands with the kafirs (infidels).
“I am now employed in chastising certain Musulman rulers; who, engaging in measures contrary to the rules of Islâm [or the institutes of the faith], are become the allies and supporters of the reprobate(whose end is bad or calamitous) infidels. It is requisite, for the support of [our] religion, that all Musulmans should unite together; and, considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labour, to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that object: to the end that the Ahmedy faith may, day by day, acquire fresh lustre; that the weakness of the empire of Hindustan may be changed for efficient dominion and power; that the abominations of the wicked may find neither habitation nor retreat* within the kingdoms of his Majesty (the Shadow of the Divinity), who is the chief of the vicegerents of Mahommed; and [finally] that the rulers of Islâm may not be put to the blush* before the holy Prophet, on whom be the peace and blessing of God.
DEMOLITION OF TEMPLE AT BENGALURU:
To NUBBY SHÂH, at BANGALORE; same Date. (14th September.)
“YOU write, “that agreeably to [our] orders, the Pagoda which was “in front of the blessed Durgâh [or shrine] has been demolished, but “that the Aumil will not resign [to you] the ground [on which it stood].” It is known. The Aumil will make over the aforesaid ground [to you], when you must annex the same to the premises of the Durgâh.”
ARMY OF THE ACCURSED INFIDELS (KAFIRS) Vs. THE ARMY OF ISLAM
Tipu invariably described his victories as victory for Islam and flourishing of the religion of Mohammed. For him, wars were not fought for territorial or strategic reasons but always for the crushing of kafirs and establishment of an Islamic state.
In a letter (Letter No. 385)addressed various Muslim religious heads and Peerzadeh, Tipu gloated over the victory of Islam over Kafirs and sent along a number of gifts to them. He sought their assistance in advancing the religion of Mohamed and support for Islam.
“ BY the blessing of God and the aid of the Prophet, the forces of the accursed having experienced a signal defeat and chastisement, have turned their faces to flight, leaving the troops of Islâm victorious over the enemies of the faith. Thus has the army of the accursed infidels been trodden under foot by the hoofs of the horses of Islâm, and rendered vile and miserable; while the religion of Mahommed has been thereby made to flourish. You, Sir, are one of the elders [of the faith], and will therefore apply, with all your heart, to the best means of advancing the religion of Mahommed, and of administering to the support of Islâm.”
Thus it can be observed that Tipu was hardly a freedom fighter seeking to liberate India from the yoke of British rule. Tipu was a hard core Islamist committed to establishing a full-fledged Islamic state in India as proved abundantly by his manifesto of Jihad implemented through various acts of barbarism and savagery. In the ruthless pursuit of his religious fanaticism, he unleashed massive destruction of life and property on his fellow Indians.
1) Source: SELECT LETTERS OF TIPPOO SULTAN TO VARIOUS PUBLIC FUNCTIONARIES. UNDRY OTHER PERSONS. ARRANGED AND TRANSLATED BY WILLIAM KIRKPATRICK, Colonel in the Service of the Honorable East-India Company — 1811
2) A Voyage to the East Indies: Containing an Account of the Manners, Customs, etc. of the Natives, with a Geographical Description of the Country … Collection – Travel and Exploration in Asia) by Paolino da San Bartholomaeo (Author), John Reinhold Forster (Editor), William Johnston (Translator).
3) Tipu Sultan the tyrant of Mysore by Sandeep Balakrishna
Nothing can be worse written than the original of this miserable circular. Though short, it is, perhaps, as perplexed a production as any that ever proceeded from the pen of the Sultan, who, most probably, dictated every word of it. The proclamation to which it refers, and which immediately follows it in my manu-script, is in a better style, and was, no doubt, drawn up by some of the Mahommedan theologians of his court.
A translation of the proclamation here mentioned, appeared, in the year 1793, in the Appendix to Major Dirom’s judicious and interesting Narrative of Lord Cornwallis’s last Campaign against Tippoo Sultan; and if that publication were not now become very scarce, it would be sufficient, perhaps, to refer the reader to it, for the document in question: it is proper, however, to observe, that the Persian original, from which Colonel Read’s translation was taken, appears to have differed, in some respects, from the copy recorded in the official register. Of the latter the following is a faithful version, for which I am, in a great measure, indebted to the kindness of Mr. Stewart, Persian, Arabic, and Hindostâny Professor at the Honorable the East-India Company’s Oriental College at Hertford. The original abounds so much in quotations from the Koran, and my knowledge of the Arabic is so limited, that, without such assistance, I should have hesitated at submitting a translation of it to the reader.
Although it is probable, that the immediate object of the Sultan, in the foregoing proclamation, or manifesto, was to seduce from their allegiance, and draw over to his standard, the Musulman subjects of the two powers, with whom he was, at this time, at open war, yet there can be but little doubt that the English, together with their dependants and tributaries, were also in his contemplation on the occasion. It is true, that the latter are not expressly named: neither are the Mahrattahs nor the Nizâm. Indeed, with regard to the Nizâm, he could not have been distinctly referred to without an apparent absurdity, since he was a Mahommedan as well as Tippoo; who, nevertheless, certainly regarded him in the light of an infidel, because he had, more than once, associated with infidels against the cause of Islâm, that is to say, in opposition to him (Tippoo). The argument, therefore, was addressed generally to all Musulmans, in whatever manner subject to the enemies, direct or indirect, of the true faith. There was no danger of its not being properly applied and understood by those for whom it was intended: ‘no Musulman is ever at a loss to comprehend’ The drift of such appeals. At the same time, if any exception had been taken to it by the English, the vague and general terms in which it is expressed would have enabled him to maintain, with sufficient plausibility, that he had only in view such Musulmans as were living under the authority of those with whom he was actually at war.
There is one passage in the foregoing production, which appears to point more particularly than any other to the English. It is that wherein he complains, not, as in Major Dirom’s translation, of ravages committed in his peculiar territories, but (according to my copy of this paper) of the injuries and losses which the Musulmans in general had sustained at the hands of the infidels; alluding distantly (as on other occasions he has done more openly) to our establishment in Bengal, the Carnatic, and other Mahommedan states of India. On the whole, it must be allowed, that the extensive views of aggrandizement, entertained at this time by the Sultan, are abundantly developed by this curious document.
* * * *
No doubt, the proclamation, or manifesto, at page 293, is the enclosure here referred to, and which, hitherto, had probably been circulated only in the territories dependent on Mysore. But as the chief design of the Sultan, in that address, was to draw to his standard the Musulman subjects of other states, and particularly such as lived under the authority of his immediate enemies, it was necessary that it should be promulgated far and near. What means he adopted for this purpose, with respect to more distant countries, or whether he made any attempt to introduce the document in question into the British dominions, does not appear: but here we see him selecting as his instruments for publishing it, and promoting its proposed effect, within the dominions of the Mahrattahs and of the Nizâm, persons actually residing under the protection of, and owing allegiance to, those very powers; and who, consequently, could neither pray for the success of his arms, nor contribute their endeavours to supply him with recruits (which was his chief object on the present occasion), without a violation of their civil duties, or without exposing themselves to the most imminent danger. Tip-poo, however, did not allow himself to be restrained by considerations of this nature. He was, at all times, in communication with the priests belonging to the different shrines, or places of peculiar sanctity among Musulmans, that are scattered over the Peninsula, but not one of which, I believe, was included within his own dominions. The only thing to be wondered at, on this occasion, is the temerity of the reverend personages who engaged in such a hazardous correspondence; for though it does not appear how the present letter was received by the individuals to whom it was addressed, the records found at Seringapatam afford abundant proof, that the Sultan, throughout his reign, stood high in the favour of this particular class. For this distinction he might, in some degree, be indebted to the gifts which he occasionally bestowed on them; but he, most probably, owed it principally to their bigotry. He fought avowedly for the glory and extension of their religion; and that, with zealots, would be a sufficient apology for treason, as well as a sufficient motive for risking their personal safety in the advancement of his cause.
In this context, it is worth recalling the book on Khilafat by N.S Rajaram, who wrote about the Khilafat advocacy undertaken by Mahatma Gandhi in the 1920s and its corollary, the Mopla Rebellion. Here is an extract from his book “Gandhi, Khilafat & The National Movement ” (First published in 1999 and then in 2009) on the treacherous role of Communists:
“Every villain,” said Lord Acton of the ‘power corrupts’ fame, “is followed by a sophist with a sponge”. This was surpassed by the Indian Communists. They bought not one sponge but a card-load of them, and put them to use in whitewashing atrocities from the Mopla Rebellion to the Partition to the R@pe of Tibet to the Chinese attack in 1962, and all the way to the nuclear tests of Pokharan II.
The period covered in this volume is not lacking in examples that bring to the fore the dark side of human nature. But for sheer venality, the behaviour of the Communists is in a class by itself. The gullibility and self-deception of Gandhi, the spinelessness of Nehru, the cunning of the Ali brothers and even the savagery of the Moplas – none of these can match the record of the Communists in this regard. A single example will suffice. The Moplas, who perpetrated some of the worst atrocities in history, especially on women, are heroes to Communists. Eminent scholars of Marxist leanings at respectable academic institutions extol these barbarians as heroic freedom fighters!
There is another difference. While these villains of yesteryears have departed from the world, the successors of these Communist ‘sophists with sponges’ are still around – sometimes in respectable professions like politics, academia and journalism. One is hard pressed to decide which is the greater evil – the Mopla marauders or their modern Marxist glorifiers.
To begin to understand the twists and turns of the Indian Communists, their passage from ‘anti-imperialists’ opposed to Britain and France, to British spies and collaborators, to being Soviet and Chinese fifth column, to their present state when they have combined with the most reactionary forces of Islam and become virtually a dependency of the tool of foreign interests, Sonia Gandhi, one has to go to the early years of the Second World War.
When the War broke out in September 1939, the Communists, found themselves in an awkward position – on the same side as Hitler – because of the Hitler-Stalin pact of August 1939. But they had to obey their masters in Moscow and support him. So, Hitler was no longer a Fascist menace but a messenger of peace fighting against the imperialist warmongers, Britan and France. But when Hitler attacked Russia on 22 June 1941, the Indian Communists executed a complete flip-flop and started supporting Britain in the war against Hitler. The Imperialist’s War became overnight the People’s War. They were now in a highly advantageous position vis-à-vis the British Government. They were used to serving their Soviet masters, so it entailed no great adjustment when opportunity called to serve the British. The Indian Communist leaders made the best of a good bargain.
For the rest of the War, the Indian Communists were, for all practical purposes, hired agents of the British. R.C. Majumdar tells us (Volume III, pp.569): “During the great national upsurge of 1942, the Communists acted as stooges and spies of the British Government, and helped them against their own countrymen fighting for freedom. The part played by the Communists can be best understood from confidential correspondence during the years 1942, 1943 and 1944 between P.C.Joshi, the General Secretary of the Communist Part of India … it is quite clear from the correspondence that ‘an alliance existed between Politburo of the Communist Party and the Home Department of the Government of India, by which Mr. Joshi was placing at the disposal of the Government of India the services of his Party members, that the ‘various political drives undertaken by the Party in the name of anti-Fascist campaigns were a part of the arrangement which helped the Government of India to tide over certain crises… ”
But ofcourse, this did not come cheap, and Communist leaders like Joshi, Dange and others were generously paid by the British for their services. One well-known Communist intellectual was paid as mush as rupees 16,000 per month! This allowed many of them to maintain lavish lifestyles – much in the manner of many ‘Gandhians’ today. But spying on the nationalists was only the beginning of this sordid if profitable enterprise. Majumdar tells us (Volume III, p. 570):
… Joshi had, as General Secretary to the Part, written a letter in which he offered ‘unconditional help’ to the then Government of India and the Army GHQ to fight the 1942 underground workers and the Azad Hind Fuaz (Indian National Army) of Subhas Chandar Bose, even to the point of getting them arrested. … Joshi’s letter also revealed that the CPI was receiving financial aid from the Government, had a secret pact with the Muslim League, and was undermining Congress activity in various ways.
It is no secret that at the time of independence, the Communists openly supported the formation of Pakistan. “Not only did the Communists support the demand for Pakistan but went much further by saying that every linguistic group in India had a distinct nationality and was therefore entitled, as they claimed was the case in the USSR, to the right to secede.”
Independence did not put a stop to Communist treachery. On the heels of Independence, the new Indian Government was faced with the problem of the integration of the princely states numbering over five hundred. Here was fertile ground for the Communists, especially Hyderabad, then at the mercy of Kasim Rizvi and his fanatical band of terrorists known as the Razakars. In February 1948, the Second Congress of the Communist Party of India proclaimed that India’s independence was a sham and decided to support the Razakars. They struck a deal with the Nizam’s Government and joined hands with the Nizam’s forces – the Razakars – to fight Hyderabad’s accession to India with the help of Pakistan. As with most terrorists, the forte of the Razakars was committing atrocities on unarmed civilians, not fighting a professional army. When Sardar Patel sent troops into Hyderabad, the Razakars crumbled before the advance of the Indian Army. Kasim Razvi ran away to Pakistan, handing over the bulk of his guns and other armaments to the Communists. The Communists kept up an armed insurrection in the Telangana region for a few years until ordered to stop by the Soviet Dictator Stalin.
But now, Marxist historians claim that the Communists joined the Congress in their fight against the Razakars who represented feudal interests! So, the action in Hyderabad was a ‘class struggle’ against the oppressors, except that the Communists sided with the Razakars! So, Rizvi and the Razakars were not Muslim fundamentalists but feudal exploiters of the people! To explain away the fact that the Communists joined hands with these ‘feudal exploiters’, their historians simply reverse the truth; they now claim that they fought against them. This way, they hope they can have it both ways. This trail of treachery continued unabated. When China attacked India in 1962, the Communists were on the Chinese side. In 1964, when China exploded its first nuclear bomb, the Indian Communists greeted it with glee. But recently when India conducted nuclear tests the Indian Communists and their allies in the Congress – including the new found object of the adoration, Sonia Gandhi – vociferously condemned Indian tests. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Attempt to whitewash Moplah atrocities is latest case of Communist schizofascism (Article by Ram Madhav).
August 2021 marks the completion of a hundred years of the brutal episode in human history – The Moplah Genocide of the Malabar Hindus.
A recent news report that a three-member committee of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), which was formed to review the names of “freedom fighters” from 1857 to 1947, is said to have considered removing the names of ‘Moplah martyrs‘of 1921 from the Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle. Along with Variamkunnath Kunhamed Haji and Ali Musaliar, the Moplah Rebellion leaders responsible for the Moplah Massacre of Hindus, 387 others who died during the Moplah Massacre will also be removed. The dictionary is jointly published by the Ministry of Culture and the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR).
A three-member panel, set up the ICHR which reviewed the entries in the fifth volume of the dictionary, has reportedly stated that the 1921 rebellion was never part of the independence struggle but a fundamentalist movement focused on religious conversion. None of the slogans raised by the rioters were in favour of nationalism and anti-British in content, it noted. According to the report, the panel has noted that the rebellion was an attempt to establish a Caliphate. “Had it succeeded, a Caliphate would have been established in the region too and India would have ended up losing that part from its territory”, The Hindu quoted sources as saying.
Further, the panel concluded that Haji was a rioter who established a Sharia court and beheaded a large number of Hindus. Those who died at the hands of the rioters were non-believers. The committee also stated that a large number of alleged ‘Moplah martyrs’, who were under-trial prisoners, died due to diseases such as cholera and natural causes hence cannot be treated as martyrs. Only a handful of them were executed by the government after court trial, the panel noted.
In this context, it is worth recalling eyewitness accounts of the Mopla Rebellion by Annie Besant and Madhavan Nair.
Eyewitness accounts of the Mopla Rebellion by Annie Besant and Madhavan Nair.
The following account signed by Annie Besant, under the title ‘Malabar’s Agony’, appeared in New India dated 29 November 1921. It is one of the literally hundreds of similar reports that appeared in the press at the time. The account given here is the slightly abridged, with some non- relevant history about the Zamorins removed. It has also been organised into smaller paragraphs to smooth the somewhat hurried writing. Of particular interest is Besant’s charge that by making Non-Cooperation part of the Khilafat movement, his Gandhism was also part of the violence that gave rise to, and he could not escape responsibility. It is interesting to note the contemporary accounts see the Non-Coorperation Movement as part of the Khilafat, and not as something on its own as modern history books tend to do. Here is Besant’s report. – N.S.R]
Annie Beasant: New India, 29 November 1921 :
It would be well if Mr. Gandhi could be taken into Malabar to see with his own eyes the ghastly horrors which have been created by the preaching of himself and his “loved brothers,” Muhommad and Shaukat Ali. The Khilafat Raj is established there; on August 1, 1921, sharp to the date first announced by Mr. Gandhi for the beginning of Swaraj and the vanishing of British Rule, a Police Inspector was surrounded by Moplas, revolting against that Rule. From that date onwards thousands of the forbidden war-knives ware secretly made and hidden away, and on August 20, the rebellion broke out, Khilafat flags were hoisted on Police Stations and Government offices… Our correspondent has sent accounts of the public functions connected with my hurried visit to Calicut and Palghat, and that which I wish to put on record here is the ghastly misery which prevails, the heart-breaking wretchedness which has been caused by the Mopla outbreak, directly due to the violent and unscrupulous attacks on the Government made by the Non-Co-operators and the Khilafatists and the statements scattered broadcast, predicting the speedy disappearance of British Rule, and the establishment of Swaraj, as proclaimed by the N.C.O. and Khilafat Raj as understood by the Moplas from the declarations of the Khilafatists. On that, there is no doubt whatever, so far as Malabar is concerned. The message of the Khilafats, of England as the enemy of Islam, of her coming downfall, and the triumph of the Muslims, had spread, to every Mopla home. The harangues in the Mosques spread it everywhere, and Muslim hearts were glad. They saw the N.C.O. preachers appealing for help to their religious leaders, naturally identified the two. The Government was Satanic, and Eblis, to the good Muslim, is to be fought to the death. Mr. Gandhi may talk as he pleases about N.C.O.s accepting no responsibility. It is not what they accept; it is what facts demonstrate. He accepted responsibility for the trifling bloodshed of Bombay. The slaughter in Malabar cries out his responsibility. N.C.O. is dead in Malabar. But bitter hatred has arisen there, as fighting men from the dragon’s teeth of Theseus. That is the ghastly result of the preaching of Gandhism, of N.C.O. of Khilafatism. Every one speaks of the Khilafat Raj, and the one hope of the masses is in its crushing by the strong arm of the Government. Mr. Gandhi asks the Moderates to compel the Government to suspend hostilities, i.e., to let loose the wolves to destroy what lives are left. The sympathy of the Moderates is not, I make bold to “with the murderers, the looters, the ravishers, who have put into practice the teachings of paralysing the Government of the N.C.O.’s, who have made “war on the Government” in their own way. How does Mr. Gandhi like the Mopla spirit, as shown by one of the prisoners in the Hospital, who was dying from the results of asphyxiation? He asked the surgeon, if he was going to die, and surgeon answered that he feared he would not recover. “Well, I’m glad I killed fourteen infidels,” said the Brave, God-fearing Mopla, whom Mr. Gandhi so much admires, who “are fighting for what they consider as religion, and in a manner, they consider as religious.” Men who consider it “religious” to murder, rape, loot, to kill women and little children, cutting down whole families, have to be put under restraint in any civilised society. “Mr. Gandhi was shocked when some Parsi ladies had their saries torn off, and very properly, yet the God-fearing hooligans had been taught that it was sinful to wear foreign cloth, and doubtless felt they were doing a religious act; can he not feel a little sympathy for thousands of “women left with only rags, driven from home, for little children born of the flying mothers on roads in refugee camps? The misery is beyond description. Girl wives, pretty and sweet, with eyes half blind with weeping, distraught with terror; women who have seen their husbands hacked to pieces before their eye, in the way “Moplas consider as religious”; old women tottering, whose faces become written with anguish and who cry at a gentle touch and a kind look waking out of a stupor of misery only to weep, men who have lost all, hopeless, crushed, desperate. I have walked among thousands of them in the refugee camps, and sometimes heavy eyes would lift as a cloth was laid gently on the bare shoulder, and a faint watery smile of surprise would make the face even more piteous than the stupor. Eyes full of appeal, of agonised despair, of hopeless entreaty of helpless anguish, thousands of them camp after camp. “Shameful inhumanity proceeding in Malabar,” says Mr. Gandhi. Shameful inhumanity indeed, wrought by the Moplas, and these are the victims, saved from extermination by British and Indian swords; For be it remembered the Moplas began the whole horrible business; the Government intervened to save their victims and these thousands have been saved. Mr. Gandhi would have hostilities suspended—so that the Moplas may sweep down on the refugee camps, and finish their work?” I visited in Calicut three huge Committee camps, two Christian, and the Congress building and compound where doles of rice are given daily from 7 A.M. to noon. In all, the arrangements were good. Big thatched sheds, and some buildings shelter the women and children, the men sleep outside. They are all managed by Indians, the Zamorini’s Committee distributing cloths and money to all, except the Congress committee, which work independently and gives food from its own resource. At Palghat, similar arrangements are made by the Zamorini’s Committee, and the order and care in feeding are good to see. Let me finish with a beautiful story told to me. Two Pulayas, the lowest of the submerged classes, were captured with others, and given the choice between Islam and Death. These, the outcaste of Hinduism, the untouchables, so loved the Hinduism which had been so unkind a step- mother to them, that they chose to die Hindus rather than to live Muslim. May the God of both, Muslim and Hindus send His messengers to these heroic souls, and give them rebirth into the Faith for which they died.
Report by Madhavan Nair, Secretary, Calicut District Congress Committee :
Maulana Mohani justified the looting of Hindus by the Moplas as lawful by way of commandeering in a war between the latter and the Government of as a matter of necessity when the Moplas were forced to live in jungles. The Maulana perhaps does not know that the majority of the cases, the almost wholesale looting of Hindu houses in portions of Ernad, Valluvand and Ponani Taluques [counties] was perpetrated on the 21st, 22nd, and the 23rd of August  before the military had arrived in the affected area to arrest or to fight the rebels even before Martial Law had been declared (in Malabar). The Moplas had not be taken themselves to the jungles as the Maulana supposes nor had the Hindus as a class done anything to them to deserve their hostility. The outbreak commenced on the 20th of August , the police and the District Magistrate withdrew from Tirunangadi to Calicut on the 21st and the policemen throughout the affected area has taken to their heels. There was no adversary to the Moplas as the time whom the Hindus could possibly have helped or invited, and the attack on them was most wanton and unprovoked. Comment added: Maulana Mohani, like a hundred other Khilafat leaders, well knew the truth but arrogantly justified the Mopla atrocities as a ‘military necessity’ drive by self-defence. But these reports clearly show that the Mopla Rebellion was a planned uprising that began immediately after the expiry of Gandhi’s promise of ‘swaraj within the year’ and not a sporadic outbreak.
According to Annie Besant, it began on the day of expiry, and soon spread to the whole region – becoming a full-blown rebellion on or about August 20. The district authorities, including the police, were caught unaware and also not equipped to handle a large-scale rebellion. Chaos reigned in Malabar for several months, forcing the Government to declare Martial Law. The Army had to be called in and it was months before the rebellion was out down after the loss of several thousand lives and unspeakable atrocities. The Congress historians like to pretend that all this never happened, while the Marxists glorify the Moplas as ‘freedom fighters’ !
Madhavan Nair sent several other reports, a few of which are included in the Appendix to Sankaran Nair’s Gandhi and Anarchy. Murders, rapes and forcible conversions were the order of the day. I find most of them too gruesome to be included here, but the following excerpt should give an idea: “Can you conceive of a more ghastly and inhuman crime than the murder of babies and pregnant women? … A pregnant woman carrying 7 months was cut through the abdomen by a rebel and she was seen lying dead on the way with the dead child projecting out … Another baby of six months was snatched away from the breast of the mother and cut into two pieces … Are these rebels human beings or monsters? These are by no means the most gruesome of the accounts described. But enough to give an idea of the atrocities committed by the ‘God-fearing’ plus acting ‘in a manner they consider as religious’ as Gandhi praised them. To those familiar with the history, the barbarism of their modern counter parts in Afghanistan – the Taliban also following the dictates of their ‘religion’ – will come as no surprise.
In this context, it is worth recalling the book on Khilafat by N.S Rajaram, who wrote about the Khilafat advocacy undertaken by Mahatma Gandhi in the 1920s and its corollary, the Mopla Rebellion. It is a sad tale of how the chimerical and short-sighted actions of a handful of leaders resulted in human misery on a horrendous scale. Navratna Srinivasa Rajaram (Dr N S Rajaram) was a renowned researcher, prolific writer and mathematician turned Hindutva-scholar. Refer Swarajya to know more about him and his works.
Here is an extract from his book “Gandhi, Khilafat & The National Movement ” (First published in 1999 and then in 2009) : “When we compare the situation in India today with what it was in 1920, we find both similarities and differences. The Muslim masses today are no more enlightened and no less under the grip of reactionary forces than they were at the time of the Khilafat eighty years ago. But they are much weaker relative to the Hindu majority. Also, there are no Muslims leaders on the horizon that command the kind of influence and authority that the Ali brothers did. Neither is there a Hindu leader of the stature of Mahatma Gandhi willing to stake all for the sake of ‘unity’ and carry the people with him. At the same time, there is no shortage of secondary leaders willing to take the side of any Muslim demand regardless of its merit. The Congress Party – as well as the Communist – is practically in their hands. Only future will tell if Indians have learnt any lessons from their history – from the Khilafat to the Partition to Kashmir to the Bangladesh War. Of one thing one can be certain: if there is any upheaval in the name of Islam in the neighboring Pakistan, Indian Muslims will not remain unaffected by it. The real question is whether Indian leaders will act with the national interest foremost, or display the same kind of sophistry and equivocation as in the past. The postures of the Congress Party – and the machinations of the Communists inspire little confidence in this regard.
The world also has an important lesson to learn: religion can act as a cover for committing the most unspeakable atrocities, as the Appendixes to this document record. But for reasons that this writer finds incomprehensible, the world does not want to learn this basic truth. To those familiar with the history reported here, the atrocities in the name of religion by the Taliban in Afghanistan come as no surprise. But if we fail to learn from this history, the pattern will only repeat itself somewhere else. The more things change, the more they remain same”. – N.S. RAJARAM