People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 11, 2007
Proclamation Issued By Emperor Bahadur Shah II
(Delhi, August 25, 1857)
“It is known to all, that in this age people of Hindoostan, both Hindoos and Mohammedans are being ruined under the tyranny and oppression of the infidel and treacherous English. It is therefore the bounden duty of all the wealthy people of India, especially of those who have any sort of connection with any of the Mohammedan royal families and are considered the pastors and masters of their people, to stake their lives and property for the well-being of the public. With the view of effecting this general good, several princes belonging to the royal family of Delhi, have dispersed themselves in the different parts of India, Iran, Turan, and Afganistan, and have been long since taking measures to compass their favourite end; and it is to accomplish this charitable object that one of the aforesaid princes has, at the head of an army of Afganistan, etc.., made his appearance in India; and I, who am the grandson of Abul Muzuffer Serajuddin Bahadur Shah Ghazee, King of India, having in the course of circuit come here to extirpate the infidels residing in the eastern part of the country, and to liberate and protect the poor helpless people now groaning under their iron rule, have, by the aid of the Majahdeens, erected the standard of Mohammed, and persuaded the orthodox Hindoos who had been subject to my ancestors, and have been and are still accessories in the destruction of the English, to raise the standard of Mahavir.
Several of the Hindoo and Mussalman chiefs, who have long since quitted their homes for the preservation of their religion, and have been trying their best to root out the English in India, have presented themselves to me, and taken part in the reigning Indian crusade, and it is more than probable that I shall very shortly receive succour from the West. Therefore, for the information of the public, the present Ishtihaar, consisting of several sections, is put in circulation, and it is the imperative duty of all to take it into their careful consideration, and abide by it. Parties anxious to participate in the common cause, but having no means to provide for themselves, shall receive their daily subsistence from me; and be it known to all, that the ancient works, both of the Hindoos and the Mohammedans, the writing of the miracle workers, and the calculations of the astrologers, pundits, and rammals, all agree in asserting that the English will no longer have any footing in India or elsewhere.
Proclamation of Khan Bahadur Khan, Nawab of Bareilly
(Indicating the importance attached to the unity of Hindus and Muslims in the war against the British)
“The English are people who overthrow all religions. You should understand well, that with the object of destroying the religions of Hindoostan, they have for a long time been causing books to be written and circulated throughout the country by the hands of their clergymen, and, exercising their authority, have brought out numbers of preachers to spread their own tenets…. They accordingly now ordered the Brahmans and others of their army to bite cartridges, in the making up of which fat had been used. The Mussalman soldiers perceived that by this expedient the religion of the Brahmans and Hindoos only was in danger, but nevertheless they also refused to bite them…. All you Hindoos are hereby solemly adjured, by your faith in the Ganges, Tulsi and Saligram; and all you Mussalmans, by your belief in God and the Koran, as these English are the common enemy of both, that you unite in considering their slaughter extremely expedient, for by this alone will the lives and faith of both be saved.”
The British tried to foment Hindu-Muslim dissensions in Bareilly but failed.
“With reference to the Chief Commnissioner’s letter to His Lordship the Governor General dated 14th September in which he stated that he had authorised the sum of Rs 50,000 to be expended in an attempt to raise the Hindoo population of Bareilly against the Mohommedan rebels, I am directed to submit the acconpanying extract of a letter from captain Gowan dated the 14th ultimo from which his Lordship in Council will perceive that the attempt was quite unsuccessful, and has been abandoned without the expenditure of any portion of the amount in question.”
(Letter from George Coupur, Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of Outh, to G.F. Edmonstone, Secretary to the Government of India, dated 1 December 1857)