|William Stephen Raikes Hodson s death. Getty Images|
|Hodson arresting the last mogul ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar, alamy|
|William Hodson. Find A Grave com|
This massacre of British people took the rulers off guard and caused repulsion among the EIC officials. They wrongly concluded that this bizarre incident had happened with the knowledge of Bahadur Shah under whose leadership the uprising was taking shape. The British were now after Bahadur Shah who was camping with his sons and the rebels just outside Delhi at Humayun's Tomb.
William Holden, a military officer was unpopular among the natives because he treated the last Mogul ruler and others shabbily. As far as the British were concerned, he was a daring officer and a celebrated person. It is believed that Col. Hodson, resolved to capture the mogul ruler and his sons, finally got permission from Colonel (later General) Archdale Wilson to ride into the enemy's camp with his men to capture the ruler and others. Without any protest, the ruler, 6000 mutineers and others laid down their arms, symbolic of surrender. There was no untoward incident whatsoever. Nor were there any protests from the natives.
As a sign of surrender, the Emperor handed over his arms, including two amazing swords, one with the name ‘Nadir Shah’ and the other with the seal of Jahangir engraved upon it. Hodson later presented them to as trophy to Queen Victoria. Now, they are part of Queen's collections in London.
As for the sons of the Mogul ruler, the princes were against unconditional surrender ordered by Hodson. They suspected something fishy about Hodson's move and categorically wanted guarantee for the safety of their lives. Finally, the army collected the arms from a huge gathering of mutineers there and the princes were later taken to Delhi on a bullock cart with escorts, supposedly for further interrogation.
Near the city gate before entering Delhi, suddenly Hodson ordered the three princes to get off the cart and remove their top garments in the presence of a huge gathering around them. No sooner had their signet rings, turquoise arm-bands and bejeweled swords been removed, than in a flash, without any scruples, Hodson took a carbine from one of his troopers and shot them dead. A cold blooded murder had been committed right before the people who stood there frozen. Hodson had the bodies of three Mogul princes displayed in front of a kotwali as a warning to the future rebels. It was a crass and dirty display of military power and arrogance and thus Hodson took the credit (rather discredit) of felling the last Mogul ruler Bahadur Shah's legal heirs to the throne. Young princes Mirza Mughal and Mirza Khizr Sultan and his grandson Mirza Abu Bakr lost their lives in their young age, fighting against the British. Over night, Hodson, a well- trained and abled military cum civilian officer became an assassin. The gate near the plave where they were killed is still called the Khooni Darwaza, or 'Bloody Gate'.
|Hodson's grave, Lucknow. Wikipedia|
Hodson's service record clearly showed him in bad light. He had often behaved in an arbitrary fashion before, which was not a good trait of a well-experienced, talented military cum civilian officer. This led to his removal from civil duties by the then Governor General of India, Lord Dalhousie. His erratic action and execution of three young heirs of the old Mogul ruler near kotwali in Delhi invited lots of criticism. Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, then a junior officer serving in the Delhi campaign,considered it a "blot" William W. Ireland, it is believed, called into question the urgency of his actions. However, in parliamentary speeches made on 14 April 1859, the Prime Minister Earl of Derby, and the Minister for India Lord General Hugh Gough paid glowing tribute to Stanley who recaptured Delhi from the rebels in 1858. In his dual role of cavalry leader and intelligence officer, Hodson played a large part in the recapture of Delhi from the rebels.
Hodson's widow received a posthumous award from Her Majesty Queen Victoria in the form of an apartment at Hampton Court Palace "in consideration of the distinguished service of her late husband in India".
Apart from the dissenting voices from other members of the military, there were also a few politicians who condemned the killing and felt the killing of Mughal princes by Hodson had been 'dishonorable'.
The paradox is 'it was from the Mogul ruler the British got a chance to hold their firm foot in India in 1600s as mercantile traders and generations later, the same British, now rulers of land, made the Mogul rulers bow before them. In a fitting finale to show their gratitude to them, the British Bobs, now masters of the land, mercilessly uprooted the last young legal heirs of the last Mogul ruler. In the annals of 19th century British-India history, it is the most despicable and nauseating act on the part of the colonial rulers under the E. I. C.