|Barrackpore mutiny, West Bengal. dnaindia.com|
|Barrackpore rebellion, West Bengal timesofindia.indiatimes.com|
were humiliated, blown before the cannons and given harsh
|Edward Paget 1775 - 1849 (aged 73), en.wikipedia.org|
Insensitive as they were, the English company paid least attention to their just demand. This led to widespread dissent among a sections of other regiments such as the 26th and 62nd Regiments. To rub salt on injuries, the Commander-in-Chief, India, General Sir Edward Paget, categorically told them to lay down their arms before considering their requests for redress. Upon refusal by the sepoys, the loyal soldiers from the 26th and 62nd Regiments and two British regiments surrounded their camp. The sepoys having refused to obey orders within the specified time, their camp was attacked with artillery and infantry and in its wake 180 sepoys were killed including a number of civilian on-lookers. An unscrupulous act on the part of EIC army on its own soldiers whose demands were legitimate.
Yet another horrible incident that followed it was a number of protesting soldiers were hanged and others sentenced to long periods of penal servitude. Ultimately, the 47th Regiment was disbanded and its Indian officers were dismissed, whereas the European officers were shifted to other regiments.
The media initially did not report the real story of the grievance of sepoys and their massacre by the English company. Because of suppression of news, only limited information on the Barrackpore incident being released to the public. The Parliament came down heavily on the East India Company government for its irresponsible handling of sepoys' grievances and the harsh treatment meted out to them.
The following are the essential facts of Barrackpore rebellion of November 1824:
01. To take part in the First Anglo-Burmese War, in October 1824, the troops from 26th, 47th and 62nd Regiments of the Bengal Native Infantry were ordered to march 500 mi (800 km) from Barrackpore cantonment in Bengal near Calcutta, to Chittagong in preparation for entering Burmese territory. Already the soldiers had marched from Mathura to Barrackpore, a long distance. Imagine the hardship they went through.
02. Soldiers refused to take yet another long tedious journey from Chittagong into Burma.
03. This time they hesitated to fight against the Burmese, an unknown enemy that too their neighbors. Indians had nothing against them.
03. The high caste Hindus in the regiments had reservations about crossing the sea due to the 'kala pani'' taboo. Crossing the ocean was a taboo, in particular, among Brahmins in the past. Such people would be excommunicated.
04. There was lack of transportation facilities for their personal belongings and this forced the soldiers to carry their personal items - cooking utensils, bedding, etc along with their knapsacks, muskets and ammunition. They were burdened by fatigue and frustration of carrying heavy stuff beyond their capacity.
05. There were no bullock carts to transport their stuff. Their requests to provide them with bullock carts fell on deaf ears. The EIC also refused to pay reasonable baggage allowance for the soldiers considering their long march with heavy additional stuff.
06. The soldiers of the 47th Native Infantry appeared for the 1st November parade without their knapsacks and refused to bring them even when ordered to do so. Their contention was no march unless the army provided them with bullock carts or double baggage allowance,
07. Commander-in-Chief, India, General Sir Edward Paget asked the soldiers to lay down their arms first then only he would consider their request. Their blunt refusal angered Paget, an old school martinet of Royal Service ; it was tantamount to an act of armed mutiny. He quickly summoned two regiments of European troops, the 47th (Lancashire) Regiment of Foot and the 1st (Royal) Regiment, as well as troops of the Governor General's bodyguard from Calcutta.
08. On the morning of 2 November 1824, the reinforcements and the loyal members of the 26th and 62nd Regiments moved into position and protesting soldiers were given 10 minute time to obey orders. The soldiers refused to budge and now Gen. Paget ordered two cannons to fire on the rebels, followed by an attack from the rear by the secretly placed horse artillery. Stunned by this unexpected assault, the sepoys ran for safety while other British regiments began attacking them from all directions. Some of the sepoys who jumped into the Hooghly River died due to drowning; others, who took shelter in the near-by local households. were chased and killed with bayonets including many bystanders - women and children.
09. Of about 1,400 mutineers, 180 were killed during the attack, although the death toll is a subject of discussion.
10. Besides, on 2nd November eleven sepoys were tagged as the ring leaders and received a quick trial, whereby they were sentenced to death by hanging.
11. Around 52 sepoys received harsh punishment - sentenced to fourteen years' hard labor on roads in chains; numerous others were sentenced with lesser terms.
12. On 9 November, the leader of the soldiers Bindee was hung in chains on the next day. His body was left to rot for months in open public display in Calcutta.
13. In the British parliament, this atrocity by the ESI came up for discussion (22 March 1827) and Joseph Hume, an opposition MP, reported that the number of casualty was from 400–600 as per the "facts that had reached him from India". However ,Charles Williams-Wynn, a Tory MP, responded on behalf of the government, that the number was no more than 180.
14. The Oriental Herald in London first published a story on the subject almost six months after the incident, calling it the "Barrackpore Massacre", based on a report by a British correspondent in Calcutta. The Oriental Herald severely criticized British officers for the indiscriminate slaughter with out remorse.
15. As expected, no disciplinary measures were taken against Gen. Paget or any other officer of the army, contrary to expectations. M Massacre was committed under the direction of Gen. Paget. Gov. Gen. Amherst came close to being recalled for mishandling the situation but ultimately retained his position. For further reading: 01. Barrackpore Massacre – Burmese War – Present State of the Native Army in Bengal, The Oriental Herald, Volume 5, 1825. 02.
Refer to the work of the 24th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, Major General V.K. Singh (2010–2012), who wrote extensively about the 1824 Barrackpore mutiny,
Vellore Mutiny (rebellion) 1806:
|10 July 1806.Vellore Mutiny, Tamil Nadu thebetterindia.com|
However, what many people do not know is that prior to the great revolt of 1857 and the Barrackpore revolt of 1824 the Vellore revolt of 1804 witnessed a violent a rebellion albeit a brief one against the British empire. It took place in Vellore town (in Tamil Nadu) on the midnight of 10 July 1806. It lasted just one day but the death toll of Indians was over 400 lives. The Indian killed 115 men from the British infantry who were sleeping in their barracks and the mutiny was subdued by cavalry and artillery from Arcot. After formal trial, six mutineers were blown away from guns, five shot by firing squad, eight hanged and five transported to serve imprisonment. The government was critical of John Craddock,
the Commander-in-Chief of Madras Army and refused to pay his passage back to England.