Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin

Researcher of Political Science & Classical Islam. Initiated by the Khwajagan i-Naqshband.

The Trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar II: The Last Mughal Emperor of Hindustan

Bahadur Shah Zafar II: The Last Mughal Emperor, dethroned by the British

Bahadur Shah Zafar II: The Last Mughal Emperor, dethroned by the British

By Azizul Jalil
The Daily Star

“Not a word came from his lips, in silence he sat day and night with eyes cast on the ground, and as though utterly oblivious of the conditions in which he was placed..”

An English lawyer in an English court of justice might show that it would be very difficult for our government to draw an indictment against the King of Delhi for treason, for levying of war against us as lords paramount….”Willliam Howard Russel, The Times

After a four-month siege of Delhi during the Sepoy Mutiny, the city had been recaptured by the British in September 1857. Russel, from the Times newspaper in London was visiting Delhi at the time of the trial at the Red Fort of the last of the Great Mughals. He was taken through “a dark and dingy back passage” of the fort to see Bahadur Shah Zafar, who was detained in a small cell, accused of being the mastermind of the uprising. He wondered whether the old and feeble man with dim eyes could conceive the vast plan of restoring a great empire and fomenting the most gigantic mutiny in the history of the world.

William Dalrymple’s book, “The Last Mughal” published in 2007, gives a detailed and vivid account of the Mutiny-city by city and battle by battle. He exposes the weaknesses of the rebels and treacheries by some of them, the vacillation of Bahadur Shah and the operation of the pro-British faction in the palace led by Queen Zinat Mahal- the King’s favourite wife. He also depicts the brutalities of the British in their craze for a total retribution for the cruelties and excesses of the rebel army. Along with thousands of people directly or remotely associated with the Mutiny or the Red Fort who were shot or hanged, most of the King’s sons were killed by the British. The beautiful city of Delhi with its history, traditions, monuments, gardens, schools and colleges were systematically destroyed even after the battle was won. Readers may detect in Dalrymple’s writing a soft corner for the Mughals and an admiration and respect for Mughal India’s culture and civilisation. Those interested in the history of this period would be well rewarded by a reading of this wonderful and well-researched book.

Based on this book, an account is given here of the trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar, which was of interest to me and which perhaps is not known to many people. It was the end of January 1858- most of the noblemen of his durbar prosecuted by Major Harriott had already been tried and hanged. It was then the turn of Zafar himself to face trial. Preparations were made in the winter of 1857 for the historic trial. Papers retrieved from the Palace chancellery and the rebels’ camp were translated. Meanwhile the binding nature of the guarantee of life given by Major Hodson to Zafar’s at the time of his surrender at the Humayun’s tomb was examined and the charges to be brought against Zafar were considered. In the end, Hodson’s guarantee was found to be legally binding and it was decided to charge the King with “rebellion, treason and murder” by a Military Commission. Major Harriott was also to be the prosecutor in this case.

Whether the East India Company had at all the legal authority to try the Emperor of India was a big question. Its authority to govern in India legally flowed from the Mughal Emperor, who had appointed the Company in 1765 as his tax collector in Bengal in the years following the battle of Plassey. Up to 1832, the Company had acknowledged itself as the Emperor’s vassal on its coins and even on its great seal. Zafar could be tried as a defeated enemy king. However, he was never a subject and could not be called a rebel guilty of treason. In fact, a good case could be made that the East India Company was the real rebel, having revolted against a feudal superior to whom it had sworn allegiance for nearly a century.

The Times correspondent, Russel expressed his opinion on the subject thus: “[The King] was called ungrateful for rising against his benefactors. …to talk of ingratitude on the part of one who saw that all the dominions of his ancestors had gradually taken from him until he was left with an empty title, and more empty exchequer… is perfectly preposterous.” Russel felt that the British perhaps could make ‘the right of conquest’ argument that the Mughals had made for their sovereignty over Hindustan. But he found a difference-the British “did not come into India, as the Muslims did, at the head of great armies, with the avowed intention of subjugating the country. We came in as humble barterers, whose existence depended on the bounty and favour of the lieutenants of the Kings of Delhi.”

The trial started on January 27, 1858. The King had to be assisted to walk to Diwan i-Khas, his hall of private audience. He was sick, could not understand what was going on and had to be persuaded to plead not guilty. During the trial, seized manuscripts were read out. While most of the time the King seemed uninterested, at times he would declare himself innocent of everything he was charged with. Zafar gave a short written defense in Urdu. He denied any connection with the Mutiny and stated that he had all along been the helpless prisoner of the sepoys. He pleaded that he had no intelligence on the subject previous to the day of the outbreak and “all that has been done was done by the rebellious army. I was in their power, what could I do?” Zafar did not cross-examine any of the witnesses.

The prosecutor maintained that Zafar was the evil genius and had the intent to subvert the British Empire and put the Mughals in its place. Major Harriott ignored the distinctions between the sepoys, the jehadis, the Shia Muslims and the Sunni court of Delhi, and argued that the Mutiny was the product of the convergence of all these forces around the dynastic ambitions of Zafar. He said, “To Musalman intrigues and Mahommedan conspiracy we may mainly attribute the dreadful calamities of the year 1857. The Mutineers were in immediate connection with the prisoner at your bar,” The trial went on for many weeks, often adjourning for Zafar’s illness.

On March 9 at 11 a.m., Hariott made his final speech repeating his theory of the Uprising being an international Islamic conspiracy. He stated that, “the prisoner, as the head of the Mahomedan faith in India, has been connected with the organization of that conspiracy, either as its leader or its unscrupulous accomplice…” At 3 p.m. that day, the judges unanimously declared Zafar guilty “of all and every part of the charges preferred against him.” The presiding judge noted that such a verdict would have resulted in the penalty of death as a traitor and a felon. Because of the guarantee of his life given by Major Hodson, that sentence could not be given.

Bahadur Shah Zafar was sentenced “to be transported for the remainder of his days, either to one of the Andaman Islands or to such other place as may be selected by the Governor General in council.” There was a seven-month delay in arranging for Zafar’s exile due to the time needed to select a suitable place and the fact that fighting had not completely ceased in the eastern part of the country. Even though his final destination had not yet been decided, on October 7, 1858, 332 years after Babur’s conquest of the city, the last Mughal Emperor left Delhi on a bullock cart, accompanied by his wives, his two remaining sons and servants. Bahadur Shah Zafar’s twomonth long journey by land, river and sea ended in Rangoon, where he lived in captivity until his death in 1862.

His Religious Beliefs

Like Babur who declared in his Babur Nama that he followed the Naqshbandi Sufi Order, Bahadur Shah Zafar was also a devout Sufi. In fact, Zafar was himself regarded as a Sufi Pir and used to accept murids or pupils. The loyalist newspaper Delhi Urdu Akhbaar once called him one of the leading Sufi Saints of the age, approved of by the Divine Court. Prior to his accession, in his youth he made it a point to live and look like a poor scholar and dervish, in stark contrast to his three well dressed dandy brothers, Mirza Jahangir, Salim and Babur. In 1828, when Zafar was 53 and a decade before he succeeded the throne, Major Archer reported, “Zafar is a man of spare figure and stature, plainly apparelled, almost approaching to meanness. His appearance is that of an indigent munshi or teacher of languages”.[1]

As a poet and dervish, Zafar imbibed the highest subtleties of mystical Sufi teachings. At the same time, he was deeply susceptible to the magical and superstitious side of Orthodox Sunni Islam. Like many of his followers, he believed that his position as both a Sufi Pir and Emperor gave him tangible spiritual powers. In an incident in which one of his followers was bitten by a snake, Zafar attempted to cure him by sending a “seal of Bezoar” (a stone antidote to poison) and some water on which he had breathed, and giving it to the man to drink.[2]

Like the Ottoman Sultans and Caliphs, the Mughal Emperor also had a staunch belief in Ta’weez (Quranic amulets and talismans), to ward off evil spells. During one period of illness, he gathered a group of Sufi Pirs and told them that several of his wives suspected that some party or the other had cast a spell over him. Therefore, he requested them to take some steps to remedy this so as to remove all apprehension on this account. They replied that they would write off some Ta’weez for him. They were to be mixed in water which when drunk would protect him from the evil eye. A coterie of pirs, miracle workers and Hindu astrologers were in constant attendance to the emperor. On their advice, he regularly sacrificed buffaloes and camels, buried eggs and arrested alleged black magicians, in addition to wearing a special ring that cured indigestion. On their advice, he also regularly donated cows to the poor, elephants to the sufi shrines and a horse to the khadims or clergy of Jama Masjid.[2]

Zafar consciously saw his role as a protector of his Hindu subjects, and a moderator of extreme Muslim demands and the intense puritanism of many of the Orthodox Muslim sheikhs of the Ulema. In one of his verses, Zafar explicitly stated that both Hinduism and Islam shared the same essence. This syncretic philosophy was implemented by his court which came to cherish and embody a multicultural composite Hindu-Islamic Mughal culture. Fore instance, the Hindu elite used to frequently visit the dargah or tomb of the great Sufi pir, Nizam-ud-din Auliya. They could quote Hafiz and were very fond of Persian poetry. Their children, especially those belonging to the administrative Khatri and Kayasth castes studied under maulvis and attended the more liberal madrasas, bring food offerings for their teachers on Hindu festivals. On the other hand, the emperor’s Muslim subjects emulated him in honouring the Hindu holy men, while many in court, including Zafar himself, followed the old Mughal custom that was originally borrowed from high class Hindus, of only drinking the water from the Ganga.[3]

Zafar and his court used to celebrate Hindu festivals. During the spring festival of Holi, he would spray his courtiers, wives and concubines with different coloured paints, initiating the celebrations by bathing in the water of seven wells. The autumn Hindu festival of Dusshera was celebrated in the palace by the distribution of nazrs or presents to Zafar’s Hindu officers and the colouring of the horses in the royal stud. In the evening, Zafar would then watch the Ram Lila processions annually celebrated in Delhi with the burning of giant effigies of Ravana and his brothers. He even went to the extent of demanding that the route of the procession be changed so that it would skirt the entire flank of the palace, allowing it to be enjoyed in all its glory. On Diwali, Zafar would weigh himself against seven kinds of grain, gold, coral, etc, and directed their distribution among the city’s poor.[4]

He was reputedly known to have profound sensitivities to the feelings of his Hindu subjects.

14 comments on “The Trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar II: The Last Mughal Emperor of Hindustan

  1. Christopher Fox-Walker
    November 23, 2011

    I knew mainly about the horrific slaughter of the British civilians at Cawnpore and Lucknow and the British army revenge killings. which followed. But I have today completed reading The Last Mughal and have been deeply shocked by the scale of the British slaughter, atrocities, merciless retribution, the destruction of the old city of Delhi and the total annihilation of the Mughal dynasty. The Dalrymple book is a masterpiece of real history. I am 71 and born in Brighton Sussex.

  2. lallan chand
    December 28, 2011

    ungraceful trial of last great mughal britishers had already madeup their mind to punish Zafar

  3. Naveed Khalid Chaudhry
    March 20, 2012

    It is sad to read that the last decendant of the Moghul emporours is living in a slum in India. I feel the destruction and injustice of the history, culture and influence of the once great Moghul empire by the british empire is a painfull loss to the world.

    Being born in the UK I learnt of the great moghuls by only chance as a teen, it is something I felt very proud knowing my own family shares there history.

    I really do feel that in the case of noble moghul decendants like Saltana Begum who eeked a living running a tea stall in Deli should of been and should be compensated by companys and british familys who have built there wealth in the involvement of the systamatic rape of india and the destruction of muslim Indian history.

    I know this is something that would never happen, but at least we should be taught of the injustice our nation has done to not only India and Pakistan up but to the world. We grow in Britain thinking we have only done good not knowing the true damage and crimes that have taken place in the not so distant past.

  4. Christopher Fox-Walker
    March 21, 2012

    It is a curious thing that so many British men and women who went to India at the time of the British Raj fell in love with India. An interesting example is the late Brigadier Enoch Powell MP MBE. He was an officer in British Military Intelligence and stationed in India until Indpendence. He studied Indian poetry at the feet of the Masters of Indian poetry. He wrote: I fell helplessly and hopelessly in love with India and planned to leave my bones there.”

    Spike Milligan too expressed his love and fascination with India. His recorded description of the great miltary parades of the Indian Army in the BBC Plain Tales of the Raj is among the most exciting and picturesque.

    Contrast this love and fascination with the seldom quoted violent comment of the late Sir Winston Churchill as to what he secretly thought about India. He hated it and said: “They are a filthy people with a filthy religion.”, which is all he knew about it.

    • Naveed Khalid Chaudhry
      March 21, 2012

      I have to agree that many British men and woman fell in love with India.
      One British writer I think of whom showed his love for the subcontinent
      is Rudyard Kipling. His portrayal of Indian persons in his writing could sometimes be a little prejudice. In the book Kim it shows his passion for India and the melting pot of culture the people of its land are.

      Many British families stayed in India after the partition and many more before married Indian women becoming Anglo Indians.

      It is unfair that Winston Churchill felt the way he did. We in Britain should remember the influence India and its many religions and food has had on our own culture.

      I once read that Elizabeth the first was so impressed with the moghul emperor Akbar she sent her ambassador Sir Thomas Roe to his court.

      We must remember the great British rock star Freddie Mercury was born in India and many more famous British celebs, Cliff Richards, Paddy Ashdown, Joanna Lumley, Colin Cowdrey and Nussar Hussain.
      Many of our famous foods have there origins in India, rice pudding, semolina, coronation chicken and even ploughmans pickle.

      Britain and the subcontinents culture and history has and will always have a strong link. You will always find people who don’t like India or its culture, India is like curry you either love it or find it a little too spicy.

  5. Naveed Khalid Chaudhry
    March 21, 2012

    I just want to add, it is a very interesting contrast between two political legends quotes about India. Winston Churchill, a person we associate fighting fascism in world war two and Enoch Powell some we see as being a racist.

    I found this very educating, thank you.

  6. Christopher Fox-Walker
    March 22, 2012

    I mentioned Sir Winston Churchill as example of political irony. The great war leader’s speech about the Battle of Britain where he said “if Britain and the Empire should last for a thousand years …….. this was their finest hour” and so and so on. Great leaders, the good, the bad and the ugly, live on a different level of morality to the rest of us. They have to make decisions which result in the deaths of thousands of men, women and children. In politics they have to compromise between the things they would like to do and the things they must do. Churchill was very likely the perfect host at dinners with the great and good from India.

    On the subject of Enoch Powell it is unfortunate how he was so fiercely demonised as a racist whereas he never ever mentioned the word race. To him it was all a matter of number.
    He said that if at the end of the war when Italy and Germany were on their knees the British government had imported half a million Italian and/or German workers there would have been violent riots on the streets.

    Anyone who has studied the fantastic story of the British Raj in India knows how from the start in the time of Elizabeth I that merchant adventurers who went to India became Indian and were referred to as White Hindus. They married Indian women and had large families. They dressed in the clothes of India. It was not till much later that the Christian missionaries began to upset the the relationships between Indians and British. Then through stupidity, ignorance, arrogance, indifference, and often breath taking incompetence the catastrophe of the so-called Mutiny changed everything.

    On a personal level I have a long and important friendship with Sikhs and also with a Hindu family I helped. They had been expelled from Uganda with nothing.

    Kipling wrote; “…………. Yet there is no East and there is no West, border nor breed nor birth, when two strong men stand face to face though they come from the ends of the earth.”

    • Naveed Khalid Chaudhry
      March 24, 2012

      When we think about The Moghul empire, we think of Muslim India and we forget sometimes about the influence of Buddhist, Hindu and the Sikh religions.

      My fathers family came from the old walled city of Lahore, my father told me of my grandfathers sadness as he watched the smoke from the fires, as parts of the ancient city burnt during the partition, and the the emptiness of the city without his Hindu and Sikh neighbors.

      Lahore was a very diverse city once, and many Sikh and Muslims shared a strong bond and you can see this with the link between with Muslim Sufi’s and Sikh guru’s during the Moghul period. .
      My family had always been involved with politics, even as far back to the time of Moghul’s.
      They had always been against British rule and supported a independent Islamic state. This was not because they did not care for there Hindu and Sikh country men but feared they would not be a minority that would be discriminated against. There has always been religious division and under Moghul rule all were not always treated fare.

      I do agree it is sad the changes and the change in the stance of the British government towards India after the Indian mutiny, what I would prefer to call India’s war for independence.

      Again it is sad thing that Winston Churchill said about India and Indian people.
      He was a great war time leader one whom we must be have thanks for the amazing speeches that mustered support for our cause in a time of need.

      Enoch Powell may not have used the word race but he was a opportunist and a fervent supporter of British imperialism who played on the feelings of the poor working classes to gain support for his own political ambition.
      In 1964 Powell said he was against making any difference between any citizen of this country on the grounds of his origin. But in the rivers of blood speech his tone changes. The word Negro is used a lot, and he includes a fictional pensioner whom is being harassed by persons of African decent.
      Enoch Powell believed that white men were ordained by god to conquer and control the world populated mainly by black people. He extended his prejudice towards Catholics in Northern Ireland and drew up a plan to reconquer India. Winston Churchill called Powell a lunatic.

      In my book I don,t believe he was demonised by done this to himself and am glad that Churchill thought him a lunatic and did not take his plan to reconquer India.

  7. Iqbal Akhter
    November 2, 2012

    Reading the historical events of 1857, it is clear that King Bahadur Shah Zafar and his family were the biggest losers of the entire tragedy that
    befell on the fate of the Indian people at large and the people of DeLHI in
    particular.No one personally but Zafar and his personal family have suffered so much in the modern history of the world. Their sacrifice is
    beyond words, and it is a great trtagedy that the independant India has
    forgotten about him and his descendants. It was only this year that Manmohan Singh,the Sikh Prime ministerof iNDIA paid an over due visit to Burma (Myanamar) to pay homage to the great saint and a great poet.
    He wanted to be buried in Delhi close to his spiritual leader’s grave.He
    called himself ‘Budnaseeb’ in his poetry during the dying days of his life in a prison cell in Rangoon, because he could not get two yards of land
    for burial in his home country,This came from the writing on the wall by a
    a crude pen made of a piece of a bamboo stick, since the lovers of
    Shekspear, Shelly and Wordsworth, those English people took away pen and paper from a poet and an emperor before whose great grand father (Emperor Aurangzeb) the British noblemen had prostrated themselves for dear life not too long ago in the past.They were snakes.
    Queen Victoria was ruthless and so were her british subjects who carried out these brutal heinous acts which are truly crimes against humanity and are worse than what Stalin and Hitler did to people when they had power.Certainly the destruction and death they brought over the people of Delhi the plundering they did all over India, specially the glittering
    capital city of Moghul India, developed and brightened over three centuries by the emperors who built the Taj Mahal and hundreds of magnificient palaces, phenomenol buildings , marble arches, gardens,
    mosques where thousands could pray, One can simply but ask a simple
    question what in the world these English people were doing in the big
    country that is India? The answer is vey simple. They were wretched
    greedy, crooked,dishonest,opportunistic, malicious, barbaric,unhuman,
    ruthless,demons that prayed upon the unsuspecting mild, gentle peace loving , generous Indian people.,The crooked British came to India to do business and over time using all the dirty and filthy characters that they
    possessed, they took over the great country.They are making a big deal of the promise the wily, scheming Captain Hodson gave to the young princeess/queen(Zeenat Mahal) of sparing the life of the octgenarian emperor. Who was this dirty,brutal plotting Hodson ,anyway. Who gave him the authority pass judgment on the acts of a king and his sons who the Britishers were to serve and protect and for which the emperor had given them the authority to collect payments from his subjects. The British were illegal aliens. They were not the citizen of India.and had no rights of citizenship..They had no busines being there in the first place..
    They committed genocide against the Indian people for which they
    should be tried . There is no statue of limitation against crimes against humanity. George washington knew the real British and kicked them out of our country.The crimes of Chengiz Khan and Milosovic and Saddam
    Hussain pale against the holocaust that they brought on the innocent
    Indian people. They made England rich and India filthy poor which was
    looted mecilessly and its paople slaughtered.

    • Christopher
      November 3, 2012

      Wow! Is this guy really angry!! Perhaps he is right. Wasn’t it Sir Winston Churchill who said of India: “They are a filthy people with a filthy religion.”?

      • I
        November 7, 2012

        I stumbled on to the LAST EMEROR OF iNDIA , Bahadur Shah Zafar
        just about a month and a half ago on Google and Yahoo. Prior to that I had some sketchy information bout the events in India at that time and the mutiny. What I found out was one of the most horrible, barbaric, mesochistic unhuman events in the modern times perpetrated by the
        so called most civilized, educated, judicious,consencious and gentle
        and tolerant nation in the world.
        What I found out is the most sadistic, heart wrenching,cruel,mesochistic
        criminal act committed by the British people. These are the same people
        whose ancestors had prostated themselves before Emperor Aurangzeb, the great great grand father of the last Emperor Zafar, begging Mercy and taking oath of loyalty for ever towards his empire and India. They
        were shedding tears of Crocodile and taking advantage of the kind,generous people of India , they slowly but steadily took over the
        power and the immense wealth of the vast land that India is. They played one feudal lord against another, created hate and animosity between
        Hindus , Muslims, Sikhs, Aga khanis AND Christians. Zafar was the
        perfect symbol of Hindu Muslim Unity, as his mother was a Hindu lady.
        Being Christian they violated the religion by spreading hate and not love and tolerance in their quest of looting India to the hilt.
        Not only Delhi was the richest city in the entire world with magnificient buildings, standards but the cities of other princely states were unique in the architectural beauty and language,poetry standard of living, social and cultural interaction between various states.
        They systemically destroyed the cultureof an entire nation.. Emperor
        Zafar was htrown into a stable of his own palace where he was born and lived for eighty four long years. His three children and a grand child was kiloloed in cold blood by one Captain Hudson after they had surrendered
        their arms. Their heads were severed and served on a platter next morning to the sick king in the stable. What kind of human being the English were? They charged him for treason and mutiny.In fact they
        were in charge of protecting his Castle. which was the only place left
        in his control. The British were in control of the entire India. They were
        sadistic, They sent most of his relatives and the members of his court including poets and writers to the island of Andaman and Nicobar in the Bay of Bengal that was barren except for aboriginees who were cannibals. Most of the deprotees were eaten up by the natives.
        They turned the richest land in the world to starving nation. They were
        demoralized and weak. It took a lawyer from South Africa(Mahatma Gandhi) to come to India and release them from bounds of slavery.
        Gandhi gave up all the favncy suits he had purchased in England to
        prqactice law in South Africa. He wore only the white sheet of cloth that a poor Indian worker wears. Winston Churchill called him a ‘ fakir’.
        I really don’t blame Churchill, for he was born and raised in a family of aristocrats. He did not realize what his ancestors had done to a
        kind and unsuspecting Indian nation in the past. Churchill and the rest
        of him were raised in luxury and comfort of treaures, money and wealth from India and also from some other countries that his ancestors looted over the centuries. He was not correct in saying that India had only one ‘filthy’ religion. He knew very well or should have known about Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Buddists India. H e only knew how to use poor hapless Indian nation to suipport his war against the
        Nazis with their flesh and money of what ever was left.
        You can call him a great war leader considering this angle. .But the
        Nazis would have been too happy to throw him in the hallowed halls
        of Auschwitz if it wasn’t for our president Roosevelt and the great
        general Eisenhower who came to his king’s rescue. Hitler knew what
        the British had done to the Indian people.

  8. J Kapur
    November 7, 2012

    I was searching thru some of my late grandfathers albums and came across a family tree. When I came across the name of “Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar” I thought it was a nickname or joke, but my grandfather wasn’t the joking type. I am also first generation american and didn’t know about Indian history. So imagine my surprise to find out that I am possible a desendant of an emperor. I would like to research the validity of my family tree, but being the story that the emperor disowned his son (whom I descend from) for converting to christianity I doubt there would be many records, so I am hoping by reaching out to various resources someone would be able to help me. Many thanks for your time, even if you can point me I’m the right direction.

    • ASFC
      November 7, 2012

      Thank you for your comment. Perhaps you can attempt to get in touch with Yakub Ziauddin Tucy, who is titled by an Indian court as a Prince and legal heir of Bahadur Shah Zafar II. When I was in Hyderabad, I met him briefly in 2011. I attempted to find a website for him, but was unable to. He lives in Hyderabad, and has a travel agency and a tours company.

  9. Christopher Fox-Walker BA(Hons)
    November 8, 2012

    “committed by the British people”. I doubt it. In those days India was administered from Westminster and the East India Company which was employed by the Mugha dynasty. The ordinary people of Britain would have known nothing about India other than what they were given through the British Press – and that would have been very little. Only about 5% of the population had any direct contact with India.

    “He [Churchill] did not realize what his ancestors had done.” This is nonsense and just not true. Churchill knew his history but had no interest whatsoever in the religons of India. He knew exactly what had happened in the so-called “Indian Mutiny. He did say: “They are a filthy people with a filthy religion”. This was a politician’s view of the world as he saw it. At this level of diplomacy there is a different order of morality and ethics operating.

    The idea that WWII was “Churchill’s War” is really pushing historical fantasy to the point of laughable absurdity.

    It is a fact of history that for the first time in the history of India, Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus worked and lived together in harmony in the Indian Army which was one of the most magnificent armies ever created. Field Marshall Auchinleck had the greatest difficulty in preventing his officers, Indian and British, from mutinying when the British government quite India in 1947.

    Very few people held the view held by Sir Winston Churchill. When the late Enoch Powell MP MBE was in India as an officer in military intelligence, he wrote this about India: ” I fell helplessly and hopelessly in love with India and I hoped to leave my bones there”.

    The ordinary working-class people of Britain were deeply distraught when Gandhi was murdered by his own people.

    The writer of this emotional, immature and untutored outburst on British and Indian history might benefit from reading Dalrymple. It is a 300 hundred-year history describing the involvement of Britain from the time of Elizabeth I and the early merchant adventurers who settled in India and became know as “White Hindus”.

    On a personal and parochial level one of my oldest friends is a Sikh and my wife and I were almost adopted when we helped, in a small way, an Hindu family who had been deported by Idi Amin.

    In my past life, I am retired, whilst filming in Amritar at the Golden Temple my late Director, a man of immense erudition, held deep discussions with religous leaders. They made him an Honorary Sikh, gave him the name of Surgit Singh and presented him with a ceremonial Sikh sword; which hangs on wall in my home.


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