By Naveed Tajammal
After the Conquest of the Sikh Kingdom, in 1849 the region was designated in records as Punjab, Though the British had taken over Lahore Takht [throne] by February 1846, when they rode in and took over the Lahore Fort, as the chaotic rule after the death of Ranjit Singh 1839 had continued, followed by revolt of Mul Raj, 1848, the Dewan [Administrator] of Multan suba [province],which was the final take over. In the train of British came the Purbi Bengal Army, as records show the composition of British East Indian Army till 1856, was as under;
[Report of Commissioners.1859, Vol.v-p-377]
Bengal Army, had Crown and Company British troops numbering,24,594,the native high caste Brahmans and Rajputs were 137,109,The Madras Army,had,10,352 British troops and 33,201 native troops mainly purbi, of above Hindu castes, Bombay Army had,10,158 British and 44,911 native troops, total being 45,104 British and 234,221 native; total Force of 280,325 men.
Only in the upper Indus region after formation of this new Punjab geographic entity and inclusive of Trans-Indus, Peshawar and Derajat Divisions, there were 36,000 Bengali Army purbi’s infesting the Region, As well as 13,430 local levies of irregular troops, guarding frontiers or ferry points. The Bengal Army was stationed in newly formed cantonments in the each new, to be Administrative District. The result was that from 1846 onward a massive influx of Hindustani purbi, in thousands came, with British and the Bengal Army, purbi syces [grooms tending horses],grass cutters to feed the, animals of Animal transport regiments, Artillery drivers of the bullocks, camp-followers, bazar people and domestic help, all were tried and tested Hindustani, purbi’s, loyal to the British till then and so came the Bengali Babu’s and scribes, ever ready to squeeze and wring the poor and earn on, the side, while the sun shone upon them, it was on their instigation that Urdu was imposed on us. And soon all lucrative offices in all Government departments were filled by them. Only in Lahore Division of the six native extra assistants in the division 5 were purbi’s of 19 Tehsildars and 47 Kotwals and 47 Thanadars, half were purbi Hindustani’s, by 1857[Mutiny Reports vol. lll LHR div p-227],the same proportion existed at lower tehsil/Thannah/Mohurir levels in the Saddar offices,the desk jobs of Serishtedars, Nazirs and Mohurrirs, orderly Jemadars and even Chaprrassai’s [peons] were filled by The one and only Purbi Hindustani.
In short after 1846, and fully after 1849, the whole region was the Gold mine of the Hindustani, whose rapacious revenue collection tactics surpassed that of even the plundering Sikh of the former times. During the mutiny period of the Bengal Army the troops had been by and large contained and put under guard. However the dismissal of Hindustani within the statecraft could not be implemented, as no substitutes could be arranged on such a short notice, as all rungs on the ladder on the lower executive side were with the purbi, who continued harassing and looting the Public at large in the mayhem. Followed by the Hindu Khatri grain merchants who also acted as the money lenders, the major cause why Indus Army took on the Bengali Army revolt of 1857.
John Lawrence, had taken remedial measures, firstly he secured all major strategic installations, Lahore, fort and Arsenal, Ferozepur likewise, which had 7,000 barrels of Gun powder, and also Forts of Phillour and Govindgarh. All Bengal army units were disarmed and those found guilty were hung.
By middle of 1857 it was fully established that Indus region had No sympathy with those of Purab. So between May-December 1857, 18 new regiments were raised numbering 34,000 men, as well irregular levies of 7,000 horsemen and 9,000 men on foot, to keep watch and ward on the Bengali purbi army men under close arrest. The Hindu Brahmans ruse of taking over the British Indian Empire and introducing their Hindutva rule was cut in the bud, but for timely intervention of Indus Army.
The crux of Indus regions hatred for the Hindustani was not just the scornful attitude of Bengal Army, but the greed of those employed in the lower echelons of the British Statecraft. They were the instigators, fermenters of sedition, prime movers, and their emissaries were pundits of mandhirs [Hindu temples] who had sung the patriotic lullaby to achieve their ultimate end to rule, and used the Muslims of their Hindustan as scapegoats, and were first to, redeem and rejoin the British fold and flourished the most.