The launching of
missiles by the most powerful State in the world against the civilian populations of the
poorest and weakest State in the world shows an updated version of what used to be called
gun boat diplomacy. An example of the more things change the more they
are the same.
Only the White nations (the United States and
the United Kingdom) have ever used the Atom Bomb, and that also only against a coloured
nation, the Japanese. And this despite the fact that the most honest practitioners of the
colour bar, the Apartheid law-governed South Africans had accorded white
status to the Japs!
We know goondas and dadas who carry arms in
their locality and make sure no one else has them so that they can exact their illegal
extortions without let or hindrance.The nuclear powers are behaving like a
mafia gang under the leadership of a sex scandal-stained US President.
This kind of situation, throughout the history,
has driven the weak to violence. Perhaps we can go back a 100 years in Indian history and
see how the disarmed and enslaved Indians were brutalised until they had no alternative to
adopting the cult of the bomb.
Itihaas has to address the problem because a
date in history sacred to the martyrdom of the first practitioner of the cult of the bomb
came and went this year without the slightest stir. There was no celebration or festivity.
No wonder we have a people with inadequate self esteem.
The Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party
ruling Maharashtra and the Centre talk about swadeshi. Is it with a feringhee
accent? Its not. Why do they forget those martyrs whose sacrifice gave them the
power, the pelf and the pomp they flaunt as ministers and as extra-constitutional
authority/remote control Chief Minister?
The date April 18, 1898 saw Damodar (Hari)
Chapekar hanged. It was 6.40 am and the location was Yerwada Central Jail. What was the
background? How was an idealistic young man driven to despair?First let us see the charges
against the condemned man.
When arrested he stated that he had taken steps
to curb the enthusiasm of some prominent members of the Reforms Party by
carrying out assaults on those who attacked Bal Gangadhar Tilak in their toady papers,
such as Gadgil, editor of the Sudharak and the other such editor, Kulkarni.
One, besmirching the statue of Queen Empress
Victoria with tar and placing a garland of shoes round her neck. Two, destroying the
structures (mandaps) erected for holding examinations for matriculation in Bombay and for
the entertainment of government officials in Poona (Pune).
The climax of the anti-government anti-British
activities had occurred on June 22, 1897. The revolutionaries read the programme of
Jubilee Day (Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria Kaiser-i-Hind or Empress of India) in the
They were looking for an official called Rand
who had established a reputation for brutality that was to be equalled by Dyer at
Jallianwala Bagh in 1919 and Nethersole aided by J S Lal in Ballia in 1942. After some
difficulty, Rand was spotted in St Marys Church.
However, this crowded place was inappropriate
for the action contemplated.The conspirators next moved to Government house. There Rand
was expected to attend the gala function planned for celebrating the Jubilee.
He had, on that very day, July 22, 1897,
received a written warning from Chapekar stating You will be killed today.In
his contempt for Indians Rand ignored the warning. At 11.30 pm, Damodar took position at
the main gate of Government House. Balakrishna Chapekar was stationed a little further
down the road.
The arms the brothers carried were pistols and
swords. Pistols concealed under their clothes and swords wrapped in an old pugree or
turban link. The face of each European coming down the road was carefully scanned. When
Rand was spotted, Damodar followed his carriage.
As they came opposite the house of Jamshedjee
Jeejeebhoy, Balakrishna shouted the signal for action Narya Narya. Damodar
climbed the step of the back of the carriage, undid the flap of the blind and inserting
his pistol into the opening, fired at almost point blank range into Rands back. The
accompanying carriage belonged to the Ayersts.
As they heard the shot fired by Damodar, a man
climbed into their carriage. Mrs Ayersts was mentioning the matter to her husband when the
report of the pistol was repeated by Ranade firing into the carriage from behind and her
husband fell down dead in her arms.Rand expired on July 3, 1897 at 3.18 am.
As violence of this kind can only arise from
great and sustained hatred, readers should know why Rand or the Brits aroused such strong
feelings as to be targeted and killed along with their comprador Indians although the
killers had no hope of escape.
In September 1894, 13 most prominent Indians had
been sent to jail by Rand as District Magistrate. They were all worthy and respectable
citizens. Three were bankers, one a chairman of the Municipal Committee, Satara.
All were charged for playing musical instruments
in violation of the arbitrary orders of the District Magistrate. There were no
disturbances, no heads or hands had been broken.Rands judgement included the
following: It is nonetheless clear to me that as these men are of respected high
caste families (Brahmin).
They will feel more than others the degradation
and inconvenience of imprisonment. I do not, therefore, consider a fine adequate and come
to the conclusion that a short term of imprisonment will meet all requirement adequately.
Rand indulged his sadistic and brutal fancies in
the name of curbing the plague outbreak of 1897.A local daily reports: One area,
Budhawar Peth and a part of Shukravar Peth were surrounded by 200 cavalry and 100
Another newspaper provided the details:
Men, women and children were marched off to the (segregation) camps with guard at
back and front bareheaded, barefooted as if they were a pack of lawless bandits.Men
preferred death and drowning to removal to the plague hospital.
One of the methods of searching is recorded:
The men were completely stripped in the presence of others and made to wait in this
condition for sometime women were asked to undo their bodices (cholis) and to hold
up their wearing apparel while they were examined.Amrita Bazar Patrika reported on
April 24, 1897:
Several people are taken to hospital as
suspected of secretly developing (concealing) plague symptoms. Their relations are
immediately packed off to segregation camp, the bedding and clothes burnt, the houses
whitewashed and fumigated.
After being subjected to all these rigours which
the plague laws imposed, it was often found that the people had been hospitalised without
cause. They were then discharged as cured but their relations remain incarcerated in
segregation camps.Tilaks protest earned him the hostility of the British
He said:It is a matter of hurt and shame
that when the government becomes oppressive the people have no power or ability to punish
it.Readers should remember that it was an offence (under the Arms Act) to carry a
knife with a blade longer than four inches.
No wonder the desperate and brutalised Indians
took to the bomb.The whites have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing in the century
between 1898 and 1998. The arrogant Madeline Albright and the lying in the throat, Bill
Clinton should ponder the facts of history before proceeding further down the calamitous