Sunday, May 10, 2015

History of the *Bijnor* Rebellion chapter 2

Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan's
History of the *Bijnor* Rebellion (1858)

CHAPTER II -- Transfer of Power to Nawab Mahmud Khan
 1) Rejection of Administration by the Chaudhris
At the time there was no way out except to hand over the District to that wretch Mahmud Khan, but our Collector, considering the need for prudence and perhaps for the sake of some indirect advantage, asked Chaudhri Randhir Singh, Rais of Haldaur, and Chaudhri Pratab Singh, Rais of Tajpur, if they would be able to carry on the administration. They had to admit their incapacity for this task. In truth, it was impossible that the people of the District would accept as their ruler anyone other than Nawab Mahmud Khan. In the presence of the Collector, I had asked Chaudhri Randhir Singh if it was possible to assure that the English officers would be safe when the rebel battalion passed through the District. He had to acknowledge that it would be impossible to arrange this matter. In short, all these affairs were settled by two o'clock in the morning. The Collector and Mr. George Palmer also prepared to leave.
I cannot give adequate praise to the civility and morality of the Collector, who had such regard for the care of each one of his dependents. It was such a delicate situation; yet he took all the Christian men, women, and children. He also asked what we would do: we reported that we too would flee. The Deputy's family and servants had all already gone to Haldaur. Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar's family, servants, and very small sons and girls were all in Bijnor. The Collector told Sayyid Turab Ali that he regarded them as his own, since their safety was as dear to him as his own, and that if the idea of sending his wife and children was acceptable, he was ready to take them all. But this matter was very difficult. We reported that, in fact, the dependants of Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar would all go to Kotlah and find safety from there. We could not find words to show our gratitude for the care and attention which had been shown to us. Taking the Collector's leave, Sayyid Turab Ali and myself brought out the baggage for the departure of the women and children. I informed Mahmud Khan that all the English officers were leaving. "Do all you can," I said, "to protect them, since the Collector, after crossing the river, intends to report to Government that this entire District should be conferred on you. Let there be no disorder," I pleaded. These diplomatic remarks pleased Mahmud Khan, and gave me confidence that there would now be no violence at all. Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar and I came to the civil station; and immediately after supervising the mounting of the women and children and bringing them near the compound of the Collector, we stopped and presented ourselves to him at three o'clock. We asked the officers in charge of the sowars to permit a detachment to serve as escorts. Our words left them silent, but Qutb ud-din Risaldar, who had come from Bareilly with the new sowars and had not yet became close to Mahmud Khan, was ready for this escort duty. Bahadur Ali Jamadar and three or four veteran sowars were got ready. All the elephants were prepared; the sowars also being ready, they reported for duty at the residence. The Collector sent Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar to summon Mahmud Khan. The Collector said: "I am going; I turn over the District to you. Administer it well. Make use of our clerks and look after them." Mahmud Khan then asked for a letter, which I then wrote at the request of the Collector. There is no copy extant, but I am writing what I remember in the hope that there will not even be a difference of wording.
2) Letter to Mahmud Khan on Handing Over the District
Contents of letter for Mahmud Khan from the Collector inscribed in the night between June 6 - 7:
Since the administration is, in fact, entrusted to you for as long as the Government may wish, you must administer it well and must also effectively protect the personal properties of the Collector and the Joint Magistrate that are in the residence, and all the property, effects, and government offices. Dated June 7, 1857.
3) Details of Money and Government Property in the Treasury at the Time of Writing, as follows: 
(At the Time of Writing, the Account Detailed Below Included the Rupees Present in the Treasury and the Well.)

96,09924Treasury Balance including June 7, 1857
2,200----Dispensaries, Nagina and Najibabad
2,500----Salaries of Mofussil Clerks
593----Income of jail factory
150----Overseer of Scales
6,797111Cashier's Account
Stamps and Opium
Rupees AnnasPice
38,000----Stamp Paper
350----Postage Stamps
3,960----Opium for Government Purchase Account
3,960----For Price Increase in the Market Rate for Opium Sales
4) Departure of the Officers from Bijnor
This letter was given to Mahmud Khan after it was signed. The wretch took it and came out. The Collector then said his farewell; for our part we expressed sadness at this separation. They all came out to the veranda a short while later in order to mount their animals. The Collector and the Joint Magistrate, speaking most kindly, gave me and Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar permission to leave them so that we might collect our women for our own departure. After we left, the Collector and all the officers mounted and took their leave; the Deputy left for Haldaur with Chaudhri Randhir Singh of Haldaur. Understand this fact: all the disloyal veteran sowars [horsemen], along with Bahadur Ali Jamadar, fled from the bank of the Ganges toward Mahmud Khan; the new sowars remained until they reached Roorkee, where they were tried by court martial. Their lives were spared by the favor of the Collector. Mahmud Khan did not even allow the sun to rise properly before he proclaimed himself Nawab by beat of drum in Bijnor with these words: "The People belong to God; the Country belongs to the King; and Authority belongs to Nawab Mahmud Khan."
5) Background of the Family of Mahmud Khan
It is proper at this stage to relate something of the story of Mahmud Khan's family. Mahmud Khan is the grandson of Najib Khan, who in the reign of Ahmad Shah [1748] was employed by Dunde Khan to collect revenue on the latter's behalf in Pargana Daranagar, now included in Bijnor District. He married the daughter of Dunde Khan, thereupon becaming the permanent master of that country and obtaining access to the King's Court.
When Aziz ud-Din Alamgir the Second came to the throne [1753], Najib Khan killed Jit Singh the brigand and extended his sway across the Ganges to add to his country some land that is now located in Saharanpur District. The King's Court conferred on him the title Najib ud-Daulah Amir ul-Umara etc., Hero of the Realm and Lord of Lords. He built the fort of Patthargarh in 1755, and also founded Najibabad.
When Najib ud-Daulah died in 1770, Najib Khan's son Zabita Khan succeeded him. In 1774 Shuja ud-Daulah [1754-75, the Nawab of Awadh] of Lucknow ejected Zabita Khan from this region on account of his failure to meet the money payments due the Marathas to whom Shuja ud-Daulah was himself accountable. On the recommendation of Nawab Abdul Ahad, Zabita Khan obtained the Imperial grant for Bawani Saharanpur in 1776; he elected to live at Ghausgarh.
His son Ghulam Qadir Khan took over after Zabita Khan's death. It was he who blinded Shah Alam [1759-1806]. Maharaja Patel arrested him after a struggle for this crime. After imprisoning him in an iron cage, the Maharaja had him executed by dismemberment. The brother of Ghulam Qadir -- Mu'in ud-din Khan, called Bhambu Khan -- went away to the Punjab.
After its conquest of the districts of Delhi, the English Government summoned Bhambu Khan and showed great consideration to him. He was given a monthly pension of Rupees 5,000 and ordered to live in Bareilly. As a result of Mr. Colebrooke's report he settled in Najibabad in 1812. Upon his death the English Government, on compassionate grounds, fixed monthly pensions of Rupees 1,000 for his sons, Mahmud Khan and Jalal ud-Din Khan, and for his daughters. In addition there was granted to each person of the family a most honorable position, so that they could pass their days with perfect dignity. When a spurious Ghulam Qadir Khan came to Akbar Shah's [1806-37] Court in Delhi [183l], Bhambu Khan obtained access to the King and secured titles for his sons. The family tree of this disloyal family is set down at this place in my account.
5) Nawab Mahmud Khan's Genealogical Table
Namdar Khan
Qalandar Khan
Inayat Khan
Basharat Khan
Asalat Khan
Najib Khan
Zabita Khan
Bhanbu Khan
Mahmud Khan
Ghazanafar Ali Khan, Mu'zzam Ali Khan, and a daughter
6) The coming to Bijnor of the Deputy Collector, Sadr Amin, and Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar; and their meeting with Mahmud Khan
After we left for Kotlah we met many groups of soldiers coming from Najibabad to Bijnor. In Kotlah itself we met Shafi Allah Khan, nephew of Mahmud Khan; he was also enroute to Bijnor from Najibabad, a fact which confirms all aspects of this nocturnal plot. We stayed a few days in Kotlah. There we wrestled with the questions of where to go and by what means. Orders from Mahmud Khan were constantly being sent to us. In the end, sowars came to take us to Bijnor. Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar's family set out for Nagina; the Deputy, who was also summoned, came to Bijnor from Haldaur. We all met Mahmud Khan but did not give the presents which he expected./1/ After a short while, he dismissed us with the statement that we should continue to do our work as before. We saw in Bijnor that Ram Sarup was very much in the ascendency, and that rebel soldiers were continually being taken into the Nawab's employ through him; their employment had begun from about June 9 or 10.
7) Appointment of Azmat Allah Khan as Deputy, Ahmad Allah Khan as Deputy Collector, Kalan Khan as Commander, and Habib Allah as Paymaster
Mahmud Khan inaugurated a new administration on the next day. He appointed Azmat Allah Khan, munsif of Thakur Dwara, as his Deputy, and Ahmad Allah Khan, Tahsildar at Najibabad, as Deputy Collector and Joint Magistrate. However, Ahmad Khan maneuvered himself so well that he dominated the Nawab to such a degree that he controlled the land revenue and the court. In truth, the Nawab was just a half-blind goat in his hands. Orders were issued to take sowars and foot-soldiers into service. The old office holders of the family were appointed to fill their old posts. Ahmad Yar Khan, called Kalan Khan, was named Commander-in-Chief of the Army; Habib Allah Khan became its Paymaster. I was becoming alarmed as I studied this situation, particularly as the Nawab used to flare up in anger at whoever mentioned the name of the British officers in his presence.
8) What Strategy Did the Sadr Amin and the Tahsildar Plan?
When the Nawab ordered that we were each to carry on just as before, the three of us -- that is, myself, Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar, and Pandit Radha Kishan, Deputy Inspector [of schools] -- took counsel together as a group. We constituted ourselves as a committee and decided that none of us would carry out an assignment until the committee itself had agreed. With respect to our work at this stage, it was decided that Mir Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar of Bijnor should implement only those orders of the Nawab that were of an urgent nature; he was to allow all the others to lie in suspense. Land revenue arrears would also not be collected, except for just those funds needed to pay the subordinate employees of the revenue court and the police station. Consequently, this was done; through Bakhshi Ram Tahsildar, who was also well disposed toward the English and shared our secrets, all those who came to pay land revenue were ordered not to pay their money. The delay in submitting the revenue receipts annoyed the Nawab, who began to send urgent orders in coarse language. In the administration of civil law it was decided that I, as Sadr Amin, should carry on with urgent business to the extent possible, as if I were still under English authority and free from any connection with the Nawab. I acted accordingly. I continued to issue written instructions in open court that such and such matters that were fit to be transmitted to the Judge should be sent on to him. The advantage of this was that the people understood by this procedure that English control remained as before; the Nawab of course found it all most irksome. His enmity toward me was becoming more and more intense, while we for our part were adjusting our actions to the thought that our superiors would certainly be returning to the District very soon.
9) News Spreads of the Coming to Bijnor of the Rebel Army; Mahmud Khan Plots with Them
Mahmud Khan was most anxious to enter into a plot with the disloyal rebel army stationed in Moradabad. Rumors of their coming nearer to Bijnor grew with each passing day. Letters were also coming with news about their impending departure in our direction. With this eventuality in mind Mahmud Khan dispatched to Dhampur Ram Sarup, Jamadar of the jail, and Masa'ib Ali, Dafadar [officer] of the sowars, together with some of his trusted men. He also sent letters to Moradabad to inform the rebel army that it would be useless for them to come to Bijnor, as the British had left and taken all the treasure with them. However, Mahmud Khan added, if they wanted to come to Bijnor to enter his service, then they would be most welcome. On receiving this information, the rebels put off coming to Bijnor; and Ram Sarup and the others came back from Dhampur. Mahmud Khan learned a short time later, by some means or other, that the rebel army intended to cross the Ganges at Daranagar Ghat. He therefore addressed orders to the tahsildars for the collection of rations, and issued other orders to the taluqdars to send their supplies of rations in to him. I insert here a copy of the written command sent on this subject to Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur.
10) Copy of the Warrant Signed by Mahmud Khan
Illustrious and worthy friend Chaudhri Partab Singh, Rais of Tajpur:
Peace be on you. Upon learning of the coming of the Moradabad batallion, orders have been issued to the tahsildars of Chandpur and Dhanpur etc. in the matter of arranging for and assembling rations at the camping ground of the army. You are therefore being addressed so that, to the extent possible, you also may be of assistance to them in this matter of arranging and providing rations, etc. Regard this as urgent. Dated June 17, 1857.
11) Dismissal of Maulvi Qadir Ali as Tahsildar of NaginaA great many of his relatives gathered around Mahmud Khan at this time. Two thoughts were uppermost in his mind: the need to provide for these relatives, and his awareness that certain superior officials in the administration would not suit his purposes because of their pro-British leanings. For these reasons, he first dismissed Maulvi Qadir Ali, Tahsildar of Nagina, on June 17, 1857, and appointed in his place Abdullah Khan, who had been a subordinate employee in Tahsil Kashipur, Moradabad District. When Maulvi Qadir Ali came to Bijnor after this dismissal, the Nawab payed no attention to him. For his part; the Nawab regarded the dismissal as actually being a blessing; he appreciated the advantages of being removed from these misfortunes. Herewith is an exact copy of this dismissal order as signed by Nawab Mahmud Khan:
Illustrious and worthy Maulvi Abdul Qadir Ali Tahsildar of Nagina.
May you be well. For administrative reasons your presence at our Court is indispensable. You are accordingly informed by order today that you are to turn over your responsibilities to dear and respected brother Muhammad Abd Allah Khan. Do not feel depressed since the court will call you for official duties.
Dated June 17, 1857.
12) Consultation of Mahmud Khan with the Sadr Amin, and the Latter's RefusalMahmud Khan called me, the Sadr Amin, during the night of this same June 17. Mahmud Khan and Ahmad Allah Khan, who was also present, told me the following in confidence: "We want you to join us and to take an oath to confirm your acceptance. Regard the estate of your choice as your property for generations to come. Take our oath, and we will establish this estate for you forever." At first I was very frightened about what to say in reply. After an interval of thought, I became convinced that a straightforward and honest statement was always for the best. I stated humbly: "Nawab Sahib! I can certainly take an oath that I will be your well-wisher and that I will not be ill-disposed toward you. However, I cannot join with you if you aim to seize more land or fight against the English." I said: "By God! Nawab Sahib, I speak in your best interest! Remove this thought from your mind. The authority of the English officers will never go. Imagine, if you will, what would happen if the English left all of Hindustan. Except for the English authorities, no one else can rule in Hindustan. Don't renounce your allegiance to them," I said. "If the British should indeed leave, as you think, you would still remain a Nawab. No one can snatch this from you. And if my view turns out to be correct, you will then be a well-wisher whom the Government will favor and promote. If you want me to share in your administration, ask permission.of the Collector and promise at the same time that you will do nothing without first obtaining his approval." If Mahmud Khan had been wise he would have grasped that this advice served his best interests. However, his basic inclination was evil, and he became angry at my words and dismissed me with a frown.
Because we would not give up our pro-English attitude, Mahmud Khan became dead set in his enmity against us. Additional excesses were committed against us. My living quarters were taken away by force and given to his own military officers. These officers took for themselves the effects belonging to me that were locked up in my house. Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar lost his horse when a detachment of thirty soldiers took it away by force. They were determined to harass us at every turn. We kept asking ourselves every minute of the day how we might escape from the Nawab's grip, but this was impossible.
The Collector had not yet left Bijnor when the pioneer troops suddenly wanted to rebel at their jungle station under Captain Reid. Mr. Eastman the ear doctor, his wife, and Mr. Burton Sergeant therefore came as a party to Najibabad, where they were put up in the private residence of Mahmud Khan. A troop of sowars came from Roorkee and took the two officers and their wives safely back with them.
13) Sending of the Treasure to Najibabad, the Treasurer under Guard, and Chaudhri Nain Singh's Resistance to the Nawab
Ahmad Allah Khan began at this time to take out the balance of the official treasure from its hiding place in the well; he sent a part of this treasure to Najibabad. Now Mahmud Khan began to harry and oppose each of the landlords. He sent Sawa'i Singh Jat with a large detachment to the house of Jamiyat Singh Brahman, Rais of Bijnor, to search for a lady called Panna Pathar. He also called Chaudhri Jodh Singh, Rais of Bijnor, who held on deposit the effects of Mr. Lemaistre, to come to him. For this reason, and also because some person had disclosed that the treasury held on deposit a box of gold coins and jewelry that belonged to Mr. George Palmer, Banke Rai, Treasurer of Bijnor, sent some of his own property on the sly to Haldaur. Ram Sarup Jamadar and several rebel soldiers who had been enlisted by him were posted at Banke Rai's place on June 21; there Ram Sarup harassed him and his brother, Biharilal, a great deal, taking some of their money.
From the start of these events, Chaudhri Nain Singh and Chaudhri Jodh Singh, Rais of Bijnor, determined to oppose the Nawab. They gathered men from the villages; thousands of villagers gathered in Bijnor. The Nawab wanted to pacify the Chaudhris. They both came to the Nawab's residence one evening to discuss the settlement, but this meeting did not take place. After their departure from the residence, the two Chaudhris came to the tahsil to tell Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar and myself that they proposed to fight the Nawab and unseat him. We replied that we could not give any advice in this matter, since we did not know the views of the English authorities. "Do whatever you think proper, but reflect," we added, "that all the belongings of the Collector and the Joint Magistrate, together with the official treasure and officers, are still on hand. If some misfortune," we said, "should befall this property, the English authorities would certainly be displeased."
14) Arrival of Munir Khan Jihadi; Talks between the Nawab and the Chaudhris
This emergency had not yet arisen when one Munir Khan, a resident of Kanjpura, suddenly came to Bijnor from Nagina; he came as a jihadi [a reiigious warrior] leading a party of 400 men. Upon receiving word of the trouble, Ahmad Allah Khan, who had gone to Najibabad, came to Bijnor. Ahmad Yar Khan alias Kalan Khan, Commander-in-Chief, and Nadir Shah Khan Risaldar, on leave from the Multan Regiment which had come to Bijnor, intervened and brought peace between the Chaudhris and the Nawab. On June 23, 1857 Ahmad Allah Khan and the two Chaudhris came to the Cutcherry [Court] for a long discussion. Afterwards peace prevailed. The two Chaudhris swore by Ganges water that they would obey the Nawab; Ahmad Allah Khan put a seal on the Qur'an that he would not mistreat the Chaudhris. For their part, Mahmud Khan and Ahmad Allah Khan put a seal on the Qur'an at the Residence, which they then handed over. Thus there was peace between the two sides. It was agreed on June 24, 1857 to take Rs. 4,000 from Banke Rai, Treasurer, together with the box belonging to Mr. George Palmer, which had been left in trust. At the same time, the guard was lifted from the house of the treasurer.
15) Harassment of the Sadr Amin, the Deputy Collector, the Tahsildar, and the Deputy Inspector by Munir Khan
Munir Khan Jihadi stirred up a big commotion in Bijnor. He accused us ­- the Sadr Amin, Rahmat Khan Sahib the Deputy Collector, and Sayyid Turab Ali Tahsildar -- of being intimates of the English, of helping them to depart in safety from Bijnor, and of plotting and maintaining active correspondence with them. Therefore, we "deserved" to be executed. In truth, we were secretly corresponding with Mr. John Currie Crawford Wilson. In this effort to do us harm there can, of course, be no doubt about the Nawab's also being implicated. Our death at the hands of the Jihadis would be a nice tactical move for him, since it would serve to keep his own name clear yet at the same time promote his basic aims. Pandit Radha Kishan, the Deputy Inspector, also had to face the further accusation that he had been guilty of the crime of traveling to each center of the District in order to set up Christian schools. In brief, Munir Khan went to such extremes against us that we received a most ominous summons to attend on him "or else."
We were in special difficulty at that time because some of our own messengers at the tahsil had turned against us to side with the Jihadis. In this helpless predicament there was no alternative but to call on him. He opened an exchange with us about the "Jihad question." I told him that what we were witnessing was not a Jihad in the light of Islamic Law. We left at the conclusion of a dialogue in this vein. The next day Munir Khan went to take up the same "Jihad question" in an interview with the aforesaid Maulvi Alim Allah, Rais of Bijnor. On inquiry, we learned that the Maulvi had spoken up bravely and offered many arguments to prove that it was not a Jihad in the light of religion. In the tumult that followed, Munir Khan's comrades wanted to cut Maulvi Alim Allah down with their swords, but people intervened to save him. After this interview, Munir Khan and his comrades -- excepting those few who had abandoned his cause -- left the next day for Delhi, where they were killed in the conflict.
16) Dispatch of the Treasury and English Officers' Effects to Najibabad; A Petition to the King
Ahmad Allah Khan then took some money from the treasury and employed many people. He forwarded to Najibabad the effects of the English officers, doctor, and clerks. He opened the official mail that had been received since June 17. Depending upon his whim, he destroyed some letters; others he permitted to be delivered to the addresses. There was such obstruction that dispatch of postal mail ended in Bijnor on June 22.
At this time a commotion arose, on arrival of news that Khan Bahadur Khan had obtained an order from Delhi giving his jurisdiction over the entire country of Kathar. Mahmud Khan was upset because Bijnor might be counted as part of the Kathar country. After consultation, it was proposed to send a draft petition to the King in Delhi to request that the District should be conferred upon Mahmud Khan by name. A draft was prepared which was to be taken to Delhi by Amdu Khan.
17) Ahmad Allah Khan's Tour, and Amdu Khan's Departure for Delhi With a Petition
Ahmad Allah Khan decided to go on tour after this petition had been drafted. The main object of this tour was to set up his administration and to collect money. He marched out of Bijnor on July 10, 1857 toward Najibabad; on July 13, Amdu Khan set out for Delhi to take the petition marked for the King of Delhi. On this very day Ahmad Allah Khan came to Najibabad from Nagina; from there he reached Dhampur on the 14th. The purpose of this departure from Nagina was to make use of his judicial powers in order to inflict a fine that would allow him to pocket the 1akhs [hundreds of thousands] of wealth that Imam Bakhsh alias Mareh, a blackguard of Sherkot, had been stealing all along from Rup Chand Mahajan. For his part Mareh had prepared his war supplies and gathered his men. He stayed in Sherkot, on the alert to resist Ahmad Allah Khan. As a consequence, the latter tarried for several days in Dhampur.
18) Background of Mareh
Mareh, a Shaikh by social class, was a confirmed bad character. Half the town of Sherkot was formerly in the zamindari of his forefathers. For this reason, he had been called the "big Chaudhri." However, over the years he had become quite indigent and a blackguard besides. Chaudhri Partab Singh used to give his mother Rs. 150 a month. In March 1855, Mareh was sentenced to a year in jail, on a charge of bad behavior, at the sessions of Mr. Charles John Wingfield.
19) Change in English Weights, and Making of New Weights with the Words "Royal Seal"
After Mahmud Khan had sent the petition to the King of Delhi, he developed an obsession of displaying at least some signs of royal rule, and of wiping out the chief symbols of the Government's authority. On July 18, therefore, he decided to end circulation of the 80 rupees' weight seer that was current by orders of the English Government, and replace it by the old seer measure at the weight of 100 rupees. The words "royal seal" were to be stamped on the new seers. Orders were issued to carry out this change. The new seer weight was also prepared infrequently in scattered places in the tahsil of Najibabad and Nagina. However, this order was never carried out in Bijnor during the administration of Sayyid Turab Ali, though it was carried out afterwards even there.
20) Meeting of Ahmad Allah Khan with Mareh to Settle Differences
All the Hindus and Muslims united to support Ahmad Allah Khan after he reached Dhampur. The Chaudhris of Sherkot also gave every evidence of their submission to the authority of Ahmad Allah Khan. On their coming to Dhampur on July 19, 1857, these Chaudhris met Ahmad Allah Khan in order to pay their respects to him. The landlords of Sherkot also cooperated with Ahmad Allah Khan. Each one of them was deeply concerned to ward off the anticipated danger from Mareh. At this time, however, Mareh was by no means weaker than Ahmad Allah Khan, and so the latter wanted to make peace with him. Towards this end, he threw his most reliable allies into the breach. For Ahmad Allah Khan, the big advantage of this tactic was to place at his disposal in the District a confirmed bad character, who could be a very good and energetic tool to do all kinds of mischief.
And so this strategy of his was set afoot, and Mareh agreed to peace. On July 22, 1857, riding an elephant, he came with full honors to Dhampur, where he paid his respects to Ahmad Allah Khan. He presented four gold coins and some rupees as an offering. He also took off his sword and placed it before Ahmad Allah Khan. Ahmad Allah Khan was greatly pleased. He retied the sword on Mareh's waist and permitted him to leave for Sherkot that very day.
21) Ahmad Allah Khan in Sherkot
Ahmad Allah Khan went to Sherkot on July 23; there Mareh welcomed him and gave a feast for him and his camp. Ahmad Allah Khan settled Rs. 100 a month on Mareh, and put him in charge of mobilizing men and laying up grain for the camp. Those people who had suffered at Mareh's hands -- when they saw fortune smile upon him and the tide turn against themselves, they wept and said [[quoting a Persian verse]],
We expected friendly gestures and treatment from our friends,
Whatever we thought was nothing but error.
On July 24, Ahmad Allah Khan went to the house of Chaudhri Umrao Singh. After presenting Rs. 500 to Ahmad Allah Khan, the Chaudhri gave every evidence of his own fidelity to him.22) Harsh Demand for Balances Due from Chaudhri Umrao Singh
Ahmad Allah Khan summed up in his character all that was wicked and violent. Nawab Mareh Khan Blackguard Bahadur was the very man who could still give him lessons in both these respects as his ally. Overnight the level of violence increased tenfold. Their special target became Chaudhri Umrao Singh, rated in the District as being very rich but also its weakest personage. Taking him as their "golden bird," the two began to make trouble for the Chaudhri. A message was sent that his land revenue, about Rs. 12,000, should be paid at once. Mahmud Khan in Bijnor and Shafi Allah Khan and Azmat Allah Khan in Najibabad began to send soldiers, rations, etc. as war supplies to Ahmad Allah Khan. The artillery which had come from Nagina to Bijnor through the intercession of Nathe Khan was also sent, together with ammunition, to Sherkot, where it arrived on July 27.
23) Attempts at Compromise
Although this affair concerned only Chaudhri Umrao Singh of Sherkot, Mahmud Khan and his advisors were quite fearful about the reactions of the Chaudhris of Haldaur, and also of Chaudhri Pratab Singh, Rais of Tajpur, whom they viewed as a man who led a community and was responsible for the revenues of lands held in common. Mahmud Khan feared that they might intervene on Umrao Singh's behalf. To ward off this danger, on July 27 Mahmud Khan sent Nadir Shah Khan, Hasan Raza Khan, and Chaudhri Nain Singh and Chaudhri Jodh Singh, both Rais-es of Bijnor, to Tajpur and Haldaur. Through these intermediaries, he appealed to the Chaudhris to intervene and bring about a compromise between Chaudhri Umrao Singh and himself.
24) Arrival of a Royal Decree
After the departure of these people, Amdu Khan, who had taken Mahmud Khan's petition to the King, returned to Bijnor on July 28, 1857 with a royal decree addressed to Mahmud Khan. Lala Mathra Das, father of Lala Banke Rae the Treasurer, also came with him from Delhi. Amdu Khan gave the decree to Mahmud Khan. The text follows in full, dated July 21, 1857, Zil-Qadah. 21st, regnal year 28.
From Muhammad Bahadur Shah Badshad-i Ghazi Abu al-Zafar Siraj al-Din/2/"Our Special Lieutenant, worthy of kindness and favors, Amir ud-Daulah, Ziya ul-Mulk, Muhammad Mahmud Khan, victorious in battles and deserving of many honors, should know this: that we examined his letter of application explaining in detail the deterioration of public tranquility, the general breach of law and order, the destruction wrought by anti-social elements in all the villages and parganas, and his corresponding efforts to carry on the administration by raising foot and mounted soldiers; and also indicating his and his ancestors' good will, influence and loyalty for this Exalted Court; and supplicating to be confirmed in the position of administrator, like his ancestors.
In fact, the ancestors of our Special Lieutenant [Nawab Mahmud Khan] well­deserved the kindness of preceding sovereigns. Also, this man worthy of kindness and favors [i.e. Nawab Mahmud Khan] has left no stone unturned in order to please and serve Mirza Shahrukh Bahadur./3/ This has pleased us, and in view of this he deserves consideration and concessions. If he continues to render good service, as he did in the past, he will deserve many more imperial favors, and his application for the exclusive administration of the District will achieve the status of acceptance. However, until he receives a diploma of investitute [sanad-i mustanad] from our Exalted Self he should keep in trust the total land revenue [of his area], after deducting the expenses of his army and administrative personnel, and then send it yearly to our Treasury which does favors. Moreover, the vast amount of currency which he has acquired from the Collector's Treasury, plus their belongings and horses that he came to possess after the flight of the British -- all these things and others he should send to us as soon as possible through Mathra Das and the two Imperial mounted soldiers who will soon reach there. This would demonstrate the loyalty and sincerity of our Special Lieutenant, and will eventually result in his rising several grades of rank, and general progress. Therefore try to realize many blessings [which lie ahead]."
I think that Mathra Das did not have any special influence in the Delhi Court, since for a long time he had not been counted among the Rais-es of Delhi. He always stayed outside the city. When Amdu Khan went to Delhi and learned that the King was demanding money and treasure of the English, it is no wonder that he should have had Mathra Das's name written down, since he was able to squeeze Mathra Das at will and keep the upper hand over him. In addition, relations between the Nawab and Mathra Das were decidedly unpleasant, since Mathra Das was deeply agitated about the problem of extracting his son from the Nawab's grip. He himself told the story to Sayyid Turab Ali and myself on his arrival in Bijnor. His one aim appeared to be to take part in the matter of the farman, so that he could obtain sufficient influence over the Nawab to secure the release of his son. Up till the very end, we could not detect any kind of attachment between the Nawab and him.
NOTES/1/ Their unwillingness to give presents to the Nawab at this time would imply that they did not regard working under his orders as a "new employment" for themselves, that they did not recognize him as a sovereign ruler.
/2/ Written in Persian, the imperial farman is couched in the traditional formal style of the Mughal Court.
/3/ Sir Sayyid then adds in parenthesis: "That is, when Mirza Shahrukh came on a hunt in this district during 1844".
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