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INTERESTING FACTS: THUGEE IN INDIA

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     ‘Thuggee’ refers to the acts of ‘Thugs,’ who were, organised gangs of professional robbers and murderers. The English word thug traces its roots to the Hindi word thug, which means ‘swindler’ or ‘deceiver’. Related words are its verbs thugna ‘to deceive,’ from the Sanskrit स्थग ‘sthaga’  cunningsly or fraudulent.’ The term ‘Thugee’ describes murder and robbery of travellers, which was popular in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent.

    Thugs are said to have travelled in groups across the Indian subcontinent. There were numerous traditions about their origin. One recorded by D.F. McLeod traced it to some Muslim tribes formed from those who fled Delhi after murdering a physician. Another traced it to some great Muslim families who fled after murdering a favourite slave of Akbar. These, original Muslim thugs’ spread, thuggee, amongst Rajputs, Hindus, Lodhis and Ahirs. According to some other traditions, thugs were Kanjars or they descended from those, who worked in Mughal camps. Others have blamed the rise of thugs on the disbanding of armies in employment of Indian rulers after the British conquest. Thugs are said to have operated as gangs of highway robbers, tricking and later strangling their victims.

    To take advantage of their victims, the thugs would join travellers and first gain their confidence. This would allow them to surprise and strangle the travellers with a handkerchief or a noose later. They would then rob and bury the victims. This led to the thugs being called Phansigar (person killing with a noose). During the 1830s, thugs were targeted for eradication by the then Governor-General of India, Lord William Bentinck, and his chief captain, William Henry Sleeman.

    Thugs resembled travellers in physicality. Initially they wore turbans and carried with them some kind of baggage. Their attire as travellers, would deceive, any peasant and royal alike.

    The methods used in ‘Thuggee’ were meant to reap maximum loot without being caught. They did not accost travellers unless their own numbers were greater than the target. They first flattered the travellers they met, and that gave them a chance to assess, what wealth they were carrying. Many thugs avoided committing thuggee close to their native. So that their crimes were difficult to discover. They often pretended to be either Hindu or Muslim to fool their victims.

    They usually attacked in the evening. A common method used by them was to distract their targets while attempting to strangle them from behind. In order to avoid any suspicion, they avoided carrying more than a few swords for self-defense. Sometimes they even mutilated corpses of their victims to avoid detection. The corpses were then hidden or buried.

    The leader of a gang was called jamadar. Usage of military-style ranks such as jamadar and subedar among thugs, suggests, that the organisation of their gangs had a military construct. They used a secret language known as ‘Ramasee’ to disguise their real intentions from their targets. Although strangulation was one of their most-recognised methods of murder, they also used blades and poison.

    The thugs comprised, both men, who had inherited thuggee as a family vocation, as well as those, who were forced to turn to it out of necessity. The leadership of many of the groups tended to be hereditary with family members sometimes serving together in the same band. Such thugs were known as aseel. Many thugs, insisted, that novices were not taught thuggee, by their own family members but by others who were often more skilled and experienced. They were called a guru. Thugs usually kept their acts a secret. Female thugs also existed and were called baronee in the secret language Ramasee, while an important male thug was called baroo.

    They would often avoid, killing children of victims, and instead they would adopt them. At times they tended to murder women and children to eliminate witnesses or in case they had substantial loot. Some of the thugs avoided murdering victims they considered proscribed according to their beliefs and let other unscrupulous members commit the murder.

    It is on record that during the 14th century 1,000 thugs were captured and hanged in the streets of Delhi. And, 200 years later Sher Shah Suri organised a cavalry of 1,200 men to keep them at bay. Akbar and his successors also launched widespread drives against the thugs, though it was only in the 19th century that Sir W. H. Sleeman succeeded in wiping them out after a relentless operation lasting seven years.

    The earliest known reference to the Thugs as a band or fraternity, rather than ordinary thieves, is found in Zia-ud din Barni’s History of Firoz Shah written around 1356. He narrated an incident of sultan Jalal-ud-din Khalji, having 1,000 arrested thugs, being sent to Lakhnauti or Gaur:

    Surdas, in his allegorical couplet, mentioned robbers called “thugs” who lured a victim, while also, killing and looting his property. The Janamsakhis, the legendary biographies of Guru Nanak, used the term thug to refer to a robber who used to lure pilgrims. Jean de Thevenot, a French traveller in his account referred to a band of robbers who used a “certain Slip with a running noose” to strangle their victims. John Fryer an English doctor and Fellow of the Royal Society, mentions, a similar method of strangling used by robbers from Surat whom he saw being given capital punishment by the Mughals in 1675. He further mentions that three out of them were relatives, which Kim Wagner a Danish-British historian notices, is similar to the thugs, who were thought to have engaged in this as a family profession. A decree issued by Aurangzeb in 1672 refers to a similar method and uses the term “Phansigar”.

    The garrotte (killing by strangulation) is often depicted as a weapon of the thuggee. Other evidences suggest that the Katar (dagger) was their personal status weapon. A thuggee wore this weapon proudly across his chest. Early references to thugs reported they committed their strangulation murders with nooses of rope or catgut, but later they adopted the use of a length of cloth that could be used as a sash or scarf, and thus more easily concealed. This cloth is sometimes described as a rumal (head covering or kerchief), translated as “yellow scarf”; “yellow”, in this case, may refer to a natural cream or khaki colour rather than bright yellow.

    Thugs preference for strangulation might have originated from a quirk of the law under the Mughal Empire that ruled most of India from the 1500s. For a murderer to be sentenced to death, he or she must have shed the blood of their victim. Those who murdered but did not shed blood might face imprisonment, hard labour and paying a penalty—but they would not risk execution.

    A poison called Datura, derived from a plant in the Nightshade family, was sometimes used by thugs to induce drowsiness or stupefaction, making strangulation easier.

    The “River Thugs” preyed upon people including Hindu pilgrims, travelling through the Ganga River, and became, mostly active during the winter like their compatriots from Murena, Bundelkhand and Awadh. Their dialect of Ramasee differed from the one used by their compatriots on land and used boats taken on lease from their builders or from a jamadar called Khuruck Baboo. Sleeman states that they tapped three times to give the signal to murder, which they always committed during the day. To avoid detection of a corpse, they broke its back and threw it in the river to be eaten by crocodiles and only looted money or jewels.

    By the 1870s the ‘thug cult’ was essentially extinct, but the history of thuggee led to the Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) of 1871. Although the CTA was repealed upon Indian independence, tribes considered criminals still exist in India. The Thuggee and Dacoity Department remained in existence until 1904, when it was replaced by the central Criminal Intelligence Department (CID).

    There are many movies that have been made by Bollywood on thuggee,  such as Gunga Din in 1939, Sunghursh in 1968 and Thugs of Hindostan to name a few.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 8 prestigious libraries of the US that includes Harvard College Library; Harvard University Library; Library of Congress; University of Washington, Seattle; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Yale University, New Haven; University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill University Libraries. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in libraries and archives of Canada, Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai and Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida, India)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K.)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

Short stories and Articles published in Bhavan’s Journal: Reality and Perception 15.10.19; Sending the Wrong Message 31.5.20; Eagle versus Scholars June 15 & 20 2020; Indica 15.8.20; The Story of King Chitraketu August 31 2020.

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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TRIBUTE: COLVIN TALUQDARS COLLEGE, LUCKNOW

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A TRIBUTE TO COLVIN TALUQDARS COLLEGE LUCKNOW

    Sir Auckland Colvin, Lieutenant Governor of the North West Provinces, while functioning as Lieutenant Governor of Avadh and Agra in 1889, conceived the idea of a school with the object of imparting education to the children of the British administrators and the landed aristocracy who were known as Taludars. That’s how this school rooted.

    It is one of the oldest public schools of India. It was established in the year 1889, and has an enrolment of 1400 students and an academic staff of fifty. Located on the peaceful banks of river Gomti. It sprawls over a sixty acre plot. The school colour is blue that depicts tranquility. It has three hostels—Avadh, Anjuman and Hind. Five houses—Ajanta, Nalanda, Sanchi, Taxila and Ujjain.

    It compares well with Rajkumar College, Raipur; Aitchison College, Lahore; and Mayo College, Ajmer. Lord Minto visited Colvin during its grand ‘Durbar Day’ (annual day) in 1908.

COLVIN

(Motto: Noblesse Oblige)

In Lucknawi tehzeeb and fizai Avadh,

Close to the splashes of Gomti,

And … the throbbing vibrations of Lucknow University,

Lies Colvin,

In its glory and aristocracy.

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Colvin has the glamour,

But without the clamour,

It has the sprawling complex,

But without the imposing edifice.

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It has the magnificent drive way,

That passes by the hearty hostels,

It has the lush green tennis courts,

And the fields where cricket is played galore.

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The enclosed swimming pool,

That keeps you cool,

Where the lush green fields,

The racing tracks,

Convey the brass tacks.

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Colvin resounds …,

The glory of merit,

Peaks of athletics,

March past of NCC,

In all its sincerity.

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It has the proficiency of teachers,

Alacrity of prefects,

Astuteness of students,

That drives the institution.

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With IT college … in its territory,

Kailash Hostel … in the locality,

Lucknow University in the vicinity,

And Hanuman Setu in its periphery,

Colvin … educates Lucknow … royally.

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Can’t forget the chemistry lab,

Adjacent to the bio lab,

Where … one had the crucibles and the beakers,

And the other … dissection trays,

Waiting for the frogs and the cockroaches,

To be waylaid.

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There was also physics in the syllabus,

With Newton in the atmosphere,

Where mathematics was the giant,

That kept students in the frying pan.

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And then you had,

Shakespeare’s plays,

Sohan Lal Divedi’s craze,

And British and Mughal tirade.

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Then there was the cycle stand,

With college canteen … at its command,

With cold drinks and chai,

And samosas and deep fries.

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The kittenish junior school,

With its knowledgeable crew,

That taught young children,

With the least of rules.

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And the big boys,

In blue ties …

And white uniforms,

In five houses,

Flocked around,

In those majestic surrounds.

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And every year … once a year,

Colvin celebrates,

Its ‘Durbar day,’

When old boys gather,

To rekindle their fire.

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So thanks to Auckland,

For having created Colvin,

With noblesse oblige as the motto,

That drives Colvin … in toto.

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(Noblesse oblige: Privelege entails responsibility)

Poem by Kamlesh Tripathi

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

BOOK CORNER: WHAT INDIA MEANT TO ME–Lord Mountbatten of Burma

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

WHAT INDIA MEANT TO ME

By Lord Mountbatten of Burma

(An excerpt from the lost pages)

(Lord Mountbatten of Burma is a title in the peerage of the United Kingdom. In 1947 it was for rear admiral Louis Mount Batten, 1st viscount, Mount Batten of Burma and the last viceroy of India)

    Lord Mountbatten had both emotional as well as a professional cause for loving India:

    There was a special reason why Lord Mountbatten had an additional warm spot in his heart for India. While he was in Delhi staying at the old makeshift viceregal lodge, a young girl, of whom he had become very fond in England had come to stay with the viceroy, Lord Reading. Her name was Edwina Ashley. On 14 February 1922, during a dance in the house he sat out with her during the fifth dance in a small sitting room and proposed marriage to her. She accepted his proposal and all his happiness started from there … what you call India.

    The Prince of Wales (the heir apparent to the British throne) was delighted at this and was most helpful. Mountbatten had to have the king’s permission to marry and he saw all that. Later he discovered there had only been one dissenting voice when he and Edwina announced their engagement—and that was the vicereine—lady Reading, who wrote to Edwina’s aunt and said: ‘I’m afraid she has definitely made up her mind about him. I hope she could have cared for someone older, with more of a career behind him.’

    Soon both Edwina and Mountbatten  were tied to India with a possible bond of memory and affection, which clearly played an important part in their lives when he came out in 1947, as the last viceroy and indeed when he started as the first Governor-General of independent India

    Mountbatten makes another interesting highlight. In 1943 when he set up the supreme allied command in South-East Asia, he had closed on a million, Indian sailors, soldiers and airmen serving under him. He was particularly proud of this and admired their courage and steadfastness. They certainly fought magnificently and made a great international name for themselves.

    Thus when he finally came out as a viceroy he could add to his feeling of twenty-five years of love for India his two and a half years association with so many fighting men in war.    

    No wonder it was easy for him to feel the real happiness at being back in India, a country where Edwina and Mountbatten had grown to love among the people they admired and liked so much.

    What India meant to him can be summed up in one phrase in his own words:

    ‘Fascination, affection and happiness.’

    (LOUIS FRANCIS ALBERT NICHOLAS GEORGE MOUNTBATTEN, First Earl Mountbatten of Burma, British admiral and statesman, was the last Viceroy and the first Governor-General of independent India. He died in 1979 at the age of 79).

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****