February 14, 1850.—Peernuggur, ten miles south-east, over a plain of the same soil, but with more than the usual proportion of oosur. Trees and groves as usual, but not quite so fine or numerous. The Nazim of Khyrabad took leave of me on his boundary as we crossed it about midway, and entered the district of "Baree Biswa," which is held in farm by Lal Bahader,* a Hindoo, who there met us. This fiscal officer has under him the "Jafiree," and "Tagfore" Regiments of nujeebs, and eight pieces of cannon. The commandants of both corps are in attendance at Court, and one of them, Imdad Hoseyn, never leaves it. The other does condescend sometimes to come out to look at his regiment when not on service. The draft-bullocks for the guns have, the Nazim tells me, had a little grain within the last month, but still not more than a quarter of the amount for which the King is charged. Peernuggur is now a place of little note upon the banks of the little river Sae, which here flows under a bridge built by Asuf- od Dowlah some sixty years ago.
[* This man was in prison at Lucknow as a defaulter, but made his escape in October, 1851, by drugging the sentry placed over him, and got safe into British territory.]
Gang-robberies are here as frequent as in Khyrabad, and the respectable inhabitants are going off in the same manner. One which took place in July last year is characteristic of the state of society in Oude, and may be mentioned here. Twelve sipahees of the 59th Regiment Native Infantry, then stationed at Bareilly, lodged here for the night, in a surae, on their way home on furlough. Dal Partuk, a Brahmin by caste, and a man of strength and resolution, resided here and cultivated a small patch of land. He had two pair of bullocks, which used to be continually trespassing upon other men's fields and gardens, and embroiling him with the people, till one night they disappeared. Dal Partuk called upon his neighbours, who had suffered from their trespasses, to restore them or pay the value, and threatened to rob, plunder, and burn down the town if they did not.
A great number of pausees reside in and around the town, and he knew that he could collect a gang of them for any enterprise of this sort at the shortest notice. The people were not disposed to pay the value of his lost bullocks, and they could not be found. While he was meditating his revenge, his relation, Dhokul Partuk, was by a trifling accident driven to take the field as a robber. An oil- vender, a female, from a neighbouring village, had presumed to come to Peernuggur, and offer oil for sale. The oil-venders of the town, dreading the consequences of such competition, went forthwith to the little garrison and prayed for protection. One of the sipahees went off to the silversmith to whom the oil-vender had sold twopence-worth of oil, and, finding the oil-vender still with him, proceeded at once to seize both, and take them off to the garrison as criminals. Dhokul Partuk, who lived close by, and had his sword by his side, went up and remonstrated with the sipahee, who, taking him to be another silversmith, struck him across the face with his stick. Dhokul drew his sword, and made a cut at the sipahee, which would have severed his head from his body had he not fallen backwards. As it was, he got a severe cut in the chest, and ran off to his companions. Dhokul went out of the town with his drawn sword, and no one dared to pursue him. At night he returned, took off his family to a distant village, became a leader of a band of pausee bowmen, and invited his kinsman, Dal Partuk, to follow his example.
Together, they made an attack at night upon the town, and burnt down one quarter of the houses. Dal Partuk offered to come to terms and live in the town again, if the people would pay the value of his lost bullocks, and give him a small income of five rupees a-month. This they refused to do, and the plunder and burning went on. At last they made this attack upon the party in the surae, which happened to be so full that several of the sipahees and others were cooking outside the walls. None of the travellers had arms to defend themselves, and those inside closed the doors as soon as they heard the alarm. The pausees, with their bows and arrows, killed two of the sipahees who were outside, and while the gang was trying to force open the doors of the surae, the people of the town, headed by a party of eight pausee bowmen of their own, attacked and drove them back. These bowmen followed the gang for some distance, and killed several of them with their arrows. The sipahees who escaped proceeded in all haste to the Resident, and the Frontier Police has since succeeded in arresting several of the gang; but the two leaders have hitherto been screened by Goorbuksh Sing and other great landholders in their interest. The eight pausees who exerted themselves so successfully in defence of the town and surae were expecting an attack from the pausees of a neighbouring village, and ready for action when the alarm was given.
These parties of pausee bowmen have each under their charge a certain number of villages, whose crops and other property they are pledged to defend for the payment of a certain sum, or a certain portion of land rent-free. In one of these, under the Peernuggur party, three bullocks had been stolen by the pausees of a neighbouring town. They were traced to them, and, as they would neither restore them nor pay their value, the Peernuggur party attacked them one night in their sleep, and killed the leader and four of his followers, to deter others of the tribe from trespassing on property under their charge. They expect, they told us, to be attacked in return some night, and are obliged to be always prepared, but have not the slightest apprehension of ever being called to account for such things by the officers of Government. Nor would Dal and Dhokul Partuk have any such apprehension, had not the Resident taken up the question of the murder of the Honourable Company's sipahees as an international one. After plundering and burning down a dozen villages, and murdering a score or two of people, they would have come back and reoccupied their houses in the town without any fear of being molested or questioned by Government officers. Nor would the people of the town object to their residing among them again, provided they pledged themselves to abstain in future from molesting them. Goorbuksh Sing, only a few days ago, offered the contractor, Hoseyn Allee, the sum of five thousand, rupees if he would satisfy the Resident that Dal Partuk had nothing whatever to do with the Peernuggur dacoitee, and thereby induce him to discontinue the pursuit.*
[* Dhokul Partuk and Dal Partuk were at last secured. Dhokul died in the king's gaol, but Dal Partuk is still in prison under trial.]
The people of towns and villages, having no protection whatever from the Government, are obliged to keep up, at their own cost, this police of pausee bowmen, who are bound only to protect those who pay them. As their families increase beyond the means derived from this, their only legitimate employment, their members thieve in the neighbouring or distant villages, rob on the highroads, or join the gangs of those who are robbers by profession, or take the trade in consequence of disputes and misunderstandings with Government authorities or their neighbours. In Oude—and indeed in all other parts of India, under a Government so weak and indifferent to the sufferings of its subjects—all men who consider arms to be their proper profession think themselves justified in using them to extort the means of subsistence from those who have property when they have none, and can no longer find what they consider to be suitable employment. All Rajpoots are of this class, and the greater part of the landholders in Oude are Rajpoots. But a great part of the Mahommedan rural population are of the same class, and no small portion of the Brahmin inhabitants, like the two Partuks above named, consider arms to be their proper profession; and all find the ready means of forming gangs of robbers out of these pausee bowmen and the many loose characters to whom the disorders of the country give rise.
A great many of the officers and sipahees of the King's nujeeb and other regiments are every month discharged for mutiny, insubordination, abuse of authority, or neglect of duty, or merely to make room for men more subservient to Court favourites, or because they cannot or will not pay the demanded gratuity to a new and useless commandant appointed by Court favour. The plunder of villages has been the daily occupation of these men during the whole period of their service, and they become the worst of this class of loose characters, ready to join any band of freebooters. Such bands are always sure to find a patron among the landholders ready to receive and protect them, for a due share of their booty, against any force that the King's officers may send after them; and, if they prefer it as less costly, they can always find a manager of a district ready to do the same, on condition that they abstain from plundering within his jurisdiction. The greater part of the land is, however, cultivated, and well cultivated under all this confusion and consequent insecurity. Tillage is the one thing needful to all, and the persons from whom trespasses on the crops are most apprehended are the reckless and disorderly trains of Government officials.
February 16, 1850.—Biswa, eighteen miles east, over a plain of excellent soil, partly doomut, but chiefly mutteear, well studded with trees and groves, scantily cultivated for the half of the way, but fully and beautifully for the second half. The wheat beginning to change colour as it approaches maturity, and waving in the gentle morning breeze; intervening fields covered with mixed crops of peas, gram, ulsee, teora, surson, mustard, all in flower, and glittering like so many rich parterres; patches here and there of the dark-green arahur and yellow sugar-cane rising in bold relief; mango-groves, majestic single trees, and clusters of the graceful bamboo studding the whole surface, and closing the distant horizon in one seemingly- continued line of fence—the eye never tires of such a scene, but would like now and then to rest upon some architectural work of ornament or utility to aid the imagination in peopling it.
The road for the last six miles passes through the estate of Nawab Allee, a Mahommedan landholder, who is a strong man and a good manager and paymaster. His rent-roll is about four hundred thousand rupees a-year, and he pays Government about one hundred and fifty thousand. His hereditary possession was a small one, and his estate has grown to the present size in the usual way. He has lent money in mortgage and foreclosed; he has given security for revenue due to Government by other landholders, who have failed to pay, and had their estates made over to him; he has given security for the appearance, when called for, of others, and, on their failing to appear (perchance at his own instigation), had their lands made over to him by the Government authorities, on condition of making good the Government demand upon them; he has offered a higher rate of revenue for lands than present holders could make them yield, and, after getting possession, brought the demand down to a low rate in collusion with Government officers. Some three-fourths of the magnificent estate which he now holds he has obtained in these and other ways by fraud, violence, or collusion within the last few years. He is too powerful and wealthy to admit of any one's getting his lands out of his hands after they have once passed into them, no matter how.
The Chowka river flows from the forest towards the Ghagra, about ten miles to the east from Biswa, and I am told that the richest sheet of cultivation in Oude is within the delta formed by these two rivers.* At the apex of this delta stands the fort of Bhitolee, which I have often mentioned as belonging to Rajah Goorbuksh Sing, and being under siege by the contractor of the Khyrabad district when we passed the Ghagra in December. Biswa is a large town, well situated on a good soil and open plain, and its vicinity would be well suited for a cantonment or seat for civil establishments. Much of the cloth called sullum used to be made here for export to Europe, but the demand has ceased, and with it the manufacture.
[* This delta contains the following noble estates; 1, Dhorehra; 2, Eesanuggur; 3, Chehlary; 4, Rampore; 5, Bhitolee; 6, Mullahpore; 7, Seonta; 8, Nigaseen; and 9, Bhera Jugdeopore. The Turae forest forms the base of this delta, and the estates of Dhorehra, Eesanuggur, and Bhera Jugdeopore lie along its border. They have been much injured by the King's troops within the last three years. Bhitolee is at the apex.]
February 17 and 18, 1850.—Detained at Biswa by rain.
February 19, 1850.—Yesterday evening came to Kaharpore, ten miles, over a plain of the same fine soil, mutteear of the best quality, running here and there into doomutteea and even bhoor. Cultivation good, and the plain covered with rich spring crops, except where the ground is being prepared to receive the autumn seed in June next. It is considered good husbandry to-plough, cross-plough, and prepare the lands thus early. The spring crops are considered to be more promising than they have been at any other season for the last twenty years. The farmers and cultivators calculate upon an average return of ten and twelve fold, and say that, in other parts of Oude where the lands are richer, there will be one of fifteen or twenty of wheat, gram, &c. The pucka-beega, two thousand seven hundred and fifty-six square yards, requires one maund of seed of forty seers, of eighty rupees of the King's and Company's coinage the seer.* The country, as usual, studded with trees, single, and in clusters and groves, intermingled with bamboos, which are, however, for the most part, of the smaller or hill kind.
[* The pucka-beega in Oude is about the same as that which prevails over our North-Western Provinces, two thousand seven hundred and fifty-six and a quarter square yards, or something more than one-half of our English statute acre, which is four thousand eight hundred and forty square yards. This pucka-beega takes of seed-wheat one maund, or eighty pounds; and yields on an average, under good tillage, eight returns of the seed, or eight maunds, or six hundred and forty pounds, which, at one rupee the maund, yields eight rupees, or sixteen shillings. The stock required in Oude in irrigated lands is about twenty rupees the pucka-beega. The rent on an average two rupees. In England an acre, on an average, requires two and three- quarter bushels of seed wheat, or one hundred and seventy-six pounds, or two maunds and sixteen seers, and yields twenty-four bushels, or one thousand five hundred and thirty-six pounds. This at forty shillings the quarter (512 lbs.) would yield six pounds sterling. The stock required in England is estimated at ten pounds Sterling per acre, or ten times the annual rent. It is difficult to estimate the rate of rent on land in England, since the reputed owner is said to be "only the ninth and last recipient of rent."]
On reaching camp, I met, for the first time, the great landholder, Nawab Allee, of Mahmoodabad. In appearance, he is a quiet gentlemanly man, of middle age and stature. He keeps his lands in the finest possible state of tillage, however objectionable the means by which he acquires them. His family have held the estates of Mahmoodabad and Belehree for many generations as zumeendars, or proprietors; but they have augmented them greatly, absorbing into them the estates of their weaker neighbours.*
[* Akram Allee and Muzhur Allee inherited the estate in two divisions. Akram Allee got Mahmoodabad, and had two sons, Surufraz Allee, who died without issue, before his father; and Mosahib Allee, who succeeded to the estate, but died without issue. Muzhur Allee got the estate of Belehree, and had two sons, Abud Allee, and Nawab Allee. Abud Allee succeeded to the estate of Belehree, and Nawab Allee to that of Mahmoodabad by adoption.]
Akram Allee held Mahmoodabad, and was succeeded in the possession by his son, Mosahib Allee, who died about forty years ago, leaving the estate to his widow, who held it for twenty-eight years up to A.D. 1838, when she died. She had, the year before, adopted her nephew, Nawab Allee, and he succeeded to the estate. The Belehree estate is held by his elder brother, Abud Allee, who is augmenting it in the same way, but not at the same rate. I may mention a few recent cases, as illustrative of the manner in which such things are done in Oude.
Mithun Sing, of an ancient Rajpoot family, held the estate of Semree, which had been held by his ancestors for many centuries. It consisted of twelve fine villages, paid to Government 4000 rupees a year, and yielded him a rent roll of 20,000. Nawab Allee coveted very much this estate, which bordered on his own. Three years ago, he instigated the Nazim to demand an increase of 5000 rupees a-year from the estate; and at the same time invited Mithun Sing to his house, and persuaded him to resist the demand, to the last. He took to the jungles, and in the contest between him and the Nazim all the crops of the season were destroyed, and all the cultivators driven from the lands. When the season of tillage returned in June, and Mithun Sing had been reduced to the last stage of poverty, Nawab Allee consented to become the mediator, got a lease from the Chuckladar for Mithun Sing at 4500 rupees a-year, and stood surety for the punctual payment of the demand. Poor Mithun Sing could pay nothing, and Nawab Allee got possession of the estate in liquidation of the balance due to him; and assigned to Mithun Sing five hundred pucka-beegas of land for his subsistence. He still resides on the estate, and supports his family by the tillage of these few beegas.
Amdhun Chowdheree held a share in the estate of Biswa, consisting of sixty-five villages; paying to Government 12,000 rupees a-year, and yielding a rent-roll of 65,000. His elder brother's widow resided on the estate, supported by Amdhun, who managed its affairs for the family. Nawab Allee got up a quarrel between her and her brother-in- law; and she assumed the right to authorize Nawab Allee to seize upon the whole estate. Amdhun appealed to his clan, but Nawab Allee, in collusion with the Nazim, was too strong for him, and got possession by taking a strong force, and driving out all who presumed to resist him. The estate had been held by the family for many centuries.
Mohun Sing held the estate of Mundhuna, which had been in his family for many generations. He was, by the usual process, five years ago, constrained to accept the security of Nawab Allee for the punctual payment of the revenue; and his estate was absorbed in the usual way, the year after. He is now, like a boa-constrictor, swallowing up Chowdheree Pertab Sing, who holds a large share in the hereditary estate of Biswa, which has been in the possession of the family for a great many generations. This share consisted of thirty-six villages, and paid a revenue to Government of fourteen thousand. Last year, Nawab Allee instigated the Nazim to demand ten thousand more. The Nazim, to prevent all disputes, assigned the twenty-four thousand to Mirza Hoseyn Beg, the commandant of a troop of cavalry, employed under him, in liquidation of their arrears of pay. The commandant gave him a receipt for the amount, which the Nazim sent to the treasury, and got credit for the amount in his accounts. But poor Pertab Sing could not pay, and was imprisoned by the cavalry, who kept possession of his person, and took upon them the collection of his rents. Nawab Allee came in and paid what was due; and gave security for the punctual payment of the revenue for the ensuing year. The estate was made over to him; and he put on score after score of dustuk bearers, who soon reduced Pertab Sing to utter beggary. Ten thousand rupees were due to Nawab Allee, and he had nothing left to sell; and under such circumstances no man else would lend him anything.
The dustuk bearers are servants of the creditor, who are sent to attend the debtor, extort from him their wages and subsistence, and see that he does not move, eat, or drink till he pays them. During this time the creditor saves all the wages of these attendants; and they commonly exact double wages from the debtor, so that he is soon reduced to terms. In this stage we found the poor Chowdheree on reaching Biswa. I had him released, and so admonished Nawab Allee, that he has some little chance of saving his estate.
Bisram Sing held the estate of Kooa Danda, which had been in the possession of his family of Ahbun Rajpoots for many centuries. It consisted of thirty-five villages, paid a revenue of six thousand rupees a-year, and yielded a rent-roll of eighteen thousand and five hundred. Nawab Allee coveted it as being on his border, and in good order. As soon as his friend; Allee Buksh, was appointed Nazim of the district, he prevailed upon him to report to the Durbar that Bisram Sing was a refractory subject, and plunderer; and to request permission to put him down by force of arms. This was in 1844, while Bisram Sing was living quietly on his estate. On receiving the order, which came as a matter of course, the Nazim united his force with that of Nawab Allee, and attacked the house of Bisram Sing, which had only twenty-two men to defend it against two thousand. Six of the twenty-two were killed, eight wounded, and eight only escaped; and Nawab Allee took possession of the estate.
Bisram Sing was at Lucknow at the time, trying to rebut the false charges of the Nazim; but his influence was unhappily too strong for him, and he got no redress. Soon after Nirput Sing, a sipahee in the 9th Regiment Native Infantry, presented a petition to the Resident, stating that he was the brother of Bisram Sing, and equally interested in the estate; and a special officer, Busharut Allee, was ordered by the Durbar to investigate and decide the case. He decided in favour of Nirput, the sipahee, and Bisram Sing. Another special officer was sent out to restore Bisram to possession. Nawab Allee then pleaded the non-existence of any relationship between Nirput and Bisram; and a third special officer has been sent out to ascertain this fact.
Belehree, held by Abud Allee, consists of forty villages, pays a revenue of twelve thousand rupees a-year, and yields a rent-roll of forty thousand. Abud Allee holds also the estate of Pyntee, in the same district, consisting of eighty villages, paying a revenue of thirty-five thousand, and yielding a rent-roll of one hundred and forty thousand. It had been held by his relative Kazim Allee, who was succeeded in the possession by Nizam Allee, the husband of his only daughter. Nizam Allee was in A.D. 1841 killed by a servant, who was cut down and killed in return by his attendants. Nizam Allee's widow held till 1843, when she made over the estate to Abud Allee, by whom she is supported.
Nawab Allee has always money at command to purchase influence at Court when required; and he has also a brave and well-armed force, with which to aid the governor of the district, when he makes it worth his while to do so, in crushing a refractory landholder. These are the sources of his power, and he is not at all scrupulous in the use of it—it is not the fashion to be so in Oude.
February 20th, 1850.—Came on sixteen miles to Futtehpore, in the estate of Nawab Allee, passing Mahmoodabad half way. Near that place we passed through a grove of mango and other trees called the "Lak Peree," or the grove of a hundred thousand trees planted by his ancestors forty years ago. The soil is the same, the country level, studded with the same rich foliage, and covered with the same fine crops. As we were passing through his estate, and were to encamp in it again to-day, Nawab Allee attended me on horseback; and I endeavoured to impress upon him and the Nazim the necessity of respecting the rights of others, and more particularly those of the old Chowdheree Pertab Sing. "Why is it," I asked, "that this beautiful scene is not embellished by any architectural beauties? Sheikh Sadee, the poet, so deservedly beloved by you all, old and young, Hindoos and Mahommedans, says, 'The man who leaves behind him in any place, a bridge, a well, a church, or a caravansera, never dies.' Here not even a respectable dwelling-house is to be seen, much less a bridge, a church, or a caravansera." "Here, sir," said old Bukhtawur, "men must always be ready for a run to the jungles. Unless they are so, they can preserve nothing from the grasp of the contractors of the present day, who have no respect for property or person—for their own character, or for that of their sovereign. The moment that a man runs to save himself, family, and property, they rob and pull down his house, and those of all connected with him. When a man has nothing but mud walls, with invisible mud covers, they give him no anxiety; he knows that he can build them up again in a few days, or even a few hours, when he comes back from the jungles; and he cares little about what is done to them during his absence. Had he an expensive house of burnt brick and mortar, he could never feel quite free. He might be tempted to defend it, and lose some valuable lives; or he might be obliged to submit to unjust terms. Were he to lay out his money in expensive mosques, temples, and tombs, they would restrain him in the same way; and he is content to live without them, and have his loins always girded for fight or flight."
"True," said Nawab Allee, "very true; we can plant groves and make wells, but we cannot venture to erect costly buildings of any kind. You saw the Nazim of Khyrabad, only a few days ago, bringing all his troops down upon Rampore, because the landlord, Goman Sing, would not consent to the increase he demanded of ten thousand, upon seventeen thousand rupees a-year, which he had hitherto paid. Goman Sing took to the jungles; and in ten days his fine crops would all have been destroyed, and his houses levelled with the ground, had you not interposed, and admonished both. The one at last consented to take, and the other to pay an increase of five thousand. Only three years ago, Goman Sing's father was killed by the Nazim in a similar struggle; and landholders must always be prepared for them."
February 21st, 1850.—Bureearpore, ten miles south-east, over a plain of the same fine soil, well cultivated, and carpeted with the same fine crops and rich foliage. Midway we entered the district of Ramnuggur Dhumeree, held by Rajah Gorbuksh Sing under the security of Seoraj-od Deen, the person who attempted in vain to arrest the charge of the two regiments upon the Khyrabad Nazim by holding up the sacred Koran over his head. He met me on his boundary, and Nawab Allee and the Nazim of Baree Biswa took their leave. Nawab Allee's brother, Abud Allee, came to pay his respects to me yesterday evening. He is a respectable person in appearance, and a man of good sense. The landscape was, I think, on the whole richer than any other that I have seen in Oude; but I am told that it is still richer at a distance from the road, where the poppy is grown in abundance, and opium of the best quality made.*
[* Opium sells in Oude at from three to eight rupees the seer, according to its quality. In our neighbouring districts it sells at fourteen rupees the seer, in the shops licensed by Government. Government, in our districts, get opium from the cultivators and manufacturers at three rupees and half the seer. The temptation to smuggle is great, but the risk is great also, for the police in our districts is vigilant in this matter.]
Still lamenting the want of all architectural ornament to the scene, and signs of manufacturing and commercial industry, to show that people had property, and were able to display and enjoy it, and gradations of rank, I asked whether people invested their wealth in the loans of our Government. "Sir," said Bukhtawur Sing, "the people who reside in the country know nothing about your Government paper; it is only the people of the capital that hold it or understand its value. The landholders and peasantry would never be able to keep it in safety, or understand when and how to draw the interest."
"Do they spend more in marriage and other ceremonies than the people of other parts of India, or do they make greater displays on such occasions?"
"Quite the reverse, sir," said Seoraj-od Deen; "they dare not make any display at all. Only the other day, Gunga Buksh, the refractory landholder of Kasimgunge, attacked a marriage-procession in the village of ———, carried off the bridegroom, and imprisoned him till he paid the large random demanded from him. In February last year Imam Buksh Behraleen, of Oseyree, having quarrelled with the Amil, attacked and carried off a whole marriage party to the jungles. They gave up all the property they had, and offered to sign bonds for more, to be paid by their friends for their ransom; but he told them that money would not do; that their families were people of influence, and must make the King's officers restore him to his estate upon his own terms, or he would keep them till they all died. They exerted themselves, and Imam Buksh got back his estate upon his own terms; but he still continues to rob and plunder. These crimes are to them diversions from which there is no making them desist."
"There are a dozen gang leaders of this class at present in the belt of jungle which extends westward from our right up to within fourteen miles of the Lucknow cantonments; and the plunder of villages, murder of travellers, and carrying off of brides and bridegrooms from marriage processions, are things of every-day occurrence. There are also in these parts a number of pansee bowmen, who not only join in the enterprises of such gangs as in other districts, but form gangs of their own, under leaders of their own caste, to rob travellers and plunder villages.
"Gunga Buksh of Kasimgunge has his fort in this belt of jungle, and he and his friends and relations take good care that no man cuts any of it down, or cultivates the land. With the gangs which he and his relatives keep up in this jungle, he has driven out the greater part of the Syud proprietors of the surrounding villages, and taken possession of their lands. After driving out the King's troops from the town of Dewa, and exacting ransoms from many of the inhabitants, whom he seized and carried off in several attacks, he, in October last, brought down upon it all the ruffians he could collect, killed no less than twenty-nine persons—chiefly Syuds and land proprietors —and took possession of the town and estate. The chief proprietor, Bakur Allee, was killed among the rest; and Gunga Buksh burnt his body, and suspended his head to a post in his own village of Luseya. He dug down his house and those of all his relations who had been killed with him, and now holds quiet possession of his estate."
This was all true. The Resident, on the application of Haffiz-od Deen, a native judicial officer of Moradabad district—one of the family which had lost so many members in this atrocious attack—urged strongly on the Durbar the necessity of punishing Gunga Buksh and his gang. The Ghunghor Regiment of Infantry, with a squadron of cavalry, and six guns, was sent out in October 1849, for the purpose, under a native officer. On the force moving out, the friends of Gunga Buksh at Court caused the commandant to be sent for on some pretext or other; and he has been detained at the capital ever since. The force has, in consequence, remained idle, and Gunga Buksh has been left quietly to enjoy the, fruits of his enterprise. The Amil having no troops to support his authority, or even to defend his person in such a position, has also remained at Court. No revenue has been collected, and the people are left altogether exposed to the depredations of these merciless robbers. The belt of jungle is nine miles long and four miles wide; and the west end of it is within only fourteen miles of the Lucknow cantonments, where we have three regiments of infantry, and a company of artillery.
February 22nd, 1850.—A brief history of the rise of this family may tend to illustrate the state of things in Oude. Khumma Rawut, of the pansee tribe, the great-grandfather of this Gunga Buksh, served Kazee Mahommed, the great-grandfather of this Bakur Allee, as a village watchman, for many years up to his death. He had some influence over his master, and making the most of this and of the clan feeling which subsisted among the pansees of the district, he was able to command the services of a formidable gang when the old Kazee died. He left a young family, and Khumma got possession of five or six villages out of the estate which the old Kazee left to his sons. The sons were too weak: to resist the pansees, and when Khumma died he left them to his five sons:— 1. Kundee Sing; 2. Bukhta Sing; 3. Alum Sing; 4. Lalsahae; 5. Misree Sing. As the family increased in numbers it has gone on adding to its possessions in the same manner, by attacking and plundering villages, murdering or driving off the old proprietors of the lands, and taking possession of them for themselves. Each branch of the family, as it separates from the parent stock, builds for itself a fort in one or other of the villages which belong to its share of the acquired lands. In this fort the head of each branch of the family resides with his armed followers, and sallies forth to plunder the country and acquire new possessions. In small enterprises each branch acts by itself; in larger ones two or more branches unite, and divide the lands and booty they acquire by amicable arrangement.
They seize all the respectable persons whom they find in the villages which they attack and plunder, keep them in prison, and inflict all manner of tortures upon them, till they have paid, or pledged themselves to pay, all that they have or can borrow from their friends, as their ransom. If they refuse to pay, or to pledge themselves to pay the sum demanded, they murder them. If they pay part, and pledge themselves to pay the rest within a certain time, they are released; and if they fail to fulfil their engagements, they and their families are murdered in a second attack. After the last attack above described upon Dewa, Gunga Buksh seized seven fine villages belonging to the family of Bakur Allee Khan, which they had held for many generations. He, Gunga Buksh, now holds no less than twenty-seven villages, all seized in the same manner, after the plunder and murder of their old proprietors. The whole of this family, descendants of Khumma Rawut, hold no less than two hundred villages and hamlets, all taken in the same manner from the old proprietors, with the acquiescence or connivance of the local authorities, who were either too weak or too corrupt to punish them, and restore the villages to their proper owners.*
[* Kundee Sing had two sons, 1. Cheytun Sing; 2. Ajeet Sing. Cheytun Sing had two sons, 1. Sophul Sing; 2. Thakurpurshad. Sophul Sing had two sons, 1. Keerut Sing; 2. Jote Sing. Ajeet Sing had two sons, 1. Bhugwunt Sing; 2. Rutun Sing. Thakur Purshad, Bhugwunt Sing, and Rutun Sing, reside in a fort which they have built in Bhetae, four miles from Dewa, in the north-west border of the belt of jungle. They hold forty villages, besides hamlets, which they have taken from the old proprietors of the Dewa and Korsee estates. Thakur Purshad has another fort called Buldeogur, near that of Atursae, two coss south of Dewa; and Bhugwunt Sing has the small fort of Munmutpore, close to Bhetae. Bukta Sing had only one son, Bisram Sing, who had only one son, Gunga Buksh, who built the fort of Kasimgunge, on the north- eastern border of the same belt of jungle, two miles south of Dewa, and on the death of his father, he went to reside in it with his family and gang. He holds twenty-seven fine villages, with hamlets. Twenty of these he seized upon from six to twelve years ago; and the other seven he got after the attack upon Dewa, in October last. He has also a fort called Atursae, two coss south from Dewa; a mile west from Buldeogur. Alum Sing's descendants have remained peaceable cultivators of the soil in Dewa, and are, consequently, of too little note for a place in the genealogical table of the family.
Lalsahae had three sons, 1. Dheer Sing; 2. Bustee Sing; 3. Gokul Sing, all dead. Dheer Sing had two sons, Omed Sing and Jowahir Sing. Omed Sing had three sons, Dirgpaul Sing, Maheput Sing, and Gungadhur, who was murdered by Thakur Pershad, his cousin. Jowahir Sing had one son, Priteepaul Sing. Bustee Sing had two sons, Girwur Sing and Soulee Sing. Girwur Sing had two sons, Dhokul Sing and Shunker Sing. This branch of the family hold the forts of Ramgura and Paharpore, on the border of the jungle six miles south-west from Dewa, and twelve villages besides hamlets taken in the same manner from the old proprietors. Gokul Sing had two sons, Dulloo Sing and Soophul Sing. Dulloo Sing has one son. They reside with the families of Dheer Sing and Bustee Sing.
Misree Sing, the fifth son of Khumma, had three sons, 1. Boneead Sing; 2. Dureeao Sing; 3. name forgotten—all three are dead. Bonead Sing had two sons, 1. Anoop Sing; 2. Goorbuksh Sing. Dureeao Sing had two sons, 1. Anokee Sing; 2. name forgotten. The third son of Misree Sing had three sons, 1. Mulung Sing; 2. Anunt Sing; 3. name forgotten—all three still live.
This branch of the family resides in Satarpore, one mile west from Kasimgunge, in this belt of Jungle, and two miles from Dewa, in a fortified house built by them. They have got a small fort, called Pouree, near this place. They form part of Gunga Buksh's gang, and share with him in the booty acquired.]
To record all the atrocities committed by the different members of this family in the process of absorbing the estates of their neighbours, and the property of men of substance in the countries around, would be a tedious and unprofitable task; and I shall content myself with mentioning a few that are most prominent in the recollection of the people of the district. About ten years ago, Gunga Buksh and his gang attacked the house of Lalla Shunker Lal, a respectable merchant of Dewa, plundered it, killed the tutor of his three sons, and carried them and their father off to his fort, where he tortured them till they paid him a ransom of nine thousand rupees. On their release they left Dewa, and have ever since resided in Lucknow. Two years after they attacked the village of Saleempore, two miles east from Dewa, killed Nyam Allee, the zumeendar, and seized upon his estate. About six years ago Munnoo, the son of Gunga Buksh, with a gang of near two thousand men, attacked the King's force in the town of Dewa, killed four sipahees, two artillery-men, and two troopers, and plundered the place. About six months ago this gang attacked the house of Ewuz Mahommed, in Dewa, plundered it, levelled it with the ground, and took off all the timbers to their fort of Kasimgunge. Soon after he made the attack in which he killed twenty- nine persons in Dewa, as above described.
Thakur Purshad, about fourteen years ago, attacked the village of Molookpore, two miles east from Dewa, plundered it, took possession of the land, seized and carried off the proprietor, Sheikh Khoda Buksh, and put him to death in his fort of Bhetae. Three years after he attacked the house of Gholam Mostafa, in Dewa, killed him, and seized upon all the lands he held. Three years ago he attacked the house of Janoo, a shopkeeper, plundered it, and confined and tortured him till he paid a ransom of two hundred and fifty rupees. Three months after he seized and carried off to his fort Roopun, another shopkeeper, and confined and tortured him till he paid a ransom of three hundred rupees. Last year he seized and took off Jhow Dhobee from Dewa, and extorted forty rupees from him. Six months ago he attacked a marriage-procession in Dewa, plundered it, took off the bridegroom, Omed Allee, and confined and tortured him till he paid eleven hundred and fifteen rupees. These men all levy black mail from the country around; and it is those only who cannot or will not pay it, or whose lands they intend to appropriate, that they attack. They created the jungle above described, of nine miles long by four wide, for their own evil purposes, and preserve it with so much vigilance, that no man dares to cut a stick, graze a bullock, or browse a camel in it without their special sanction; indeed, they are so much dreaded, that no man or woman beyond their own family or followers dares enter the jungle.
Omed Sing, fifteen years ago, invited to his house the four proprietors of the village of Owree, Gholam Kadir, Allee Buksh, Durvesh Allee, and Moiz-od Deen, residents of Dewa, and put them to death because they could not, by torture, be made to transfer their lands to him. He then seized their village, and built the fort of Rumgura Paharpore upon it. Omed Sing, Jowahir Sing, Dhokul Sing, and Soophul Sing all reside in this fort with the son of Dulloo Sing. This family of pansees, or, as they call themselves, Rawuts, form at present one of the most formidable gangs of robbers in Oude, and one of the most difficult to put down from their union and inveterate habit of plunder. They can always, at short notice and little cost, collect bands of hundreds of the same tribe and habit to join them in plunder and resistance to lawful authority.
On the 25th of February, 1838, Rajah Dursun Sing, then in charge of the district, wrote to the Durbar to say, "that Gunga Buksh of Dewa was the worst robber in the district, would pay no revenue, and instigated others to withhold theirs; that numerous complaints had been made against him to the Durbar by the people, and that he had been urged by Government to do his best to punish him; that he had long tried all he could to do so, but had not sufficient troops; that his evil deeds increased, however, so much, that he at last determined to run all risks, and on the 27th of that month, on Friday, he left Amaneegunge, and marched forty-eight miles without resting; and on Saturday, before daybreak, reached the fort of Kasimgunge, and invested it on all sides; that he found the fort large and strong, and surrounded with dense jungle; that he had only three guns with him, but, as the enemy were taken by surprise, he took all their outworks one after another; that the besieged got a crowd of their adherents to attack his force in the rear on Saturday night, that they might get off in the confusion, but his troops were ready to intercept them at all points; and, in attempting to cut his way through, Gunga Baksh was seized with all his followers, but the women and children were permitted to go their way; that a good many of the enemy had been killed, and he, Dursun Sing, had had one golundaz and five sipahees killed and ten persons wounded."
The King sent Dursun Sing a dress of honour with the title of Rajah on the 3rd of March, 1838, and ordered him to have the fort levelled with the ground. Dursun Sing, in reply, states that he had men employed in pulling down the fort; and, in reply to an order to send in a list of the property taken from the besieged, he states, on the 12th of March, 1838, that none whatever had been secured. Gunga Buksh soon bribed his way out of prison at Lucknow, returned to Kasimgunge, rebuilt his fort, and made it stronger than ever; and continued to plunder the country, and increase his landed possessions by the murder of the old proprietors. He became enlisted into the tribe of Rajpoots, and his sister was married to the Powar Rajah of Etonda, seven coss north from Lucknow. Jode Sing, the present Rajah of that place, is her son; and he is associated with Gunga Buksh in his depredations. Sahuj Ram, of Pokhura, of the Ametheea tribe of Rajpoots, in the Hydergurh purgunna, on the right bank of the Goomtee river, married a daughter of Gunga Buksh's, and has a strong fort, called Raunee, thirty miles east from Lucknow. He is said to have been present at the murder of the twenty-nine persons at Dewa in October last, and to have had with him four hundred armed men and two guns. He and all his followers are notorious and inveterate robbers, like Gunga Buksh himself. The descendants of Khumma, the village watchman, have already built ten forts upon the lands which they have seized, and there are no less than seventy of these forts or strongholds within a circuit of ninety miles round Bhetae and Khasimgunge, the centre being not more than eighteen miles from the Lucknow cantonments.
The Minister having informed the Resident that, without some aid from British troops, it was impossible for him to put down or punish these atrocious murderers and robbers, who had so many mud-forts well garrisoned by their gangs, he, on the 26th of March, 1850, ordered a wing of the 2nd Battalion of Oude Local Infantry under Captain Boileau to join the force, consisting of, 1. A wing of the 2nd Oude Local Infantry; 2. Captain Barlow's regiment, with two nine-pounders and one eight-inch howitzer; 3. Nawab Allee's auxiliaries, two thousand men and three small guns; 4. Sufshikum Khan, the Amil of the district, with one thousand men and five guns; 5. Seoraj-od Deen, the Amil of Ramnuggur, with one hundred and fifty men and two guns; 6. Ghalib Jung, with one thousand foot soldiers, forty camel jinjals (tumbooraks), seven guns, and one hundred troopers, in an attack upon Kasimgunge. The different parts of this force had been so disposed as to concentrate upon and invest the fort at daybreak on the morning of that day. The surprise was complete.
Shells were thrown into the fort from Captain Barlow's guns, but Captain Boileau did not consider the force sufficient to take the fort and secure, the garrison, and wrote to request a reinforcement. The distance from Kasimgunge to the cantonments was twenty miles. A wing of the 10th Regiment Native Infantry, with two guns, was sent off under Captain Wilson; but the garrison had evacuated the fort and fled on the night of the 26th, and the wing was ordered to proceed direct to the fort of Bhetae, four miles nearer to the cantonments, which was to be invested by the same force on the morning of the 28th.
Captain Wilson had with him Lieutenant Elderton, as adjutant of the wing, and Ensigns Trenchard and Wish, with a native officer in charge of the two guns. They reached Bhetae at 7 A.M., were joined by the Bhetae force at 8 A.M., and the two forts of Bhetae and Munmutpore were forthwith invested. Munmutpore stood about three hundred yards to the west of Bhetae; and both forts were held by Thakur Purshad and Bhugwunt Sing, members of the same family of pansee robbers, and their gangs. Captain Wilson was the chief in command; and he, with his own and Captain Boileau's wing, took up his position on the north side of Bhetae, and placed Captain Barlow on the west side of Munmutpore. There was a deep dry ditch all round outside the outer wall, and a thick fence of bamboos inside. Between this fence and the citadel in both forts was a still deeper ditch. Between the fence of bamboos and the inner ditch was a small intricate passage, intersected by huts and trenches.
The wall of the citadel was about twenty feet high, and the upper part formed a parapet eight feet high, filled with loopholes for matchlocks. Between Bhetae and Munmutpore, midway, was a large bastion filled with matchlock-men, to keep open the communication and prevent an enemy from taking up any position between the two forts. The investing force was distributed all round, with orders to attack the nearest and weakest points as soon as Captain Wilson should commence his upon the main point, the northern face.
On the afternoon of the 29th, about half-past three, a small party of the garrison came out of the gate on the northern face, and appeared disposed to attack Captain Wilson's two nine-pounders, and a third gun, which had all three been advanced on to within a short distance of the gate. During this time Captain Barlow was throwing shells into both forts from his position to the west of Munmutpore. The subahdar- major had command of the advanced party in charge of Captain Wilson's three guns. He charged and drove back into the fort the small party which threatened his guns, and Captain Wilson hastily assembled all his and Captain Boileau's force, and followed to support the subahdar-major. Finding his officers and men all excited and anxious to push on into the fort, Captain Wilson unfortunately yielded to the impulse, and entered the outer gate with one of his two nine- pounders, in the hope of taking the place by a coup-de-main.
The garrison all retired into the citadel as he entered, and kept up a distressing fire upon the assailants as they went along the narrow passage between the bamboo fence and the ditch in search of a way into the citadel. Several rounds were fired from the gun, in the hope of making a breach in the wall, but the balls penetrated and lodged midway in the wall, without bringing down any part of it; and musketry was altogether useless against a thick parapet with loopholes, so slender on the outside and so wide within. The huts, which might have sheltered officers and men, were set fire to by accident, and tended to increase the confusion. The entrance to the citadel was over a narrow mud causeway, which the garrison had not had time to remove; but it was hidden from the assailants by a projection which they could not attain, and the men began to fall fast before the fire from the loopholes of the parapet.
On hearing the firing on Captain Wilson's side, the officers commanding the troops on the other three sides, commenced their attack on the nearest and seemingly weakest points, as before directed. Captain Barlow lost some men in an unsuccessful attempt to enter the fort of Munmutpore on the west side; but the auxiliary force of Nawab Allee effected an entrance on the east side of that fort. They were, however, arrested by the second ditch within, in the same manner as Captain Wilson's force had been, and a good many men were shot down in the same manner, in attempting to get over it. The force under Sufshikum Khan, on the east side of Bhetae, effected an entrance, but was arrested by the second ditch in the same manner, and lost many men. The enemy in Bhetae had eleven men killed and nineteen wounded, a good many of them from the shells thrown in by Captain Barlow. The loss of the enemy in Munmutpore was never ascertained.
After Captain Wilson had been engaged within the wall about three- quarters of an hour, and the ammunition of the gun had become exhausted. Lieutenant Elderton, who had behaved with great gallantry during the whole scene, and was standing in advance with Captain Boileau, received a shot in the neck, and fell dead by his side. Having lost so many men and officers in fruitless efforts to penetrate into the citadel, and seeing no prospect of carrying the place by remaining longer under the fire from the parapet, Captains Wilson and Boileau drew off their parties; but the bullocks which drew the gun had been all killed or wounded, and they were obliged to leave it behind with the bodies of the killed. The men attempted to draw off the gun; but so many were shot down from above that it was deemed prudent to abandon it. About midnight both garrisons vacated the forts, and retired unmolested through the jungle to the eastward, where Ghalib Jung's troops had been posted. There is good ground to believe that he connived at their escape, and purposely held back from the attack as a traitor in connivance with some influential persons in the Durbar.
The 10th Native Infantry had one European officer, Lieutenant Elderton, ten sipahees, and one calashee, killed; five native officers and twenty-two privates, wounded.
The 2nd Oude Local Infantry, six sipahees, and one calashee, killed; and seven native officers and thirteen privates, wounded.
The artillery had one native officer and nine privates wounded.
This reverse arose from the commandant's yielding to the impetuosity of his officers and sipahees, and attempting to take by a rush a strong fort whose defences he had never examined and knew nothing whatever about, as he had never before seen any place of the kind, or had one described to him. He and all his men had courage in abundance, but they wanted prudence.
Gunga Buksh and his son, Runjeet Sing, were afterwards taken, convicted before the highest tribunal in Oude, of the murder of the twenty-seven persons in Dewa, in October, 1849, and executed on the 18th of September, 1850. Thakur Purshad and his cousin, Bhugwunt Sing, remained at large, and at the head of their gang of robbers continued to plunder the country, and levy blackmail from landholders and village communities till the 1st of February 1851, though pressed by a force of one thousand infantry, fifty troopers, and some ten guns. On the morning of that day, Captain Hearsey, commanding a detachment of the Oude Frontier Police, who had been ordered to co- operate with this force in putting down this gang, took advantage of a dense fog, fell upon them, and with the loss of one non- commissioned officer killed, and three non-commissioned officers and three sipahees wounded, killed one of the chief leaders, Bhugwunt Sing, and twenty-two of their followers, wounded many more, and took eight prisoners, among them the son of the leader Bhugwunt Sing. The other two leaders, Thakur Purshad and Keerut Sing, were bathing at the time in the river Goomtee, and escaped by swimming across.
Rajah Bukhtawur Sing declares, that the taking of daughters from families of this caste by Rajpoots is one of the punishments inflicted upon them for the murder of their own. They will not condescend to give daughters in marriage to such persons; and they take daughters from them merely to get their money, and assistance on emergency in resisting the Government, and murdering and plundering its subjects.
This part of Oude, comprising the districts of Dureeabad Rudowlee, Ramnuggur Dhumeree, Dewa Jahangeerabad, Jugdispoor, and Hydergur, has more mud forts than any other, though they abound in all parts; and the greater part of them are garrisoned in the same way by gangs of robbers. It is worth remarking, that the children in the villages hereabout play at fortification as a favourite amusement, each striving to excel the others in the ingenuity of his defences. They all seem to feel that they must some day have to take a part in defending such places against the King's troops; and their parents seem to encourage the feeling. The real mud forts are concealed from sight in beautiful clusters of bamboos or other evergreen jungle, so that the passer-by can see nothing of them. Some of them are exceedingly strong, against troops unprovided with mortars and shells. The garrison is easily shelled out by a small force, or starved out by a large one; but one should never attempt to breach them with round shot, or take them by an escalade or a rush.
It is still more worthy of remark, that these great landholders, who have recently acquired their possessions by the plunder and murder of their weaker neighbours, and who continue their system of pillage, in order to acquire the means to maintain their gangs, and add to these possessions, are those who are most favoured at Court, and most conciliated by the local rulers; because they are more able and more willing than others to pay for the favours of the one, and set at defiance the authority of the other. They often get their estates transferred from the jurisdiction of the local governors to that of the person in charge of the Hozoor Tuhseel at Lucknow. Almost all the estates of this family of Rawuts have been so transferred.
Local governors cannot help seeing or hearing of the atrocities they commit, and feeling some sympathy with the sufferers; or at least some apprehension, that they may lose revenue by their murder, and the absorption of their estate; but the officer in charge of the Hozoor Tuhseel sees or hears little of what they do, and cares nothing about the sufferers as long as their despoilers pay him liberally. If the local governor reports their atrocities to Government, this person represents it as arising solely from enmity; and describes the sufferers as lawless characters, whom it is meritorious to punish. If the Court attempts to punish or coerce such characters, he gives them information, and does all he can to frustrate the attempt. If they are taken and imprisoned, he soon gets them released; and if their forts and strongholds have been taken and pulled down, he sells them the privilege of rebuilding or repairing them. It is exceedingly difficult at all times, and often altogether impossible, to get one of these robber landholders punished, or effectually put down, so many and so formidable are the obstacles thrown in the way by the Court favourite, who has charge of the Hozoor Tuhseel, and their other friends at the capital. Those who suffer from their crimes have seldom any chance of redress. Having lost their all, they are no longer in a condition to pay for it; and without payment nothing can be got from the Court of Lucknow.
February 23, 1850.—Badoosura, ten miles south-east over a plain covered with rich crops and fine foliage; soil muteear generally, but in some parts doomut; tillage excellent. Passed over some more sites of Bhur towns. The Oude territory abounds with these sites, but nothing seems to be known of the history of the people to whom they belonged. They seem to have been systematically extirpated by the Mahommedan conquerors in the early part of the fourteenth century. All their towns seem to have been built of burnt brick, while none of the towns of the present day are so. There are numerous wells still in use, which were formed by them of the finest burnt brick and cement; and the people tell me that others of the same kind are frequently discovered in ploughing over fields. I have heard of no arms, coins, or utensils peculiar to them having been discovered, though copper sunuds, or deeds of grant from the Rajahs of Kunoje, to other people in Oude, six hundred years ago, have been found. The Bhurs must have formed town and village communities in this country at a very remote period, and have been a civilized people, though they have not left a name, date, or legend inscribed upon any monument. Brick ruins of forts, houses, and wells, are the only relics to be found of these people. Some few of the caste are still found in the humblest grade of society as cultivators, police officers, &c., in Oude and other districts north of the Ganges. Up to the end of the thirteenth century their sovereignty certainly extended over what are now called the Byswara and Banoda districts; and Sultanpore, under some other name, appears to have been their capital. It was taken and destroyed early in the fourteenth century by Allah-od Deen, Sultan of Delhi, or by one of his generals, and named Sultanpore. Chandour was another great town of these Bhurs. I am not aware of any temples having been found to indicate their creed.*
[* The Bhur Goojurs must, I conclude, have been of the same race.]
The landholders, who have become leaders of gang-robbers, are more numerous here than in any other part of Oude that I have seen, save Bangur: but they are not here, as there, so strongly federated. The Amil is so weak, that, in despair, he connives at their atrocities and usurpations as the only means of collecting the Government revenue, and filling his own pockets. The pausee bowmen are here much more formidable than they are even in Bangur. There they thieve, and join the gangs of the refractory landholders; but here they have powerful leaders of their own tribe, and form formidable independent gangs. They sometimes attack and plunder villages, and spare neither age nor sex. They have some small strongholds in which they assemble from different villages over pitchers of spirits, made from the fruit of the mhowa tree, and purchased for them by their leaders; and, having determined upon what villages to attack, proceed at once to work before they get sober. Every town and village through which we pass has suffered more or less from their atrocities, and the people are in a continual state of dread.
In 1843, the pausees, who resided in the village of Chindwara, in the Dewa district, ran off to avoid being held responsible for the robbery of a merchant in the neighbourhood. They were pacified and brought back; but the landholder was sorely pressed by the Government collector to pay up his balance of revenue, and he, in turn, pressed the pausees to pay up the balances due by them for rents. They ran off again, but their families were retained by the landholder. The pausees gathered together all of their clan that they could muster from the surrounding villages, attacked the landholder's house, killed his mother, wife, four of his nephews, the wife of one of his nephews, two of the King's sipahees who attempted to defend them, and several of the landholder, Yakoob Husun's, servants, and plundered him of everything he had. The landlord himself happened to be absent on business, and was the only one of the family who escaped. In all twenty-nine persons were murdered by the pausees on that occasion. They were all permitted to come back and settle in the village, as if nothing had happened; the village was made over to another, and Yakoob Husun has ever since been supplicating in vain for redress at the King's gate.
About three miles from Badoosura, we passed from the Ramnuggur district into that of Dureeabad Rodowlee; but the above description is applicable to both, though in a somewhat less degree to Ramnuggur than to Dureeabad. It is equally applicable to the Dewa district, which we left on our right yesterday, midway between our road and Lucknow. There Gunga Buksh Chowdheree and his relatives have large gangs engaged in plundering towns, and seizing upon the lands of their weaker and more scrupulous neighbours. In the Dureeabad district, the leaders of gangs are chiefly of the Behraleea tribe of Rajpoots, so called after the district of Behralee, in which they reside.
I this morning asked Nowsing, a landholder of the Rykwar Rajpoot clan, who came to me, in sorrow, to demand redress for grievous wrongs, whether he did not think that all the evils they suffered arose from murdering their female infants. "No, sir, I do not." "But the greater part of the Rajpoot families do still murder them, do they not?" "Yes, sir, they still destroy them; and we believe that the father who preserves a daughter will never live to see her suitably married, or that the family into which she does marry will perish or be ruined." "Do you recollect any instances of this?" "Yes, sir, my uncle, Dureeao, preserved a daughter, but died before he could see her married; and my father was obliged to go to the cost of getting her married into a Chouhan family at Mynpooree, in the British territory. My grandfather, Nathoo, and his brother, Rughonath, preserved each a daughter, and married them into the same Chouhan families of Mynpooree. These families all became ruined; and their lands were sold by auction; and the three women returned upon us, one having two sons and a daughter, and another two sons. We maintained them for some years with difficulty, but this year, seeing the disorder that prevailed around us, they all went back to the families of their husbands. It is the general belief among us, sir, that those who preserve their daughters never prosper, and that the families into which we marry them are equally unfortunate."
"Then you think that it is a duty imposed upon you from above to destroy your infant daughters, and that the neglect and disregard of that duty bring misfortunes upon you?" "We think it must be so, sir, with regard to our own families or clan."
I am satisfied that these notions were honestly expressed, however strange they may appear to others. Habit has brutalized them, or rendered them worse than brutes in regard to their female offspring. They derive profit, or save expense and some mortification, by destroying them, and readily believe anything that can tend to excuse the atrocity to themselves or to others. The facility with which men and women persuade themselves of a religious sanction for what they wish to do, however cruel and iniquitous, is not, unhappily, peculiar to any class or to any creed. These Rajpoots know that the crime is detestable, not only to the few Christians they meet, but to all Mahommedans, and to every other class of Hindoos among whom they live and move. But the Rajpoots, among whom alone this crime prevails, are the dominant class in Oude; and they can disregard the feelings and opinions of the people around them with impunity. The greater part of the land is held by them, and in the greater part of the towns and villages their authority is paramount.
Industry is confined almost exclusively to agriculture. They have neither merchants nor manufacturers to form, or aid in forming, a respectable and influential middle class; and the public officers of the state they look upon as their natural and irreconcileable enemies. When the aristocracy of Europe buried their daughters alive in nunneries, the state of society was much the same as it now is in Oude. The King has prohibited both infanticide and suttee. The latter being essentially a public exhibition, the local authorities have continued, in great measure, to put down; but the former was certainly never more common than it is at present, for the Rajpoot landholders were never before more strong and numerous. That suttees were formerly very numerous in Oude is manifest from the numerous suttee tombs we see in the vicinity of every town and almost every village; but the Rajpoots never felt much interested in them; they were not necessary either to their pride or purse.*
[* Suttee, infanticide, suicide, the maiming of any one, or making any one an eunuch, were all prohibited by the King of Oude, on the 15th of May, 1833, as reported to Government by the Resident on the 6th November, 1834. These prohibitions were reported to the Resident, by the King, on the 14th of June, 1833.]
February 24th, 1850.—Dureeabad, ten miles south-east, over a plain of good soil—doomut and mutteear—covered with the same rich crops and fine foliage. There is at present no other district in Oude abounding so much in gang robbery and other crime as this of Dureeabad Rodoulee, in which the Amil, Girdhara Sing, is notoriously conniving at these crimes from a consciousness of utter inability to contend with the landholders who commit them, or employ men to commit them. Yet he has at his disposal a force that ought to be sufficient to keep in order a district five times as large. He has the Jannissar battalion of nujeebs, under Seetla Buksh at present; the Zoolfukar Sufderee battalion of nujeebs, under Bhow-od Dowlah, who never leaves Court; and the Judeed, or new regiment, consisting of a thousand men. He has nine guns, and a squadron of horse. Of the guns, five are on the ground, utterly useless; four will bear firing a few rounds. For these four he has bullocks, but they are not yet in condition. Of the seer and half of corn, drawn for each bullock per diem, only half a seer is given. Of the corps, more than one-half of the men are at Lucknow, in attendance upon Court favourites; and of the half present not one-third are fit for the work of soldiers.
The Amil rode by my side, and I asked him about the case of the marriage-procession. "Sir," said he, "what you heard from Seoraj-od Deen is all true. Imam Buksh had a strong fort in his estate of Ouseyree, five miles to our right, where he had a formidable gang, that committed numerous dacoitees and highway robberies in the country around. I was ordered to attack him with all my force. He got intimation, and assembled his friends to the number of five thousand. I had not half the number. We fought till he lost seventy men, and I had thirty killed and fifteen wounded. He then fled to the jungles, and I levelled his fort with the ground. He continued, however, to plunder, and at last seized the bridegroom and all the marriage party, and took them to his bivouac in the jungles. The family was very respectable, and made application to me, and I was obliged to restore him to his estate, where he has lived ever since in peace. I attacked him in November 1848, and he took off the marriage party in February following." "But," said a poor hackery driver, who was running along by my side, and had yesterday presented me a petition, "you forgot to get back my two carts and bullocks which he still keeps, and uses for his own purpose, though I have been importuning you ever since." "And what did he do to you when he got you into the jungles?" "He tied up and flogged all who seemed respectable, and worth something—such as merchants and shopkeepers—and poked them with red-hot ramrods till they paid all they could get, and promised to use all the influence and wealth of their families to force the Amil to restore him to his estate on his own terms." "And were the parties married after their release?" "Yes, sir, we were released in April, after the Amil had been made to consent to his terms; and they were married in May; but I could not get back my two carts." "And on what terms did you restore this Imam Buksh to his estate?" "I granted him a lease, sir," said the Amil, "at the same rate of five thousand rupees a-year which he had paid before."*
[* This Imam Buksh, in April, 1850, went in disguise to the annual fair held at Bahraetch, in honour of the old saint. He was recognized by some of Captain Bunbury's soldiers, who attempted to seize him. He was armed with sword, spear, and shield, and defended himself as long as he could. Seeing no chance of escape, he plunged both sword and spear into his own belly, and died, though Captain Bunbury came up, had his wounds sewn up, and did all he could to save him.]
Stopping to talk with the peasantry of a village who had come out to the roadside to pay their respects and see the procession, I asked them how, amidst such crimes and disorders, they could preserve their crops so well. "Sir," said they, "we find it very difficult and expensive to do so, and shall find it still more so when the crops are cut and stacked, or have been threshed and stored; then these gangs of robbers have it all their own way, and burn and plunder all over the country; we are obliged to spend all we have in maintaining watchmen for our fields." "But the pausee bowmen have an allowance for this duty, have they not?" "Yes, sir, they have all an allowance. Every cultivator, when he cuts his crop, leaves a certain portion standing for the pausee who has guarded it, and this we call his Bisar. Over and above this he has a portion of land from the proprietor or holder of the village, which he tills himself or gets tilled by others." "And they are strong and faithful watchmen, are they not?" "Yes, sir, they are; and though they will thieve and join gangs of robbers in any enterprise, they will never betray their trust. They consider it a point of honour not to trespass on fields or property under the guardianship of members of their own class with whom they are on good terms, or to suffer any persons whatever to trespass on what is under their own care. The money which we send to the treasuries is commonly intrusted to pausees, and their fidelity and courage may be relied upon. The gang robbers do little injury to our fields while the crops are green, for they take animals of hardly any kind with them in their enterprises; and having to move to and from their points of attack as quickly as possible, they could carry little of our crops with them; they are, too, afraid of the arrows of the pausee bowmen at night, if they venture to trespass upon our fields." "And are these pausee bowmen paid at the rate you mention all over the country?" "No, sir; they are in some parts paid in what is called the beega arhaeya, or two seers and half of grain from every beega. From a pucka beega they get pucka two and half seers; and from a kutcha beega, a kutcha two and half seers."* "Your crops, my friends, are finer than I have ever before seen them in Oude." "Yes, sir, they are very fine; but how we shall gather them God only knows, with such gangs of desperate robbers all around us. The alarm is sounded every night, and we have no rest. The Government authorities are too weak to protect us, or too indifferent to our sufferings; and we cannot afford to provide the means to protect ourselves."
[* The kutcha measure bears the same relation to the pucka in weight as in land measurement.]
As we went on, I asked the Amil what had become of Ahburun Sing, of Kyampore, the landholder who murdered his father to get possession of his estate, as mentioned in the early part of this Diary. "Ahburun Sing, sir, is still in possession of his estate of Kyampore, and manages it exceedingly well." "I thought he had taken to the jungles with his gang, like the rest of his class after such a crime, in order to reduce you to terms?" "It was his father, sir, Aman Sing, that was doing this. He was the terror of the country; neither road nor village was safe from him. He murdered many people, and plundered and burnt down many villages; and all my efforts to put him down were vain. At last I came to an understanding with his eldest son, who remained at home in the management of the estate, and was on bad terms with his father. He had confidential persons always about his father for his own safety; and when he was one night off his guard, he went at the head of a small band of resolute men, and seized him. He kept him in prison for six months, and told me that while so much plunder was going on around, he did not feel secure of keeping his father a single night; that many of his old followers wanted him back as their leader, and would certainly rescue him if he was not disposed of; that he could not put him to death, lest he should be detested by his clan as a parricide; but if I would make a feigned attack on the fort, he would kill him, and make it appear that he had lost his life in the defence of it. I moved with all the force I had against the fort, discharged many guns against the walls, made a feigned attempt at escalade; and in the midst of the confusion Aman Sing was killed. As soon as this was done, I returned with my force; the son remained in possession of the estate, and all the surrounding country was delighted to hear that so atrocious a character had been got rid of."
This was all true, and the Amil did not seem to think that any one who listened to him could suppose that he had done anything dishonourable in all this: he seemed to think that all must feel as he did, seeing his utter inability to cope with these baronial robbers in any other way, and the evils they every day inflicted upon the people. This Aman Sing was the most formidable of these robbers in this district, and the high road from Lucknow to Fyzabad was for some time closed by his gang. Of those whom he robbed, he used to murder all who appeared likely to be able to get a hearing at Court or at the Residency.
The Behraleea Rajpoots, of the Soorujpore Behreyla purgunna, are now the most formidable and inveterate robbers and plunderers in the district. The Rajah of this estate, Singjoo, was for some years the most formidable robber in Oude. He had taken a dislike to the family of a sipahee of the Governor-General's bodyguard; and, in an evil hour, he buried the sipahee's father, and some members of his family, alive. Strong remonstrances were made through the Resident, and Man Sing, the son of Dursan Sing, who has been already mentioned in this diary, had orders to seize him. In March, 1845, he made a march of forty miles at the head of five hundred active and brave men; and, on the night of the 20th of that month, reached the gate of the fort of Soorujpore, broke it open, entered, killed and wounded fifty of the Rajah's men, and lost five of his own.
The Rajah escaped and took shelter in the fort of Goura. After taking possession of the fort, eight guns, and some elephants, and releasing two hundred unhappy prisoners, Man Sing followed the Rajah to Goura, where he was joined by Captain Magness and his corps. The gate of this fort was giving way before Man Sing's pickaxemen, when Singjoo surrendered. He was taken to Lucknow, and there died in gaol. The village, in which his father had been buried alive, Hukkamee, was given to the sipahee, and is still held by the family;* but they are a good deal worried in the possession by the widow of the old Rajah, who still lives at Soorujpore, and would be as formidable as her late husband was if she could.
[* In the interval, during which Singjoo held this village, he had added to its boundaries a good deal of land belonging to himself and others, under the impression that he was secure in the hereditary possession. The sipahee's family seized upon all these lands, while they paid Government only the old rate of revenue. The widow of Singjoo has been ever since trying to recover them, in the usual way, by night attacks, and a good many lives have been lost on both sides, but most on the side of the sipahee's family. December 4th, 1851.]
Seodeen, another leader of the same tribe, had been seized in the same manner by Man Sing's father, Dursun Sing, in October, 1830; and soon after three of his nephews were seized, and all four died in gaol at Lucknow; but Chunda and Indul, the brothers of these three men, are still among the most formidable robbers of the district. Hardly a night passes without their plundering some village or other, though Chunda continues to hold his estate, which yields 2250 rupees a-year, under the security of Seetla Buksh, the commandant of the Jannissaree battalion, for the payment of four hundred and fifty rupees a-year. The other robbers of the Dureeabad Rodowlee district, most formidable, are—
1. Imambuksh, above described, as having seized the marriage party. In October last he attacked the town of Syud Mahomedpore, killed three of the Syud proprietors, and plundered it of all he could find. In the interval between his being driven out of his stronghold and restored, he attacked and plundered no less than twelve villages, in the same purgunna of Bussooree Mowae. In one of them, Myrmow, belonging to Ameer Chowdheree, he killed no less than twelve of the inhabitants. He still keeps up his gang, and plunders, though restored to his estate on his own terms.*
[* The death of this robber, Imam Buksh, has been already described in a note.]
2. Junuck Sing, Behraleea, and his brother, Jeskurun, only twenty days ago, attacked, plundered, and burnt down the town of Meeangunge, through which we passed this morning, and carried off all the inhabitants from whom they thought they could extort any ransom. Only two days ago, they attacked and plundered the village of Bhojpore, belonging to Soorujbulee Canoongo, one of the most respectable men in the district; and cut off the hands of six persons, one of whom died from loss of blood. The next day they attacked and plundered Gorawa, a village belonging to the same person, and burnt it down. Two of the inhabitants were severely wounded, and many bullocks perished in the flames. Within the last year they have taken off more than two thousand head of cattle from the purgunna of Soorujpore Behreyla, in which these villages are situated. Their chief associates in the crimes they commit every day are Chunda and Indul, their clansmen above named.
3. Daood Khan, zumeendar of Sundona, in Mowae Bussooree. He has murdered several of his co-sharers in the estate, and taken their lands—frightened out others, and taken theirs, and at the head of his band of ruffians he robs on the highway, and plunders villages.
4. Benee Sing Kana, Rajpoot of Deeh, in the Mohlara purgunna. He is blind of one eye, and has a small but formidable gang. In November, 1850, the native collector of Mohlara, sent a detachment of one hundred men, accompanied by Seonath Sing, a co-sharer of Benee Sing, in the village of Deeh, and Oree Sing, a sipahee, in Captain Orr's Frontier Police, to attack his small gang in their stronghold at Atgowa, in the Rodowlee purgunna. They reached the place at the dawn of day, and forthwith commenced the attack. Benee Sing and his men made a stoat defence. Rajah Man Sing came up, and great numbers of the armed peasantry joined in the attack. They took the place about nine o'clock; but Benee Sing, with fourteen of his stoutest men, defended his house as a citadel till morning, when the house was set fire to by the assailants. One of the fourteen was burnt and disabled, when Benee Sing and the remaining thirteen rushed out, sword in hand, to sell their lives as dearly as possible. Benee Sing and twelve of the thirteen were killed; and the thirteenth at last threw down his arms, and called for quarter. He got it, and was saved. Six of his men had before been killed in defending the place. Man Sing had three men wounded and one killed; three more of the assailants were killed, and seven wounded. The head of the "one-eyed robber" was sent in to the king, and was received with much joy.
5. Jeskurun Behraleea, zumeendar of Kiteya, in Soorujpore.
6. Rughbur Behraleea, of Kiteya, an associate of Imam Buksh and Chunda. Four months ago his gang seized two carts laden with valuable property belonging to Seodeen subahdar, of the Honourable Company's service. Through the interposition of the Resident they were restored fifteen days ago.
7. Jugurnath Chuprassee, a bhala soltan Rajpoot. This is one of the most formidable of the leaders of banditti in this and the adjoining district of Jugdeespore. He and his elder brother, Surubdowun Sing, were chuprassees on the establishment of Captain Paton, when he was the First Assistant at Lucknow, and had charge of the Post-office, in addition to his other duties. A post-office runner was one night robbed on the road, and Jugurnath was sent out to inquire into the circumstances. The Amil of the district gave him a large bribe to misrepresent the case to his master; and as he refused to share this bribe with his fellow-servants, they made known his manifold transgressions to Captain Paton, who forthwith dismissed him. Surubdowun Sing was soon after dismissed for some other offence, and they both retired to their estate of Oskamow, in the Jugdeespore district.
This estate comprised fifteen villages. They obtained the leases of these villages by degrees, through the influence which their position at the Residency gave them. As soon as they got the lease of a village, they proceeded to turn out all the old proprietors and cultivators, in order the better to secure possession in perpetuity; and those among them of the military class, fought "to the death," to retain or recover possession of their rights. To defend what they had iniquitously acquired, Jugurnath and his brothers collected together bands of the most desperate ruffians in the country, and located them in the several villages, so as to be able to concentrate and support each other at a concerted signal. The ousted proprietors attacked only those who presumed to reside in or cultivate the lands of which they had been robbed; but Jugurnath and his brethren were less scrupulous; and as they could afford to pay such bands in no other way, they gave them free licence to plunder all the villages around, and all travellers on the highway. Their position and influence at the Residency enabled them to deter the local authorities from exposing their iniquities; and they went on till all the villages became waste, and converted into dens of robbers.
They were, in all, six brothers, and they found their new trade so profitable and exciting, that they all became leaders of banditti, by profession, long before the dismissal of the two brothers from the Residency, though no one, I believe, ventured to prefer charges against them to the Resident or the Durbar. Soon after their dismissal, however, Jugurnath one night attacked and murdered his eldest brother, Surubdowun Sing, in order to get the whole estate to himself, and put his widow and daughter into prison. His other four brothers became alarmed, separated from him, and set up each his separate gang. But Jugurnath contrived soon after, in a dark night, to shoot the third brother, Himmut, dead, with one ball through the chest. Purmode Sing, the youngest brother, was soon after shot dead by some villager, whose cattle he was driving off in a night attack. Bhugwunt Sing the fourth, and Byjonath, still survive, and have gangs of their own, afraid to trust themselves with Jugurnath, who has built two forts, Oskamow and Futtehpore, in the Jugdeespore district, and a third in two small villages, which he has lately seized upon and made waste, in the Rodowlee district, in order that he may have a stronghold to fly to when pressed by the governors of other districts.