They pay no rent or revenue to Government for any of the villages they hold. The king's officers are afraid to demand any from them. They have plundered a great many villages, and are every month plundering others. They have murdered a great many persons of both sexes and all ages, and tortured more into paying ransoms in proportion to their supposed means. Jugurnath is still the terror of the surrounding country, and a reward of five hundred rupees has been offered for his apprehension.*
[* See note to Chapter VI., Vol. II., on the capture of Maheput Sing. A reward of one thousand rupees has since been offered for Jugurnath's arrest. See in Chapter IV., Vol. II:, an account of his desertion of his master, Captain Paton. He is still at large, and plundering. December 4th, 1851.]
8. Moorut Sing, of Kiteya, which has eleven small villages depending upon it, all occupied by Rajpoot robbers. Nowgowa, in Mohlara, in Rodowlee, on the left bank of the Goomtee river, twenty miles below Lucknow, has, in the same manner, twelve villages depending upon it, all occupied by Rajpoots, who rob, or shelter robbers, when pursued from the east. On the opposite bank is the village of Kholee, in the Hydergurh purgunna, held by Surfraz Chowdheree, and occupied by Brahmans and Musulmans, who shelter robbers in the same way. When they are pressed in Nowgowa they take shelter in Kholee, and when pressed in Kholee they take shelter in Nowgowa. All the robbers above named find shelter in these villages when pursued, and share their plunder with the inhabitants.
8. Bhooree Khan. The great-grandfather of Bhooree Khan, Rostam Khan. was the leader of a large gang of Musulman freebooters. The estate of Deogon, containing thirty-seven villages, belonged to a family of Bys Rajpoots. Rostam Khan and his gang seized upon them all, and turned out the Rajpoot proprietors, and by force made three of them Musulmans, Kanhur, Bhooree, Geesee; and all their descendants are of the same creed.
Imam Buksh, the father of Bhoree Khan, built a fort in Deogon, which the family still held. In 1829, Rajah Dursun Sing took the mortgage of the estate for twenty-eight thousand one hundred and ten rupees, to enable Imam Buksh to liquidate a balance of revenue due to Government. When the time of payment came, in 1832, Imam Buksh could pay nothing; and he transferred the estate to Dursun Sing, on a deed of sale or bynama. He continued to manage the estate for Dursun Sing in farm; but, falling in balance, he was put into confinement, where he remained till he died, three years after, in the year 1842. Bhooree Khan was then a boy, but he continued to receive the usual perquisites from the estate while Dursan Sing held it. In the year 1846, the governor of the district, Wajid Allee Khan, took the estate from Dursun Sing's family, and made it over to Bhooree Khan for a present of five thousand rupees. He ceased to pay the Government demand, collected a gang, and became a leader of banditti. He plundered all the people around, and all travellers on the road, seized and confined all who seemed likely to be able to pay ransom, and tortured and maimed them till they did pay; and those who could not or would not pay, he put to cruel deaths. The thirty-six villages on his estate became deserted by all save his followers, and those whom he could make subservient to his purposes, as robbers and murderers.
Ousan Opudeea resided at the village of Etapore, in the estate of Deogon, and possessed and cultivated lands in that and other villages around, for which he paid an annual rent of five hundred and ninety- nine rupees. In 1846, Bhooree Khan demanded from Ousan an increase of one hundred and fifty rupees, which he paid. The year after 1847, he demanded a further increase of the same amount, which he paid. He was then summoned to appear before Bhooree Khan, and was on his way when told that he would be seized with all his family, and tortured. He, in consequence, took his family to the village of Patkhoree. Bhooree Khan followed with a gang of several hundred men, and two guns, attacked, plundered, and burnt down his house, and fifteen bullocks and buffaloes perished in the flames. One hundred and fifty head of cattle belonging to the village were taken off by the gang. Dwarka, one of Ousan's sons, was killed in defending the house; and the other two, Davey, aged sixteen, and Seochurun, aged seventeen, were seized, bound, and taken off to the jungle, with Ramdeen, Ousan's nephew, and many others of the respectable inhabitants of the village. After exacting a ransom from all the rest, he let them go; but retained the two sons of Ousan, and demanded twelve hundred rupees for their ransom. Ousan had lost all his property in the attack, and could raise no more than seven hundred rupees among his relatives and friends. This would not satisfy Bhooree Khan, who, after torturing and starving the boys for twelve months, and taking the seven hundred rupees, took them to the jungle of Gaemow, with fetters on their legs, and bamboo collars round their necks. He there had them tied to trees, and after firing at them as targets, for some time, with bows and arrows, he had them cut to pieces with swords, and then seized upon all the lands which their father held.
In 1848, Bhooree Khan attacked and plundered the house of Peer Khan, in Khanseepoor in Deogon, and bound and carried him off with his two brothers, Ameer Khan and Jehangeer Khan. He had them beaten with sticks, and caused small iron spikes to be driven up under their nails, and their eyelids to be sewn up with needle and thread, and their beards to be burned, till he extorted from them a ransom of eight hundred rupees.
While they were thus confined and being tortured, they saw four travellers brought in by the gang, and tortured and beaten to death, because they could not pay the ransom demanded from them.
Bhoree Khan, in this month of August 1848, attacked the house of Sirdar Khan, an invalid naek of the 36th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, and, after robbing it, burnt it to the ground, and bound and carried off to his fort in Deogon, Sirdar Khan himself and his three sons, Khoda Buksh, Allah Buksh, and Allee Buksh; the first fourteen years of age, the second eight, and the third seven years. He tortured all three, and demanded a ransom of nineteen hundred rupees. This sum was borrowed and paid by Jehangeer Khan, the brother of the naek, and the naek was released. Bhooree Khan would not, however, release either of the sons till he got five hundred rupees more; but Sirdar Khan was unable to procure this further sum, and, in April 1849, Bhooree Khan had two of the boys, Khoda Buksh and Alla Buksh, tied to trees and shot to death with arrows, for the amusement of his gang. They were then hacked with swords, and their bodies were thrown into a ditch, whence he would not permit their friends to remove them for burial. Sirdar Khan became for a time deranged on hearing of the sufferings of his sons, and wandered about the country. Bhooree Khan, with his gang, again attacked the village, and burned it all down, and drove off all the cattle, including all that Sirdar Khan possessed. He recovered, and changed his residence to the village of Deokalee. Bhooree Khan still retained the third son, Allee Buksh, alias Pulleen, and he is still in prison.*
[* The Resident effected the release of the third son, Allee Buksh, in January, 1851, through the aid of Captain Orr, of the Frontier Police.]
Sirdar Khan's ancestors were the Rajpoot proprietors of the estate of Deogon, and were forcibly converted to Mahommedanism by Bhooree Khan's ancestors when they seized upon the estate. Sirdar Khan cultivated eighteen beegahs of land in the village of Salteemow, in Deogon, for which he had long paid thirty-six rupees a year rent. Bhooree Khan demanded sixty-five a-year before the attack, and this sum Sirdar Khan paid, but it had no effect in softening the robber leader.
In the year 1847, soon after he took possession of the estate, Bhooree Khan sent a gang under the command of his cousin, Mungul Khan, to attack the house of Dulla, the most opulent and respectable merchant of the district, who resided in the town of Mukdoompore. Dulla had two sons, Nychint and Pursun Sing. After plundering the house, the gang seized Dulla, his son Nychint, Golbay the son of Pursun Sing, and Ajoodheea the son of Nychint. Pursun Sing, the other son of the old merchant, had gone off to the Governor of the district, Rajah Incha Sing. to adjust his annual accounts. The females of the family got out through the back-door of the female apartments, and escaped to the village of Etwara, in the Jugdeespore district, where they had a residence. All the valuables had been buried in a pit in the house, some ten feet deep, and the females had no time to take them up.
The old man, his son Nychint, and his two sons, were sent off to Bhooree Khan, who, on learning that the valuables had not been found, came with fifty more armed men, accompanied by Baboo Mudar Buksh, the tallookdar of Silha in Jugdispore, his own agent Muheput, and a Brahmin prisoner named Cheyn, who knew Dulla, and the wealth he possessed. He brought with him the merchant's son Nychint, and commanded him to point out the place in which the valuables lay concealed. He would not do so, and Bhooree Khan then drove four tent- pins into the ground in the courtyard, placed Nychint on his face, and tied his hands and feet to these pegs. He then had him burnt into the bones with red-hot ramrods, but the young man still persisted in his refusal. He had then oil boiled in a large brass pot which they found in the house, and poured it over him till all the skin of his body came off. He became insensible for a time, and when he recovered his senses he pointed out the spot. Gold and silver ornaments and clothes of great value, and brass utensils belonging to the family, or held as pledges for money due to the old man, were taken up, with one hundred and fifty matchlocks and the same number of swords. They found also many pits, containing several thousand maunds of grain. The valuables, and as much of the grain as he could find carriage for, Bhooree Khan and his gang carried off, and the rest of the grain he gave to any one who would take it. The value of the whole plunder was estimated at one hundred and fifty thousand rupees.
Nychint was unbound, but died that night, and the body was made over to the Brahmin, Cheyn, who had now become a Mussulman. He took it to the jungle, where he had it burnt with the usual ceremonies. Bhooree Khan still detained Ajodheea, the son of Nychint, and Golbay, the son of Pursun Sing, and demanded a further ransom for them, but he released Dulla, who came home and died of grief and of the tortures inflicted upon him in less than a month after. Cheyn, Dabey Sookul, and Forsut, all Brahmins of Mukdoompoor, were witnesses to the tortures inflicted upon Nychint, and to the plunder of the house. He kept Dulla's grandsons for a year more, with occasional tortures, but the surviving son, Pursun Sing, had nothing more to give, and no one would give or lend him anything. Golbay, his son, at last contrived to get a letter conveyed to him, stating that he was now less carefully guarded than he had been; that he and his cousin, Ajodheea, were sent to take their meals with a bearer, who lived in a hamlet on the border of the jungle, where they were guarded by only four pausee bowmen, and if his father could come with fifty armed men, and surprise them at a certain hour, he might rescue them. He assembled fifty men from surrounding villages, and at the appointed time, before daybreak, he surprised the guard, and rescued his son and nephew.
Gunga Purshad, son of Chob Sing, canoongo of Silha, in Deogon, left the place when Bhooree Khan took to plundering, and went off, in 1847, with his family to reside at Budulgur, a village held by Allee Buksh, a mile distant. A month after he had settled in that place, Bhooree Khan came with his gang, surrounded his house at night, plundered it, and seized and took off his brother, Bhowanee Purshad, two younger brothers, and his, Gunga Purshad's, daughter and son, with Gowree Lall and Gunesh Purshad, his relations, who had come on a visit to congratulate him on the prudence of his change of residence. Gunga Purshad was absent at the time on business. All the prisoners were taken to the jungles and tortured with red-hot iron ramrods, and put into heavy fetters. He demanded a ransom of nine hundred and fifty rupees for all. Gunga Purshad sold all he had except some cows and bullocks, and collected four hundred rupees, and his relation's clubbed together and raised one hundred more. The five hundred were sent to Bhooree Khan, and he took them and released all but Bhowanee Purshad. His two younger brothers collected the cows and bullocks, and went with them to Mukdoompoor, in the hope of being allowed to till their lands; but Bhooree Khan and his gang came, seized and sold all the cows and bullocks they had saved, plundered them of everything, and took their lands from them. They all fled once more, and went to reside at Putgowa. At Mukdoompoor, Bhooree Khan had Bhowanee Purshad flogged so severely that he fell down insensible, and he then had red-hot iron spikes thrust into his eyes, and a few days after he died in confinement of his sufferings. The value of the property taken from the family, besides the five hundred rupees' ransom, was one thousand rupees. He, about the same time, seized and carried off from Mukdoompoor Gunga Sookul, a Brahmin, tortured him to death, and threw his body into the river.
About the same time, August 1847, he seized and carried off Cheyn, a Brahmin of Mukdoompoor, son of Bhowanee Buksh. He had come to him to pay the year's rent for the lands he held in that village. After paying his own rents and those of others who were afraid to put themselves into Bhooree Khan's power, and had sent by Cheyn all that was due, he demanded from him a ransom of four hundred rupees. He could give no more, and was put under a guard and tortured in the usual way. As he persisted in declaring his inability to pay more, a necklace of cow's bones was put round his neck, and one of the bones was thrust into his mouth, and the blood of a cow was thrown over him, from which he became for ever an outcast from his religion. He expected to be put to death, but a friend conveyed to him the sum of ten rupees, which he gave to the robbers employed to torture him, and they spared his life. His son had taken shelter in the village of Pallee, whence he sent a pausee bowman, named Bhowaneedeen, to inquire after him, and offered him ninety rupees if he would rescue his father. The pausee pledged himself to Bhooree Khan to pay the money punctually, and Cheyn was released. But Bhooree Khan had cut down all the crops upon the lands, and taken them away, and cut down also the five mango-trees which stood upon his land and had been planted by his ancestors. During his confinement, Cheyn saw Bhooree Khan torture and murder many men, and dishonour many respectable women, whom he had seized in the same way.
In the same month, August 1847, Bhooree Khan seized Sudhae, the son of Tubbur Khan, of Salteemow, in Deogon, and his (Sudhae's) two sons, Surufraz and Meerun Buksh, and took them to the jungle. Sadhae had paid him the eighty rupees rent due for the land he tilled, but Bhooree Khan demanded one hundred rupees more; and when he could not pay he made him over to the Jumogdar, to whom he had become pledged for the payment of a certain sum. The Jumogdar had him beaten till he saw that nothing could be beaten out of him, when he let him go to save the cost of keeping him. Bhooree Khan became very angry, and, with his gang, attacked and plundered the house of Sudhae's brother, Badul Khan, in Salteemow, with whom Sudhae lived. The two brothers and their families expected this attack, and escaped unhurt, and fled, but they lost all their property.
Bhooree Khan then ordered one of his followers, Mirdae, to take Surufraz to a tank outside the village and cut off his nose. He took out at the same time Bukhtawur, a Brahmin, and cut off his nose first. Mirdae then ordered a Chumar, of Deogon, to cut off the nose of Surafraz, and standing over him with a sword, told him to cut it off deep into the bone. Surufraz prayed hard for mercy, first to Bhooree Khan and then to Mirdae; but his prayers were equally disregarded by both. The Chumar cut off his nose with a rude instrument into the bone, and with it-all his upper lip. He was then let go; but he fell down, after going a little distance, from pain and the loss of blood, and was there found by his uncle, Badul Khan, who had gone in search of him. He was taken home, but died the same night. His brother, Meerun Buksh, was soon after released for a ransom of fifty rupees.
Golzar Khan, sipahee of the Dull Regiment, in the King of Oude's service, tilled some lands in the village of Mukdoompore, for which he paid rent to Bhooree Khan. In 1847 he first extorted from him double the rent agreed upon, then seized all the crops, and plundered his house, and lastly seized the sipahee's sister, and had her forcibly married to his servant and relative, Mungul Khan.
In 1846 Bhooree Khan attacked the house of Allah Buksh of Gaemow, in Deogon, plundered it, killed his brother, Meerun Buksh, cut off the hands of his relative, Peer Buksh, and wounded three other relatives who happened at the time to be on a visit with his family. The articles of property that were taken off by Bhooree Khan and his gang consisted of five horses and mares, fifteen matchlocks, four maunds of brass utensils, three hundred and twenty-five maunds of grain, five swords, four boxes of clothes, fifteen cows and bullocks, five hundred and forty rupees in money. The houses of all the rest of the village community were plundered in the same manner. They cut down all the mango and mhowa trees belonging to the family, as well as all those belonging to other people of the village.
In 1847 he attacked the house of Akber Khan, in the village of Kanderpore, in Deogon; and after plundering it, he bound and carried off his son, Rumzam, a lad of fifteen years of age; and the year after, 1848, he again attacked his house, and seized and took off his brother, Wuzeer Khan. He has them still in confinement under torture, because Akber Khan cannot get the sum demanded for their ransom; and all applications for their release to the Government authorities have been disregarded.*
[* The Resident could not effect the release of these two persons, the son and brother of Akber Khan, till January, 1851.]
In the month of August, 1848, Pransook, a Rajpoot, and Lullut Sing, his cousin, of Booboopore, in Rodowlee, went to purchase a supply of bhoosa for their cattle to Mukdoompore, in the Deogon estate, and were there seized by Aman Sing, an agent of Bhooree Khan, who pretended that they had given shelter to some of the cultivators who had fled from Deogon, and demanded their surrender. They protested that they had never seen any such cultivators, and knew nothing whatever about them. They were bound and taken off to Deogon to Bhooree Khan, who had them both put into the stocks. After having been in the stocks for five days, they were again taken to Bhooree Khan, who ordered them to produce the cultivators, or pay a ransom of one hundred and five rupees. They were then taken back to prison, and confined for eighteen days more; and having no food supplied them, they were obliged to sell all the clothes they wore to procure a scanty supply.
To frighten them, Bhooree Khan one day ordered his followers to make outcasts in their presence of two respectable men whom he had in prison, Deena Sing, a Chowan Rajpoot of Jooreeum, and a Brahmin of Poorwa, a small hamlet near Deogon, while he sat on the roof of his house to look on. One of his Musulman followers forced open Deena Sing's mouth, and spit into it; and the others tied the bones of a neelgae round the neck of the Brahmin, by which both of them were deprived of their caste. They then told Pransook and Lullut Sin that they would be served in the same manner unless they paid the ransom demanded. They became alarmed, and sent to their friends to request them earnestly to borrow all they could, and send it for their ransom. Their cousin, Sheobuksh Sing Jemadar, an invalid pensioner from the 2nd Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, collected one hundred and eighteen rupees, and sent them. Bhooree Khan took one hundred and five for himself, and his servants took thirteen, and they were released; but they were made to swear on the tomb of the saint Shah Sender that they would not complain of the treatment they had received, and had their swords and shields taken from them. They had been confined twenty-seven days.
In 1846 Davey Sookul, a Brahmin, cultivated land in Mukdoompore, for which he paid an annual rent of seventy-one rupees. In consequence of murders and robberies perpetrated by Bhooree Khan and his gang, he went off with his family to reside at Budulgur, under the protection of Rajah Allee Buksh, a mile distant. He had witnessed the murder of Bhowanee Purshad and the torture of many other persons. One morning his brother, Gunga Purshad, returned to Mukdoompore to gather some mangoes from trees there planted by their ancestors. He was there seized by Bhooree Khan and his gang, who were lying in wait for him. They demanded a ransom of three hundred rupees, which Davey Sookul could not raise. He kept Gunga Purshad in prison for four months, and had him tortured every day. Finding that the money was not forthcoming, Bhooree Khan had a firebrand thrust into one of his eyes, and then had him flogged with bunches of sticks till he died. Khoda Buksh, of Kurteepore, one of the followers of Bhooree Khan, went and reported this to his brother and widow, who wept over the tale of his sufferings. His brother, Boodhoo Sookul, a sipahee of the 45th Regiment, presented a petition to the Resident, describing these atrocities, and praying redress, but none was afforded.
Bukhtawur, son of Kaushee, a Brahmin, tilled lands in Deogon, for which he paid an annual rent of sixty-eight rupees. In 1847 Bhooree Khan demanded double that sum; and when he could not pay, he seized and sold all the stock on the land, and seized and took off to the jungles Bukhtawur and his two brothers, Heeralall and Jankee, and seized upon all their lands, and all the property they had to the value of five hundred rupees. He kept them in prison for six months, and then had Bukhtawur's nose cut off by a Chumar, because he could not pay him the ransom demanded. The nose of Surufraz was cut off at the same time, as above described, and he died in consequence. Bukhtawur's two brothers made their escape three months afterwards.
In 1848 he attacked the house of Choupae Tewaree, a Brahmin of Ottergow, and after plundering it he took off the son of Choupae, then thirteen years of age, and his, the son's, wife, and his young son and his wife, and tortured all, till Choupae borrowed and begged all he could, and paid the ransom demanded.
Purotee Aheer tilled sixteen beegahs of land in Deogon, for which he paid an annual rent of thirty-two rupees a-year. As soon as Bhooree Khan got the estate from Maun Sing, in November, 1846, he demanded double the sum, and exacted it. He, in 1848, demanded two hundred and fifty, seized Purotee, sold all his cows and bullocks, sixteen in number, and other property, and then released him. Purotee then sent off secretly all his family to Duheepore, two miles distant; but Bhooree Khan sent off his servants, Bundheen and Bugolal pausees, to trace them. They seized his two daughters, one fourteen and the other ten years of age, and his son Nihal's wife, and his son, then only four years of age. Bhooree Khan ravished the two girls, and then released them, with Nahal's wife and her little son. Purotee saw the noses of Bukhtawar and Surafraz cut off while he was in confinement, and saw Bhooree Khan put them on a plate, which he placed in a recess in the wall. It was in March, 1848, when he went to pray that his daughters might be released after they had been ravished. The family went to reside in the village of Mohlee, in Khundara, but have all been turned out of their caste in consequence of the dishonour of his daughters.
In the same year he attacked the house of Foorsut Aheer of Dehpal ka Poorwa, made him prisoner, and tortured him till he paid eight hundred rupees. After this he made his escape; but Bhooree Khan seized and sold all his bullocks, cows, and buffaloes, and stores of grain.
In 1845 Bhoore Khan and his gang attacked the house of Buldee Sing, subahdar in the Honourable Company's service, in the village of Ghurwae, and, after plundering him of all the property they could find, they seized him and his wife, and took them to the jungles, where they tortured them till they gave all they could borrow or beg to the amount of many thousand rupees.
About the same time he seized and carried off Eesuree Purshad, a Brahmin, who had fled from Palpore, in Deogon, and gone for shelter to the Bazaar of Ottergow; and after cutting off his nose, he put him on an ass with a young pig tied to his neck, and paraded him through the bazaar, with a drummer before him, to render him an outcast.
In the same year, 1848, he seized Rampurshad Tewaree, and his son Runghoor, cultivators of Deogon, and demanded from them four times the rent due for the land they tilled; and when they could not pay, be sold all their cattle, grain, and other property, and had iron spikes driven up under their nails. Unable to extort money by this means, he caused Sotun Bhurbhoonja, or grain-parcher, to ——— in his father's face, and then released him.
In 1848 he demanded from Junga Salor, a cultivator of Bhudalmow, in Deogon, double rent for the land he tilled; and when he could not pay, seized and took off his wife, and cohabited with her four or five days, and then made some of the followers do the same before he released her.
In the same year, 1848, he and his gang attacked the village of Byrampore, in the Kisnee purgunna, and seized Omrow Sing, a Bys Rajpoot, and Boodhea, a Goojur, and all the respectable inhabitants they could get hold of, with their families. After torturing the rest for eight days, and extorting from them all they could pay, he let them go; but detained Omrow Sing, and had him flogged every day till he reduced him to a dying state, when he let him go. He was taken off to his home; but he died as soon as he entered the house and saw his family. The wife of Boodheea, the Goojur, he confined and violated. Bukhtawur deposes that he saw all this while he was in confinement.
He, in 1848, seized and carried off to his stronghold Kaseeram, a Brahmin, of Deogon, and cut off his nose, and tortured him with hot irons till he got from him all that he and his relations could be made to pay, and then let him go.
In the same year and month be attacked and plundered the village of Puttee, in the Jugdeespore purgunna, carried off all the shopkeepers of the place, and tortured them till they paid him altogether three thousand rupees.
In the same year he attacked the village of Koteea, in the Rodowlee district, carried off one of the shopkeepers, and drove iron pins up under his nails till he paid a ransom of one hundred and fifty rupees. He drove off and sold all the cattle of the village.
In the same year he attacked and plundered the village of Budulgur, in the Jugdeespore purgunna, in the same way.
In the same year he attacked and plundered the village of Khorasa, in Rodowlee, carried off Sopae, the Putwaree, with his mother and wife, and tortured them till they paid a ransom of two hundred rupees. He murdered about the same time the son of Buksh Khan, the holder of the village of Gaepore, and two members of the family of Poorae, a carpenter of Almasgunge, in Deogon.
After plundering the house of Sungum Doobee, a respectable Brahmin of Mukdoompore, he seized him and his nephew, took them off to his fort, and, because they could not pay the ransom he demanded, he caused melting lead to be poured into their ears and noses till they died. About the same time he, with his own hands, for some slight offence, cut the throat of his table-attendant, Kbyratee, of Kunhurpore.
About the same time he seized two travellers; and, because they could not pay the ransom demanded, he suspended one of them to a tree in the village of Sathnee, on the bank of the Goomtee river, and the other to a tree in the village of Mukdoompore. He had their arms first broken with bludgeons, and then their feet cut off, and at last they were beaten over the head till they died.
[Bhooree Khan, in March, 1850, went with a gang of three hundred men to assist Gunga Buksh and his family in the defence of Kasimgunge and Bhetae; but he was too late. On his way back, in the beginning of April, he left his gang in a grove, six miles from Lucknow, and entered the city alone in a disguise to visit a celebrated dancing- girl of his acquaintance, named Bunnee. He had been with her two days, and on the 15th of April he went to see the magnificent tomb of Mahommed Allee Shah, of which he had heard much. While sauntering about this place he was recognised by three or four persons belonging to another dancing-girl of his acquaintance, named the Chhotee Gohur, or "little Gem," whom he had formerly visited. They seized him. As soon as Bunnee heard of this she sent ten or twelve of her own men, and rescued him from the followers of the "Little Gem." They took him to Bunnee, who made a virtue of necessity, and went off with him forthwith to the Minister, who rewarded her with a pair of shawls, and made suitable presents to her followers.
It is said that he was pointed out to the followers of the "Chhotee Gohur" by Peer Khan, of Khanseepore, in Deogon, whom Bhooree Khan had some time before plundered and tortured for a ransom, as already stated. Bhooree Khan was sentenced to transportation beyond seas for life, and sent off in October, 1851.]
After reading such narratives, an Englishman will naturally ask what are the means by which such atrocious gangs are enabled to escape the hands of justice. He will recollect the history of the MIDDLE AGES, and think of strong baronial castles, rugged hills, deep ravines, and endless black forests. They have no such things in Oude.* The whole country is a level plain, intersected by rivers, which, with one exception, flow near the surface, and have either no ravines at all, or very small ones. The little river Goomtee winds exceedingly, and cuts into the soil in some places to the depth of fifty feet. In such places there are deep ravines; and the landholders along the border improve these natural difficulties by planting and preserving trees and underwood in which to hide themselves and their followers when in arms against their Government. Any man who cuts a stick in these jungles, or takes his camels or cattle into them to browse or graze without the previous sanction of the landholder, does so at the peril of his life. But landholders in the open plains and on the banks of rivers, without any ravines at all, have the same jungles.
[* The Terae forest, which borders Oude to the north, is too unhealthy to be occupied by any but those who have been born and bred in it. The gangs I am treating of are composed of men born and bred in the plains, and they cannot live in the Terae forest.]
In the midst of this jungle, the landholders have generally one or more mud forts surrounded by a ditch and a dense fence of living bamboos, through which cannon-shot cannot penetrate, and man can enter only by narrow and intricate pathways. They are always too green to be set fire to; and being within range of the matchlocks from the parapet, they cannot be cut down by a besieging force. Out of such places the garrison can be easily driven by shells thrown over such fences, but an Oude force has seldom either the means or the skill for such purposes. When driven out by shells or any other means, the garrison retires at night, with little risk, through the bamboo fence and surrounding jungle and brushwood, by paths known only to themselves. They are never provided with the means of subsistence for a long siege; and when the Oude forces sent against them are not prepared with the means to shell them out, they sit down quietly, and starve or weary them out. This is commonly a very long process, for the force is seldom large enough to surround the place at a safe distance from the walls and bamboo fence, so as to prevent all access to provision of all kinds, which the garrison is sure to get from their friends and allies in the neighbourhood, the garrison generally having the sympathy of all the large landholders around, and the besieging force being generally considered the common and irreconcilable enemy of all.
As soon as the garrison escapes, it goes systematically and diligently to work in plundering indiscriminately all the village communities over the most fertile parts of the surrounding country, which do not belong to baronial proprietors like themselves till it has made the Government authorities agree to its terms, or reduced the country to a waste. The leaders of the gang may sometimes condescend to quicken the process by appropriating a portion of their plunder to bribing some influential person at Court, who gets an injunction issued to the local authorities to make some arrangement for terminating the pillage and consequent loss of revenue, or he will be superseded or forfeit his contract. The rebel then returns with his followers, repairs all the mischief done to his fort, improves its defences, and stipulates for a remission of his revenue for a year or more, on account of the injury sustained by his crops or granaries. The unlucky Amil, whose zeal and energy have caused the necessity for this reduction, is probably thrown into gaol till "he pays the uttermost farthing," or bribes influential persons at Court to get him released on the ground of his poverty.
I may here mention the jungles in Oude which have been created and are still preserved by landholders, almost solely for the above purposes. They are all upon the finest soil, and in the finest climate; and the lands they occupy might almost all be immediately brought into tillage, and studded by numerous happy village communities.
I may, however, before I begin to describe them, mention the fact that many influential persons at Court, as well as the landholders themselves, are opposed to such a salutary measure. If brought under tillage and occupied by happy village communities, all the revenue would or might flow in legitimate channels into the King's treasury; whereas in their present state they manage to fill their own purses by gratuities from the refractory landholders who occupy them, or from the local authorities, who require permission from Court to coerce them into obedience. Of these gratuities such a salutary measure would deprive them; and it is, in consequence, exceedingly difficult to get a jungle cut down, however near it may be to the city where wood is so dear, and has to be brought from jungles five or ten times the distance.
In the Sultanpore District.
1st.—The Jungle of Paperghat, about one hundred miles south-east from Lucknow, on the bank of the Goomtee river, ten miles long, and three wide, or thirty square miles.
In this jungle Dirgpaul Sing, tallookdar of Nanneemow, has a fort; and Rostum Sing, tallookdar of Dera, has another.
2nd.—The Dostpore Jungle, one hundred and twenty miles south-east from Lucknow, on the bank of the Mujhoee river, twelve, miles long, and three broad, or thirty-six square miles.
3rd.—The Khapra Dehee Jungle, one hundred miles south-east from Lucknow, on the plain, about ten miles long, and six miles broad, or sixty square miles.
4th.—The Jugdeespore Jungle, on the bank of the Goomtee river, fifty miles south-east from Lucknow, sixteen miles long, and three miles broad, forty-eight square miles.
Allee Buksh Khan, tallookdar, has the fort of Tanda in this jungle, on the bank of the Kandoo rivulet, which flows through it into the Goomtee. The fort of Bechoogur in this jungle is held by another tallookdar.
5th.—Gurh Ameytee, seventy miles from Lucknow, south-east, on the bank of the Sae river, nine miles long and three broad, or twenty seven square miles.
Rajah Madhoe Sing has a fort in this jungle, and is one of the very worst, but most plausible men in Oude.
6th.—Daoodpoor Jungle, seventy miles south-east from Lucknow, on the plain, four miles long and three broad, or twelve square miles.
The Beebee or Lady Sagura has her fort and residence in this jungle.
7th.—Duleeppore Jungle, one hundred and ten miles east from Lucknow, on the bank of the Sae river, ten miles long, and three miles wide, thirty square miles.
Seetla Buksh, who is always in rebellion, has a fort in this jungle.
8th.—The Matona Jungle, fifty miles south-east from Lucknow, on the bank of the Goomtee river, twelve miles long and three wide— square miles, thirty-six.
Allee Buksh Khan, a notoriously refractory tallookdar, has a fort in this jungle.
In the Uldeemow District.
9th.—Mugurdhee Jungle, one hundred and forty miles east from Lucknow, on the bank of Ghogra river, eight miles long and three broad—square miles, twenty-four.
10th.—Putona Jungle, one hundred and twenty miles east from Lucknow, on the bank of the Tonus river, eight miles long and four miles broad—square miles, thirty-two.
11th.—Mudungur Jungle, one hundred and twenty miles east from Lucknow, on the bank of the Tonus river, six miles long, and three miles broad—square miles, eighteen.
Amreys Sing and Odreys Sing, sons of Surubdowun Sing (who was killed by the King's troops thirty years ago), hold the fort of Mudungur in this jungle.
12th.—Bundeepore Jungle, east from Lucknow one hundred and forty miles, on the plain, seven miles long and one broad—seven square miles.
13th.—Chunderdeeh, south-east from Lucknow one hundred and ten miles, on the bank of the Goomtee river, seven miles long, and three miles wide—square miles, twenty-one.
In the Dureeabad District.
14th.—Soorujpore Behreyla Jungle, east from Lucknow forty miles, on the bank of the Kuleeanee river, sixteen miles long, and four miles broad—square miles, sixty-four.
Chundee Sing has a fort in this jungle, and the family have been robbers for several generations. The widow of the late notorious robber, Rajah Singjoo, the head of the family, has a still stronger one.
15th.—Guneshpore Jungle, sixty miles south-east from Lucknow, on the bank of the Goomtee river, six miles long and two broad—twelve square miles.
Maheput Sing, an atrocious robber, holds his fort of Bhowaneegur in this jungle.
In the Dewa Jahangeerabad District.
16th.—The Kasimgunge and Bhetae Jungle, eighteen miles north-east from Lucknow, sixteen miles long, and four miles wide—square miles, sixty-four, on the bank of the little river Reyt.
Gunga Buksh holds the forts of Kasimgunge and Atursae in this jungle; Thakur Purshad those of Bhetae and Buldeogur; and Bhugwunt Sing that of Munmutpore. Other members of the same family hold those of Ramgura Paharpore. The whole family are hereditary and inveterate robbers.
In the Bangur District.
17th.—Tundeeawun Jungle, on the plain, west from Lucknow, seventy- two miles, twelve miles long and six broad—square miles, seventy- two.
In the Salone District.
18th.—The Naen Jungle, eighty miles south from Lucknow, on the bank of the Sae river, sixteen miles long and three wide—square miles, forty-eight.
Jugurnath Buksh, the tallookdar, holds the fort of Jankeebund, in this jungle; and others are held in the same jungle by members of his family.
19th.—The Kutaree Jungle, on the bank of the Kandoo river, south- east from Lucknow sixty miles, eight miles long and three broad— square miles, twenty-four.
Surnam Sing, the tallookdar, has a fort in this jungle.
In the Byswara District.
20th.—The Sunkurpore Jungle, south of Lucknow seventy miles, on the plain, ten miles long and three wide—square miles, thirty.
Benee Madhoe, the tallookdar, has three forts in this jungle.
In the Hydergur District.
21st.—The Kolee Jungle, fifty miles south-east from Lucknow, on the bank of the Goomtee river, three miles long and one and a half wide—square miles, four and a half.
The rebels and robbers in this jungle trust to the natural defences of the ravines and jungles.
22nd.—Kurseea Kuraea Jungle, south-east from Lucknow fifty miles, on the bank of the Goomtee river, three miles long and one wide— square miles, three.
The landholders trust in the same way to natural defences.
In the Khyrabad and Mahomdee Districts.
23rd.—Gokurnath Jungle, north-west from Lucknow one hundred miles, extending out from the Terae forest, and running south-east in a belt thirty miles long and five wide—square miles, one hundred and fifty.
Husun Rajah, the tallookdar of Julalpore, has a fort in this jungle. Sheobuksh Sing, the tallookdar of Lahurpore, holds here the fort of Katesura; and Omrow Sing, the tallookdar of Oel, holds two forts in this jungle.
In the Baree and Muchreyta Districts.
24th.—The Suraen Jungle, north-west from Lucknow thirty-four miles, along the banks of the Suraen river, twelve miles long and three miles wide—square miles, thirty-six.
In this jungle Jowahir Sing holds the fort of Basae Deeh; Khorrum Sing, that of Seogur; Thakur Rutun Sing, that of Jyrampore. They are all landholders of the Baree district, and their forts are on the north bank of the Saraen river. Juswunt Sing holds the fort of Dhorhara; Dul Sing, that of Gundhoreea; Rutun Sing holds two forts, Alogee and Pupnamow.—They are all landholders of the Muchreyta district, and their four forts are on the south bank of the Saraen river.
This gives twenty-four belts of jungle beyond the Terae forest, and in the fine climate of Oude, covering a space of eight hundred and eighty-six square miles, at a rough computation.* In these jungles the landholders find shooting, fishing, and security for themselves and families, grazing ground for their horses and cattle, and fuel and grass for their followers; and they can hardly understand how landholders of the same rank, in other countries, can contrive to live happily without them. The man who, by violence, fraud, and collusion, absorbs the estates of his weaker neighbours, and creates a large one for himself, in any part of Oude, however richly cultivated and thickly peopled, provides himself with one or two mud forts, and turns the country around them into a jungle, which he considers to be indispensable as well to his comfort as to his security.
[* The surface of the Oude territory, including the Terae forest, is supposed to contain twenty-three thousand seven hundred and thirty- nine square miles. The Terae forest includes, perhaps, from four to five thousand miles; but within that space there is a great deal of land well tilled and peopled.]
The atrocities described in the above narrative were committed by Bhooree Khan, in the process of converting his estate of Dewa into a jungle, and building strongholds for his gang as it increased and became more and more formidable. Having converted Deogon into a jungle, and built his strongholds, he would, by the usual process of violence, fraud, and collusion with local authorities, have absorbed the small surrounding estates of his weaker neighbours, and formed a very large one for himself. The same process, no doubt, went on in England successively under the Saxons, Danes, and Normans; and in every country in Europe, under successive invaders and conquerors, or as long as the baronial proprietors of the soil were too strong to be coerced by their Sovereign as they are in Oude.
An Englishman may further ask how it is that a wretch guilty of such cruelties to men who never wronged him, to innocent and unoffending females and children, can find, in a society where slavery is unknown, men to assist him in inflicting them, and landholders of high rank and large possessions to screen and shelter him when pursued by his Government. He must, for the solution of this question, also go back to the MIDDLE AGES, in England and the other nations of Europe, when the baronial proprietors of the soil, too strong for their sovereigns, committed the same cruelties, found the same willing instruments in their retainers, and members of the same class of landed proprietors, to screen, shelter, and encourage them in their iniquities.
They acquiesce in the atrocities committed by one who is in armed resistance to the Government to-day, and aid him in his enterprises openly or secretly, because they know that they may be in the same condition, and require the same aid from him to-morrow—that the more sturdy the resistance made by one, the less likely will the Government officers be to rouse the resistance of others. They do not sympathise with those who suffer from his depredations, or aid the Government officers in protecting them, because they know that they could not support the means required to enable them to contend successfully with their Sovereign, and reduce him to terms, without plundering and occasionally murdering the innocent of all ages and both sexes, and that they may have to raise the same means in a similar contest to-morrow. They are satisfied, therefore, if they can save their own tenants from pillage and slaughter. They find, moreover, that the sufferings of others enable them to get cultivators and useful tenants of all kinds upon their own estates, on more easy terms, and to induce the smaller allodial or khalsa proprietors around, to yield up their lands to them, and become their tenants with less difficulty. It was in the same manner that the great feudal barons aggrandised themselves in England, and all the other countries of Europe, in the MIDDLE AGES.
In Oude all these great landholders look upon the Sovereign and his officers—except when they happen to be in collusion with them for the purpose of robbing or coercing others—as their natural enemies, and will never trust themselves in their power without undoubted pledges of personal security. The great feudal tenants of the Crown in England, and the other nations of Europe, did the same, except when they were in collusion with them for the purpose of robbing others of their rights; or fought under their banners for the purpose of robbing or destroying the subjects and servants of some other Sovereign whom he chose to call his enemy.
Only one of these sources of union between the Sovereign and his great landholders is in operation in Oude. Some of them are every year in collusion with the governors of districts for the purpose of coercing and robbing others; but the Sovereign can never unite them under his banners for the purpose of invading and plundering any other country, and thereby securing for himself and them present glory, wealth, and high-sounding titles, and the admiration and applause of future generations. The strong arm of the British Government is interposed between them and all surrounding countries; and there is no safety-valve for their unquiet spirits in foreign conquests. They can no longer do as Ram did two thousand seven hundred years ago—lead an army from Ajodheea to Ceylone. They must either give up fighting, or fight among themselves, as they appear to have been doing ever since Ram's time; and there are at present no signs of a disposition to send out another "Sakya Guntama" from Lucknow, or Kapila vastee to preach peace and good-will to "all the nations of the earth." They would much rather send out fifty thousand more brave soldiers to fight "all the nations of the east," under the banners of the Honourable East India Company.
An English statesman may further ask how it is that so much disorder can prevail in a small territory like Oude without the gangs, to which it must give rise, passing over the border to depredate upon the bordering districts of its neighbours. The conterminous districts on three sides belong to the British Government, and that on the fourth or north belongs to Nepaul. The leaders of these gangs know, that if the British Government chose to interpose and aid the Oude Government with its troops, it could crush them in a few days; and that it would do so if they ventured to rob and murder within its territory. They know, also, that it would do the same if they ventured to cross the northern border, and rob and murder within the Nepaul territory. They therefore confine their depredations to the Oude territory, seeing that, as long as they do so, the British Government remains quiet.
Adventures of Maheput Sing of Bhowaneepoor—Advantages of a good road from Lucknow to Fyzabad—Excellent condition of the artillery bullocks with the Frontier Police—Get all that Government allows for them—Bred in the Tarae—Dacoits of Soorujpoor Bareyla—The Amil connives at all their depredations, and thrives in consequence—The Amil of the adjoining districts does not, and ruined in consequence— His weakness—Seetaram, a capitalist—His account of a singular Suttee—Bukhtawar Sing's notions of Suttee, and of the reason why Rajpoot widows seldom become Suttees—Why local authorities carry about prisoners with them—Condition of prisoners—No taxes on mango- trees—Cow-dung cheaper than wood for fuel—Shrine of "Shaikh Salar" at Sutrik—Bridge over the small river Rete—Recollection of the ascent of a balloon at Lucknow—End of the pilgrimage.
Poorae Chowdheree, of Kuchohee, held a share in the lands of the village of Bhanpoor in Radowlee. He mortgaged it in 1830, to a co- sharer, who transferred the mortgage to Meherban Sing, of Guneshpoor. Poorae disliked the arrangement, and made all the cultivators desert the village of Bhanpoor, and leave the lands waste. Meherban attacked the village of Kuchohee in consequence, killed Porae, and seized upon all the lands of Bhanpoor for himself. Rajah Ram, one of the ousted co-sharers in these lands, attacked and killed Meherban in 1832, and seized upon all the lands of Bhanpoor.
After the death of his first wife, Meherban had attacked the house of Bhowanee Sing, Rajpoot, of Teur, carried off his daughter, who had been affianced to another, and forcibly made her his wife. By her he had one daughter and one son, named Maheput Sing, who now inherited from his father a fifteenth part of one of the six and half shares into which the lands of Guneshpoor were divided. He, by degrees, murdered, or drove out of the village, all his co-sharers, save Gunbha Sing and Chungha Sing, joint proprietors of a small part of one of the shares, known by the name of the Kunnee Puttee. From the year 1843, Maheput Sing became a robber by profession, and the leader of a formidable gang; and in three years, by a long series of successful enterprises, he acquired the means of converting his residence, on the border of the town of Guneshpoor, into a strong fort, among the deep ravines of the Goomtee river. This fort he called Bhowaneegur, after Bhowanee, the patroness of the trade of murder and robbery, which he had adopted.
I shall now mention, more circumstantially, a few of the many atrocities committed by him and his gang, during the last few years of his career, as illustrative of the state of society in Oude. Bulbhudder Sing, a subadar of the 45th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, resided at Rampoor Sobeha, in the Dureeabad district. By degrees he purchased thirteen-sixteenths of the lands of these two small villages, which adjoin each other, out of the savings from his pay, and those of his nephew, Mugun Sing, havildar of the 43rd Regiment Bengal Native Infantry. On his being transferred to the invalid establishment, the subadar resided with his family in Rampoor, and in May, 1846, his nephew, Mugun Sing, came home on furlough to visit him. Gujraj, an associate of Maheput Sing's, held the other three-sixteenths of the lands of these two villages; and by the murder of the subadar and all his family, he thought he should be able to secure for himself the possession of the whole estate in perpetuity. The family consisted of the subadar and his wife,—Mugun Sing, the son of his deceased brother, Man Sing, and his wife; and his son Bijonath and his wife,—Dwarka Sing, son of Ojagur Sing, another deceased brother of the subadar,—Mahta Deen, the son of Chundun Sing, another deceased brother of the subadar, and his wife and young son, Surubjeet Sing, seven years of age,—Kulotee Sing, son of Gobrae, another deceased brother of the subadar,—Bag Sing, a relative,—Bechun Sing, a servant,—Seo Deen, the gardener,—Jeeawun Sing, the barber, and the widow of Salwunt Sing, another son of Mugun Sing, havildar.
When the family were all assembled, Maheput Sing, with Gujraj and other associates, and a gang of one hundred and fifty armed followers, proceeded to the village at midnight, and carefully reconnoitred the premises. It was, after consultation, determined to defer the attack till daybreak, as the subadar and his nephews were known to be brave and well-armed men, who kept watch till towards morning, and would make a desperate resistance, unless taken by surprise. They remained concealed within the enclosure of Gujraj's house, till just before daylight, when they quietly surrounded the subadar's house. As day dawned the subadar got up, opened the door and walked out, as usual, to breathe the fresh air, thinking all safe. He was immediately shot down, and on Mugun Sing's rushing out to assist his uncle, he received a shot in the eye, and fell dead on his body. The robbers then rushed in, cut down Jeeawun, the barber, while attempting to shut the door, and wounded Kulotee Sing,* Bag Sing, and others of the party. Finding that they could no longer stand against the numbers, rushing in at the doors and windows, the defenders climbed from the inside to the flat roof of the house, over the apartments of the men, fired down upon the robbers, who were still inside, and shot one of them. The robbers, finding they could not otherwise dislodge them, set fire to that part of the house, and the men were obliged to leap off to save themselves. In doing this, Bag Sing hurt his spine, and Seo Deen sprained his ankle, and both lay where they fell, pretending to be dead, till night. The others all went off in search of succour.
[* Kulotee Sing was murdered, a few days afterwards, by Maheput and Gujraj, as he was superintending the cultivation of his lands.]
The robbers found the boy, Surubjeet, lying sick on his bed, attended by his mother. They seized him and dashed his head against the ground; and when he still showed signs of life, Gujraj cut him to pieces with his sword. They then seized and stripped the females naked, and sprinkled boiling oil over their bodies, till they pointed out all the property concealed in the house. Seventeen hundred rupees were found buried in the floor; and the rest of the property in clothes, gold and silver ornaments, and brass utensils, amounted to about ten thousand rupees.
About noon, while the robbers were still in the house, the Amil of Mohlara came with a large force and one gun, and surrounded them; but stood at a safe distance, whence he kept up for some time a fire from his gun and his matchlocks, which had no effect whatever. The robbers fired in return from the house, merely to show that they were not to be frightened from their booty in that way. This went on till after dark in the evening, when the robbers all retired to the jungles with their booty, unmolested by the Amil.
Byjonath, who had brought the Amil to the spot, urged him on as much as he could to save the property and females, and avenge the death of those who had fallen, and he killed one man and seized another, the son of one of the leaders; but he was obliged to give him up to the Amil as an hostage, for the recovery of the property, and a witness to the robbery. The Amil kept him for six months, and then let him go on the largest ransom he could get for him from his father. The circumstances were all represented, through the Resident, to the Durbar, and redress prayed for, but none was ever obtained.*
[* When the Resident visited this place, in his tour, in January, 1850, Dwarka Sing and other members of the family described all the circumstances of this attack, and they were taken down; and have been confirmed since by a judicial investigation.]
In May 1846, Maheput attacked the house of Seobuksh, a gardener, and after plundering it, he seized and carried off to the jungle the gardener's brother, Puroutee, and tortured him to death with hot irons, because he could not raise the sum demanded for his ransom.
In August 1847, Maheput Sing and his gang attacked the house of Meherban Tewaree, subadar of the Gwalior Contingent, in the village of Hareehurpoor, in the district of Rodowlee. It was about ten at night, and the whole family were asleep. The subadar lay on his cot below, near the door, his brother, Angud Tewaree, slept on the upper story. Some placed ladders and entered the upper story through a window; Maheput, with others, broke open the door, near which the subadar slept below. The brother got a sword-cut in the hand, and called out from the upper story as loud as he could for help; but their neighbours were all too much alarmed to come to their aid. Maheput seized and bound the subadar with his own waistband, and commanded his brother to come down, saying, that he need not call for help, as the villagers all knew him too well to molest him; and if he did not come down instantly he would set fire to the house. Seeing no chance of help, he came down, and was bound with his own waistband in the same manner. When the subadar remonstrated against this treatment, Maheput struck him over the face. They then plundered the house of all the property it contained, to the value of six hundred and fifty rupees; and took the subadar and his brother to the jungles; and, in the morning, demanded a ransom of one thousand rupees. At last they came down to four hundred rupees and the horse, which the subadar kept for his own riding. The subadar consented, and his brother was released to get the money and horse. He borrowed the money and sent it with the horse through Bhowanee Deen Tewaree, landholder of Ladeeka Poorwa, and the subadar was released. He presented three petitions, through the Resident, and orders were sent from the Durbar to the local authorities, Hurdut Sing and Monna Lal, but they were both in league with the robbers, and tried to get the subadar made away with, to save further trouble, and he sought security with his regiment.*
[* Meherban Tewaree, subadar, was present, as a witness at the subsequent trial of Maheput and Gujraj, who were sentenced to transportation beyond seas for life.]
In January 1847, Maheput and his gang attacked the village of Bahapoor, in the Rodowlee district; and after plundering all the houses, seized and carried off among others Seetul, the spirit- dealer, and the two sons of Reehta, the widow of Bhosoo, one twenty- two years of age, and the other eighteen. They tortured them with red-hot irons, and tied bamboos round their necks every day for fifteen days. Maheput then shot the eldest son, and cut his body to pieces with his sword. The younger son, at night, made his escape while they were asleep, and returned to tell the tale of his brother's murder to his mother. Seetul, the Kalwar, got his uncle to lend him twenty-eight rupees, for which he was released.
In April 1847, Maheput Sing and his gang attacked the house of Ramoutar, Brahmin, of the Brahmin village of Guneshpoor, in Rodowlee; plundered it of properly valued at one hundred rupees, and then bound Ramoutar, his father and two sons, and took them off to the jungles; and there tortured them all for seven days. He then had the two boys, one nine years old and the other five, suspended to a tree and flogged; and Ramoutar himself tied to a thorny tree and beaten till the blood flowed down and drenched his waistband, because he could pay nothing, and would not sign a bond to pay two thousand rupees. His sufferings and the sight of those of his two sons made him at last sign one for one thousand rupees. He was flogged again till his friends brought four hundred out of the thousand, and Cheyt Sing, Thakoor, a respectable landholder of Koleea, in Rodowlee, consented to give security for the payment of two hundred and forty-two rupees more. Ramoutar and his family were then released, after they had been confined and tortured for thirty-six days, and they went off and resided at Bookcheyna in Khundasa. A year after his house was there attacked by Maheput Sing and his gang, and plundered of all it contained; and his brother Seetul, and his youngest son were seized and taken off to his fort at Bhowaneegur, and there tortured and starved for six months. Ramoutar then borrowed one hundred and sixty rupees, and obtained the release of his brother Seetul, and a year after he was able to raise forty-seven rupees more, with which he ransomed his son.
In May 1847, Maheput Sing attacked the house of Seolal Tewaree of Torsompoor, in Rodowlee, at midnight; and after plundering it and stripping his mother and wife, and the wife of his brother, Jurbundun Sing, of all the clothes and ornaments they had, he bound and carried off to the jungle the two brothers, Seolal and Jurbundun. They were flogged, and had hot irons applied to their bodies every day for twenty days, and had only a little flour to eat and water to drink, once in three days. After twenty days they contrived to make their escape one dark and stormy night, and got home; but three days after he again attacked their house and burnt it to the ground, with all they possessed. He, at the same time, burnt down the house of their uncle, in the same village, and that of one of their ploughmen; and two cows and one bullock were burnt to death in the flames.
In July 1847, Maheput Sing and his gang attacked the house of Chubbee Lal, Brahmin, in the village of Bunnee, in the Rodowlee district, and after plundering it of property to the value of five hundred rupees, he bound and took the old Brahmin off to the jungles, and demanded from him a ransom of eight thousand rupees. This sum the old man could not pay, and he was flogged with thorns, and had red-hot irons applied to his body every day. Maheput then sent a letter to the old man's son, Dwarka, desiring him to send the eight thousand rupees if he wished his father to live. The house having been plundered, the family had nothing left, and could persuade no one to lend them. On receiving a reply to this effect, Maheput had the old man's body plastered all over with moist gunpowder, and made him stand in the sun till it was dry. He then set fire to the powder, and the poor man was burnt all over. He then cut off both his hands at the wrists, and his nose, and sent them to his family, and in this condition be afterwards sent the poor man to his home upon a cot. The son met his father at the door, but the old man died as soon as his son had embraced him.
Maheput carried off Pem, the son of Teeka, at the same time, and tortured him till his family paid the ransom demanded. He was witness to the tortures of the old Brahmin.
In August 1847, Maheput and his gang attacked the house of Bichook, a Brahmin, in the village of Torsompoor, in Rodowlee, at midnight, while he was sleeping, and bound and carried him off to the jungle. The next day, when he was about to have him tortured for a ransom, one of his followers interceded for him, and he was released. But a month after, Maheput and his gang again attacked his house, and after plundering it of all it contained, they burnt it to the ground. Bichook had run off on hearing their approach, and he escaped to Syudpoor.
In November, 1846, Maheput Sing attacked the house of Sook Allee, in Guneshpoor, at midnight, with a gang of one hundred men; and, after plundering it of all the property it contained, to the amount of four hundred rupees, he burnt it to the ground, and bound and carried off Sook Allee to the house of his friend, Byjonath Bilwar, a landholder in the village of Kholee, eight miles distant. He there demanded a ransom of five hundred rupees; and on his declaring that he neither had nor could borrow such a sum, he had him tortured with hot irons, and flogged in the usual way. He kept him for two months at Kholee, and then took him to Tukra, in the Soorajpoor purgunnah, where he kept him for another month, torturing, and giving him half a meal every other day. At the end of three months, Akber Sing and Bhowanee Deen, Rajpoot landholders of Odemow, contrived to borrow two hundred rupees for Sook Allee, and he was released on the payment of this sum. The marks of the hot irons, applied to his body by Maheput Sing, with his own hands, are still visible, and will remain so as long as he lives.*
[* I saw these marks on the sufferer.]
About the same time—the latter end of 1846—Maheput Sing sent to Sheik Sobratee, of the same place, a message through a pausee, named Bhowanee Deen, demanding twenty-five rupees. This sum was sent; but six weeks had not elapsed, before Sheik Sobratee received another demand for the same amount, through the same person. He had no money, but promised to send the sum in ten days. At midnight, on the fourth day after this, Maheput and his gang attacked his house, and plundered it of all they could find, female ornaments, and clothes, and brass utensils. Sobratee was that night sleeping at the house of his friend Peree, the wood-dealer, in the same town. Maheput tried to make his mother and wife point out where he was, by torturing them, but they either would not or could not do so. After some search, however, they discovered him, and bound and took him off, with handcuffs, and an iron collar round his neck, to the Kurseea jungle, in the Hydergur pergunnah. His son, a boy, had escaped. After torturing him in the usual way for eight days, they sent a message to his mother by Maheput's servant, Salar, to say, that unless she sent a ransom of five hundred rupees, her son's nose and hands should be cut off and sent to her as those of Chubbee Lal, Brahmin, of Bunnee, had been. She prevailed upon Baroonath Gotum to lend the money; and Maheput sent Sobratee to him, accompanied by one of his armed retainers, with orders to make him over to the Gotum, if he pledged himself in due form to pay. He did so, and Sobratee was made over to him, and the next day sent home to his wife and mother. Some months after, however, when he had completed his fort of Bhowneegur, Maheput sent to demand two hundred rupees more from Sobratee, and when he found he could not pay, he had his house pulled, down, and took away all the materials to his fort. What he did not require he caused to be burnt. He got from Sobratee, in ransom and plunder, more than three thousand rupees; and he has been ever since reduced to great poverty and distress.
In November 1847, Maheput Sing and his gang seized and carried off Khosal, a confectioner, of Talgon, in Rodowlee, who had gone to his sister at Buhapoor, near Guneshpoor, to attend a marriage—took him to the jungle, and tortured and starved him in the usual way for five weeks. He had him burnt with red-hot irons, flogged and ducked in a tank every day, and demanded a ransom of two hundred rupees. At last, his brother, Davey Deen, borrowed thirty-three rupees from Rambuksh, a merchant of Odermow, and offered to pay it for his ransom. Maheput sent Khosal, with his agent, Bhowanee Deen, to Rambuksh, and he released him on getting the money. He still bears on his body the marks of the stripes and burnings.*
[* These marks I have seen.]
In December 1847, Maheput and his gang attacked the house of Motee Lal Misser, a Brahmin, in the village of———, and after robbing it of all that it contained, he seized and carried off his nephew, Ram Deen, a boy of seven years of age, and tortured him for a month in the jungle. He then cut off his left ear and the forefinger of his right hand, and sent them to the uncle in a letter, stating, that if he did not send him one thousand rupees, he would send the boy's head in the same manner. The boy's father had died, and his uncle, with great difficulty, prevailed upon his friends and neighbours to lend him two hundred and twenty rupees, which he sent to Maheput, and his nephew was released. The boy declares to me that Maheput cut off his ear and finger with his own hands.*
[* This boy was present, as a witness, at the trial of Maheput.]
In June 1848, Forsut Pandee, of Resalpandee-ka-Poorwa, in Rodowlee, accompanied Girwar Sing, a Rajpoot of Bowra, in Rodowlee, to Guneshpoor, on some business. They were smoking and talking together at the house of Mungul Sing, Thakoor, a large landholder of that place, when five of Maheput's armed men came up, and told Forsut Pandee to attend them to their master. Girwar Sing remonstrated and declared that his honour had been pledged for Forsut Pandee's personal safety. Mungul Sing, Thakoor, however, told him, that he must offer no opposition, as they seized all travellers who came that way, and it was dangerous to oppose them. He was taken to Maheput Sing, in his fort at Bhowaneegur, situated half a mile from Guneshpoor. Maheput told him that he had heard of his having a good flint gun, and a shawl in his house, and that he must have them. Forsut Pandee swore on the Ganges that he had no such things. He then had him tied up to a tree and flogged him with his own hands with thorny bushes, the scars of which are still visible. He then demanded a ransom of three hundred rupees, and had him flogged and tortured every day for a month, while he gave him to eat only half a pound of flour every two or three days. The prisoner's brother, Bhoree Pandee, sold all the clothes and ornaments of his family, utensils, and furniture, and their hereditary mango and mhowa grove, and raised two hundred and six rupees, which he sent to Maheput, through Baldan Sing, a landholder of Bharatpoor, two miles from Guneshpoor. On the receipt of this Forsut Pandee was released.
In October 1848, Maheput Sing sent ten of his gang to seize a cultivator, by name Khosal, who was engaged in cultivating his land in a hamlet, one mile south of the town of Syudpoor. They seized and bound him and took him off to their leader, Maheput, who had him tortured for a month in the usual way. He had him tied up to a ladder and flogged. He had red-hot irons applied to different parts of his body—he put dry combustibles on the open palms of his hands and set fire to them, so that he has lost the use of his fingers for life. For the whole month he gave him only ten pounds of flour to eat; but his friends contrived to convey a little more to him occasionally, which he ate by stealth. He was reduced, by hunger and torture, to the last stage, when his family, by the sale of all they had in the world, and the compassion of their friends, raised the sum of one hundred and twenty-six rupees, which they sent to Maheput, by Thakoor Persaud, a landholder of the village of Somba, and obtained his release. The tortures have rendered him a cripple, and the family are reduced to a state of great wretchedness.*
[* This man was a witness at the trial of Maheput, and I saw the signs of his sufferings.]
The village of Guneshpoor yielded a revenue to Government of twenty- one thousand rupees a-year, and was divided into six and half shares each, held by a different person. One belonged to Omrow Sing, Rajpoot, the father of Hunmunt Sing, a corporal in the 44th Regiment Bengal Native Infantry, and descended to Omrow Sing's eldest son, Davey Sing. One share was held, jointly, by Maheput Sing and Chotee Sing, when, in October 1848, Maheput assembled a gang of about two hundred men, and attacked the house of Davey Sing, while his brother Hunmunt Sing was at home on recruiting service. There were in the house the corporal and his three brothers, and all mounted, with their friends, to the top of the house, with their swords and spears, but without fire-arms. The robbers, unable to ascend from the outside, broke open the doors, but the brothers descended and defended the passage so resolutely, that the gang was obliged to retire and watch for a better opportunity.
Three months after, in January 1849, Maheput attacked the house again, with a gang of five hundred men and good scaling-ladders. Some ascended to the top on the ladders, while others broke open the doors and forced their way in. The brothers and the other male members of the family defended themselves resolutely. One of the brothers, Esuree Sing, his uncle, Runjeet Sing, sipahee of the 11th Regiment Bengal Native Infantry, his cousin, Beetul Sing, sipahee of the 8th Regiment Bombay Native Infantry, were all killed, and hacked to pieces by Maheput and his gang. No person came to the assistance of the family, and the robbers retired with their booty, consisting of five hundred and ten rupees in money, four muskets, and four swords, and twelve hundred maunds of corn, and all the clothes, ornaments, and utensils that could be found. They burnt down the house, and dispossessed the family of their share in the estate, and plundered all the cultivators. Davey Sine the eldest brother, went to reside at Bhanpoor, in the neighbourhood. While he was engaged in cutting a field of pulse, in the morning, about seven o'clock, in the month of March following, Maheput Sing, with a gang of two hundred men, attacked his house, killed his two brothers, Gordut and Hurdut Sing, and their servant, Omed, and shot down his nephew, Gorbuksh Sing. Ramsahae, the nephew of Maheput Sing, ran up to despatch him with his sword, but Gorbuksh rose, cut him down, and killed him with his sword before he himself expired.
The corporal, Hunmunt Sing, of the 44th Native Infantry, described all these things in several petitions to the Resident, and prayed redress, but no redress was ever obtained. Saligram and other relatives of the corporal had been plundered and wounded by Maheput Sing and his gang, and he describes many other atrocities committed by the same gang. His petition of the 27th September 1849, was sent to the King by the Resident, who was told, that the Amil of the district of Dureeabad, Girdhara Lal, had been ordered to seize Maheput Sing and his gang. This Amil was always in league with them.
In December 1847, Maheput Sing and his gang attacked the house of a female, named Arganee, the widow of Sheik Rozae, in the village of Pertab Pahae. It was midnight, and she was sleeping with her two grandchildren, the sons of her son, who was a sipahee in the 66th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. They bound her hands: and leaving her young grandchildren alone, took her off to the jungle eight miles distant. There Maheput demanded from her the seven hundred rupees which she was said to have accumulated; and when she pleaded poverty, and said that the sipahee's pay was their only means of subsistence, he had her stripped naked and flogged in the usual way. For a month he had her stripped and flogged in the same manner every day. She then signed a bond to pay one hundred rupees on a certain day, and was released. She sold all she had, and borrowed all she could, and on the fourth day sent him fifty, and the other fifty on the fifteenth day; but he afterwards had the poor widow's house pulled down and all the wood-work carried to his fort of Bhowaneegur.
In April 1849, Maheput Sing and his gang attacked the house of Seodeen Misser, sipahee of the 63rd Regiment Bengal Native Infantry; and after plundering it, seized and carried off to the jungle his brother and that brother's two sons—one seven years of age and the other five—and his sister. He sold the two boys as slaves for two hundred rupees to a person named Davey Sookul, of Guneshpoor; and tortured the brother and sister till the sipahee and his friends sold all they had in the world for their ransom, when he released them.
In the month of May 1849, Maheput Sing and his gang at midnight attacked the house of Eseree Sing, a Rajpoot of the Chouhan tribe, in the village of Salpoor, in Dureeabad; and after stripping his mother and all the other females of the family of their clothes and ornaments, plundering the house of all it contained, rupees, twenty- five in money, two handsome matchlocks, two swords, two spears, and two shields, and brass utensils, weighing one hundred and sixty pounds, he bound Eseree Sing himself, and took him off with his sister, four years of age, and his daughter, only three, to a jungle, four miles distant. He there released Eseree Sing himself, but took on the girls, and made over his daughter to Akber, one of his followers, and his sister to Bechoo, another of his gang, to be united to them in marriage. It was at their instigation, and for that purpose chiefly, that he made the attack.*
[* Akber and Bechoo are now in prison, with Maheput, at Lucknow.]
In August 1849, Maheput and his gang attacked the houses of Seetul, Gorbuksh, and Sook Lal, Brahmins, of Guneshpoor; and after plundering them, he carried off Gorbuksh and his son, Ram Deen, and Bhowanee, the son of Seetul, and Sook Lal, and murdered them. He carried off and tortured, in a shocking manner, Benee, of the same place, till he paid a ransom; and Ongud, son of Khunmun, an invalid Khalasie, of the 26th Regiment Native Infantry.
In September 1849, Maheput attacked and plundered the house of Ongud Sing, sipahee of the 24th Regiment Bengal Native Infantry, and confined the sipahee for some time. His petition was sent to the King on the 11th November 1849.
On the 15th of December 1849, Monowur Khan, havildar of the 62nd Regiment Bengal Native Infantry, complained that Maheput Sing had seized him as he was walking on the high road, and extorted eleven rupees from him. His petition was sent to the King, with a request, that all local authorities might be urged to aid in his arrest; and orders were again sent to the Frontier Police.
On the 24th December 1849, Madho Sing, sipahee of the 11th Regiment Bengal Native Infantry, complained that Maheput Sing had attacked and plundered his house twice, burnt it down, and cut down all the trees which the family had planted for generations, and turned them all out of the village—that in the second attack he had murdered his daughter, a girl of only nine years of age. His petition was sent to the King, who, on the 13th of February 1850, replied that he had proclaimed Maheput as a robber and murderer, and offered a reward of three thousand rupees for his arrest.
On the 16th of March 1850, Goverdhun complained, that Maheput had attacked and plundered his house, and carried off his father to the jungles, and extorted from him a ransom of one hundred and ten rupees. His petition was sent to the King, who, on the 27th March, replied, that he had given frequent and urgent orders for the arrest of Maheput Sing.
Gunga Deen, a trooper of the Governor-General's body-guard, complained to the Resident, on the 9th of August 1844, that Maheput Sing had attacked and killed with his own hand his agent, Thakoor Sing, while he was taking seven hundred and seventy-four rupees to the revenue-collector. On the 11th of September 1849, he again complained to the Resident, that Maheput Sing had plundered Bhurteemow and other villages, in Dureeabad, of property to the value of six thousand seven hundred and fifty-nine rupees, and murdered five men, besides Thakoor Sing, his servant, and had committed numerous robberies in other villages during the year 1848. Among them one in Bhurteemow, in which he killed Ramjeet and four other men— that he had soon after committed a robbery in which no less than twenty-two persons were killed and wounded, and property to the value of two thousand rupees was carried off. The King was frequently pressed most earnestly to arrest this atrocious robber; and on the 9th of December 1849, the Frontier Police was, at the Kings request, directed to do all in their power to seize him.
In July 1847, Maheput Sing and his gang attacked the house of Mungul Sookul, a corporal of the 24th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, at midnight, robbed it of property to the value of five hundred rupees, and so rent the ears of his little son, by the violence with which he tore the gold rings from them, that the boy was not likely to live. The commanding officer of the regiment sent the corporal's petition for redress, through the Resident, to the Durbar; and orders were sent to the local authorities to afford it, but they were unable or unwilling to do anything.
Gunga Aheer, of Buroulee, in the district of Rodowlee, had been for three years a sipahee in the 48th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, under the name of Mata Deen. Continued sickness rendered him unfit for duty, and he obtained his discharge, and came home to his family. In March 1850, having been long without employment, and reduced, with his family, to great distress, he went to his relation, Ramdhun, of the Intelligence Department, in the service of the King of Oude, and then; on duty at Dureeabad, with the Amil. A reward of three thousand rupees having been offered by the King for the arrest of Maheput Sing, the Amil ordered Ramdhun to try his best to trace him out, and he took Gunga Aheer with him to assist, on a promise of securing for him good service if they succeeded. They went to a jungle, about two miles from Guneshpoor, and near the foot of Bhowaneegur. While they were resting at a temple in the jungle, sacred to Davey, Maheput came up, with twenty followers, to offer sacrifice; and as soon as they recognized the Harkara, Ramdhun, they seized both, and took them off in the evening to a jungle, four miles distant. In the hope of frightening Maheput, the Harkara pretended to be in the service of the Resident at Lucknow; but as the reward for his arrest had been offered on the requisition of the Resident, on the application of injured sipahees of the British army, this did not avail him. Their hands were tied behind their backs, and as soon as it became dark, they took Ramdhun off to a distance of twenty paces from where Maheput Sing sat, and made him stand in a circle of men with drawn swords. One man advanced, and at one cut with his sword, severed his right arm from his body, and it fell to the ground. Another cut into the side, under the stump, while a third cut him across the left side of the neck with a back cut, he all the time calling out for mercy, but in vain. On receiving the cut across the neck he fell dead, and the body was flung into the river Goomtee. Maheput sat looking on without saying a word.