Hostilities cease on death. That is why the cops doff their caps after a notorious criminal (Even) is found lying dead who deservingly, then, is allowed to be given a proper burial. BUT, why the ‘traitors’ & ‘betrayers’ of a cause or community or trust or country or nation are generally denied this respect even after their death. Why people revile them & their tombs [Even] after hundreds of years? Why their descendants, generation after generation, even, carry the tag of a family of “betrayers” & “traitors”? Is their crime or sin, whatever one may call it, as grave as unpardonable in the annals of the affected thereby, down the ages? The discussion following is a no-brainer to find the answer to these intriguing questions.
The breakup of Centralised Moghul Empire gave birth to a large number of small independent kingdoms by the second half of eighteenth century. The British who under “garb of trade” had already set their feet in Bengal through East India Company/EIC since 1600 AD wanted to have their Rule, administrative and military, firmly & formally established over India. The Battle of Plassey, 23rd June 1757, opened the floodgates for this British desire. In that battle, the British defeated Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah/NSD, the last independent ruler of Bengal that comprised then present WB, Bangladesh, Bihar & Orisha. But the British EIC dream’s of “plundering Bengal” (Karen Armstrong’ Islam: A Short History, p.126) & ruling India wouldn’t have materialized if Mir Jafar, the commander in chief of NSD had not “betrayed” his ruler right in the battlefield & been actively a part of the conspiracies hatched by the British commander in chief, Robert Clive, together with him & his accomplice against NSD rule. That “treachery” & “conspiracy” ultimately led to the defeat of NSD & induction of Mir Jafar, with “British military support” as a “puppet ruler”, or “Clive’s Donkey”, in lieu of his “services of betrayal” for the EIC. As a part of the “betrayal-plan” between Mir Jafar & Robert Clive, NSD was captured & executed on 2nd July 1757 by Mir Jafar’s son Mir Miran in Jafar’s palace whose ruins in Murshidabad are now “commonly” nick-named as “Namak Haram Deorhi”. While NSD‘s mausoleum at Khushbagh Murshidabad, is well-maintained & shown respect by all visitors , Mir Jafar’s tomb also in Murshidabad, Jafarganj cemetery, is disrespected by all those who visit that site by throwing very derisive & abusive words & some even spitting at his grave. Sonia Amin, Professor of History, Dhaka University writes in her blog that when the tourist guide says “And here we are….the grave of Mir Jafar” pointing towards it, a surge of emotional tidal waves in one’s mind & body is felt that “this is the resting place of one of the most despised characters in Indian history; the man whose name has become a synonym for the word traitor wherever betrayal takes place.”
Jafarganj Cemetery where Mir Jafar & his relatives are buried is not maintained at all & looks extremely desolate & spooky in broad daylight, also. Although one may just presume that till Mir Jafar & his successors were used by British as “puppet rulers” of Bengal, the Jafarganj cemetery of Mir Jafar may have been “maintained” by the then local administration, yet neither his palace’s remnant (entrance gate) nor his grave are under Archeological Survey of India/ASI, thus, heading towards their complete extinction.
In 1994, Mir Jafar’s great great grandson, Syed Mohammad Reza Ali Khan of Calcutta, a historian & teacher, was fighting to erase “stamp of treachery” from the family name but failed to get away with sobriquet of “Namak Haram” family for handing over [predominantly Muslim] Bengal to British for a “puppet-rule”. His attempts to re-write history by bringing in “others” who were involved in the betrayal at Battle of Plassey with Mir Jafar have utterly failed & so his clamour that “we are victims of a historical injustice” has fallen on deaf ears, even after 250 years. (India Today, 31-01-1994). It may be remembered that the children & followers of traitors always come out with different theories and narratives, trying to belie or obfuscate the recorded historical facts in order to wash off the traitors’ names of the indelible eternal stains of treachery & betrayals. But it is all in vain as thousand arguments can never justify the wrong.
If betrayal of Mir Jafar in 1757 paved a way for EIC to lay the foundation of the British Rule in India, Mir Sadiq’s treachery of 1799 in 4th Battle of Mysore finally confirmed & consolidated the Foreign Rule. The British removed the last obstruction in the way of their Complete Dominance over India when they won 4th Battle of Mysore by defeating & “martyring” Ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan at his Seringapatam fortress. On final day of confrontation, 4th May 1799, after a 32 days’ siege of his fortress, Tipu Sultan was “martyred” by the British troopers with active support of Mir Sadiq, his own chief minister. Before his “martyrdom”, Tipu Sultan was approached for a “disgraceful” compromise or surrender by the British, (the Hindu dated 5th May 2014), which he declined in these words: “Single day life of a tiger is far better than that of 100 years of a jackal”, hence, the name: Tiger of Mysore. He was dressed alike with his soldiers in the battlefield making it a bit difficult for the British to recognize him. But Mir Sadiq, as a part of the ploy, neared & bowed before Tipu Sultan as if showing a mark of respect. But it was a pre-planned signal to the British to identify & “martyr” Tipu on the battlefield. This act of treachery is apparently comparable to Judas Iscariot, one of twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, kissing him on his cheek to let Israeli authorities know of his identity. Judas’s act of betrayal, most abominable in Christendom, just for 30 silver pieces, led to the crucifixion of Christ.
After treacherously defeating & “martyring” Tipu, General Harris who led the British troopers said: “From this day whole of India belongs to us”.
In the battlefield, seeing Tipu Sultan was betrayed by Mir Sadiq that led to his “martyrdom”, the loyal soldiers of Tipu Sultan instantly disposed of Mir Sadiq when he tried to cross over to the British. “Mir Sadiq’s body was discovered lying on a heap of garbage”. (Dawn, 4th May 2010). After four days of the battle was over, the Mir Sadiq’s body was still lying there, fully decomposed, the bad smell of which coerced people to “bury” him and his accomplice in a grave. Even after “burial” his body was exhumed for “severest” disrespect. (Tareekh-e-Hind, Mohammad Danderoulih, page 191).
Even today, when tourists visit Srirangapatam, Mysore, where the tombs of both Tipu Sultan & Mir Sadiq are found at two distant locations, apparent difference in their treatment & response to the two tombs is easily seen. The visitors treat the mausoleum of Tipu Sultan & his family like dargah of a Sufi saint & refer him as “Hazrat Shaheed” (Martyred Saint) and celebrating his “Urs” (death celebrations) the way one would do at a Sufi mausoleum with great festivities and decorations”. But in sharp contrast, tomb of Mir Sadiq in Sriranangapatna is utterly in ruins, horrible & dreadful. ASI doesn’t maintain it. The tourists who actually travel to visit the palace & mausoleum of Tipu Sultan when taken to, & shown by the local guides, the tomb of Mir Sadiq, while emotionally explaining the “history of his betrayals” with his own people & ruler, the tourists immediately mock at his grave, throwing insults & some even pelting stones to give a vent to their feelings.
Grossest blunders: Being the grossest blunders of the betrayers, inflicting unending pain and destruction, the history of treachery naturally survives in collective memory of the people. The hatred for these most despised people in human history has gone so deep in the memory & psyche of the people that even after centuries disrespect for them is showing no ending. Nor will it end for posterity. In our contemporary world, we have an instance of difference when 15th July 2016 putsch couldn’t unseat the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 24 rebel soldiers in that failed coup were buried “unceremoniously” in an unmarked grave in the black corner of a construction in Istanbul meant for dogs’ shelter with a sign board in black with white capital letters that mean: Traitors’ graveyard. (National Post, Turkey, 29th July 2016 & Deccan Chronicle, 30th July 2016).
Curious question 1? If Turkish coup were successful, no wonder 24 “rebels” may have been buried in a Cemetery of Martyrs & being remembered & revered as such till the “plotters” remain & remained in power!
Two faces of the same coin & treatment: Someone has said that oppression is like a coin maker in which people get shrunk, squeezed & flattened like a coin with two sides of: martyrs & traitors. How the two are seen & treated by the history & posterity has been sufficiently elucidated above. The great Muslim theologian, Dr. Iqbal has summed up the matter, thus, in this famous couplet: Mir Jaffar–az–Bengal, o Mir Sadiq–az–Deccan, Nang–e–Adam, Nang–e–Deen, Nange–Watan”(Mir Jaffar of Bengal and Mir Sadiq of Deccan, they are a disgrace to: mankind, their religion & their country).
Curious question 2? Mir Jafar’s great great grandson, 8th descendant in line, named above, once said: the “nationhood” didn’t exist then in 1757, …. But who would tell him that betrayal is done to a Cause or Community or Trust, TOO.
Tailpiece: If olden days’ Mir Jafar & Mir Sadiq have become “extant symbols of treachery” for handing over their homelands [Bengal & Deccan] to Foreign Rule, no wonder, in modern times, they would have become “distinct symbols of prosperity” because the British were better off & advanced more than the Indians.
Just four decades ago in 1975, at historic Lal Chowk, Srinagar, while re-writing the destiny of “paradise with hell”, the “Leaders” drew comparison between “milk cow” & “barren cow” before the “Led” who applauded & responded thunderously: ZAROOOOR……; nobody questioning unnatural comparing of “betrayal of 23Y-Cause” with “cows just for milking purposes”?. It implies the history is shaped by events, so what drew obloquy & ignominy then, draws consensus gentium now.
PS: Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. (George Santayana).
(Note: The views expressed in this article are very personal of the author & not of the organisation he works for)
M J Aslam is Academician, Author, Story-teller & free lance columnist. Presently AVP in JKB.