Q.4. What were the Condition of Muslims after the war?
Condition of Muslims after the War
The war of Independence of 1857 was conducted mainly by the Muslims. Its failure started a new era of alien rule in the Sub-Continent. Although the war was ill planned and short lived yet it shock the British Imperialism to its foundations. The concern of the British Government can be judged from the fact that immediately after the war the crown took over the control of the country from the English East India Company. The British Government took stock of the entire situation and held the Muslims of the Country responsible for the 1857 catastrophe. This attitude turned all the British wrath and anger against the Muslims. Thus the Muslims were subjected to all sorts of oppression and repression. Leading Muslims were hanged or sentenced to jails. The properties of the Muslims were confiscated. They were denied important jobs under the crown. Sir William Hunter’s book “The Indian Mussalmans” published in 1871 gives a lot of information about the pitiable conditions of the Muslims of India after the 1857 upheaval. Although the observations of William Hunter are confined only to the Muslims of Bengal yet the condition of the Muslims of rest of India was not different. The following extracts from his book illustrate the conditions of the Muslims.
About the landowning classes of Eastern Bengal he writes, At Murshidabad a Mohammadan Court still plays its force of mimic state and in every district the descendent of some line of princes suddenly and proudly eats his heart out among roofless palaces and weed chocked tanks……. if any statesman wishes to make a sensation in the House of Commons he has only to truly narrate the history of these Mohammadan families of Bengal.
Then W. Hunter gives the position of the Muslims in the public services in these words,
“In the three grades of Assistant Government Engineers there were fourteen Hindus and not one Muslim; among die apprentices there were four Hindus and two Englishmen and not one Muslim. Among me Sub-Engineers there were 24 Hindus to one Muslim and in the upper Subordinate Department there were 22 Hindus and again not one Muslim.” About the causes of the whole state of affairs Hunter writes. “The truth is that when the country passed under our rule the Muslims were the superior race and superiour not only in the stoutness of me heart and strength of arm but in power of political organization and the science of political government.” Later on W. Hunter writes, “All sorts of employments great and small are being gradually snatched away from me Mohammadans and bestowed on men of other races particularly the Hindus.”
According to another survey in 1871 out of a total of 2141 persons employed by the Bengal Government there were only 92 Muslims, 711 Hindus and 1338 Europeans. Moreover it is stated that between 1852 and 1862 out of 240 natives admitted as the pleaders of the High Court there was only one Muslim.
An Indian socialist leader Asoka-Mehta in his book “The Communal Triangle” throws light on the status enjoyed by Muslims in public offices.
“Not only were the Muslims economically crushed, educationally and socially also their position was deliberately depressed by the government. In 1870 the Mohammadan pleaders presented two memorials to the High Court pointing out that while closed holidays allowed to the Christians were sixty two and those to Hindus fifty two, only eleven were granted to the Muhammadans…… In the government offices, no Muhammadan holiday was sanctioned at all.”
These details clearly demonstrate the awe-fully pitiable condition of the Muslims of India after the war. The British were hostile to Muslims and took all steps to ensure that they could not rise in future. In addition to these misfortunes the Muslims refused to learn Western education and sciences. They were not prepared to part with their age old customs and manners. The Muslims considered the acquisition of modern education as a step contrary to their religion. They hated English language and decided to continue with Persian. But unconsciously, in this manner they were slowly but surely leaving the field open for the Hindus. This gradual decline in the status of the Muslims as a community was first diagnosed and checked by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.