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Punjab and 1857: The other view

I am afraid, even after quoting the right authorities, Prof K. C. Yadav has drawn wrong conclusion when he says that the Sikhs of Punjab were not loyal to the East India Company during the 1857 rebellion (Perspective, June 3).

He has obviously confused the individual valour of the Sikhs against the betrayal of the Sikh states, in particular, the states situated beyond Sutlej. There is overwhelming evidence to prove that Delhi was recaptured by General Nichaloson with the help of the forces of the Raja of Patiala.

Is it not a fact that the Raja of Jind, another traditional betrayer since the days of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, placed his best Sikh horsemen under the command of Lt. Hodson to crush the Gujjars of Meerut and Muzzafarpur who had joined hands with the rebels? In fact, the Rajas of these Sikh states had guarded the G.T. Road for the safe passage of the British troops from Ambala to Delhi. Jullundur was saved for the British by the forces of the Raja of Kapurthala.


 

And how is that not a single soldier protested when a Company of Her Majesty’s 81st under Captain Chichestor was quietly admitted into the Govindgarh Fort in Amritsar on May 12, 1857? The 57th NI company, the 10th Native Cavalry, remained loyal to the British.

The British fully exploited the age-old enmity between the Punjabi and the Poorbia soldiers, between the Hindu Punjabi and the Sikh Punjabi. According to Cave Brown, the term ‘Poorbia’ was deliberately revived for it revived the contempt and hatred with which the class had ever been regarded. It widened the breach between the Punjabi and Hindustani which rendered any coalition impossible between the two. According to Dr Surender Nath Sen, the author of Eighteen Fifty Seven, published in 1957: ‘The Poorbia sepoy in Punjab, except in the border districts of Gurgaon, Rewari and Hisar was not only with in a strange but in a hostile country.

A tradition that promised the followers of the Guru the plunder of Delhi was also revived by the British and the Sikhs were assured that the prophecy would come true under the British rule (Eighteen Fifty Seven published by the Government of India in 1957 with a Foreword by Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, then Minister of Education).

It is unfortunate that the name of Punjab was tarnished by the Cis-Sutlej Rajas and not by the Punjab of Ranjit Singh for the Punjabis put up a tough resistance at Sialkot, Ajnala, Peshawar, Multan, Bannuu, Kohat, Rawalpindi and Nowshera, Gurdaspur at Trimmu Ghat. The Ajnala massacre is aptly compared with the tragedy of Holwell’s Blackhole.

K. K. KHULLAR,New Delhi

 

Euthanasia: Can the sufferer decide?

One wonders if anybody can invent any argument against euthanasia i.e. the peaceful end of an existence (not life), which is only unbearable and non-ending pain (“For a peaceful end” by Dr R. Kumar, Spectrum, May 20).

But the moot question is how and who is to determine this situation. Sometimes the pain seems endless but it disappears with the passage of time. Some people don’t have the heart to withstand even a modicum of pain.

They rush to commit suicide or beg that their lives be put to an end. In some cases, the pain may be intense but is transitory in reality. Hence it is very difficult to distinguish between the two kinds of pain.

It is therefore not proper to allow the sufferer alone to decide — in Shakespeare’s words, “To be or not to be.”

But then, only the wearer knows whether or not the shoe pinches and how hard.

Euthanasia must be allowed but only after evolving a foolproof system for the determination of the situation warranting it.

It is an unacceptable cliché that suicide is always condemnable. Mythology and history contain many instances when eminent men preferred to put an end to their life of ‘ignominy’.

The Roman nobleman Brutus and the Fuehrer of Germany, Adolf Hitler, are two of many such persons.

GEETANJALI KORPAL, Advocate, Amritsar

Unsung hero

In her article, “He breathed and lived Gurbani” (June 3), Reema Anand has very well brought out the noble virtues and yeoman’s service to society by Bhagat Puran Singh.

The selfless service for the sick, destitutes, fallen and rejected, rendered by Bhagatji is unparalleled. His humility and dedication knew no bounds.

But the sad part is that our society has failed to recognise the same and give him the place he deserved. Just because he was apolitical, non-self seeking and a true servant of suffering humanity? Probably, that’s why no forum, political, NGOs etc has tried to highlight what he gave to society and the recognition he deserved.

Bhagatji’s is a fit case for the Bharat Ratna, though belated. It will be a befitting tribute to the great servant of humanity.

Lt-Col BHAGWANT SINGH (retd), Mohali

A correction

In my article, “Saving our rivers” (Perspective, June 10), Jawaharlal Nehru supervised the construction of the Bhakra Dam on the Sutlej and not as mentioned.

BIKRAM SINGH VIRK, Kapurthala

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