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The ‘Evil Cottonian’ who let the school down

SHIMLA:While the world has known General Dyer as Butcher of Amritsar, the Old Cottonian Association of Bishop Cotton School (BCS), where General Dyer studied with his three brothers, has known him as ‘The Evil Cottonian,’ — the one who spurned the core of school ethos of “overcoming evil with good”.

The ‘Evil Cottonian’ who let the school down

Dyerton Bizhub, a street named after General Dyer, in Bearkhana area of Shimla. tribune photo: Amit Kanwar

ROBINSINGH@TRIBUNE.COM

Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service
Shimla, April 4

While the world has known General Dyer as Butcher of Amritsar, the Old Cottonian Association of Bishop Cotton School (BCS), where General Dyer studied with his three brothers, has known him as ‘The Evil Cottonian,’ — the one who spurned the core of school ethos of “overcoming evil with good”.

It was with the intention of educating his children at Bishop Cotton School that Dyer’s father Edward Abraham Dyer set up a brewery here, primarily an extension of the units he owned in Kasauli and Solan.

As per the information on the Old Cottonian Association website, it was in 1873, while Dr Slater was headmaster, that Dyer was given admission in school as an eight-year-old boy. He was in school for barely seven months as a day scholar while his three elder brothers were boarders.

“Apart from the entry of his name in the admission register, we know nothing of his time at BCS. At the age of 11, he was sent to a school in Ireland. Going by whatever remains of the admission register, he spent only a year at BCS,” is the brief reference of the man on the website. “There is hardly any mention of General Dyer, and if at all he is remembered it is as one who let his school down, making every Cottonian ashamed of the fact that he was an alumnus,” says historian and eminent writer Raaja Bhasin.

With information in the school record not carrying many details, the website also mentions that many school records were destroyed or damaged in a fire in 1905 it it is entirely possible that Dyer remained there till he left for Middleton College, Ireland. Major Vijai Singh Mankotia (retd), a former minister, is candid in admitting that undoubtedly the very mention of General Dyer brings discomfiture to every Cottonian. 

“While in school, we were not aware of the fact but later when I joined the Army, I learnt that Gen Dyer was a Cottonian. Nothing could be more demeaning that coming from a school which instilled in us a spirit  of brotherhood and harmony, he indulged in an act of hatred,” he says.

A renowned school, that has produced some of the most valiant officers, who rose to top positions and defended the nation in the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars, and which takes pride in its alumni of the likes of Ruskin Bond, Ratan  Tata, Fali Nariman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Jeev Milkha Singh, the very mention of Dyer brings discomfiture to anyone associated with it.


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