The Mutiny at the Margins series takes a fresh look at the revolt of 1857 from original and unusual perspectives, focusing in particular on neglected socially marginal groups and geographic areas which have hitherto tended to be unrepresented in studies of this cataclysmic event in British imperial and Indian historiography.

The Punishment of Disloyalty

The punishment of disloyalty

IN the aftermath of 1857, the pursuit of offenders, who had supported the rebels, was sometimes aided by Indians keen to win the sympathy of the administration, and at the same time, to settle old rivalries. This is seen in the letter below from Gour Pershad sent to the assistant magistrate, Patna, in which an attempt is made to depict a local landlord, Mahgopal Dass, as an inveterate enemy of the British, whose past misdeeds, it is claimed, had only remained hidden owing to his skilful bribery of local British elites. As the British attempted to distinguish ‘loyalists’ from ‘rebels’, the status of Indian elites could switch overnight from one category to another upon the flimsiest of ...

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