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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Aren't They Missing the Point?

Descendants of British Imperial Royal Army are in India, in Lucknow and Meerut to be precise, to remember and pay homage to their fighting forefathers. That to when India is celebrating Vijay Divas, 150 years of the failed revolt of 1857, the apparent first war of Independence. But the problem is they were the enemies. They were killing, maiming, and terrorizing the revolting Bharatiya soldiers and put the revolt down with a heavy hand. (More on what they did to civilians and covered up in another post.)

Their commemoration plaque reads

“To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the bravery and distinguished service of the First Battalion, the 60th King’s Royal Rifle Corps...”

Apparently, they are also commemorating Indians who participated in crushing the revolt. Does that make what they are doing any better?

BJP leaders in UP are protesting along with Muslims groups, in the usual fashion. Congress I probably thinks 1857 revolt was the revolting soldiers fault and they deserved the crushing defeat. The other local parties in UP and elsewhere probably don't care.

Two groups are in India to visit the graves of their forefathers:

Of the two groups, one comprises about 10 retired officers of 60th King’s Royal Rifles, a regiment of the British Army. They are travelling with their wives.

The other group has about 20 British historians and academicians, including noted author Rosie Llewllyn-Jones, a known figure for the intelligentsia of Lucknow. She understands Hindi and Urdu as well as her mother tongue and has written many books on history of Lucknow.

The group also includes historian Huge Purcell and Sir Henry Lawrence and Sir Mark Allen Havelock — descendants of Sir Henry Lawrence and Sir Henry Havelock. The latter was honoured by the British Government for his bravery during the mutiny. Their graves are in Lucknow.

Through their travel operator, the group conveyed to The Indian Express that “it was in no way a victory celebration, but a simple remembrance to all those brave men who fought for their respective countries.”

I am not so sure after reading the plaque. Simple remembrance can take place anytime - not when the descendants of slaving people are celebrating their first thoughts and actions of freedom. One would think historians would know what 1857 means to Indians and Indian independence movement. May be they should visit the cemeteries next year for their simple remembrance.