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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Should a scenic hill station be named after Lord Dalhousie, a British imperialist, who was responsible for blood bath of Indians in 1857 revolt?

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What is common between Dalhousie, a hill station in Himachal Pradesh and Aurangabad, a city known for its twelve-cut caves in Maharashtra? Both cities are named after India’s oppressors in the past. India is planet’s only country, which unabashedly glorifies its attackers and rulers. 

Dalhousie—a beautiful hill station with great valleys and high mountain ranges located at western torrent of the Dhauladhar mountain limit of the Himalayas—is a divine blessing from nature to human beings in India. Dalhousie, situated at five hills, is also called the entrance to the old Chamba Hill State, which is now Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh.  

A human soul always seeks to communicate with nature, especially those who are forced to live in concrete jungle. When an Indian visits Dalhousie to soak himself in pleasant climate, abundant natural beauty, lush meadows, lakes and streams at an elevation of around 2000 meters, when he walks out in woods, sits under a tree and watch the leaves wave in breeze in the background of waterfall, he suddenly remembers, the heavenly place is named after a British Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie, symbol of British subjugation on India. And it leaves a bad taste in his mouth. One wonders why Indian government has not yet bothered to change the name of Dalhousie, even after more than 70 years have passed since independence? 

Who was Lord Dalhousie? Why should India get rid of every trace of British imperialism?

The East India Company—which was founded in 1600 by a group of London merchants with Royal permission to trade with other countries—had landed at the port of Surat in Indiina in August 1608. The Company soon grew in power and size, which emboldened them to interfere in political matters. After defeating the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daulah in the battle of Plassey in 1757 and conquering the Battle of Buxar in 1764, the East India Company began to transform from a trading company to a ruling party. Thereafter, it started functioning as sovereign power on behalf of British crown.  

Lord Dalhousie, who was appointed as the Governor-General of India in 1848, set his eyes on kingdoms in India to grab. Born on 22 April 1812, Dalhousie served as the Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856. After he assumed his office, he took no time to implement his expansionist policy, which was Doctrine of Lapse in 1848 to usurp the kingdoms of Indian kings. Under Doctrine of Lapse, if a king in India died without leaving natural heir, which is male inheritor, his kingdom would automatically be passed to the East India Company. In essence, Doctrine of Lapse prohibited a female heir or adopted successor to access to the throne. 

Lord Dalhousie’s cunning tricks brought many princely states like Satara in 1848, Jaipur and Sambalpur (Orissa) in 1849, Nagpur and Jhansi in 1854, Tanjore and Arcot in 1855, Udaipur (Chhattisgarh) and Oudh in 1856 into East India Company dominion. He left no stone unturned to exploit Indians. It was Lord Dalhousie, who was responsible for destruction of Jhansi and killing of Rani Laxmibai. Jhansi had a legitimate and capable ruler in Rani Laxmibai. Nevertheless, Dalhousie’s Doctrine of Lapse dethroned Rani Laxmibai and looted Jhansi for weeks. British looters even looted ropes which women of Jhansi used to draw water from the wells. After Rani Laxmibai was martyred fighting to protect Jhansi, British continued to massacre innocent citizens of Jhansi to punish them, as their queen had dared to challenge Doctrine of Lapse. It is Lord Dalhousie, whose Doctrine of Lapse is responsible of bloodbath in 1857 Revolt.

Why should any city in India continue to be named after such mass murderer of British during subjugation? How can India honour and glorify its oppressor during British Raj?

Aurangabad a city in Maharashtra, also another city in Bihar were named after Aurangzeb, who was born on 3 November 1618 as third son of Shah Jahan. On 2 September 1669, when the radical Islamist Aurangzeb, with his blood thirsty army, attacked Kashi Vishwanath Temple butchering every devotee, who came his way, the main priest of temple jumped into well with Jyotirlinga clutching it tightly to protect it from Aurangzeb’s barbaric army. What should current and next generations learn from Aurangzeb? What can be more humiliating fact than naming two cities of India after Aurangzeb?

Not only Dalhousie and Aurangabad are symbols of subjugation by British and brutality by Islamic invaders, but India has many cities, streets and roads named after Islamic invaders and British imperialism. Islamic invaders or British subjugators, they must be confined in history text books. They certainly don’t deserve to be glorified out of history text books.

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