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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. April 25, 1907

Bureaucracy at Jamalpur

The most recent accounts of the Jamalpur outrage emphasise the sinister nature of the occurrence and the defects in our own organisation which we must labour to remove. The most disgraceful feature of the riots has been the conduct of the British local official who seems to have deceived and betrayed the Hindus into the hands of the Mahomedan Goondas. The nature of the attack, its suddenness and completeness, show beyond doubt that it had been carefully planned beforehand and was no casual outbreak either of fanaticism or rowdyism. It is impossible to believe that the Joint Magistrate, responsible for the peace of the country, was totally uninformed of the likelihood of an organised attack which was generally apprehended by the Hindus. Yet it is reported that the local official induced the Hindus to be present at the Mela by a distinct pledge that they had nothing to fear from the Mahomedans, and then, in violation of his pledge, left them utterly unprotected for brutality and sacrilege to work their will upon them. If he had any inkling of the outbreak which was then in preparation, his action amounted to cynical treachery. Even if he was so imbecile as to be unaware of what was going on in his own jurisdiction, his failure to provide against the possibility of his pledge coming to nothing lays him open to the worst constructions. At the very least he showed a light-hearted disregard for his official obligations and his personal honour. His subsequent action was equally extraordinary. All the accounts agree in saying that the police were quite inactive until the anti-Swadeshists had their fill of plunder and violence and were making for the station. Even then, they confined themselves to depriving them of their lathis, the mischief being done and further violence superfluous, and with a paternal indulgence dismissed them to their homes unarrested. The only people arrested were a few of the Hindus who, if they were guilty of anything, can have only been guilty of self-defence. The accounts on which we base these comments are unanimous and have not up to the present moment met with any denial. We can only conclude therefore that, as at Comilla, the local officials looked with sympathy on the rioters as allies in the repression of Swadeshism, and acted accordingly. To stand by while the Mahomedans carry out that violent repression of Swadeshism which the sham Liberalism of the present Government policy forbids them to undertake themselves; to clinch this illegal repression by legal repression in the form of prosecution of respectable Hindus for the crime of self-defence; to strain every nerve to prevent outside help coming to the distressed and maltreated Swadeshists, and finally to save appearances by sending a few of the Mahomedan rioters to prison a punishment which has no terrors for them, since they are all hooligans and some of them old jail birds: such has been the consistent attitude of the local officials. The only new circumstance in the Jamalpur incident has been the assurance given by the local official which amounted to a promise of protection, and which alone made the outrage possible. For the last century the British have been dinning into our ears the legend of British justice, British honour, British truth. The belief in the justice of the British nation or of British Magistrates is dead. Generated by liberal professions it has been killed by reactionary practice. The belief in the personal honour and truth of individual Englishmen has somehow managed to survive; but it will not stand such shocks as the East Bengal bureaucrats have managed to administer to it. We would earnestly press upon the people of East Bengal the unwisdom of trusting to official promises or to anything but their own combination, organisation and the strong arm for their protection. We have already pointed out more than once what the Comilla officials took some pains to point out to those who applied to them for protection, that it is folly to raise the cry of Swadeshi and Swaraj and yet to expect protection from the bureaucrats whose monopoly of power the movement threatens.

 

Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 18901908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.