The ancestors of the victims of Marichjhanpi carnage resorted to a 'General Strike' in 1873 for dignity and equality before law. Following are some of the reports which narrate the struggle for human rights of the most numerous indigenous people of the Gangetic Delta.
Appendix - I
No. 66 Dated Camp Bhanga, the 18th March 1873
From - W L Owen, Esq. Dist Superintendent of Police
To - The Magistrate of Furreedpore,
Inquire into the following points:-
1. How far the strike among the Chandals has gone?
2. What is the meaning of it?
3. How it started or arose?
4. By whom?
6. What the Chundals ask?
7. What the Chundals determine?
8. Have they anything to complain of?
9. What are their grievances?
10. How to be remedied?
11. Will the strike affect the rice sowings much?
12. With whom the Chundals are at feud?
With reference to your orders as above, I have the honor to state that on the 16th and 17th March I proceeded to Futteyjungpore and Kolegram village, situated in the bheels of this district and around which Chundal villages are located: on both these days I held intercourse with above one hundred headmen of that caste from Poesoor, Hatiara, Botbari, Maliadah, Jolipar, Foolkomree, Baniar Chur and Koligram villages, all of which are within the limits of the Muxoodpore police station of this district.
2. From the result of my intercourse with these people, I discovered that their existed a kind of strike among them, but that the combination had no political object in view at present though, if not cheeked in time, if it might be attended with considerable mischief in future, hence the movement requires to be very cautiously dealt with and handled with much discretion, otherwise any overt hasty measures are likely to involve the Chundals and the rest of the community into collision, which it would be difficult to suppress hereafter.
3. it is well known that the bulk of the inhabitants of the bheel or swamp country of both Furreedpore and Backergunge which adjoin, consist of Chundals who are considered by every one to be the lowest caste of Hindus; at the same time it is admitted that they are a very hard working, strong and industrious race, living, in localities studiously avoided by all other castes and through and by them the greater portion of the bheels have been reclaimed and fitted for cultivation; Chundals therefore are not only agriculturists, but they are also boatmen, porters, carpenters, ironsmiths, potters and fishermen; on them accordingly devolve all the occupations and trades practised by other castes in more settled tracts. The women of the poorer Chundals likewise attend hauts and bazars for buying and selling purposes, on which account they have been despired by Hindus of the higher caste, who consider them only little better than beasts; the touch of a Chundal being defilement, renders it necessary for the man touched to wash away the contamination by bathing. The word Chundal is also used as an abuse and when applied to any one, expresses the degree of contempt and scorn in which he is held.
4. From my inquiries I have learnt that the strike in question at present only meditates an attempt on their parts of rise in social status; their industry, prudence and general demand as agriculturists having placed them in competent circumstances and several of them even in a state of affluence and an effort in being made to remove the stigma of reproach from their caste.
5. Last year one Choron Sapah, a rich Chundal of Amgram village in Backegunge, gave a feast, to which all castes were invited - among them Brahmins, Kayasts of several orders, Sudras, & c.; all these at the instigation of the Kayasts refused to accept the invitation, couching their refusal with taunts and reproaches reflecting on the Chundals, the words used being to this effect - “Eat with men who permit their women to go to market and who are employed as mehters in jails for removing filth and every thing unclean? What next!”
6. A meeting accordingly of all heads of village was called and the matter was hotly discussed, leading eventually to the adoption of the following resolutions among the entire body of Chundals in this part of the country: (1) Women must not in future visit hauts and bazars; (2) service of no kind whatever be taken with other castes; (3) food prepared by all other castes of Hindus than Brahmins not to be partaken of.
7. The first two resolutions, if persisted in, will of course in some measure derange the existing order of things in these parts; on account of the first the poorer Chundals are likely to suffer, but as a safeguard it was decided that their relatives should support them, but in case of there being no relatives, the village community were to do so. If this condition were acted up in it integrity, no harm certainly would result.
8. As regards the second resolution, it is to be feared that if literally carried out much injury will be sustained by other castes living in the swamp country. At present fields belonging to Mahomedans and other castes are cultivated by Chundals, who for their trouble take half the produce; these would remain untilled. Boats are built and manned by Chundals; these belonging to other castes would cease to play an trade paralysed. Agricultural and domestic tools of iron would not be repaired; in fact all the relations of life between the Chundals and other castes would be completely deranged, enmity would spring up between them and eventuate in breaches of the peace. Arson and not unlikely murders an dacoity as retaliatory measures.
9. The Chundals appear to be an unlimited body all over these parts, though doubtless there are many of their number who are averse to join in the general strike, being yet prevented by fear from an open dissent from their influential fellow caste-men, last they should be laid under interdiet, marriage, social intercourse and the rites of cremation denied them. In all or any one of these measures the sufferers will be able to obtain no redress from criminal law, they not being overt acts of illegality punishable by it.
10. more open demonstrations of hostility are likely to be resorted to against recalcitrants, such as snatching away by force the salable articles taken by women to the markets as heretofore. In such cases the criminal law might advantageously be brought into force against offenders and one or two examples made here and there would certainly act as a deterrent.
11. The other shape in which the hostility will be active, is that when attempts will be made to prevent service being taken by the poorer Chandals from other castes. In such cases sections 505 and 506 of the Penal Code will be able to prevent recurrences. Unfortunately offences under these are not cognizable directly by the police, so that the aggrieved must refer to a Magistrate before the police can interfere; this proceeding involves delay and extensive mischief might ensure before action is taken. Under these circumstances, as I am informed that extensive tracts of land belonging to other castes remain at present fallow without any prospect of their being ploughed on account of the Chundal strike, I would take the liberty of suggesting that a Deputy Magistrate be deputed to Muxoodpore to take up at once all complaints of the above nature.
12. As it is, the five Mahomedans named in the margin, residents of Tetulia Village, Complained to me yesterday that before them, on the 5th or 6th Falgoon, Ray Chand Mundle and Nilmoni Biswas, rich Chundals of Dout Koora and Sibu Dhali, Ram Chand Bugsha and Bhojon Bala, rich Chudnals of Poorsoor, had proclaimed by beat of drum at Ghonapara Haut that government had recently issued orders that no Chundals women should attend the market and that no Chundals should take any kind of service with men of other castes and that no Chundals should eat food prepared by any other castes.
1. Mufzadone Mollor
2. Doolo Sukdar
3. Summudeen Sukdar
4. Modhoo Sukdar
5. Sheik Shadoo
13. If the above statements be true, it is high time for interference, inasmuch as the castes whose lands are now follow with no prospect of cultivation, will assuredly after a little time take aggressive action against those Chundals who used to till for them before and breaches of the peace will supervene, but not till them will the police be able to take any direct action in the matter. I have meanwhile instructed the Inspector to report the substance of the complaint of the above five Mussulmans to me for submission for the orders of the Magistrate, meanwhile the matter is referred to also in this report, it being punishable by section 505 of the Penal Code, though not primarily cognizable by the police.
14. I have posted the Inspector of this division at Ghonapara Haut the centre of the strike, ordering him to watch proceedings, to act in those complaints in which he is competent to take direct action and to report promptly all those in which he cannot legally do so without orders. I have selected this officer, as I consider him possessing tact, judgement and intelligence and it a magisterial officer, as before recommended, is sent out also, it will greatly simplify proceedings.
15. In the communication held with the village of the Chundals above mentioned, they referred particularly to the grievances they suffered from the Hindus, more especially from the Kayests, whose treatment of them was intolerable. They said that hey professed themselves to be higher in case than the Chundals, which was not supported by their common Shasters. Inasmuch as the Chundals were, on the death of a relative, like Brahmins, ceremonially unclean for only eleven days, whereas the Kayastas were for no less than thirty days: this difference clearly showed that the Chundals were higher in caste. They also referred to the manufacture of choora, which was expressly prepared by them alone, which all castes eat without demur or hesitation; for the Kayasts therefore to despise them was absurd; but they admitted they were justly taunted about their women being allowed to by and sell at the hauts and bazar, on which account they had decided in future on keeping them in seclusion, like other castes, for which they could not be blamed. With all this I gave them to understand I could not interfere, as they were private matters, at the same time it would be illegal for them to prevent by force any women who chose as hitherto to go to the hauts and bazars.
16. One other point on which they felt themselves greatly aggrieved was, that the government, on the representation of other Hindus, compelled members of their castes, when in jail, to work as sweepers, to clean out premises, and to remove all unclean matter; this they declared was not only a hardship, but very unjust inasmuch as government professed to treat all castes on terms of equality. How did it happen then that in their case the rule was disregarded? Otherwise why were not criminals o all castes, punished for similar offences as Chundals, made to perform the same kind of work? Why were Brahmins, Kayasts, Sudras and Mussulmans, exempted from doing the dirty work of the jails; that Chundals in private life never served as mehters or took service as such of their own accord. So that if government did not depress them, all other Hindus would not dare to do so; had the invidious distinction made by government between them and other castes of Hindus worked all the mischief in regard to them. On this I told the Chundals that their best plan would be to petition the government on the subject of this grievance and no doubt every consideration would be given to it.
17. Having now detailed the measures taken by me to allay the ferment at present prevailing among the Chundals in there tracts, I shall endeavor to answer succinctly the several points at the head of this report:-
1st - The strike among the Chundals has extended to all that tract of swamp country situated in the police stations of Muxoodpore and Gopalgunge.
2nd - It has no political significance at present, but is an effort made by them to raise themselves in the social scale among the Hindus.
3RD - It started last year at Amgram in Backergunge on account of Hindus of all castes refusing the invitation to a feast given by Choron Tapah, a rich and influential Chundal.
4th - By the heads of all the Chundals villages in the swamp country south of Furreedpore and north-west of Backergunge.
5th - (?) Answered under Head 3
6th-Equality in the treatment in jails between Chundals criminals and criminals of other castes.
7th-To hold no communication with men of other castes.
8th and 9th - Contemptuous treatment of Chundals by other castes, especially by Kayasts, and their being forced by government to remove filth, &C, in jails, while criminals of other castes are exempted.
10th-The contemptuous treatment of Chundals by other castes being a social question cannot be remedied but by themselves, but their being forced to remove the filth, &C, of jails might be effected by a respectful representation to government.
11th- The strike will to some extent effect the rice sowings in the swamp country considering that they have before this tilled lands belonging to other castes, dividing the produce between them and they have now determined to relinquish them, the people of other castes not being sufficient to supply their places.
12th - The Chundals are at feud with Mahommedans and all castes of Hindus, especially the Kayasts.
No. 272 dated Ferreedpore, the 19th March 1873
From - W. S. Wells, Esq. Magistrate of Ferreedpore
To - the Commissioner of the Dacca Division
I have the honor to submit for your information copy of a vernacular report, dated 25th ultimo, received by we in camp in the north of the district at Haranbaria and of the orders I passed on it, dated 7th instant, together with copy of a repot the District superintendent, dated Camp Bhanga, the 18th instant.
2. There is no officer here with full powers besides myself, except Mr. Fraser, whom I will depute at once to take up all cases that may arise from the state of things reported. It is necessary that a European officer should go, as naturally the opposite factions being natives of all persuasions, there will be more confidence felt by all parties in the disposal of any question that may arise if the matter comes before one officer in no way allied by feelings, interests and religion to any of the concerned. Mr. Fraser, however, should be vasted with powers under section 223 of the Criminal Procedure Code, in order to deal summarily with minor matters which may come before him, as it is probable that he will have a good deal of criminal work if the Chundals persist in their present resolutions.
3. I beg you will take early measures to depute some covenanted or European officer of experience, possessing full powers, to take charge of the several officers at head-quarters during my absence, as it may become imperative that I too should move about my district.
4. I have issued in demi-official letters instructions to the District Superintendent to send his best police officer to see that the peace is not broken or any criminal intimidation used; at the same time to be most careful to avoid unnecessary interference, and to act entirely without a shadow of bias, leaving matters to settle themselves if possible.
5. Mr Owen has ordered the Inspector of that division, Mahomed Nazir, on this duty. My Court Inspector, Baboo Anundo Chunder Dass, is a much older, more experienced and steady officer, in whom I have considerable confidence; I have therefore deputed him to watch the progress of this Chundal movement in the place of Mahomed Nazir.
6. I need not observe that it is a decided hardship to force Chundals in jail to do duty as mehters and sweepers for which their position in society and caste in no way renders them liable and I have referred to this matters in my last reports on census. The Chundals, as I have before stated in several reports, are an industrious and honest class and are very seldom in the criminal courts; perhaps because they know too well the consequence of going to jail, and they are doubtless an appressed and ill-used people.
7. Mr. Willon, the Assistant Magistrate, has been depulid to Koosh tea, and no officer sent in his place, I beg therefore you will let me have a covenanted officer as above requested as soon as convenient. I think, too, that I should be permitted, without further reference, to increase the strength of the police force at the thannahs and outposts in the affected tracts, as I may deem necessary. The force allowed for this district has been so seriously reduced as to be barely able to cope with the ordinary word. I need hardly say that I shall be careful in taking advantage of such authority, but it may happen that men will be wanted at the large hauts and market places. I should send the new recruits to the north and use my best men in the south of the district.
8. It will be necessary for Mr. Fraser to hire or build a house and it is not likely that there will be one to let fit for an officer to live in at this season, when river storms are of frequent occurrence, and to send out my tents would probably result in their total destruction, the loss thereby entailed to Govt. would be more than what I propose to build a house for Mr. Fraser can of course find temporary shelter in the thannah, but if this ferment among the Chundals assumes a more serious form, or continues for any length of time, Rs. 1,000.00 should be sanctioned for the erection of a house at Muxoodpore, where at present I propose to fix his head-quarters. After seeing the country I may alter the location; a fair sub-division might be formed out of Deorah (north) (for I have proposed to make over the southern portion to Madaripore, if that sub-division is transferred to this district.) Muxoodpore and Gopalgunge thannahs and I have ordered and empowered Mr. Fraser to take up all cases which may arise in these three police sub-divisions.
9. You will perceive that his movement has originated with some rich members of the Chundal community in Amgram, a village in the neighbouring district of Backergunge from where it has spread all through the very large tract of country to the south of Furreedpore and north of Backergunge occupied by this caste. They have always been united and this movement may become very serious. On the other hand, if the richer Chundals prevent the women of the poorer class from marketing a division may ensure and the whole movement terminated. Under any circumstances, as this is the season for ploughing and the Chundal ryots refuse to work for any but their own people, some scarcity may follow. This will not however, I hope be of long duration, as the tract lies in the direct road of grain transit from the country south of Naraingunge to Calcutta.
10. I should myself go without delay to the south, but unfortunately the 21st is appointed for collectorate sales here under Act XI of 1859 and Saturday, the 22nd I must ride into Goalundo, as that day is fixed for the purchase of land under Act X of 1870 Awaiting early instructions.
File No. 152
Government of Bengal 1873
A Proceeding for March 1873
No. 38 Dated Dacca, The 22nd March 1873
From - A Abercrombie, Esq. Officiating Commissioner of Dacca
To- The Secretary to the Govt. of Bengal Judicial Department
I have the honor to transmit copy of a letter from the Magistrate of Furreedpore and report by his District Superintendent of Police, reporting a novel state of affairs which has broken out in the southern part of Ferreedpore district.
2. I have requested the Magistrate to proceed as soon as be can to Muxoodpore himself and report on the prospects of the country after satisfying himself by personal inquiry as to the facts. If it probable that it will be necessary to locate an officer for any length if time in that quarter, application will be made to give Mr. Fraser Prowers to try summarily the cases mentioned I section 222 I the thannahs of Muxoodpore and Gopalgunge.
3. In the meantime I have ordered 15 men of he Dacca reserve to be sent to Furreedpore to day and trust that this measure will be approved.
From - L C ABBOTT, Esq., Officiating Under-Secretary to the Govt. of Bengal
To - The Officiating Commissioner of Dacca,
Calcutta , the 29th March 1873
I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter no. 38, dated 22nd instant, with its enclosures and in reply to say that the Lieutenant-Governor approves of the action taken by you in connection with the movement among the Chandals and awaits a further report on the subject
I have he honor to be sir,
Your most obedient servant,
L C Abbott,
Officiating Under-Secretary to the Govt. of Bengal
K. W. Progs for March 1873, Nos. 174-81
Strike among Chandals
This is a curious case. It appears that last year a wealthy Chandals of Amgram, in Backergunge, invited Hindus of all classes to a feast. They of course refused taunting the host with belonging to a class whose women went to market and who were employed in jail as sweepers. This resulted in a combination which has gradually been increasing; the Chandals have determined to prevent their women from going to market, from eating all food not cooked by Brahmins and have proclaimed that no man of the caste shall work for any member of another castes. As the Chandal are chiefly employed in tilling and all manual labour, their persistence in this course is looked on with apprehension and the usual intimidation of unions during strikes is anticipated. The Magistrate of Furreedpore suggests that. Mr. Fraser his deputy should be sent to the village (and a house built for him) so as to be able to try the cases at once and on the spot. The Commissioner recommends that he should be given summary powers for the purpose. However Mr. Wells has been told to go and investigate maters himself and before measures are taken, we may await his repot. ……… …. We may ask for its speedy submission. If he thinks more police are absolutely necessary he should say how many.
24.3.73 L C ABBOTT
…. The note is not quite accurate.
The Commissioner at present only asks approval to his having sent fifteen men from the Dacca reserve to Furreedpore. He indicates what may have to be done, but says he has sent Magistrate to enquire and report.
…………We may approve his action and wait further report. …… (I remember just such a movement among the Doradhs of Shahabad.)
26.3.73 A M
Approve and wait for report as proposed, but question as to employment of Chandals in jails should be noticed; send extracts on that point to Inspector-General and call for report.
27.3.73 G C
From - L C ABBOTT, ESQ. Officiating Under-Secretary to the Govt. of Bengal,
To - The Inspector - General of Jails
Calcutta - the 29th March, 1873
I am directed to forward the accompanying extract (Paragraph 16) from a memorandum by the District Superintendent of Police, Furreedpore, to the Magistrate, 18th instant, relative to a complaint made by the Chandals that they are compelled, when prisoners in jail, to work as mehters and to request that you will favour the lieutenant-governor with a report on the subject.
I have the honor to be sir,
Your most obedient servant,
L C ABBOTT
Officiating Under-Secretary to the Govt. of Bengal
No. 106 dated Fureedpore, the 19th April 1873
From - BOSE, ESQ., M. D. , Superintendent of the Alipore Jail,
To W. S. WILLS, ESQ. Magistrate of Fureedpore.
WITH reference to letter No. 1712 from L. C. Aboot, Esq. Officiating Under-Secretary to the Government of Bengal, to the address of the Inspector-General of Jails, dated Calcutta the 29th March 1873, and its enclosure, forwarded with your endorsement No. 343, dated the 12th instant, for report, as to how when and why Chundals come to be treated as mehters when prisoners in jail, I have the honor to inform you that I am unable, from the records of my office, to trace the origin of the practice in this jail; the practice has, however, existed for long time, and is still in force. The reason of Chundals having been so singled out in the first instance was, I presume, that they have always been treated in the social polity of the country as a prescribed race, or as a sort of pariahs whose very touch is considered pollution itself and as such, it was perhaps thought that no work, however mean or degrading in another, could possibly tend to humiliate a Chundal more, or make his position worse than it already is. Of course it is of very great advantage of Government to so employ them, as Hindus and Mohomedans are exempted, and were it not for these Chundals, the Government would be forced to employ hired labour at considerable expense. The custom, therefore, still prevails in the jail. I may, however, here remark that the Chundals, when a prisoner, never object to the work, and therefore it cannot be said in any sense, that compulsion in any form is used or required. All that is done is simply to tell him off to the work, and the Chundal at once takes to it without the slightest hesitation or demur. Moreover, I have never known or heard of a single instance in which a Chundal mehters prisoner, when released, has been treated harshly or in any way punished by his relatives and friends because of his having performed this service, and on his return home he is, to my knowledge, readmitted into caste among his fellows. The fact is, a Chundal has no recognized statues in native society, and consequently he can lose none, whereas others similarly employed would forfeit whatever position they may affect or possess, and permanent degradation and excommunication would inevitably follow.
When I say that a Chundal has not much to lose, and other classes incur a heavy penalty by performing such duties, it should be clearly understood that I am not thereby advocating one line of treatment for one class of prisoner and another for other criminals; on the contrary, I think the work is I every sense a filthy one, and that as such, no human being, whatever his circumstances, should, if possible, be ever made to do it, unless he or she volunteers for the work, or all alike should be called upon to take their share equally.
As regards the Chundal criminal, however, I think I can safely say this much, that if certain indulgences were permitted to him, such as, for instance, a half time service, a great many of his class, will then, I believe, be found only too glad to enlist for the conservancy service in our jails, notwithstanding all the assertions of cruelty and injustice complained of as attached to their present lot, by their self-constituted spokesmen and leaders in the strike now going on. The enclosures of your memorandum are herewith returned.
No. 414, dated Furreedpore, the 22nd April 1873.
From - W. S. WELLS, ESQ., Magistrate of Furradpore,
To - The Inspector-General of Jails, Lower Province.
WITH reference to your endorsement No. 3210, dated the 10th instant, I have the honor to submit, herewith, in original, a report by Dr. Bose, M. D., Superintendent of the Jail, to whom I referred the papers, considering that his length of residence - 15 years and upwards - in Furreedpore, and his intimate intercourse with the natives, would give him information which the records of none of our offices, I regret to say, are able to furnish.
2. The Chandals, as far a I can ascertain, when first ex-communicated , were a large body of Hindus of different classes, in which all castes were represented, inhabiting a tract of country in the north. Suffering under this curse they naturally sought to efface its effects in exile, and emigrated to the Bheel tracts lying to the south of Furreedpore, which at that period was a dreary waste, or very sparsely populated. The tale is to be found in the Mohabharat.
3.They have still their Brahmins - who are held in some little respect by other Hindus-and every caste, or at all event every handicrafts man, operative, the fisherman and the cultivator, are represented among them. as boat builders, carpenters, fishermen and watermen generally, and in all trades they excel, being strong, able bodied, patient an painstaking.
4. I suppose at the present time there are about 1,00,000 who inhabit the lower portion of Muxoodpore, parts of Dearah, all Gopalgunj in these district, and Kotwalipara in Backergunge. They are also scattered all over Eastern Bengal, and are to be met with in Jessore, Nuddea and Dacca as labourers and ryots.
5. During our rule, their patience and perseverance has been rewarded by some obtaining no little wealth and the position it brings.
6. It has always been the policy of Hindus or Mahomedans who live among them, to force this people as low as they can in order that the Chandal may be satisfied when he receives anything at all. And naturally when jails were established, and conservancy necessitated, this unfortunate race, generally dispised, a hard working, patient, uncomplaining people, was found ready to hand, with none to say a good word for them, and had they not been classed as mehters, Government could only have looked to volunteers among the prisoners with little chance of finding one, or in fairness have obliged all, by lot or by rule, to have shared the work, unless it was prepared to obtain at a very large outlay, free labour for the purpose.
7. The officer in charge of the jail says that those incarcerated do not complain. But this, I take it, is attributable to knowing that any complaint they may make will be of no use or advantage. The work is comparatively light and over early in the cool of the morning, so the berth is not a bad one if only the stigma is removed, and in their case the stigma has for a long time been patiently accepted.
8. Considering the large number of Chundals in the district, and the very few who enter the jail, I think the chance of having this work to do has a very to do have a very salutary effect.
9. Although quite-a non-mover may be peculiarly applicable to the present case- I still am of opinion that Government should in justice and fairness, require all men to take their share in this unpleasant and degrading duty; under some general rule, such as that any man sentenced to upwards of 4 or 5 years imprisonment should be liable - thus to limit the persons considered loss of caste and a disgrace among ourselves and every other nation, and I cannot but think that we ponder unreasonably to false assumption when we permit men in this land, whose condition of society is founded upon what birth may give them, to return unscathed to their friends after a conviction of the most damning crimes, simply because it is known that Brahmin cooks are provided and every speciality of caste recognized and uninfringed; and outward observance is all their confreres demand to readmit them into their companionship. The sting of incarceration is lost, and the criminal law, founded as much upon the example placed before men’s eyes as upon mere vindictive satisfaction, loses much of its moral strength; for the good see the bad restored, uninjured, to the position they previously possessed - the peculiar institutions of the country and its religions admitting such results.
10. The officer in charge of the jail is hardly fair in speaking of “self constituted spokesmen.” The men who speak are those who, after honest labour and struggles of the severest kind, under the most depressing circumstances and influences, have been able to obtain a position of some kind, but find themselves hopelessly struggling to be free; by Government damning their whole caste in condemning them, as a race, to be the mehters of the country.
11. They speak, therefore, honestly considering their own future which is at stake as well as that of the poor of their own race whose interests they advocate.
12. It is a most humiliating reproach which should be at once removed if it is possible to do so. Under our law men are equal, but Chundals have no such equality if they alone, as a class, are obliged to perform the most degrading duties.
13. I too, as already reported, have heard the complaint of the Chundals and cannot but think it reasonable. While quite concurring with Dr. Bose in his statement that they suffer nothing by being sweepers, I still hold that to brand a class by subjecting it alone to this work; is to sink them immeasurably in the eyes of all the country, and the natural consequence is the word Chundal is a word of bitter reproach, and to a Hindu would be worse than calling him a mehter.
14. And a considerable complication will shortly arise. Already there are between 3,000 and 4,000 Chundal converted to Christianity in Cutwaliparah, and some 500 to 600 in Kilogram and neighbouring villages in Muxooodpore thannahs. The question must come whether native Christians too, because they have no caste to lose, are to suffer this humiliation in jail in preference to Hindus and Mohomedans, only because the later are to be restored unblemished to a position each man ought honestly to have forfeited.
K. W. PROGS. FOR JUNE 1873, NOS. 84-87
THE District Superintendent of Furreedpore reported that one of the complaints of the Chundals was that they were made to work in jails as sweeper. Inspector-General of Jails was told to report on this, He now sends us letters from the Magistrate and Civil Surgeon (Dr. Bose). The result is, as Mr. Heeley puts it, that it appears the prisoner Chundals never complained of this in jail, did the work when told off for it and lose nothing on their return to their homes.
Both Mr. Wells’ letter and Dr. Bose’s are interesting, and might be read by His Honor. Mr. Wells raises the general question of caste distinction in jail but this is quite unnecessary, and Mr. Heeley is right in not going on it.
We may adopt his (Inspector-General of Jails’) proposal that the Chundls should not in future be forced to this work, but that any of them who choose to do it when its comparatively easy nature is pointed out, may be allowed to do it.
Yes; and say I understand that in some Mahomedan districts of Bengal three is so little caste that Mahomedans are found to do this work willingly for the sake of the ease and advantages; the same rule may be applied to all expect professional sweepers, who may be compelled to do the work.
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