Reliable sources / Senior Officials - people who know... say hell is a lot cooler than this.
That of course brings us to the Gurkha Wars.. now that Nepal is so much in the news. Imagine yourself as an East India Company director in the early 19th Century around 1814. The company had been collecting taxes for some decades now . It could afford a full fledged army. Imagine the hills next door, and you could not go to them . Yes ALL the hill areas were Nepal ... Yes you could consider a war or two. More about this later because the graves of 2 of the Gurkha wars "luminaries" are in Meerut cemetery. Octherlony and Gillespie.. Mussorie , Simla, Nainital were enhanced by the British once they had conquered these territories. Even Dehradun (180km from here ) was Nepal and already existed. The larger scene is .. this is just 2 years after Waterloo. Waterloo was more than just defeating Napolean*. It was a major upset to the European mindset, a second rung European Power had defeated France.
*He was defeated by a Duke of Wellington who was earlier called Arthur Wellesely when he laid the seige at Ahmednagar fort in 1803. The canon used then are buried outside the fort walls.
Some of the writing on the gravestones Of Gillespie and Octherlony.
If you right click and save the picture of Gillespie's gravestone you will be able to read the inscription ( the actual picture is double the size) it says "31 Oct. 1814 KALUNGA". Both the items are extremely interesting. The official ( if you consider the East India Company as official) date for starting the invasion of Nepal was 1st November. And where on Earth is Kalunga ? The answer is Kalunga is no longer on earth.... More later...
Gillespie must have been well known in England at that time. There is a monument of him in St.Paul's Cathedral in London and one in the town square in Comber in Ireland. He is responsible for suppressing the very first Indian uprising at Vellore in 1803. That fort is in the left picture. However you can see ( barely ) the remains of the fort at Kalunga. A fort of stones does not vanish but one concocted with words can. Some interesting questions arise. Was there actually a fort at Kalunga ? Did Gillepsie confront an army of Gurkhas or just a settlement of Hill folk? Who would have thrashed the hell out of Gillespie's crowd if their pockets had been just 5% as deep as the East India Company "Army".An enormous amount of detail is available for this very remarkable and tragic encounter..Just remember that a muzzle loading gun ( took over a minute to load and fire ) and a Khukri were not unfairly matched. The Gurkhas had guns too but not enough ammunition. This particular battle ( Kalunga ) is called the 1st Gurkha war and established the legend of the Gurkhas. Soon .. will include letters written by Balbhadra Kunwar to his superior, plus many interesting details of the actual battle which began in the last week of October and ended on 30th November.
This is an excerpt from one of the letters by Balabhadra Kunwar ( the commander and others ) in the unfinished fort at that time ( yes there was indeed a "fort" there ).
"The younger sister of the fallen General arrived at the place of Lighting. She is grieved over the death of her brother as well as of her husband. Accompanied by four or five British officers she looks around the fort on horseback with a telescope from a distance that is out of the range of cannon-fire."
The following comes from a website called Gurkha-Khukri.com. Put your mouse over the picture of Kalunga to display the text.
Some omissions in this tract . Eager beaver Gillespie had left 10 days earlier than the date fixed (1st Nov) for the widespread invasion. He got shot a day before. The battle and siege ended on 30th November . Not because of ceaseless cannon fire ( the fort they did destroy but not the spirit ) . In a typical British (enlightened) way they lured a local person to reveal the source of the water supply and then cut this off. The last lot, about 70 of them ran into the forest shouting that the enemy would never have won in a straight battle . Will include more from other sources.
Thanks to the monster called the Internet I got a response from Jyoti whose ancestors were present at Kalunga at that time. The Samadhi at Tapovan is of an ancestor of hers. She would be happy to get in touch with people who would like to spread awareness of what happened at Kalunga. In my view it is equivalent in import to The Battle of the Little Big Horn, or Custer's Last Stand.There are many parallels. Her email Jyotithapa@hotmail.com, note: she is very busy so don't expect an immediate reply.
For those who think that preoccupation with the East India Company is an exercise in futility.. here are some recent pictures February 2006 and May 2006. The picture at left is of a demolished Wedding Bhavan which was around for at least 15 years. The one at right is of a newly constructed mall which has been SEALED a few days back - 1st of June 2006. Some ignorant journalists and other individuals completely support such activity, "those who disobey the laws of the land will be punished" said one in a newspaper. For one, they feel it enhances the "prestige and power" of the individuals who take such decisions - in reality it lowers them to the rank of plunderers. That seems to be its mainstay. Monday 28th August 2006: Today another Mall is destined to be destroyed . This one already has about 40 shops and employs over a 100 people . On Sunday a large force consisting of the Army, Police and PAC had appeared to make sure the destruction goes peacefully. The defenders of the people and the keepers of the law ? Of course. But the enemies of prosperity and progress!
"Hukumat say koi nahi jeet sakta", said an onlooker. The facts are the following . These shopping malls are improving the appearance of an extremely decrepit town. This is the best building in the crumbling Bombay Bazar. The administration is vehemently implementing rules which even the British used to ignore. The Cantt board denizens crop up everywhere inquiring if 'permissions' have been taken . The most recent visit was at Sophia when some broken glass in windows was being replaced. The confusion between Garrison and Cantonment seems to have increased since the 80s when 'Defence Land' notices started cropping up. Well this defence land had a lot of hotels right upto the 70s. In fact the The Royal Hotel was right on the Mall. The entire Cariappa Street had hotels( St.Mary's Area had 3 - Volga, Stiffles and Deluxe), only one Hotel De Roses still remains. Since when did defence administered start to mean defence owned ? One has no idea :) .
Of Course the younger lot of bureaucrats and Government decision-makers are aware how much the administration of almost 70 cantonments( as distinct from garrisons ) eats into the defence budget(90,000 crores !). Is that the reason our Jawan confronts the enemy with 1941 weapons ? ( source : recent - April(?) 2006 - interview of Army Chief of Staff )
All the letters received by the concerned people quote an obscure and idiotic law dating back to 1833. This is called the "Old Grant". It is found in any Cantonments Act book under the label CGO 479. What CGO stand for is hilarious . It is an abbreviation for "COUNCIL GENERAL ORDER" . The Council General ended with EAST INDIA COMPANY ( pre-1857 )!!! One ridiculous line states that the house belongs to the owner but the land belongs to the Government !! All this is ofcourse held in high esteem in the bureaucracy.
This mall did not come up overnight and was not built in darkness. Why was it not stopped while construction was on? It seems similar activity is on in Delhi. India is not really famous for looking good. Now it will be famous for being a heap of rubble.
There is a lot of applause for people of no conspicous ability who "make it" abroad. Strangely no thought is given to the nourishing environment in which they function. And certainly no efforts are made to duplicate that environment.
It is no secret that positions of authority have been infiltrated by fools and criminals. The rest of us are powerless to change the election / selection processes which allow them to use public money against the public. God bless India. It is like a vehicle built with 5 reverse and 1 forward gears. Of course we have bright people in Government - they keep busy oiling the reverse gears.
Not far from the collectrate in the civil lines area just across Howard Plested School is a building which was of great importance in the past. The stone slab identifying it as a Settlement Office is gone, the building is not even visible as it is now behind a recently (2004) constructed high wall. It was constructed in 1901 ( before the capital shifted to Delhi ). Typical of British labels the word Settlement* gives no clue to its actual function. Numerous offices in all district headquarters ensured a collection of an enormous amount of money . The District Collector was mainly responsible for overseeing the actual collection process. At that time there was little industry so it was numerous (millions) poor farmers who paid, often under severe duress ( the settlement was something like 'money or your life' :)). Suffice it to say it was a lot of money . Much more than enough to pay for a Six thousand diamond crown and a lavish Durbar for King George V, at a time when famine was always on the horizon. The structure - or the Steel frame as the babus call it - was laid down by the East India Company and was in its prime in 1901. The Steel Frame is still there now, except that it is called the Steel Cage by the people who pay for it. If you think these rules and regulations were incorporated for the benefit of the Indian populace, then you could not be more wrong . In fact Indian products like chintz were closing down factories in Manchester. Something had to be done. Read Jeremy Seabrook's learned article in a Statesman issue of recent years. So why are we still stuck with these laws ? And why do we celebrate Independence day ? Independence from what ? The British presence or the Will of the East India Company, which still operates?
* Information regarding collection is available in any Gazette of that period.Read previous ones