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Charles Theophilus Metcalfe and Mainodin Hassan Khan and Munshi Jeewan LalTwo Native Narratives of the Mutiny in Delhi


Metcalfe, Charles Theophilus; Mainodin Hassan Khan; Munshi Jeewan Lal;

Two Native Narratives of the Mutiny in Delhi

Archibald Constable and Co. (Westminster), 1898, 182 pages

ISBN 1150526777, 9781150526770

topics: |  history | 1857 |

In 1857, Mainodin [Muinuddin] Hassan Khan was kotwal (station in charge) at Pahargunge. He, along with his brother, had been appointed to the Delhi police by Thomas Metcalfe in 1848, and had also worked with C T Metcalfe, the author (son of TM). At the start of the mutiny, he helped in saving the life of John Metcalfe (brother to CTM). During the rebellion, he beccame the chief kotwal, and was appointed Colonel in the rebel army. However, in this work, which he handed over to a Britisher with the request not to publish it in his lifetime, he comes across as a strong sympathizer of the British.

Muinuddin fled Delhi after the rebellion, and eventually went to Arabia, fearing his life under the British revenge. However, he communicated with John Metcalfe, and eventually surrendered in Delhi, was given good legal support by the Metcalfes, and was acquitted with a small pension to boot, for having aided JM. Eventually, he wrote up his memories in Urdu as "Khandge-Gadar", and gave it to Metcalfe, with a solemn oath that they should not be published until after his death.

The narrative has also been translated into Hindi in 1999 - with the title Gadar 1857 (Delhi University Hindi cell).

Jeewan Lal's narrative

The other narrative is that of Munshi Jeewan Lal, an ardent supporter of
the British, who was tyrannized by the rebels and welcomed the British

On the morning of May 11, 1857, Jeewan Lall was about to take his carriage
(a shoulder-carried Palki) go meet the Assistant Resident:

	On the morning of 11th May, between eight and nine o'clock, a
	wonderful report reached me as it spread through the city, that some
	cavalry and foot-soldiers had arrived from Meerut, and were in the
	bazaar plundering and killing the people.  Whereas by mercy of God
	the English rule was established in the country, the rumour was

	I had been that morning to Captain Douglas, the Assistant Resident,
	... It was a practice of the Assistant Resident to make a copy of my
	diary, for his own information and that of the Resident, as to all
	matters connected with the Court.

	I had ordered my Palki to be ready, when some of the Moharers
	(clerks) of the Court came to my house and begged me not to leave
	the building.  It was no longer possible to go through the streets
	in safety.  ... One of my informants stated that he had met the
	officers hurrying to the entrenchments.

	[He sends out a servant who comes back and reports that some
	budmashes are pointing out the houses of the European and wealthier
	natives to the soldiers.]  Europeans are being killed in every
	direction, and their property plundered.  The bank had been broken
	into and robbed. ... p. 75-76


Narrative of Mainodin 27
Narrative of Munshi Jeewan Lal 75

The Role of Dalits in the 1857 Revolt : Badri Narayan


Muinuddin Hassan's narrative, originally written in Urdu, has recently
been translated into Hindi. [with the title Gadar 1857, Hindi Madhyam
Karyanvayan Nideshalaya, Delhi Univ., 1999]

The book throws immense light on the revolt from the viewpoint of a man
who was deeply loyal to the British and who describes himself as an elite
Muslim constable, profession ‘aristocracy’. In his narratives he has
denounced all the revolutionaries using adjectives such as traitors,
conspirators, cruel etc. while expressing his heartfelt sympathy for the
British who, according to him, were the victims of the conspiracies of the

From this narrative it is clear that a sizeable number of dalit castes joined
forces with the Maulvi to protest against the British. Muinuddin Hasan
further writes, ‘The Maulvi Sahib started his kutchery at
Sultan-Khusrobagh. Every day he gave a discourse and the Julahas and Kunjra
used to attack the fort to get it evacuated’.

A little later Muinuddin Hasan writes that the revolutionary army
scattered here and there after looting the treasury in Allahabad. Some
went home; some went to Lucknow, while some went to Delhi. Maulvi Sahib
now remained the khalifa of an army comprising of only Kunjras, Kasais,
Julahas and Nais. Each of them was claiming to be a brave warrior
(rustam). If we invert Hasan’s account it appears that the bedrock of
Maulvi Ali’s army was the dalit community. Even after the revolutionary
army left Allahabad the people of these castes in the Maulvi’s army
remained behind and fought resolutely as ‘rustams‘.

While mentioning the Akbarabad incident Hasan imparts with an information
from which it appears that many men in the revolutionary army belonging to
the lower castes where ensconced in commander-like positions. He writes, ‘
When a subedar belonging to the lower caste who was a commander of the
army abused the rajputs (who were British sympathizers) and ordered them
to lay down their arms, a youth named Panjhi whipped out his sword and
swiped him so hard that the subedar’s head got chopped off and fell on the
ground. At this all the subedar’s soldiers together fired at the rajputs
and all forty of them died.’


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This review by Amit Mukerjee was last updated on : 2015 Oct 27