This historical photograph by Felice Beato shows the execution of the “mutineers” in Lucknow in the wake of the 1857 revolt, which started in May that year. Please note that those who evidently carried out the execution were Indians. The colonial British were able to subjugate and rule India largely due to the loyalty of Indians in the British Indian Army.
For decades after the 1857 revolt, these soldiers remained so loyal that they lived and died, in India and abroad, for the sake of the Empire. They had no hesitation in killing their own people in order to safeguard the colonial rule. It was only in 1945-46 that their loyalty came under strain, which was followed by the British decision to leave India.
Neither Gandhiji nor any other Congress leader was responsible for the change of heart among the troops. They in fact helped the British in putting down the revolt of Navy and Air Force personnel in 1946. In July 1946, American journalist and Gandhi’s biographer Louis Fischer was conveyed the concern felt by Gandhi regarding a huge chunk of the Indian Army. That it was no longer of the same temper as it used to be. That it had turned pro-revolutionary and pro-Indian National Army. Consequently, Fischer was advised, that if Subhas Bose (reported dead a year ago) returned with the help of Russia, there was nothing Gandhi or the Congress could do to “reason” with the country.
In a bitter twist of fate, in 1947, Congress leaders opposed to Subhas Bose started reaping the harvest of his struggle. Bose himself was betrayed by the people of India in general and Bengalis in particular as they failed to stand for him, his memory. (To claim that all Bengalis are Netaji’s admirers is a hoax).
Thereafter started a state-financed, massive propaganda through which it was given out that Indian freedom came about due to the magic of ahimsa, which could defeat any power in the world. Over the years, generations (including bureaucrats, politicians, historians, journalists, foreigners) benefitted from peddling this propaganda, and that’s why you find everyone backing it. So much so that today we are seeing Jan Sanghis, who used to have no special liking for Gandhiji, happily promoting the Gandhian myths. It becomes imperative therefore that you share this article and let your friends know at least.
While my book isn’t about freedom struggle, it has portions relevant to his post:
Felice Beato (1832–1909) was an Italian–British photographer. He was one of the first people to take photographs in East Asia and one of the first war photographers.
– Courtesy Anuj Dhar (Mission Netaji)