Frenchman’s Urdu account of 1857 revolt

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Times of India

George Puech Shor — a Frenchman who was a prolific Urdu writer and resident of Meerut, was the first European to write about the upheavals of 1857 and the heat of uprising.

Aligarh Muslim University deputy registrar Rahat Abrar, while rummaging through the library of his cousin Hakim Saifuddin’s home in Meerut, found the only available manuscript written by Puech.

According to Abrar, “The unpublished work in Urdu language ‘Waqa-i-Hairat Afza’ is full of bloody incidents of the 1857 revolt. His diary put light on the unexplored aspects of the day to day incidents of Delhi, Meerut, Aligarh, Hathras and Agra, providing new information about the revolt.”

Abrar added, “Puech writes that the first Panchayat of 6,000 farmers was held at Katha village, 4-km away from Baghpat (Saharanpur-Delhi highway) under the leadership of Shah Mal Jat, a local freedom fighter. The panchayat resolved to attack the Royal village Harchandpur with a large rebellion army.”

At a sprawling haveli in Harchandpur lived Gotlieb Francis Coin Farasu, the grandfather of Puech. On July 17, 1857, Shah Mal Jat, a ‘great rebel’ of Meerut district looted properties of nearly Rs 10,000 and returned to the village Binali Barhka.

George Puech Shor’s mother was Madella Coin, daughter of first Indo-German poet and scholar of eighteenth century, Gotlieb Francis Coin Farasu.

Farasu was the most prominent Indian poets. He was born in 1771 in Katra Chandni Chowk, Delhi while his father John Augustine was in the service of the enigmatic Begum Sumru of Sardhana.

After the British unilaterally annexed Begum Sumru’s estate on her death, Farasu, an old man, continued as tehsildar under the British based in his huge haveli in Harchandpur village, 6-km from Baghpat.

The manuscript further states, “British armies were following revolutionaries. Shah Mal had a revolutionary force of more than 6,000 freedom fighters and the 84 villages of Baghpat tehsil and Baraut at once stood against the British under the leadership of Shah Mal.”

Puech also maintained that Major G Williams, Officer Commanding, confronted Shah Mal’s hordes, estimated at some 3,500. The 40 Europeans of the 60th Rifles who were armed with Enfield and advanced in fighting, wrought destruction.

With no time to re-load, Shah Mal’s peasant followers broke and ran, leaving some 200 dead. Shah Mal was found among the slain; his severed head was paraded through the town. The British government awarded the title of Nawab of Baghpat upon Karam Ali, tehsildar of Barut, as a reward to provide assistance to kill Shah Mal.

Puech’s grandfather Gotlieb Francis Coin Farasu has also written a book on Mutiny of 1857 in detail, which could not be published. It is in Persian like poetic history and its original manuscript known as ‘Fatehnama-e-Angrez’ has been preserved in two major libraries in India. According to Abrar, one of those libraries is in Aligarh Muslim University.

Following the killing of Shah Mal and his followers, Farasu and George Puech shifted to Meerut for avoiding any re-encounter with the mutineers.

Abrar later tells, “George Puech was buried at St. John’s cemetery, Meerut on February 22, 1894 at the age of 72 years. His second wife Marry Pasequine and his daughters were also buried here. St. John’s cemetery is also historically important due to the nine graves of the victims of May 10, 1857’s struggle for freedom is also here.”

Farasu was buried at Harchandpur. His maternal grandson, George Puech Shor constructed a mausoleum and also embedded it with a plaque on his grave. George Puech Shor has mentioned in his book that this tomb was erected and inscription on it runs as under: ‘On July 15, 1861, Mr. Farasu Coin Saheb died at the age of 84 of cholera and dysentery.'”

Citation
Times of India, “Frenchman’s Urdu account of 1857 revolt,” in Times of India, May 11, 2015. Accessed on May 14, 2015, at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/Frenchmans-Urdu-account-of-1857-revolt/articleshow/47238535.cms

Disclaimer
The item above written by Times of India and published in Times of India on May 11, 2015, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on May 14, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

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