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Namdhari Shaheeds -

Foremost Freedom Fighters-Page 2

The Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, in consultation with Rai Takhat Mal and other Hindu Punches (representatives) opened a slaughter-house outside the city. The butchers were instructed to follow the following instructions. "The cows will be slaughtered at a particular place within an enclosure. No butcher shall bring beef inside the city for the purpose of sale. Transgressors of these rules will be punished".

The opening of a kine slaughter-house at Amritsar was a signal for the opening of many more in different towns throughout the Punjab. The butchers started the killing of cows in small towns too. Although the Muslim popula-tion of the Punjab did not cherish beef as a food, the British officers again and again impressed upon their minds that the right of kine-killing was sanctioned by their religion. The underlying motive was to divide the Punjabis into religious groups and destroy their unity.

Since the starting of a slaughter-house at Amritsar, relations between the Hindus and Muslims of the city, have been growing tense. The Muslim butchers started the sale of beef openly in the streets of Amritsar. On 7th May 1856, a culprit involved in such a crime was produced before Mr. F. Cooper. In May 1863, a Muslim selling beef in a street populated by the Hindus, was caught red-handed. Two magistrates tried the case; one of them was a Hindu and the other a Muslim. The culprit was sentenced to 3 months' imprisonment and a fine. of Rs. 50. The magistrates unanimously remarked that the sale of beef was not permitted in the city.. A The Judicial Commissioner in his judgement on an appeal in. this case, released the accused, saying that such an order did not exist, in the Government records

Every year such cases occurred, and the culprits were either released or fined nominally. By the year 1871, bitter feelings developed into altercations, quarrels, open fights and riots between Hindus and Muslims. In the month of May 1871, tension was on the peak. The Commissioner of the Division reached Amritsar. He held a meeting of the representatives of both sections of population and explained the Government's policy in regard to kine~killing. The Hindus and Sikhs of the city were disgusted over it.The Muslims became encouraged, and set afloat a rumour that four more shops will be opened in the city for the sale of beef. And that one of these will be. adjacent to the precinct of the Holy tank of the Golden Temple. Muslims living in the city consumed beef in large quantity. Kites and crows finding small bones thrown after eating, picked these up and perching on some wall in the vicinity of the holy tank, left it there, after scratching. One such bone lying in the premises of the holy tank was picked up by Bhai Deva Singh who placed it before the sacred scripture in the Golden Temple on 24th April 1871. This caused very great excitement. Bhai Deva Singh was got arrested by Sardar Bahadur Mangal Singh Ramgarhia the custodian Manager of the Golden Temple. He was sentenc-ed. to three years rigorous imprisonment and one month's solitary imprisonment. The non-Muslims of the city became alarmed but felt helpless.

After observing that the crows were throwing bones taken from the nearby butcheries in the sacred pond of Harmandir Sahiband were defiling its sanctity, - the Namdharis killed the butchers and were hanged for this act
A few Namdharies living in the city in a meeting decided to sacrifice themselves for the purpose of stopping cow-killing in the sacred city. On the night of the 14th June, 8 Namdharies attacked the butchers inside the slaughter-house. Three butchers were killed on the spot and 3 were badly wounded. A special investigating officer, Mr. Christie arrested and charged 12 Hindu and Sikh inhabitants of the city for these murders, by the 25th July. The innocent victims were made to give false statements and make confessions under torture and third degree police methods On the 26th July the accused were committed to Sessions by the Deputy Commissioner. The news of the orders of the Deputy Commissioner reached Guru Ram Singh Ji at Bhaini. On coming to know the reality, he ordered the culprits to produce themselves before the magistrate and confess their guilt. On their own confession, 4 Namdharies were hanged on 15th September 1871. Similar murders of the butchers by the Namdharies had also taken place at Raikot in ti Ludhiana district, on the 15th July 1871. Of the butchers 4 were killed on the spot and 7 badly injured. In this case, 7 accused, 5 belonging to Nabha State and 2 to Patiala estate were arrested with the help of the Maharajas of Patiala and Nabha. They were produced before a magistrate at village Bassian. An effort was made by the police to implicate and involve Guru Ram Singh as an instigator and abettor. He was summoned to appear before the magistrate at Bassian, which he did. On the 5th August 1871, three of them were hanged at Raikot in the presence of a large gathering. The remaining two accused, Giani Rattan Singh and Rattan Singh of Naiwala involved in this case were later on hanged at Ludhiana outside the jail premises on 26th November 1871.
The Government, in the meantime, felt alarmed at the secret activities of the Namdharies. The two senior -most officers of the Punjab Government were ordered to prepare detailed reports regarding the Namdhari organisation, its aims, and its activities. Mr. Macnabb, in his long report dated 4th November 1871, reached the following conclusions. 'Whatever may have been the intentions of the leaders of the sect at the beginning, its tendency is distinctly political". . Many men of position are joining the sect... It seems necessary, for the internal safety and tranquillity of the country, that Ram Singh be deported to some place, where he cannot be visited by his worshippers.. .1 am strongly of the opinion, that the safest thing to do with Ram Singh is to transport him to the Andamans. .. If the Government prefer to act against him directly under Act III of 1818, it should be done at once Lt. -Colonel G. McAndrew in his memorandum dated 20th November 1871 wrote:'It appears to me to be a case in which Government may fairly act without the usual course of elaborate legal procedure and as matter of general expediency and good government, send Ram Singh out of the country. He and his followers have now given most undoubted signs of a disposition to set all law and order at defiance". The reports of the responsible officers of the Govern-ment sent a wave of fear and indignation in the minds of the British officers against the Kukas. They read the signs of a general revolution in the Country, organised and headed by Satguru Ram Siugh and his Namdhari followers. Some of them apprehended the shadows of 1857 Mutiny, the programme and activities of the sect. Nearly all of them were on the watch to find some opportunity to annihilate and crush the movement.
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