Divide et Impera
The following is a conspiracy theory/original story submitted by the third-place winner, SWATHY SURESH B (of NIT Calicut) for our event SLEUTH’S VISION, as part of ‘SPECTRUM ‘20 - An ISTE Collaboration’.
It was a cold and eerie night in the year of 1857. The clouds tried to swallow the moon but the moon fought back valiantly and kept shining more brightly. Even in the quietness of the night, one could hear the mumble of unrest, frustration and anger. Nevertheless, an unknown scent of ‘freedom’ filled the air. Lord Dalhousie looked out through the window at the moon. Beads of anxiety appeared on his forehead. Some thought seemed to trouble him. He was condemned by the East India Company for failing to notice the signs of the brewing 1857 revolt. He knew that men cannot be kept in shackles forever, sooner or later voices of liberty will solidly arise. If Indians continue fighting for their liberty with the same vigour, then Britain could not stand in India for so long. Britain’s much-prized province, India, would slip out of their hands. He turned to the man sitting on the chair and said,” Men, women, children without any difference are fighting day and night for their freedom. The Hindus and Muslims have reunited and are fighting side by side and under each other. If this continues, nothing could stop them from attaining their only dream of a ‘free state’.
The man in the chair smiled mischievously. A wicked brain was smiling beneath the ‘innocent’ face. He was in no way affected by Dalhousie’s concerns. This irritated Dalhousie, he said with annoyance,” Lord Canning, Are you listening to me? This is a grave situation. We should act as soon as possible to suppress the revolt or it would take the shape of a ravenous wildfire and spread to other parts of the country with menacing speed “. Lord Canning arose from the chair and walked towards Dalhousie. He started speaking. There was confidence and treachery in his voice. He said, “A child stops crying when it is lured by a toy. Politicians make false promises to tempt the people but after they win they forget about all the promises they had made. In the same way, we must coax the Indians by giving them an assurance that we are complying to their proposals”. An expression of doubt arose in Dalhousie’s face. Canning continued, " After tempting, we want to snatch away their hope from them as in a dream. We want to backstab them with the most powerful weapon… Divide et empera “. Canning smirked.” Men are fools. They are capable of loving and caring for each other but if someone confronts their principles and religion, then the same loving sheep will turn into a ferocious lion. Men take false pride in their religion. If we can use the differences in Hindu- Muslim religions against each other, then we can put this nation in shackles forever”. Lord Canning and Lord Dalhousie looked at each other and laughed contemptuously. They both devised plans to widen the Hindu- Muslim gap. An evil joy was menacing in the room which could transform empathy into hatred. Outside the cubicle, the forlorn moon had lost the fight and was enchained by the clouds.
Britain began to work under a carefully devised plan made by Lord Canning. The British assured Indians that they would look into their problems. Lord Canning withdrew the ' Doctrine of Lapse ‘and established universities. The people of India were elated. They thought that their revolt had borne fruit and sooner their dream of a ' Free Nation’ would become a reality. Little did they know that it will take them another 100 years to attain freedom. Under the disguise of reforms, the British played their most wicked game of dice. After the revolt of 1857, the British mixed different classes of sepoys. They presented the Muslim rulers as plunderers and tyrannical bigots to create hatred for them among the Hindus. Similarly, they painted several Hindu rulers as cruel to their Muslim subjects. Lord Canning gave orders to the British officials to secretly call the Hindu pandits, pay them money and tell them to speak against Muslims and the other way around. For successfully suppressing the revolt, Lord Canning was rewarded by the British government by being made the first Viceroy of India. All the communal riots started after the 1857 revolt. Thus Lord Canning and Lord Dalhousie succeeded in their plan of converting ‘The First War of Independence’ into a mere ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ through their policy of divide and rule.
The descendants of Lord Canning followed his policy of divide and rule on numerous occasions. This weapon was notoriously used by Lord Curzon in the form of ‘Partition of Bengal’ which separated the largely eastern Muslim areas from largely western Hindu areas. The British supported Muslim league, gave them separate electorates to choose Muslim candidates for Muslim seats, empowered them and that resulted in the division of India and Pakistan. The British legacy of ‘divide and rule’ still holds sway in India and Pakistan today. It was the conspiracy started by Lord Curzon which makes us relate terrorists to Pakistanis. We often forget that the people living in Pakistan are human whose blood is red like ours, and who breathe to live. They have nothing to do with terrorism. Even today some politicians use the same strategy to create communal riots in our nation. We, educated Indians should not fall prey into this vicious trap and should treat everyone with empathy without any discriminations of race, religion and country.
Swathy Suresh, NIT Calicut