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I saw that already when askod quoted it, but I don't find it credible. (The source, not the notion that the British colonial empire would condone such acts.) To be precise: it is a more or less detailed source on the much more gruesome slaughter in 1857 but a (secondary) source severely lacking in details on the late-18th-century thumbs-chopping claim, and I don't trust it on a correct paraphrasing of what it found in the original sources. This is because at the end of the first paragraph, it is conflating the East India Company's late 18th century monopoly enforcement for the selling of textile at a profit with the elimination of India's native weaving industry in the 1810s-1830s (which changed the equation for the Company, too). Thus, the lacking detail and inconsistency of the text throws up several questions and regarding possible (mis)interpretations:

  • What kind of archives did Open access in that library? Contemporary sources like the Surat Factory Diary or official letters, 100 year old books, 20 year old books? Or did it access any sources at all? (Similar claims are in the two years older The Telegraph - Calcutta article also quoted by askod, but without any sourcing.)
  • If Open didn't misread a source with a claim identical to William Bolts's, who were "the British" who were claimed to have chopped off fingers: soldiers, East India Company British agents, the Company's native agents, or local soldiers doing the dirty work? (Hand-chopping wasn't unheard of in Indian kingdoms, nor 'cooperation' with the British in the exploitation of the underclass.)
  • What was the reason for the claimed chopping according to the original source?
  • Were the 20 families who fled to the Nawab of Oudh specifically known to have fled after their thumbs were chopped, or before their thumbs were to be chopped, or have they just fled the Company's general oppression of weavers?
  • Do sources say that the reason for the killings was the persecution that happened to the killers' grandfathers and great-grandfathers, or is that the Open author's speculation? (The more detailed account in the linked article says nothing on motives; the Calcutta Telegraph article claims that the weavers settled in that village in the 1830s only; and a 2010 article in the Telegraph - India references an unspecified early 19th century British crackdown.)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 3rd, 2013 at 10:47:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, here are two more original sources I skimmed yesterday:

  • A Letter from the Marquis Wellesley, Governor-general in Council ... (dated 19 July 1804): this was still written at the time India exported textile under the Company's monopoly. the then new Governor-general lambastes the Company's export monopoly with frequent allusion to (unspecified) inhumane and unjust practices vs. native workers (f.e. paragraphs 50-53), argues that giving freedom to workers is not actually against the Company1s interests (next two paragraphs), and suggests (in paragraph 47) that the purpose of the monopoly was not the exclusion of rival British traders but the total control of the weavers' labor and thus the profit from their trade.

  • In a 1831 parliamentary debate on the East India Company, in the testimony of a Mr. Robert Richards, there is a lengthy discussion of the Company's practice to coerce workers prior to 1811 [when he left India] (paragraph 2846). On several prior pages, Richards argues that the company1s 1813 claim that it conducts British-Indian trade at the highest level possible is not true and more would have been possible if natives were allowed free trade, and claims that authorities undermined an 1813 law partially lifting the Company's trade monopoly. (Other testimonies already discuss the then recent flood of British textile imports and consequent job loss for locals.)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 3rd, 2013 at 11:43:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The claims of cutting off of thumbs was passed down by oral tradition in the families of Mahua Dabar in Awadh, where, indeed, they had reestablished their trade by teaching their children to weave and had a successful village business in cloth manufacture until some of them exacted revenge on British officers for acts most likely committed by EIC officials or their local hirelings. Oral tradition is not proof, but it is substantiation and I, at least, would not dismiss it in this context.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Sep 3rd, 2013 at 12:48:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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