1805: Indian freedom fighters tortured as the British continue looting

Report as published in 1805:

INDIA NEWS – A conspiracy was lately discovered at Candy, which had for its object the murder of the King and his Ministers. Several of the traitors have been apprehended and tortured, but without extorting from them the names of the leaders and abettors.

A body of Holkar’s cavalry, on its retreat from Bhutpoor, attacked a fort on the Berar frontier, in which it was supposed the Rajah had deposited considerable treasure. The officer of the fort, however, being apprised of their approach, attacked them in a narrow pass, and put part of them to the sword.

Purneal, the Brahman, who was Principal Financial Minister to Tippoo, and employed by the Rajah of Mysore in the same capacity, has on some recent occasion called for the the warmest expressions of thanks from the Indian Company.

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A few things from this caught my attention. Firstly, was how casually it was mentioned that the ‘traitors’ were tortured, an admission you’d never see in a paper today.

Then, there’s the blatant corporate sponsorship at the bottom, with no attempt to hide that they in India acting in the interests of the Indian Company, also known as the East India Company, that once accounted for half the world’s trade while also getting in on the colonising game.

Another unusual aspect of this, besides the fact I came across it in the Belfast Chronicle (Saturday, 21 December, 1805), was how much knowledge the reader was assumed to have about the situation. There is no attempt to explain who any of the people involved are. When you think that we live in a world where people need a recap after a three-minute ad break, that’s quite telling.

As standard, the people trying to free their country from invaders are called traitors for not submitting. The stuff they are trying to retrieve from the fort undoubtedly ‘considerable treasure’ taken from them in the first place.

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