Dr. Rajat Mitra’s article “Jallianwala Bagh: Why Indians fired on Indians; The Secret of India’s Slavery”, is full of why Bharatiyas were probably the only people who betrayed their own country. Mitra uses the Jallianwala Bagh as a pretext to come up with these sweeping statements.
At the outset, I would like to say that I have lots of respect for Mitra and on his analysis of the horrendous plight of Kashmiri Hindus who witnessed genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Kashmir Valley 3 decades back, the scars of which remain ever fresh in their minds. However, his assumption that traitors were easily found just in Bharat, as if it formed a part of our DNA, is just not true. This article attempts to counter such claims.
This whole propaganda that just Hindus betrayed their own country, comes hand in gloves with another allegation made by many that Hindus didn’t seriously fight against the Muslim invaders for most of the time, almost allowing them a free run, with even well meaning Hindutva writers falling for this narrative.
However, it is pure fiction, with no connections to reality.
Firstly throughout history, every single country has had its fifth columnists and traitors, otherwise it would have been near impossible for an aggressor to rule over them.
We can begin with Ephialtes of Sparta (present day Greece), who betrayed his country when they were at war with Persia 2,500 years back. Even though the Spartans had a smaller army, yet they still managed to hold on to the much larger Persian Army, till Ephialtes was bribed to show the Persians a secret passage that could be used to encircle the Spartans and destroy them.
Or Mexico, where the indigenous La Malinche was the interpreter of Herman Cortes, the barbaric Spanish conquistador, with the ruling Aztecs. She was Cortes’s mistress, and played an important role in the colonists’ destruction of Mexico’s indigenous culture. While its true that some groups in Mexico may not portray her in that negative light today, but to most Mexicans, she is considered as a traitor. The Americas are full of such stories of people who betrayed their own indigenous communities to assist the colonists.
In China, beginning from the 13th century itself, the numerically smaller Mongols ruled over the much larger Chinese population, culminating in the reign of Kublai Khan whom Marco Polo met during his travels. Obviously the top commanders were Mongols, but most foot soldiers were Chinese. Actually for that matter, even the last Chinese kingdom was foreign, of Manchu origins, and most people serving under them were ethnic Han Chinese. Though it could be argued that these foreign rulers had integrated themselves into Chinese society, getting entrenched with local customs and traditions, and that their rule was not tyrannical, but that’s besides the point.
Talking specifically about the colonial times in China, during the Boxer Rebellion, there were Chinese soldiers who served as sepoys for the foreign colonials against the interests of China. Even during the terrible Opium War, there were traitors who were fighting for both French and British against the Chinese rulers!
Mitra also seems wholly ignorant of the more than 600,000 Chinese soldiers who fought for the Chinese puppet regimes set up by Japan, including the most famous one of Wang Jingwei in Nanjing, and the Manchuko puppet one controlled by Puyi, the last Chinese emperor, in Harbin. This was despite the massacres perpetutated by the imperial Japanese troops in Nanjing in 1937.
Just like in the case of Bharat where the people fought to win independence from British, the Chinese too successfully defeated the imperial forces, and looked at disdain and disgust at these collaborators. But that is not to say that traitors within their midst didn’t exist.
If we turn our attention to other parts of the world, be it ancient or more contemporary, we find that there have always been people who have betrayed their own communities and cultures.
It’s common knowledge that during WW2 so many people in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, etc served under the Nazi forces, whether it was for ideological, monetary or other reasons. There were collaborationist regimes in Belgium, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Norway, etc. while the Vichy regime of France supported the Nazis against the interests of the bulk of the country that were against it. Even the UK was swarming with people who were sympathetic to the Nazi cause and were canvassing for money to raise arms and send fighters.
Besides support for the Nazis and Fascists, there was also massive Communist infiltration from the Soviets throughout Europe. People holding important positions in governments and elsewhere compromised their countries big time to USSR, the famous Cambridge Five led by Kim Philby being among the most famous examples.
But coming back to Hong Kong because that’s where Mitra starts his article,
- Right from the 1940s, a unit was formed of local Hong Kong Chinese soldiers to fight for the British. But even before that, right from the 19th century, Hong Kong Chinese were fighting for the British. During the notorious 1967 riots, Chinese policemen working for the British violently put down Chinese supporters of the Cultural Revolution.
- Being born and brought up in HK myself, I had never heard of this “cock and bull story” that the academic told Mitra to justify racism upon Bharatiyas. Of course, a lot of racism existed in 1970s, 1980s Hong Kong, not just directed to Bharatiyas, but also towards Filipinos, Africans, etc. For that matter, even the local Chinese also complained about being the target of racism by the whites during the colonial times. Though it must be admitted that Hong Kong has transformed a lot. While there are no doubts that racism does exist, the situation today is much better, with the local government taking all kind of abuse and discrimination seriously. There are generally cordial relations between the local Chinese and ethnic minorities, including Bharatiyas.
In conclusion, yes we had a lot of traitors in our midst who betrayed us and caused us untold harm, yet we were among the few countries that managed to fight back the Muslim and Christians invaders and still retain our civilization, something that most countries of the ancient world failed to. Also, to set the record straight, throughout the entire stretch of 500+ year Muslim rule, Hindus never ceased fighting the enemy. Small battles, big battles, Hindus went on challenging these foreigners. Sometimes they tactically laid low but never gave up. This is also a fact that we must accept.
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