Thursday 14 September 2023

Gandhi's poisoned milk and Scroll's patriotic pussy

 All Indians know that Gandhi, because he was a crackpot, gave up milk. Later, after his failure to recruit soldiers for the British, he decided to take goat milk. But, at the time he was in Champaran he took no milk or dairy products whatsoever. Yet, Scroll India has published an article by a Muslim journalist which showers praise upon a Muslim cook, ordered to poison Gandhi's milk on orders of an evil Englishman, who abstained from doing so and was heavily punished for it. This is a very silly story. One should say, 'evil Englishman, Lord Irwin, gave Gandhi some poisoned cotton to spin. Heroic Muslim did the spinning himself and died horribly. His entire family was beaten, sodomized, decapitated and subjected to Islamophobic jibes by British, Hindus, Neo-Liberals, CIA, Donald Trump and Narendra Modi (real name Nicholas Maugham). '

This is the article written by Ajaz Ashraf who is a journalist in Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, has as its backdrop the demolition of the Babri Masjid. 

All of 77 years now, economic historian Girish Mishra

presumably this is the loony Leftist Professor from Bihar who passed away in 2019 

still remembers vividly that day in 1950 when India’s first President Rajendra Prasad alighted from a special train at the railway station in Motihari, then the district headquarters of undivided Champaran, which is now split up into East and West districts, in Bihar.

A 10-year-old schoolboy then, Mishra and his classmates were taken to catch a glimpse of the son of the soil, a Bihari who had risen to the august office of President. “Rajendra Prasad had come to condole the death of a relative,” Mishra recalled.

Bihari ten-year old only have to look at a person to know they are condoling or rejoicing at the death of a relative.  

On the railway platform was a bunch of people whom the president was to address.

So there was a political angle to the visit. 

Suddenly, there was a commotion at the entrance gate of the platform – an old man insisted that he must be allowed to meet the president.

Prasad promptly walked to the gate. He escorted the old man to the dais,

railway platforms have daises. They are very spacious indeed. 

gave him a chair next to his, and engaged him in a brief animated conversation. To the gathering that gasped in surprise, the president narrated a story dating to 1917, the year in which Mahatma Gandhi came to Champaran to investigate, and eventually oppose, the Teenkathia contractual system through which British planters compelled farmers to grow indigo.

Prasad explained in his book that farmers who refused to pay a fee to be released from that obligation (because they thought indigo was no longer commercially viable) were upset when the indigo price rose because of the war and so they had to grow the darned thing or else pay a penalty. They wanted Gandhi to come and record their false affidavits regarding how each and everyone of them had been raped, decapitated, forced to eat faeces or touch untouchables and, most inexcusably of all, been obliged to keep living without any mark on their body to show where their heads had been cut off. 

Congress wanted Gandhi to distract attention from the anti-cow slaughter riots which had been in full swing throughout Bihar. For his part, Gandhi did a good enough job but Prasad tips his readers the wink that the Indians were telling a pack of lies. 

Prasad introduced the man sitting next to him as Batakh Mian (Ansari), a cook who, despite his poverty, turned down “all kinds of inducement” offered by a British planter, Erwin, to poison Gandhi and him. Had it not been for Batakh Mian, Gandhi would have died, Prasad said, wondering what impact such a tragedy might have had on the freedom struggle.

Prasad was a lawyer. He was an officer of the court. Why did he not report the attempted murder to the police? Was he a coward? Had Erwin bought him off? No. Prasad was lying. Everybody knew he was lying. The whole indigo campaign, like the Independence movement, was based on stupid lies. That's why nobody expected things to get better economically once the British Vampire withdrew its fangs and flitted back to its own remote island.  

Prasad’s disclosure seared Batakh Mian into Mishra’s and Champaran’s public memory for all time to come.

No doubt there was some 'vote bank' aspect to this. If some stupid Gujarati could be built up into a Messianic 'Mahatma' on the basis of the lie that he had put an end to the British practice of raping and decapitating Biharis while draining all their abundant wealth, why shouldn't some elderly cook gain fame as having saved Gandhi and Prasad from poison?  

Perhaps Champaran felt gratified to have among them a person who was the antithesis, so to speak, of Nathuram Godse, who only two years previously, on January 30, 1948, had assassinated Gandhi.

The Brits had kept Gandhi safe. It wasn't long after they left that the Mahacrackpot got shot. The odd thing was that Gandhi's security wasn't increased after the first attempt even though Morarji Desai received a warning of the plot from a Sociology Professor.  

For a country still under the overhang of that assassination,

two equally consequential Gandhis were assassinated in the Eighties and early Nineties.  

the contrast between Godse and Batakh Mian was simply too stark to be forgotten.

Godse genuinely killed Gandhi. Batakh genuinely didn't save him though, no doubt, it was kind of him not to knife the fellow when he had the chance.  

Batakh Mian’s feat

History is often a medley of versions of an event in the past, gradually embellished over time. This is as true of Batakh Mian’s deed, more so as neither Gandhi nor Prasad, quite surprisingly, wrote about him.

Because he didn't save anybody's life.  

To check the story of Batakh Mian, this writer spoke to the Congress MLA from Narkatiaganj, Vinay Varma,

who only has two criminal cases registered against him. He is related to the BJP MLA Rashmi Varma who has a property dispute with a niece and has threatened to resign if the police don't side with her. 

who is a member of the family that founded the Shikarpur Estate.

i.e. the guys who were paid lots of money by the European indigo factors. They retained influence after Independence by patronizing criminal gangs. It is very important that such great heroes of the proletariat be allowed to seize land, gold, and girls from anti-People Capitalist elements so as to rehabilitate the descendants of Muslim cooks who poured away poisoned milk so as to save some Gandhi or the other. 

Varma’s version, as handed down by successive generations of the family, is a little different from Mishra’s. Varma’s grandfather was Bhagwati Prasad Varma, the son-in-law of India’s first President. In 1950, Bhagwati Prasad Varma’s older brother, Awadesh, was ailing,

was he poisoned by Bhagwati? Surely, there must be some court case filed by Awadesh's descendants which makes some such allegation?  

which is the reason Prasad took a special train to meet him, Varma said.

Awadesh may have had some gold he didn't want his brother to get his hands on. Since GoI was paying for the special train, Prasad hurried to his side. Thankfully various Muslim cooks poured away poisoned milk or poisoned tea or poisoned whiskey soda so Prasad lived to tell the tale.  

In Varma’s retelling of the presidential visit of 1950, Prasad alighted from a special train not at Motihari, but at Narkatiaganj Railway Station. As Prasad walked through the crowd gathered to see him, he chanced upon Batakh Mian, old, his clothes in tatters. So overwhelmed was Prasad that he embraced Batakh Mian there and then. “This was how the story of Batakh Mian came to be known,” said Varma.

In this version, Kayastha landlords or lawyers lift up the poor Muslim who otherwise would have been left to starve. Sadly, Gandhi had previously said that he knew which Congressmen in Bihar had been busy killing innocent Muslims. Of course, he took no action against them. Still, we can be sure that Prasad's relatives were all very typical Congressmen in that respect.  

Mishra agreed that he might have been mistaken about Prasad’s purpose of visit. But he insisted that the meeting between the president and the cook took place at Motihari. Mishra, who taught economics at Delhi’s Kirori Mal College and has authored several books, wrote about the episode in the Mainstream Weekly in 2010.

The fool repeats the story that Shukla was a poor peasant. He was actually a rich money-lender who told the Inquiry Commission that he had an income of Rs 2000 a month- i.e. he was richer than the White Magistrate. Still, Mishra doesn't mention milk as being offered to Gandhi. Instead, he says the Muslim cook was employed by the Satyagrahis and that Prasad himself was happy to eat such food. Some Englishman tried to bribe the cook but he refused.  This is a more plausible story but shows Prasad in a bad light. If a guy saves your life by not poisoning you and you believe him, you make sure to get him a job in your own household or personal staff. This is a guy you can literally trust with your life. Since he refused bribes, you can use him to deliver money or to guard the treasury. You don't abandon him to poverty more particularly if you yourself are a Bihari Kayastha. Suppose you don't want a Muslim cook, you just tell one of your wealthy Muslim clients about this gem of a fellow. They would hire him in a heart-beat because they feared being poisoned by some relative. Incidentally, when Mrs. Gandhi's cook died in a car accident, she insisted Sonia cook all her food. Why? She was afraid of being poisoned. 

There is, again, no one version on how Batakh Mian foiled the plot to poison Gandhi. In his Mainstream piece, Mishra wrote of Gandhi insisting on those volunteering for him in Champaran to eat together in a “common mess without considerations of caste and religion. The cook was a Muslim, Battack [Battakh] Mian.”

This is nonsense. Gandhi did get the 'vakils' to accept a common vegetarian kitchen. But the cooks were Brahmins. Back then, Gandhi was still 'sanatani'.

Gandhi's genius was to get the CID to sit in on his affidavit recording sessions. Two purposes were served. One, the CID could see Indians were not afraid to make highly inflammatory allegations and, secondly, Gandhi was acting responsibly in only allowing plausible testimony to be recorded. 

Angry at Gandhi for hopping from village to village inquiring about the Teenkathia system, a British planter, Erwin, offered inducements, apart from issuing threats, to Batakh Mian to mix poison with the food he prepared for Gandhi and his volunteers. Not only did Batakh Mian refuse, but he also disclosed Erwin’s diabolic plot to Gandhi and Prasad.

Who were so cowardly that they took no action. Nor did they make any provision for the fellow after their own departure.  

There are other, more dramatic versions. In one, Batakh Mian is said to have been the cook of British planter Erwin (neither Mishra nor anyone else knows his full name),

It was W.S Irwin. Lawyers are familiar with his name because there was a famous defamation case in which he was the defendant. 

who had invited Gandhi and Prasad over for dinner. Postprandial, Batakh Mian was instructed to lace a glass of milk with poison before giving it to Gandhi, who was presumably staying overnight at the plantation.

But all educated Indians have read the Mahacrackpot's 'Experiments' and thus know he didn't drink milk. 

On entering Gandhi’s room, where Prasad was also present, Batakh Mian instructed him not to drink the poisoned milk.

In another version, as retold by Varma and many others, Batakh Mian entered the room and offered the glass of milk to Gandhi. Just when Gandhi was to drink it,

Varma clearly hasn't read 'Experiments'. He doesn't know that, at that time, Gandhi drank no milk- not even goat's milk.  

Batakh Mian was overcome by pangs of conscience. He snatched the glass from Gandhi and poured out the milk on the floor. With tears flowing, Batakh Mian narrated how Erwin had threatened him and, alternatively, offered inducements for poisoning Gandhi. (An even more embellished version says a cat licked the milk on the floor and died instantly.)

The cat and the milk story is the one which has currency.  But it is obvious nonsense. Gandhi simply didn't drink milk. 

Is there any evidence for the existence of Erwin of Prasad’s story that Mishra recapitulated in his Mainstream Weekly article? A perusal of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volumes XV and XVI, online shows that there did exist one WS Irwin, manager of Motihari Ltd, an indigo concern. Irwin earned notoriety for brutally oppressing peasants and usurping their land, apart from becoming an implacable foe of Gandhi during his fact-finding mission in Champaran.

The problem here is that Prasad was a lawyer and, what's more knew that W.S Irwin v D.J Reid was an important case where what constituted 'fair comment' in 'public interest' defamation cases was elucidated. For this reason, lawyers all over India knew that Irwin wasn't some crazy carpet-bagger or slave driver. He and the two other managers of indigo factories were under intense official scrutiny. Gandhi hadn't really added very much value to the outcome of the official inquiry. The Government's view was that indigo was unprofitable and the ITC soon got the factors to switch to tobacco.  

Irwin wreaked vengeance on those who deposed before Gandhi and his fellow satyagrahis regarding the depredations of British planters.

No he didn't. He was powerless. The Government was against him and even the Calcutta Press could not help him.  

On May 24, 1917, Gandhi wrote a letter to Irwin accusing him of uprooting in his own presence the crops of two farmers who had made statements to the fact-finding team.

That was land under permanent lease to Irwin's firm. He had the right to do what he did. Still, Gandhi was welcome to bring a civil case against him.  

A day later, Gandhi wrote to the Collector WB Heycock accusing Irwin of mercilessly beating the two.

Irwin did not have the right to inflict corporal punishment though the zamindar from he leased the land may have done. 

Anyway, it was in response to Gandhi's complaint that an Official Committee of Inquiry was constituted on June 17. The problem was that Gandhi and Prasad now had to back-pedal on making mendacious and sensational allegations. But the authorities were determined to assert their power over what Otto Trevelyan had called the 'Anglo Saxon' party'- i.e. local White businessmen- almost six decades previously. The planters looked to the Calcutta Press to support them. Irwin defamed Reid- a fellow planter who was on the Legislative Council. Reid then sued for damages and won. Irwin appealed and lost again. Essentially, the 'Anglo-Indians' had used Gandhi to score over the 'Anglo-Saxons'. Prasad knew all this. The fact is, people like Irwin had relied on a legal opinion of a leading Indian lawyer which, it turned out, was unsound both in law and for obvious commercial reasons. 

On May 30, 1917, Gandhi wrote yet another letter to Irwin informing him that farmers have accused him of whipping them.

Gandhi wrote: “One of them showed strong marks on his calves and on his back. They were sent by you to the murghikhana (fowl-house) and were fined Rs 10 each. They were released at midnight on their promising to secure the fines in the morning.”

Irwin wasn't doing anything other estate managers weren't doing. But his position was much weaker because land temporarily leased from the Court of Wards would be lost to his company if a prejudice against him was created. The poor fellow was stupid enough to defame a fellow planter. A European Jury might even have sent him to prison. From the point of view of 'Authority', Gandhi had been useful even though he was using the old native lawyer's trick of presenting perjured testimony. But, what was really important was that Gandhi was distracting attention from the plight of Muslims targeted by the cow-protection mobs. From the Muslim point of view, Champaran was an issue where a Muslim leader had previously been sent to prison. It was also a Kayastha cause taken up by Brajkishore (later the father-in-law of J.P Narayan). Thus, it had a symbolic meaning for Indians because of 'Neel Darpan' as well as for ICS officers because of Trevelyan's ' Letters of a Competition Wallah'.  

Both Gandhi and Irwin were engaged in verbal jousts in the columns of The Pioneer and The Statesman newspapers.

Irwin was actually stupider than Gandhi.  

There is no mention of “Erwin”, as spelt by Mishra and others in their retelling of Batakh Mian’s story, in the Collected Works. Given the undeniably cruel streak in Irwin, and his loathing of Gandhi, it is safe to assume that his name was misspelt in subsequent renditions of Prasad’s story.

Regardless of whether it was Erwin or Irwin and what precisely was his plot to poison Gandhi, in Champaran’s memory, Batakh Mian paid dearly for refusing to execute it, and then compounding his recalcitrance by disclosing it. His house and whatever land he owned were auctioned, and he was put behind bars and beaten.

Why did all these great lawyers not defend him? The answer is that this whole story is a pack of lies.  

Reduced to a penurious condition,

Muslim cooks tend to own vast agricultural estates. Batakh's palace- which was constructed of solid gold- was taken over by the British who shipped it to Engyland.  

Batakh Mian’s plight prompted President Prasad on his 1950 visit to ask the collector of Tirhut division, of which Champaran was and still is a part, to allocate 50 acres of land to the cook who saved Gandhi’s life – and his three sons, Sher Mohammad Ansari, Rashid Ansari and Mohd Jaan Ansari.

Prasad was a lawyer. He knew that even the King Emperor could not just order land to be given to somebody he liked.  

It was deemed to be India’s token of appreciation of the man who refused to kill to enrich himself.Actor Farooq Sheikh's letter to the family.

What is the evidentiary value of a letter from a Leftist Gujarati actor? He could know nothing about the case. 

Mishra in his Mainstream essay does not record the conversation between the president and the collector.

There was no such conversation. Both the Collector and the President knew the law. What is more both would have known that Gandhi did not drink milk at that time. 

Nevertheless, 60 years later, the Hindustan Times did a story, Family of Mahatma’s saviour in dire straits, which quoted from Champaran ke Swatantatra Senani (Freedom Fighters of Champaran) to retell the story of Batakh Mian, the poisoned glass of milk meant for Gandhi, and how President Prasad promised to gift “24 acres” of land to him.

BJP is very evil. It killed Mahatma who liked drinking milk only. Evil English poisoned Gandhi baby's milk. Courageous Muslim spilled it and equally patriotic pussy cat licked it all up before Gandhi could do so himself. We must open brothel of lurve full of such pussies so as to defeat BJP's bazaar of Hate.  

The story caught the eye of Pratibha Patil,

one of the few people Indira trusted to cook for her 

then the president of India, whose Officer-on-Special Duty Archana Datta wrote to the newspaper saying, “Her Excellency, an austere Gandhian, has taken note of the HT report.”

Datta also asked the district magistrates of East and West Champaran to file reports on the steps the Bihar government had taken to implement the Presidential Order of 1950.

There was no such order. Anyway, the point of this story is that Kayasthas are useless. President Prasad could not even implement his own Order! So what if it was imaginary?  

Nitish Kumar, then too chief minister, promised succour to the family.

So, it isn't just Congress politicians who make false promises to poor Muslims. 

Impoverished family

This writer tracked Alauddin Ansari and Kalam Ansari, two of the many grandsons of Batakh Mian. They are two of six sons of Mohd Jaan Ansari, the youngest child of Batakh Mian, and with whom he spent his last years.

Both Alauddin and Kalam Ansari said the family was granted six acres of land, not in Siswa Ajgari village, East Champaran, where they lived, but in Ekwa Parsauni village of West Champaran in 1958, that is, a year after Batakh Mian died.

Was this under 'bhoodan'?  

Worse, it hugged a protected forest area and had to be broken for cultivation.

Sounds as though it was Government land previously under the Forest Department. Nehru's India increased agricultural production by increasing acreage under the plough rather than by raising productivity.  

The location of the land gift meant that Mohd Jaan Ansari and his family had to shift from Siswa Ajgari, where Batakh Mian is buried. (Batakh Mian’s other two sons, according to both Alauddin and Kalam Ansari, were staying with their in-laws.)

In 1960, the family threw anchor in Ekwa Parsauni. But their possession of six acres was challenged in court

Bhoodan 'gifted' land had that infirmity. 

and they had to wait for another six to seven years before their title to the land was confirmed.

After Independence, title to land became meaningless in Bihar unless you had a lot of hired muscle. 

“I remember Mohd Jaan coming to our estate,” said Vinay Verma, the MLA from Narkatiaganj. “The quantum of land promised to them [24 acres or 50 acres] couldn’t be handed over to them because of the Forest Department’s opposition. Jaan even made representations to Indira Gandhi.”

Who knew Gandhi didn't drink milk.  

We do not know whether Indira Gandhi interceded, but Kalam Ansari sent this writer a faded photograph, not possible to reproduce here, in which his father, Mohd Jaan Ansari, who died in 1998, is seen with President Prasad in New Delhi. It suggests that he did not forget Batakh Mian even after that chance encounter at Motihari railway station.

But Prasad's remembering the fellow doesn't seem to have helped his family. The wider problem is that even if your grandpappy was given 100 acres of land, the fact that he had ten kids who had ten kids each means all you get is an acre to feed you and your ten little kiddies. 

Quest for promised land

There is little doubt that Batakh Mian’s family is in dire straits. A rivulet, the Biraha, now flows through the six-acre plot. “Next year, the river might even gobble up our home,” said Alauddin Ansari, who is 62 years old. His children and those of his other five brothers, now work as seasonal migrant labour in Haryana, Delhi and Punjab, the family subsisting on the money they remit home or bring back when they return.

Batakh Mian should have become the cook of a nice Sahib who might take him back to Blighty so as to continue to be able to savor 'Champaran Mutton'. In that case, one of Mian's descendants might be in the British Cabinet.  

Their quest for the promised “50 acres” of land continues, as also the Bihar administration’s search to provide them relief. Both Alauddin Ansari and Kalam Ansari were summoned in January to Motihari by East Champaran’s district magistrate, Anupam Kumar, who is refreshingly different from most officials. “We have completed the family tree of Batakh Mian, and we are looking at how they can be helped,” said Kumar.

Which is why Bihar will remain a shithole.  

“The family has grown over time.”

Which is why it is a shithole.  

This is indeed true – for instance, Kalam Ansari has 10 children, another brother six more. Add to this number the children of four other sons of Mohd Jaan plus those of Batakh Mian’s two other sons and one is perhaps looking at the formidable task of rehabilitating at least 50 family members.

Government must 'rehabilitate' them because their ancestors courageously poured milk on the ground and then a patriotic pussycat drank that milk. Sadly, descendants of that courageous pussy have fucked off to Amrika and thus can't be 'rehabilitated'. 

But what stings Alauddin and Kalam Ansari is that not only does Prasad’s promise of 50 acres to Batakh Mian remain unfulfilled, none of the family members was facilitated  (sic) on the 100th anniversary of Gandhi’s arrival in Champaran, on April 10.

Whereas all sorts of pussies are constantly being felicitated. 

Given Champaran’s romance with Batakh Mian, this seems to have been a rather tragic miss.

It is hilarious! 

But this miss is likely to be politicised now. On April 15, the Pichada Muslim Organisation, a backward caste outfit run by Hesamuddin Ansari, held a press conference on the plight of Batakh Ansari’s family, which was widely reported in the Hindi press. On April 16, Kalam Ansari and others sat on a dharna near Gandhi’s statue in the city’s iconic Gandhi Maidan.

 Naturam Godse, pictured above, was given a pistol by evil Englishman named Mountbatty. He was ordered to shoot Gandhi. However, he had qualms of consciousness and thus shot a passing, but very patriotic, pussy instead. Mountbatty took terrible revenge on Godse by getting him hanged. 

On the face of it, the politicisation is an attempt of subaltern Muslim groups to demand recognition and respect for the contributions made by their brethren to India’s freedom struggle.

They poured milk on the ground. Then a patriotic pussy licked it up. We must 'rehabilitate' the descendants of such people. Otherwise they may escape to Haryana or, worse, yet, Yurop Amrika.  

They feel the dominant historiography that mirrors the class relations in India has, deliberately or otherwise, ignored their heroes.

Very true! Why are we not taught about the importance of pouring milk on the ground rather than burning cloth or spinning cotton? Is it because Brothel of Lurve is not having patriotic enough pussies in BJP's Bazaar of Hate?  

But the story of Batakh Mian also underlines the irony of our times.

Omidyar put money into Scroll India which publishes stories about spilled milk and patriotic pussy cats. 

While Nathuram Godse, the killer of Gandhi, the emblem of Hindu nationalism, remains firmly implanted in our political consciousness,

because, unlike Bihari Congresswallahs who slaughtered innocent Muslims, the crackpot Godse shot the crackpot Mahatma.  

the saviour of Mahatma Gandhi languishes on its margins. It symbolises why Hindutva is on the rise and the Congress on the decline.
To be clear, this is because Muslim cooks are not spilling enough milk and patriotic pussies in the Brothel of Lurve and not being able to lap up that milk. That is only reason BJP's Bazaar of Hate is prevailing. 

There bigger problem is that all Muslims spilled milk at some time or the other. All must be 'rehabilitated'. Hindus should kindly evacuate the country so that all the various saviours of various Gandhis can get 50 acres. 

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