Let me share some crude Brahmanical Orthodoxy from History.
In 1896 plague, also called Black Death and also known as Bombay Plague Epidemic, broke out in Bombay from Manchuria. Soon the disease spread to Poona and like the wild fire started causing extensive damages to human life. The British had experience of severe havoc which plague had caused in England.
So, they enacted Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 and started implementing it. Charles Rand, a young ICS officer was appointed Plague Commissioner for the Poona. The government encouraged the public to establish hospitals in the area. As a result, Parsi Plague Hospital, Mahommedan Plague Hospital, Hindu Plague Hospital were established with government’s assistance.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak and other were instrumental in setting up Poona Hindu Plague Hospital. According to its rules, low caste plague patients were not entitled to the admission and treatment into Hindu Plague Hospital! The first official report on plague mentions it.
Plague Commissioner enforced anti-plague measures without any laxity which created strong resentment among the Poona Brahmans who conspired against him. As a result, Damodar Hari Chapeuker and his brother Bal Krishna Hari Chapeuker attacked Charles Rand and Lieutenant Ayerst. Officer Ayerst died on the spot while Rand died a week after.
Both Chapeuker brothers were arrested, prosecuted, tried and sentenced to death. They were hanged in Yeravda jail.
Tilak hailed them as the first martyrs of India’s freedom struggle in his Kesri newspaper which was adversely viewed by the Government.
The plague spread all over India from Bombay and Poona. As large as 5 crore Indians were carried off by the Black Death which continued for next 30 years. Bombay Presidency, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab came under virulent attacks of the plague.
Had the Poona Brahmans, i. e. Chapeuker brother not murdered the young ICS officer, India would not have lost lives of 40-50 million. Tilak had not uttered a word about the Indian who died of the plague. British did everything to fight plague but, I feel, did not put their heart in it. They did duty but lacked dedication.
Maharashtra, without knowing the history, celebrates these two brothers as martyrs. Masses join them with great veneration. None shed a drop of tears for five crores who lost the life in Bombay Plague Epidemic of 1896.
Author – Dr A K Biswas
Image – Interior of the Plague Hospital, Bombay, ca. 1900.
Image credit – Clifton and Co., Collotype