Uprooted by the British from their ancestral settlement for participating in the 1857 mutiny, descendants of Mewatis, a Muslim community, continue to live a life of apathy in old city areas of Allahabad.
Mewatis were massacred by the British for joining mutineer British sepoys and other freedom fighters in the uprising of 1857. They had to flee eight of their ancestral villages including Samdabad, Rasulpur and Saidabad, now Chandra Shekhar Azad Park or the erstwhile Company Bagh and the adjoining posh Civil Lines, in the aftermath.
An elder community member Mohammad Salman Khan who runs a small clinic in Rasulpur area said the community was not honoured for the sacrifice of its ancestors.
Although Mewati’s were listed under OBC (other backward caste) category, reportedly very few have secured government jobs.
Around 20000 voters in City South and West constituencies are Mewatis, but they have no representation in politics. Many Mewati youths migrated to Gulf seeking employment and thus improved their economic conditions. However, others are languishing in deprivation and working menial jobs as mechanics, drivers, etc., Khan said.
Other community elders Haji Akhlaq, Chand Khan, Shakeel Master and Akram Khan lamented that governments neglected the community post Independence. Instead of working for their development, governments provided minimum compensation to the community for acquiring their agricultural land for development projects.
Candidates used the community as a vote bank, but after victory reneged on their promises to provide medical facilities, roads, electricity and educational facilities, said the elders.
Most youths in the community are school dropouts and seldom complete their education. However, in recent years girls of the community are focused on acquiring higher education and are even applying for government jobs, Akram Khan informed.
Recalling the massacre of Mewatis, a senior Allahabad Univerity professor and historian Yogeshwar Tiwari said Mewatis were a brave community who strongly resisted the British during the uprising.
“Thousands of them including women and children were either shot or hanged in Chowk area when British forces under Colonel Neil recaptured the city. Their properties were seized and they were pushed towards the outskirts of Allahabad which they later renamed Rasulpur and Samdabad after their villages were razed to the ground by invading British forces. An old Mosque and some graves at the park still stand witness to the Mewati settlement in the area,” he shared.
Later they were also listed among criminal tribes of India when British introduced the Criminal Tribe Act in 1871, Tiwari added.
The act was repealed after Independence but Mewatis remained a marginalized section. Although some Mewati families owned agricultural lands most of them had to resort to odd jobs to eke out a living.