When we hear the word ‘thug’ image of a dacoit, goon, murderer or a robber immediately pops up in our mind. But the truth is something else, and it’s quite shocking too.
Before talking about the ‘Thugs of Hindostan‘, let’s go into some details first. When we talk about original inhabitants of Australia what image do we get? An image of white Europeans, but, no they were not the original inhabitants. The original inhabitants of the continent were aboriginal natives.
Their population was huge, but when Europeans went to Australia, they mass murdered them. And today they form just about 3.3% of the total population, lacking even the basic civil rights.
Not only this, in 1492 native Americans or red Indians had a population of around 10 million and the population of whole Europe was 40 million. And when Columbus discovered America, those Europeans used the hospitality of natives to a great extent.
And in return, the Europeans gave them smallpox and malaria-infected blankets, so that the natives die infected. And this was only one of the many ways in which they mass murdered natives. Europeans said to the world that ‘see these people are uncivilised they need us and we are ‘civilising’ them’.
Now, how are native Americans and aboriginals related to the thugs of Hindostan?.
Thugs of Hindostan were no dacoits, goons, murderers or robbers. Thugs were Kali-worshipping tribes in India who lived in the jungles. But when British imperialists wanted to occupy Indian lands, they wanted to destroy the forests of these tribes. And if someone will try to destroy someone’s home, then they will have to face resistance. So, to solve this issue, the British attempted to project a bad image of these thugs through literature. This type of literature is called atrocity literature. One such book is the ‘Confessions of a thug’ by Philip Meadows Taylor, which was written in 1839 and sadly, it is used as historical reference even today.
In 1871, the British parliament passed the Criminal Tribes Act.
This Act legalised mass murdering of the list of Indian tribes who were labelled as criminals. Every member of the tribe was labelled as a criminal – including the newborn babies. About 100-200 tribes were mass murdered – as they fought against the destruction of their home.
To justify this genocide, the British funded many scholars to write books in which thug-cult was shown in a bad light in the best way possible. One such book was ‘The Stranglers’ by George Bruce.
The ‘thugs’ were depicted in a bad light just like the native Americans and Australian aboriginals. And hence the word ‘thug’ is a slang today. And in the English dictionary, the meaning is ‘a violent person or a criminal’.
It’s important to know this because this was/is a habit of the Europeans – who went on to exploit the natives of their colonies, murdering them, and justified it as an effort in civilising these ‘uncivilised’ people.
Unfortunately, many Indian intellectuals still believe that the British played a major role in civilising us. India was the richest country in the world contributing about 27% of the world’s GDP, before the advent of the British. And after the British left, India was divided into two parts and became one of the poorest countries in the world – with just about 3% of the world’s economy.
Can this be justified as the civilisation of barbarians? No.
Are these questions relevant today? Yes, these questions are even more relevant today. Western influences are trying to destroy India even today. India is the fastest growing economy in the world today; it is now a potential threat to western economies. If India unites, then no one can stop it from becoming a golden bird again. There is a book by Rajiv Malhotra named ‘Breaking India’, which speaks about how the western forces pump in money to thousands of media houses, organisations, news outlets and foundations; their job is to increase intolerance in India and break their unity. The book has a detailed account of how internal and external forces are trying to break India.
The sad part is that we Indians still see ourselves through the European lens, without realising how they cheated us, how our people were murdered, and we were divided. We must not forget how our original education system was thrown away, our monuments were destroyed, and our knowledge was plagiarised. And lastly, how our history was turned into mythology.