The Trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar
Pramod K. Nayar
Orient BlackSwan, Jan 1, 2007 - India - 315 pages
Bahadur Shah Zafar, the poet-king, was catapulted into the limelight when the mutineers from Meerut arrived in Delhi on 11 May 1857. After the mutiny , the last of the great Mughals went on trial on 27 January 1858 for aiding and abetting the mutineers of 1857. The 21-day trial in the Diwan-i-Khas, the Hall of Special Audience, in Zafar s own palace, saw the British produce dozens of witnesses and documents to demonstrate Zafar s complicity in the Mutiny . He was eventually found guilty and exiled to Burma, where he died years later. The proceedings of this historic trial was first published in 1858, but has remained largely absent from studies and histories of colonial India. The current edition reproduces the text, documents and witness accounts of the day-by-day account of the trial. The Introduction, beginning with a short but comprehensive history of the East India Company and the Mutiny , places the trial in the context of the colonial state and its ideological structures. It then moves on to a reading of the trial s key narrative and rhetorical features. The text of the trial constitutes a great historical drama. The vast archive of evidence captures the theatre, the violence, the betrayals and the British anger. The legal arguments and eye-witness accounts reveal the human, political and bureaucratic dimensions of the trial of the nineteenth century. The Trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar makes for fascinating reading for the history buff and anyone interested in India 1857.
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