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Saga of Indian Revolutionaries
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A People Reject Their Rulers
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From Swadeshi to Swaraj
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The Monk Who Shook The Nation
Father of Indian Unrest
An Old Man's Dream
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Pressing On !
Europeans Take To The Street!
The British Raj in Black and White
Mamool Raj
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Return to Swadeshi
Barbarous Britannia
‘Rani Ka Hookum’
Perishing in Peace
The Blue Mutiny
English Education
The Trial of the Last Emperor
Roll of Honour
The Empire Strikes Back
British Authority Collapses
Sepoys on the Move
Tribal Uprisings
The Empire Builders
For God and Country

Europeans Take To The Street!

Indians educated in English were fearless in expressing their views through petitions. Whenever they wanted to protest against something they considered unjust or when they wanted to make a demand, they would reach for pen and paper. The farthest they would go to make a point was to call a meeting of a few friends, pass a resolution and forward it to the authorities. They did not know the art of taking out processions, holding placards and raising slogans. They did not know how to make a din loud enough to reach the ears of those in power.
The first mass agitation which compelled the government to revise its stand was organized by Europeans who were protesting against the Ilbert Bill introduced in 1883.
Sir Courtenay Ilbert was the Law Member of the Viceroy's Council. The bill he introduced sought to take away a privilege Europeans enjoyed, trial by a judge of their own race. The bill allowed Indian magistrates or sessions judges to hold trial even when Europeans were involved in the case. Many Europeans did not like the idea of a black judge sitting in judgement on whites. They organised a Defence Association with branches all over the country and raised a fund of a lakh and a half rupees to carry on an agitation. The agitation against the Ilbert Bill was headed by planters who, as one writer put it, did not want a black judge to stop them "beating their own niggers."
The planters were a law unto themselves, so their opposition to the Ilbert Bill was understandable. What shocked educated Indians of those times was that the bill was also opposed by white lawyers, judges and officials at all levels.
A letter circulated among the whites and signed 'Brittannias' read : "The only people who have any right to India are the British. The so-called Indians have no right whatsoever."
At a meeting of Europeans in Calcutta, members of the bar used foul language against Indians while condemning the bill. The viceroy Lord Ripon also came in for a scathing attack.
The European community, almost to a man, boycotted the entertainments at Government House. Some hot-heads even plotted to kidnap the viceroy and deport him to England.

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