Wednesday, August 6, 2008


'Tilangas' is apparently a reference to Telingana, in mdern Andhra Pradesh, where the British originally recruited many of their sepoys during the Carnatic Wars of the eighteenth centry. In Delhi the name seems to have stuck as an appellation for British-trained troops, although the British had long since replaced Telingana with Avadh as their prinicpal recruitment field, so that in 1857 most sepoys would have come from modern Uttar Pradesh and parts of Bihar. 'Purbias', which in Delhi was used alernatively with Tilangas, simply means Easterners. Both words carry the same connotation of foreignness, implying 'these outsiders from the East'.

A large proportion of the Mutiny Papers are the petitions of ordinary Delhiwallahs who had suffered at the hands of the sepoys; invariably they were addressed to Bahadur Shah Zafar, who they hoped would protect them against the increasingly desperate Tilangas. Significantly, in their petitions to the courty, the words the ordinary people of Delhi used to describe what was happening in 1857 were not Ghadr (mutiny) and still less Jang-e Azadi (freedom struggle or war of independence) so much as fasaad (riots)and danga (disturbance or commotion)



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