[As reported in The Times of London dated December 19, 1871]
The judgment of the Officiating Sessions Judge in the case of the Umritsur butcher-murderers has been published. It is both encouraging and painful – painful,because we were compelled to allow two of the worst scoundrels to escape as Crown witnesses; encouraging, from the fact that we were able to wrest such evidence from them and make the gang untrue to itself as a body banded together for murder. There does not appear to have been anything further intended than vengeance on the part of the Sikh (Hindoo) cow-worshipers on the Mahomedan killers of cows, but breaking out as it did, in different parts of the country at the same time, and solely in connexion with the sect of Kookas, there could not be any question that it had received direction from some one in command; and suspicion pointed at once to the Kooka chief, who is still at large and against whom no charges have been publicly made. The Umritsur murder was committed on the night of the 14th of June, when four butchers were killed and three wounded. The night was dark, and the nature of the attack so little understood that it is not to be wondered at that the murderers escaped. A reward offered for their apprehension brought a number of false charges from the budmashes (beggars, rogues) against persons living in Umritsur. This was the state of affairs six weeks after the murder, and several innocent persons were about to be tried, when a prisoner, named Goolab Singh, then under sentence of death for a butcher murder at Riakote, in Loodiana, offered, if his life was spared, to lay bare the entire story of the murder. His offer was accepted, and his statement taken down. Prior to the attack of the 14th of June, the conspirators, ten in number, including the informer, had made three attempts to reach the slaughter-house, but had in each case been thwarted by some trivial matter. On one occasion all but two of the intending murderers lost their way; on another all but two were stopped by the different (s)entries. Between each failure fresh meetings were held in the house of one of the conspirators or the shop of another. At last the arms, which for safety had been hidden, were once more brought out, and after some hesitation a rush was made on the slaughter-house and the butchers were killed, some in their sleep. After the informer’s statement had been taken down it was tested by his account of where several of the weapons had been hidden after the murder, and in all cases the statement proved correct, the weapons either being found there or proof of their removal obtained. The first of the murderers apprehended also made a clean breast of the whole matter, and was at a later period admitted as evidence for the Crown. Another followed his example, but was not admitted as evidence. Eventually seven of the ten murderers were brought to trial, and the eighth was put into the witness-box against them. Two escaped, and have not yet been heard of. Four of the seven were executed on September 15 at Umritsur gaol, and the remaining two (the seventh escaping by giving evidence) were transported for life. If there is any comfort at all in such a brutal affair, it is in the fact that the murderers confessed themselves to have been utter cowards even during the murder, and that they have since been so ready to betray each other to save their own lives. We have a very different class of men to deal with in the Wahabees. Does it go to prove that idolatry cannot produce the same kind of enduring fanaticism that is produced by the Koran? It is hardly likely that we shall hear much more of the cow outbreaks. The affair has merely been one of race, and is now seen to have had no political importance, as a union of Sikhs and Mahomedans certainly would have had.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s