They were outwitted through their impulsive greed for the food.

Hardware, more properly Haridwar, is one of the most sacred places in India. The Ganges has come out of the Himalayas and to bath in it at Haridwar is to wash away sins. James Young, the high ranking British officer who was in charge of the government force which finally defeated and captured the Thag (the word has been imported into English with a slightly different meaning) criminal tribes which infested the area, was appealed to by the local Brahmins to immerse himself completely in the Ganges to cleanse the area of the blood shed. This he did, receiving in return their gratitude and blessings.

The British land surveyors recommended building a bridge with a dam across the Ganges at Haridwar for purpose of irrigation. The Brahmins all over India objected that the sacred river must not be “bound”. After some discussion it was agreed that the dam should be built across the river, but with a small gap in it which could never be closed. The Brahmins agreed that this would leave the river essentially unbound and the plan went ahead.

A day was fixed for the formal opening of the bridge and dam. For two or three days before hand the dam gates were kept shut so that there was a substantial body of water held back only a small stream still poured through the gap, the river bed immediately downstream was dry under the heat of the sun. However the day before the opening a good number of fanatics swarmed down and sat in the river bed declaring that they would not allow the dam to be opened.

It would have been a grave sacrilege to remove them by force but to open the dam would mean certainly some would be drowned. The next day in the morning the authorities sent announcers who respectfully told the protesters something like that the sincerity of their opposition was acknowledged but pending discussions a free meal would be served on the banks for them. Tired and hungry after their all night vigil they scrambled up the bank to partake of the meal. When the last one was out enjoying the meal the dam doors were abruptly opened and a great mass of water rushed through the know vacated channel.

These self styled protesters had no rational grounds for their impulsive action which was simply designed to create trouble. They were outwitted through their equally impulsive greed for the food.

© Trevor Leggett

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