12 JANUARY

BRITISH OFFICERS KEEP BRIEF NOTES ON TOWN AND VILLAGE BURNING IN BENGAL

Sepoys under British command – c. 1785 –
National Army Museum.

[ 12 January 1757 ]

On 12 January 1757, Captain Coote of the British East India Company’s Bengal Army noted in his diary: ‘I was detached with fifty soldiers and one hundred sepoys (British led Indian troops) to burn a village about three miles from the fort, and was to be joined by some sailors… I therefore marched into the village about a mile and a half, and then ordered the sepoys and sailors to set fire in the rear of me as I marched back again.’1 The same day, other Redcoats burned down the nearby town of Bandel on Bengal’s Hooghly River just north of Calcutta, because it was suspected of storing provisions for the army of Siraj-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Bengal, who was challenging the Company’s domination and profitable exploitation of the region. The entry in the logbook of HMS Bridgwater is economical in its description. ‘Captain Coote sent some sepoys a mile above the town, and burnt down to us. We set the town on fire.’2

MI6 AGENTS NOT REQUIRED TO INTERVENE TO PREVENT TORTURE

A cell – Parwan Dention Facility, built by the U.S. in Afghanistan.
US Department of State via Wikimedia Commons

[ 12 January 2002 ]

On 12 January 2002, London sent a note of legal clarification to MI6 agents in Afghanistan. They had been sent out to interview Afghan prisoners and it was feared that they might witness signs of abuse or torture on those held by the Americans. ‘Given that they are not within our custody or control,’ the note explained, ‘you are not required to intervene to prevent this.’ Nor was there any need to update senior officials in Whitehall about such bothersome matters and they should only inform a US official if the abuse involved an MI6 interview. Otherwise human rights abuses committed by Americans were, it seems, of no importance.3

FOOTNOTES

  1. S.C. Hill ( editor ), Indian Records Series, Bengal in 1756-7, John Murray for the Government of India, London, 1905, p. 40, 41 or 42, accessed online at url https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.82785/2015.82785.Indian-Records-Bengal-In-1756-57-Vol-Iii_djvu.txt
  2. S.C. Hill ( editor ), op. ig., p. 14 or 15, accessed online at url https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.82785/2015.82785.Indian-Records-Bengal-In-1756-57-Vol-Iii_djvu.txt
  3. Gordon Corera, MI6: Life and Death in the British Secret Service, Phoenix, London, 2011, p. 339.

Please feel welcome to post comments below.  If you have any questions please email alisdare@gmail.com

© 2020 Alisdare Hickson All rights reserved

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