Who owns mhow, p.1
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Who Owns Mhow?

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  About the Author

  P.Narahari is a young IAS officer of 2001 batch from Madhya Pradesh Cadre. He hails from Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh. For a Gold Medallist Engineer by academics, with a Master in Economics; writing this book has been a revealing experience. The author was inspired to write this book while he was posted as SDM Mhow in 2004. A humanist by heart, he was moved by the constant suffering of the residents of Mhow. The origins of this book is a sincere attempt to understand the issues of Mhow. The author's vision on this issue is a solution acceptable to all duely on the merits of the `rights' of individuals as well as institutions. Currently, Mr. P. Narahari is the collector of Indore, Madhya Pradesh.


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  All rights reserved to Sameer Prakashan. No part of this publication may be reproduced. Xeroxed stored in a retrieval system of transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying , recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher.


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  Who owns Mhow ?

  P. Narahari

  Pervin Jehangir

  [The opinions expressed in this book are of the author's and not of the government]

  Who owns Mhow ?


  I want to thank my co-author Pervin Jehangir for the support that she has extended in the completion of the book. I have no words to express thanks to her learned father and a renowned advocate BM Masani. He has been a constant support and encouragement. He has been a tree of patience and I don't remember as to how many times we had to sit together in analyzing each and every document and organize documents into a book.

  I owe my inspiration to the then Chief Secretary of MP, Vijay Singh Sir who had nearly an hour to discuss on the issue of Mhow. When the Chief Secretary empathized with the importance that I felt towards this issue and gave a patient hearing, it was the first point of motivation to take up the subject deeply. I was only an SDM then and the Chief Secretary sparing chamber tight time proved the impetus to author this book in the interest of larger good. I should also mention here that I served as SDM for only six months at Mhow and was entrusted to be the Municipal Commissioner of Indore. Some of my life's greatest job satisfaction came from this. Thank you Sir.


  I thank the then Divisional Commissioner of Indore, Ashok Das Sir for being the angel's advocate before the State government with his cool yet assertive style of functioning. Because of his thoughtful prioritising efforts, I was made the State Government's representative to present before the Parliamentary Committee hearing objections and suggestions in the new Cantonments Bill on anvil at that point of time.

  I thank entire staff of the SDM office of Mhow. Special thanks to Dr.Badge (my dear bade babu) who travelled to Delhi several times retrieving Gazetteers and documents from National Archives of India.

  I am also thankful to my wife, SB Gita Narahari who has been supportive through critical analysis. My daughter who was 6 months old baby then and today when this book is seeing light, I also father of a lovely boy. They make me happy to be able to pen down few lines like this.

  24th March 2008 P.NARAHARI



  One of the most important work of Sub Divisional Officer (SDO)-Revenue & Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Mhow is Iiasoning with the Army. I was posted there as SDM in July 2004. The burning issue then and even now is the issue of land and its ownership. Many civilians were seen running pillar to post as resumptions were being done by the Army. This interested me and I tried to mine out historical chronicles to get into the root of the issue. Every person in Mhow seemed to be of one side or the other when it came to objective decisions as to who owns Mhow. A neutral opinion based on facts was needed. Thus was born this document which has taken the shape of this book. (This book was written before the new Cantonments Act was enacted in


  Ms Pervin Jehangir's Dissertation for Diploma in Human Rights at Department of Civics and Politics, University of Mumbai with the topic "THE RIGHTS OF CIVILIANS IN CANTONMENTS - A CASE STUDY OF THE MHOW CANTONMENT' has been used as secondary source of information.

  This book will be of interest for all the original inhabitants of Mhow, the civilians who own Mhow & the non-civilian temporary residents. This book can be of academic interest because of primary sources of data such as Gazetteers of British, Holkar & Indian governments. This book can be of interest for Research Fellows on Mhow.

  "Who owns Mhow?" can serve as a think pond for not only the Cantonment in discussion but for all those regal cantonments across India.

  24th March 2008



  Holkar State, as it existed before the advent of the East India Company, was being ruled by the Holkar family. In 1817, when the British defeated the Marathas and came to the boundaries of the Holkar State, the Treaty of Mandsaur was signed in 1818. The salient points of this Treaty worthy of note are Articles VII and V11 . A map of the region indicates that Mhow is very much to the north of the Satpura range of hills. Article VII is very clear that Mhow which was ultimately chosen as a place for deposit of stores by the British was not part of any area ceded to the British, and continued to be Holkar territory.

  The Bengal Army was stationed in Mhow in 1835 under the above-referred Treaty. The arrangement continued, and in this context, it is pertinent to refer to the Bye-Laws of Mhow Cantonment published under the authority of the Cantonment Board, Mhow. In the Preface thereto, it is unambiguously stated that, "Mhow Cantonment is not British India".

  Mhow was administered as an "Administered Area" and not as British territory, and British laws, rules, orders were applied to it under the Indian (Foreign Jurisdiction) Orders in, Council. The Gazette of India dated April 13, 1937 (Notifications relating to Crown Representative and Authorities subordinate to him.) Part i-A in its Notification No. 36-Fed-13 clearly defines the status of Mhow and other areas.

  4. Another very authentic document is the letter of GOC-in-C, Central Command dated April, 1944 which clearly states that "neither the Military authorities nor the Crown representative possess any right in land more than those of a user". The proprietary rights in the land vest in the State Durbar. Copy attached at Annexure IV.

  1 ARTICLE6: Maharajah Mulhar Raw Holkar cedes to the British Government all his territories and claims every description whatever within and south of the Sutpoorah range of hills, including the fort of Sundwah with a glacis of 2000 yards, also all his possessions in the province of Candeish and those districts, such as Amb
er, Ellorah, and others, intermixed with the territories of the Nizam and Paishwah.

  2 ARTICLE 7: In considerations of the cessions made by this treaty, the British Government binds itself to support a field force to maintain the internal tranquillity of the territories of Mulhar Raw Holkar and to defend from foreign enemies; this force shall be of such strength as shall be judged adequate to the object. It shall be stationed where the British Government determines to be best, and the: Maharajah Mulhar Raw Holkar agrees to grant some place of security as a depot for its stores.

  3 "Administered area" means the cantonments of Mhow and Neemuch. the Indore Residency Area, the Bhopal Agency Area and the Civil Lines of Nowgong.

  Also relevant is Political Department Notificatiorr' No. 219-P dated 9th August, 1947 which reiterates the points made above. This was followed by Holkar State Notifications No. 5012-R5 and 5013-R6 dated 14/8/1947. Also relevant is the message of H.H. Maharaja Holkar to his people dated 14th August, 1947.

  The Maharaja Holkar appointed the first Cantonment Executive Officer in 1947.

  From the points made by me, duly supported by documents, it clearly emerges that Mhow Cantonment has a legal status which is different from other Cantonments in the country. At no stage was the area of Mhow ceded to the British. It became part of the rest of India after the accession of the State to the Dominion of India - it became part of Madhya Bharat which later became Madhya Pradesh. This legal position remains unchanged today. It is therefore put up that these aspects be kept in mind while deciding the future of Mhow Cantonment and its people .

  4 "WHEREAS the jurisdiction heretofore exercised by the Crown Representative in the area known as the Mhow Cantonment will, with effect from the 14th day of August 1947, be restores to His Highness the Maharaja Holkar of Indore;'

  5 ''The Government of His Highness the Maharaja Holkar are pleased to announce that His Excellency the Crown Representative has been pleased to retroceded to them with effect from the 14th August, 1947, the jurisdiction exercised by him in the area now comprising the Cantonment of Mhow."-KB Wagle. Foreign Secretary & RA Horton, Prime Minister.

  6 "It is hereby published for the general information that the Cantonment of Mhow having been retroceded by his Excellency the Crown Representative to the Government of His Highness the Maharaja Holkar with effect from the 14th August, 1947, as already announced by Notification NO.5012-R dated the 14th August The Government of His Highness the Maharaja Holkar, in exercise of special powers conferred under Huzur Shree Shankar Order No.25, dated the 22nd may, 1930, are pleased to order as follows:-

  ...... "- ."-KB Wagle, Foreign Secretary & RA Horton, Prime Minister


  A Cantonment, according to the Webster's International Dictionary, is a town or village, or a part of a town or village, assigned to a body of troops for quarters; temporary shelter or place of rest for an army.

  When troops are sheltered in huts or quartered in the houses of the people during any suspension of hostilities, they are said to be in cantonment, or to be cantoned. In India permanent military stations or military towns are termed cantonments.

  The first cantonments in India were set up by the British on St. Thomas' Mt., Madras and in Barrack pore, Calcutta. In Cantonments there is a presence of civilians and the army, whereas in Army Stations, no civilians are permitted. Many a time though, both terms are used interchangeably.

  Laws in cantonments evolved from the initial support of the police and maintenance of peace within the limits of the cantonment, to settling of crimes such as petty offences especially between military personnel and the civilians. By 1837, it was declared lawful to appropriate a portion of the taxes for cleaning and repairing towns. The objectives expanded to cleaning, lighting, drainage or washing of public streets, roads, drains or tanks. Another major task was payment of the 'Chowkidars'. Even to-day, the House Tax is called the 'Chowkidari Tax'.

  Civilians were encouraged to reside in cantonments in order to provide amenities to Officers, soldiers and retainers of the Army. Besides, accommodation was needed for the military officers and civilians invested their capital in building bungalows and houses. Cantonment Boards were set up later in an effort to apply as much of the Municipal law as possible, despite I recognizing that there had to be special laws in places meant for Army. As laws gave way to Codes and more laws followed the work of cantonment came to be divided into that related with land and the other related with justice. Under the Cantonments Act, 1924, The Cantonment Land Administration Rules 1925, were framed. This gave birth to the Lands Branch of the Cantonment Department in which the most important functionary was the Military Estates Officer, now called the Defence Estates Officer.

  P.T.Anklesaria describes the growth of Cantonments in India and the love - hate relationships that evolved between the civilian and army populations .There are 62 cantonments in India from Kashmir in the North to Kerala in the South and from Meghalaya in the East to Maharashtra in the West. The growth and evolution of cantonments span a period of about 200 years with their beginning made by the East India Company in the '18th Century.

  Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut on the west coast of India in '1498 after going around the Cape of Good Hope. In the next 50 years, all the ambitious European nations, keen to get rich and powerful as soon as possible, joined the race to trade with India. Soon however, the English established their undoubted supremacy and one of the most amazing stories evolved. A trading company called the East India Company which came to India with the sole stated objective of carrying on commerce and trade lived to found an Empire of its own!

  The Moghuls welcomed all traders. However, with their downfall, the trading nations competed with each other, employed locals as Sepoys to protect their trading posts and the British started with their politics of divide and rule. This was the beginning of British Military power in India and the East India Company became a territorial power.

  Queen Victoria took over the property of the Company and made it an integral part of British India. It must be noted that even though the East India Company was a trading Company, it was governed by the rules and regulations of the British Parliament and the latter saw to it that the concepts of English justice and English fair play were not forgotten even in this far off land. The Charter of 1661 authorized the Company to empower the Governor and Councils of each of its factories or trading centres in Madras, Bombay and Calcutta to administer over its employees, the civil and criminal justice according to the English law at the time.

  In the meantime, Charles II transferred the Island of Bombay which he had received as dowry from Portugal, to the East India Company and authorized them to "make laws, orders, ordinances and constitution for the good Government of the Island of Bombay," In 1863, he allowed the Company to raise military forces "to create and secure such a large revenue as may be the foundation of a large, well- grounded, sure English Dominion in India for all time to come",


  "The British subject came to mean not only the Englishman sending in the East India Company but also any Indian inhabitant who was residing in the Company's settlements. Since 1661, the Indians were treated as British subjects and a court was established at Bombay. At the inauguration of the Court, the Governor of Bombay said the inhabitants of this Island consist of several nations and religions to with English, Portuguese and Christians, Moors and Gentoos, but you, when you sit in this seat of justice and judgment, must look upon them with one single eye as I do, without distinction of
nation , religion, for they are all His Majesty's and the Honourable Company's subjects as the English are, and all have an equal title and right to justice and you must do them all justice, even the meanest person of the Island and in particular the poor ".

  In 1773, a Supreme Court of Judicature was established at Fort William in Calcutta and was allowed to make laws for the "good order "of the Company's Settlements. Gradually, Hyder All, Tippu sultan, the Nawabs of Oudh, the Peshwas, the Sultans, the Rajas, the Maharajas and finally the Moghuls lost their political clout leaving the East India Company with its army consisting of Indian Sepoys some English troops and a handful of English Officers posted vintage points (called Cantonments) in full control.

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