Mahua Dabar

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Mahua Dabar was a small town in Basti district of Awadh in modern Uttar Pradesh, India. This town was destroyed by the British Raj during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.[1]


By local legend the town was partly settled by Bengali textile workers fleeing British persecution in the 1830s. According to this legend, the East India Company had mutilated the skilled workers by chopping off their thumbs, making them unable to work. However, there is no historical evidence for this event, and most academic historians believe it to be a myth that arose, either by adaptation from the story of Ekalavya in the Mahābhārata, or from a mistaken quotation from a contemporary British source reporting possible self-mutilation by Bengali workers to break their indenture.[2] A further reason to doubt the veracity of the story is that Bengali textile production had been in decline since the 1790s, as a result of cheaper British factory-produced imports, so there would have been little economic incentive to cripple Indian workers in the 1830s.

In March–April during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the inhabitants of Mahua Dabar intercepted a boat carrying six British soldiers. These soldiers were surrounded and killed by the people of Mahua Dabar. On June 20, 1857 the British 12th Irregular Horse Cavalry surrounded the town, slaughtered all the inhabitants and set the houses on fire. The town was razed to the ground and only farming was allowed. The tilling of the land destroyed all ruins of the destroyed town. Mahua Dabar, a town of 5,000 persons, completely disappeared from history and geography.[3]

In 1994, Mohammad Abdul Latif Ansari, the great-grandson of one of the survivors that managed to escape Mahua Dabar before the British encirclement of the town started researching the location of his ancestral destroyed town. The-then Basti district magistrate, R.N. Tripathi created a committee of historians from the University of Lucknow; and they found an 1831 map after 13 years of research which showed the location of the Mahua Dabar town.[4] All the maps after 1857 showed the area as farmland.[5]

On 3 July 2011, Jagdambika Pal and other members of Lok Sabha, lower house of the Parliament of India, opened Commemorative plaque at Mahua Dabar.[6]


  1. ^ Found: Raj-razed town
  2. ^ J. C. Heesterman, India and Indonesia: General Perspectives Leiden, Brill, 1989, p. 90. Edward Thompson and G.T. Garratt, History of British Rule in India, Volume 2, Delhi, Atlantic, 1999, p. 434. Betsy Hartmann and James K. Boyce, A Quiet Violence: View from a Bangladesh Village, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 13.
  3. ^ Found: Raj-razed town
  4. ^ Lost Textile Village Back on UP Map
  5. ^ Found: Raj-razed town
  6. ^ Mahua Dabar commemorative plaque