Rajcomar’s Narrow Escape

On 13 December 1838 Rajcomar gave evidence at Calcutta Town Hall before the Committee enquiring into the ‘coolie trade’ to Mauritius. He described how he had been employed to guard some migrants, and narrowly escaped being sent to the island as a ‘coolie’ himself.

Q. What is your name and profession, and from whence do you come? – A. My Name is Rajcomar, I am employed as a ticca Burkendauz and my house is in the Zillah Arrah – I came to Calcutta two years ago.

Q. Did you ever accompany Coolies as a guard on board ship, and if so state the circumstance? – A. In the month of Falgoon last as I was passing Banstollah Gully, a person whom I never saw before, asked me where was my house – I answered in the Zillah Arrah; he then asked me if I wanted a ticca employment – I asked him the nature of the employment and where I was to go.  He then told me that I was to accompany some Coolies on board ship as a guard and offered me four annas for the service, which was to last from nine to twelve o’clock.  I agreed to go and was conducted by the person who spoke to me to a godown adjoining to Captain Birch’s premises, where I, with that person and four Police Burkendauz and two Europeans, took charge of fifty-two Coolies and proceeded to Nimtollah Ghaut, where we embarked on board of four Pansways and came down to Baloo Ghaut, where the ship was lying; the Coolies being embarked on board the ship, were counted by a gentleman on board – I then asked leave to go away, the person who called me first then told me to wait till he had spoken to a gentleman on board the ship.  The four Police men and the two Europeans had previously departed.  I waited a little time, and then urged the man to get leave without further delay as I felt hungry.  He then spoke to the gentleman on board the ship, who said that I could not go as the European who accompanied us had included me in the number of Coolies – I remonstrated and said that I was merely engaged as a ticca peon to accompany the Coolies as far as on board the ship and why am I to be detained, but he would not listen to me and threatened to horsewhip me and shut me up if I repeated my request; I then called out dohoye and said I came here to put Coolies on board ship and why should I be detained.  I then jumped on board one of the dhingees which were alongside of the ship, upon which the gentleman on board ordered to seize me and about twenty persons from the ship came on the dhingy and seized and dragged me on board the ship, and the gentleman on board the ship struck me five or seven blows with a rattan and forcibly detained me on board – I again remonstrated and told him I would never go with him as I was not a Coolie, and having said this I jumped overboard, leaving all my clothes on board, but three dhingies being sent after me I was taken up by one of them and was taken on board ship with my hands tied – I then called out dohoye and said that I would kill twenty men before I would submit to be forced away.  This was explained to the gentleman on board by the Serang of the ship – upon which he agreed to send me to the European who came with us on board with a note from himself.  This note was carried by a khansammah who accompanied me to the European in Banstollah Gully, who after reading the note asked me where were my clothes – I told him my clothes were all sunk in the river.  The European then told me that I should have to go for six months to the house of correction – I answered that I was willing to go to the house of correction for one year rather than go on the voyage.  He then ordered his servants to confine me, but having been detained for about an hour, I was, after some consultation with his Sircar, released.

Calcutta Town Hall