Statue of Col. James Neil, Madras (TN) - 1927 first ever protest in the world to remove the statue

Butcher of Allahabad. Brig. Gen.James Neill statue, Chennai

Above image:  Late 1800s and till 1940s  Mount road, Madras -  This  10 foot  tall  bronze statue perched atop a 12 foot pedestal  was an  imposing  one and  it  dwarfed  every thing round it.  Harris, the then  Governor of Madras  installed it  on Mount Road (at Spencer’s junction).   The inscriptions on the pedestal of Neil’s statue read: “Universally acknowledged as the first who stemmed the torrent of rebellion in Bengal.” Vide records of the ‘Madras Hand Book 1871’, a rare testimony to the dreadful  side of India’s 1857 uprising.  The   atrocities on Indian natives  committed by the British army  were wantonly censored by the British government. The  bronze statue was sculpted  by  Mathew Noble, the well-known sculptor in England and erected through public subscription when Lord Canning was the Gov. Gen. of India. A sum of  Rs. 18953 (1858)  was spent on the statue  to honor Col Neil ...........................

Col. James Neil

Do  you know Way back in 1927   there was a big  protest, a sort of  Satyagraha   in Madras, to remove the statue of Col. James Neil  in the main arterial of the city on Mount road?  it was a ''symbol of British expansionism, racism and suppression of justice''. 

This agitation, perhaps, the  first ever one across the globe for the removal of a colonial statue  took place during the Raj right here in  Madras Presidency.    The agitators  were  determined to  remove  Colonel James Neill's huge statue in the public place. Reason:  Neil  earned the  sobriquet of the Butcher of Allahabad when the 1857 rebellion was going on in Allahabad and other cities. Belonging to the  Madras Fusileers  regiment  Neil  played a violent  role in putting down the rebels  and in the process was responsible for killing thousands of  innocent men, women and children  Surprisingly,  this mass murderer  won  accolades  for his man- slaughter operations  in Allahabad and other cities in UP. 

The British government  in order to turn the table on Indians and  to save their face   near failure in the 1857 rebellion  started  erecting memorials  for the  British  officers  killed in the rebellion  and called them great  patriots and British warriors. It was done to build up their image across the globe to impress  on other countries that the Empire was a powerful one to reckon with.    Memorials  came up in   in  Lucknow, UP   called  "Neill Lines".

 Memorial at Residency reads : "Sacred to the memory of Brigadier General J.G.S. Neill A.D.C. to the Queen. An island in the Andaman's was named. The British  government then chose to honor Col. James  Neil  by erecting   a huge life-size statue  on Mount Road in Chennai    (then Madras) in 1860.

The agitation was spearhead by   the Madras Mahajana Sabha and the Madras provincial committee of the Indian National Congress and the latter  passed a resolution demanding its removal. The presidency  government   arrested   several agitators and imprisoned them, some with harsh punishment.  When leaders like  Somayajulu, Swaminatha Mudaliar were arrested, K. Kamaraj (former CM of Madras)  led the  agitation  in September 1927   with moral and political support from Gandhiji. The removal of the statue got delayed for various unexpected political developments;  temporarily the government  shifted the statue  to Rippon building in 1937.    Later in 1952 When C. Rajagopalachari was the CM, the corporation of Madras took steps to keep the unwanted statue in the corner of the Madras museum. 

Col Neil's statue removed from Mount road, Chennai

That this gigantic  bronze has been languishing for long years, in the corner of  ‘anthropology section’ of the Madras Museum at Chennai and gathering dust  shows the kind of abomination Indian people have for this notorious colonial army man who was eulogized as  a martyr by the then British government.