Bhil life-worlds in the colonial transition


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THIS article makes an intervention in the debate on tribal history in three ways. Conceptually, it unpacks terms such as ‘rebellion’ and ‘raid’, terms that have had a long association with tribal groups in both academic and popular discourse. Methodologically, it makes a case for an anthropological reading of the archival sources. It focuses on the long-term rather than the episodic, the everyday rather than the moment (of rebellion). It ‘reads the archive along the grain’1 with a view to draw attention to everyday practices of rule that resulted in a profound change in tribal life. Empirically, it ‘mines’ the archive for evidence on tribal life-ways in the context of the colonial, early colonial to be more specific, while being fully aware of the ‘evidentiary paradigm’2 that informed the documentation of certain facts and the elision of others.

As such, the paper comments on the discursive practices of the colonial state as they become evident at the time of its inception. The paper is divided into three sections. The first one discusses Bhil rebellions; the second looks at the question of Bhil haqs or rights/privileges in the pre-colonial setting; the third one offers a detailed account of the new administrative practices that led to the regimentation of Bhil life and the policing of the hills. It has been argued here that the administrative intervention resulted in the loss of tribal political autonomy and thus marked a sharp break with the past. This conclusion calls into question the dominant environmental history paradigm which considers the imposition of colonial forest acts as the turning point in tribal history.3

This section on rebellion and crime looks at the Bhil rebellions in Khandesh in the first decade of British rule, the period between 1818-1825.4 The Company regime resorted to military reprisals against the Bhils who plundered the plains villages. Alongside, the East India Company Government tried to settle the haqs of the Bhils which the latter claimed were not being honoured by the new government. The colonial state viewed these haqs as ‘usurpation’ and ‘blackmail’. The plundering raids which finally culminated in a major Bhil rebellion in Bagalan in 1825 and the denial of haqs were closely linked as the following paragraphs aim to demonstrate. In fact, the raids were a result of the non-payment of haqs.


By constructing the narrative of Bhil haqs I wish to make a few points. One, there was a culture of raids in the hill-forest tracts. Two, raids were a livelihood strategy in an eco-zone characterized by periodic but acute scarcity. Three, haqs were claims based on certain social practices that became customary over the long past and they were born out of contestation and negotiation between the tribal groups and the pre-colonial state/plains societies. Four, haqs were perquisites/entitlements bestowed by the agrarian kingdoms/plains societies for the services rendered by the Bhil folk. The latter worked as watchmen in the villages and their naiks (chiefs) guarded the mountain passes. Thus, the Bhils were responsible for the safety and security of the villagers and the travellers.

It may be appropriate to begin with a brief account of the events at Bagalan. The insurrection started with plundering raids. A large assemblage of Bhils, about 1200 strong, gathered at the village of Antapur on 1April 1825, attacked five houses, killed a bania (merchant) and carried off the shaikdar (a petty revenue officer) and his wife to the hills. The shaikdar’s house was plundered. On the same day, they carried off a hundred head of cattle belonging to Virgaon, another village in the vicinity. They took possession of the fort of Muler a day later and levied a contribution on the town. By then, all the jagla (watchmen) Bhils in the surrounding areas had joined them. On the fourth day, they completely plundered yet another village and carried off everything including one hundred and fifty head of cattle, but left the grain stacks untouched! On the fifth and sixth day they plundered the villages in the plains.

We learn from the testimony of the shaikdar that the fort of Muler became the site for the coronation of Sewram Singh, the leader of the insurrection. It is important to note that Sewram Singh was not a Bhil. He was a blacksmith by caste and belonged to the Dang forests. It seems he was in the service of the Raja of Satara for a certain period of time. Be that as it may, Sewram seated himself on the gaddi (throne), gave dakshina (gift) to the Brahmins and sent orders to the sahukars (money lenders, businessmen) and merchants, deshmukhs (head of a territory/pargana) and deshpandes (accountant of a pargana), to repair to the fort with provisions. Vithal Seth, a sahukar, was also asked to make a seal for the rebels.5


While the act of coronation points to the regal ambitions of small men in the pre-colonial polities, the participation of the Bhils in such large numbers calls for explanation. Sewram Singh, on his arrival in the Bhil village, claimed he was commissioned by the Raja of Satara and produced a sanad (order) from the Raja. It reads as follows:

‘The letter you have sent, has been received and all its contents have been understood, as to sending you money for your expenses this should be done but, for the uncertainty of its reaching you, you are however by every means to engage sebundy (mercenaries), and having satisfied yourself of the fidelity and bravery of the persons you employ give to each 10 to 12 rupees a month. Should horsemen and others and the (Raja Rajmare) petty chiefs and Bheels and co. join you they will be continued in the receipt of their Enams and Jagheer villages and co. As to your expenses you will levy contributions from wealthy sahoocars, Banias and artisans and distribute the same among the troops...’6


The promise of restoration of inam (tax-free grant, usually of land) and jagir (grant of land for maintenance to troops) villages in the eventuality of the rebellion being successful helped harness the support of the Bhil naiks in Sewram’s venture. Moreover, the naiks consented to participate in the rebellion only when the text of the sanad was read out to them and they saw that the paper carried the mark of the seal. Clearly, the Bhils tried to present themselves, even during rebellion, as obeying authority. It is important to note that the Bhil naiks were in the service of the British government and received regular payment. They were keen to prove their innocence in the course of the trial. In response to a query as to why the naiks who received pay from the government and others who had been maintained in their haqs and jagirs by the British, had collected a bund (insurrection) against the Sarkar, the naiks replied:

‘Govind Naiq, Sing Naiq, Sutwa Naiq and other Bhils and Naiqs who received pay from Government, we the above have been asked by the Sirkar why we have raised an insurrection to which we reply that we have done nothing of our own judgment. Sewram Singh of Dang Soundana persuaded us that he had a sunnud from Sow Chutturputty in which it was written that he should assemble all the jagheerdars and having made a Bund occupy all the country with Posts. This he showed us and being unable to read we were satisfied… We send you this paper. We are the servants of the Sirkar and request that you will not press hard for a few days when we shall obey any orders you may be pleased to issue.’7


The preceding account makes the cause of the insurrection evident. The British paid compensatory allowances in lieu of the haqs and the Bhils were only too willing to follow a leader who promised restoration of old haqs. What were these haqs? In the paragraphs that follow, I will try and shed light on this issue.

On the British conquest of the territory belonging to the Peshwa, Khandesh became part of the Bombay Presidency. Bagalan, the site of the rebellion discussed earlier in this paper, was a hilly and forested region on the western boundary of Khandesh, which was bounded by the hills on the south and the north – the Satmalas in the south and the Satpuras (seven-fold) in the north. The hill-forest region was home to Bhil tribals. More importantly, the complex topography gave rise to Rajput principalities and Bhil chiefdoms that were semi-autonomous in nature. These were the outliers of the Maratha dominion and enjoyed a strong bargaining position in the pre-colonial polity as important trade routes passed through this region. The Bhil haqs had their genesis in this complex political geography.

John Briggs, the first Political Agent in Khandesh, reported that the Bhils were vested with certain rights and privileges in the area known as Bhilwara which lay to the east of Surat and Broach and extended through hills and forests as far as Nimar in Cenrtral India and Khandesh in the Deccan. The claims were in lieu of the duties that the Bhils performed and this was clearly attested by Briggs in an early report:

‘Throughout Khandesh and Gungturry the minor duties of the Police were conducted by the Bheels who reside in the villages…. Most of the mountain chiefs have claims in the surrounding country either to protect it from robberies or to guard passes...’8

While the area was under the suzerainty of the Rajput chiefs, the Bhil naiks enjoyed perquisites and allowances that included land grants and the right to collect toll on the highways. Since topography played such an important role in shaping the contours of political life, I aim to construct a picture of Bhil polities in their specific geographical location.


If we start from the west, in the hilly tract lying between Khandesh and Konkan, Briggs found large communities of Bhils. These Bhil chiefs were powerful indeed as they ‘styled themselves Rajahs.’ The chiefs resided below the ghats (passes) while their dependents lived in Baglan. For example, the Bhil naiks of Zeitapur pargana, who were under the suzerainty of the Raja of Derbhauti, enjoyed giras (a due collected from villages) on many villages in Baglan. Briggs listed 11 chiefs with entitlements of this kind: Dusrat Naik, Govind Naik, Ram Sing Naik, Sing Naik, Mohan Naik among them. Moving to the north, we find a Bhil chief by the name of Teghy Khan who collected toll on the trade goods moving through the Kandibari pass.


Teghy Khan could easily obstruct the traffic between Gujarat and Khandesh as the pass lay on the highway connecting the two provinces. The claim to tolls was disputed by Briggs since there were no records supporting his claim. The chief argued that the villages of Kanapur and Sagdhun were given to his ancestors as jagirs when they converted to Islam. This was sometime during Aurangzeb’s reign. The privilege to collect toll on goods passing through the Kandibari pass was also granted at the time. Teghy Khan claimed Rajput descent as well. Briggs was willing to accept only one claim, that of Teghy Khan’s position as the patel (village headman) of Kanapur, for which there was written evidence. The rest of them, he said, Teghy Khan usurped through his lawless activities. To quote Briggs:

‘…within the last 20 years he has usurped the revenues of that village and that of several others he rented, he has also established by force very heavy tolls on all passengers and on merchandize, and has in addition exacted agreements from the surrounding zemindars to pay him annually from 10 to 20 Rupees on each village, to abstain from plundering them, while he made war and devastated all those who refused to accede to these terms. He has in his pay from 120 to 200 sibundies, and is said to be connected to the surrounding Bheel chiefs.’9

Jiva Wasava was another powerful Bhil chief in the northern tract. The territory lying north of river Tapti and south of Narmada belonged to the Raja of Rajpipla and the Wasava family held land grants in this region. In this fertile tract, Jiva held 84 villages in the Rajput principality of Rajpipla. He also collected tolls from passengers and levied tribute on zamindars.10


In Jiva’s neighbourhood were the Rawals, a class of zamindars who maintained the police of the parganas of Nandurbar, Sultanpur, Thalner and Songadh. They held land in these districts and offered protection to the villagers in return: ‘…their tenures were of ancient date’.11 They had to maintain troops for the protection of the parganas. Briggs assigned them a respectable position and commented that they were like the polygars and kawalkars (landed gentry) of Madras Presidency.12

Further west and north-west, Ranas of Budawal and Ranipura ruled over the Bhils. Dewji Naik, a powerful Bhil chief of the Satpura hills, murdered Bheem Singh, the chief of the Government of Ranipura in 1807 and seized the landed estates of the Rana. In the political turmoil that followed the second Anglo-Maratha war, Dewji Naik had to abandon these possessions and take refuge in the hills.13

Further east along the Satpura hills were the strong and autonomous Bhil polities: Dewji Naik, Chandu Naik, Gumani Naik and Ramji Naik held sway over this territory which extended to the fort of Asirgarh, a fort of great historical significance.14

The British reports leave us in no doubt about the nature of the claims over land or custom duties (tolls) made by the Bhil naiks. They were not of ancient origin. In other words, they were not customary. Had they been customary they would have been documented in the records of the Maratha government. The charge of ‘usurpation’ of rights was levelled almost uniformly against all the Bhil naiks. Devji Naik of Satpura hills who took control of the territory of the Rana of Ranipura, was liable to this charge in no uncertain terms, if we rely on the account of John Briggs. However, in the case of the other naiks, the charge does not stand scrutiny. In the section that follows, I will be looking at the question of Bhil haqs in the long 18th century. The evidence points to a practice that was rooted in a set of relations that the Bhils shared with the villages in the plains over the long historical past.


Let us now look at the documentation of haqs. The Bhils sent a petition to the Peshwa in the year 1740, with a complaint regarding the non-payment of dues from certain villages in Khandesh. The Bhils claimed these dues were customary and had been stopped in the recent past. The list of Bhil haqs comprised a basket of grain, a certain amount of money as gift, a pair of shoes, a piece of garment (pasodi), a goat and sweet bread (puranpoli) on Holi from each village!15 We do not know why the payment of haqs was stopped but the items on the list are clearly claims of the hill folks over the resources of the plains in lieu of the services they provided as village watchmen.

It is important to note that about a hundred years later, on the eve of British rule, we find the Bhils making similar claims over the villages in the plains. The rights/claims were listed in a clear and precise manner by the British government. I have cited below two such lists, one has the rights of a Bhil naik from the Satpura range and another has those of a naik from the Satmala range. The Bhils of Satpuras were mostly landholders and the villages they lived in had a majority Bhil population whereas the Satmala Bhils lived in primarily Kunbi peasant villages. The Satmala Bhils held small inam land and allowances and worked as village watchmen.16

Dusrat Naik of Baglan claimed that he was entitled to one third share of the revenue collections of certain villages in two parganas, besides 12½ annas per 100 bullock load of grain and 3 rupees 2 paisa per bullock load of fine cloth.17 The haqs of Sahiboo Naik of Chalisgaon Taluka included 7 mans of grain amounting to 86 rupees, 11 rupees for saris and cholies (blouse), 25 goats or 25 rupees, 6 rupees for tobacco, 9 rupees for gul (jaggery) and sundry donations of about 40 rupees. Altogether the goods he claimed in kind amounted to 172 rupees in cash.18


In the first few years after the conquest of Khandesh, the British tried to settle Bhil haqs through negotiations with the Bhil naiks. The records cited above were generated in this context. However, John Briggs also sent military detachments to pursue the Bhils in the hills. The military operations were only partially successful as the Bhils would disappear and resurface with amazing rapidity in a terrain they knew only too well. Briggs then resorted to other methods. He decided to cut off the food supply of the Bhils in the hills. The strategy was to carry off and destroy the food they had stored and then occupy those villages in the plains from where they got their supply of food. The hill-plain connection was crucial to the survival of the Bhils. Briggs knew this and therefore decided to cut off that link.19 Briggs remarked that they were for the most part originally natives of villages in the plains. The government issued a proclamation inviting the assistance of the villagers in seizing the Bhils.20


Briggs managed to round up 239 Bhils in the period 1818-1820.21 The Court of Directors instructed the Bombay Government that Bhils of predatory gangs should be subjected to imprisonment and hard labour for life. The Directors’ concern evidently was to reform the behaviour of the Bhil criminal even at this early stage of ‘pacification’ whereas Briggs wanted them physically removed from Khandesh and preferably transported out of the country. It was feared that if they were released or they managed to escape, they would go back to their old haunts.22 The Bhils were eventually taken to the prison of Tanna (Thana?) near Bombay, were kept in detention till 1824 and then released as no specific charge could be substantiated against them. The Court of Directors decided to release them as there was not enough evidence for a regular trial.

During the tenure of John Briggs, an attempt was made to ascertain the ‘ancient’ and just claims/rights of the Bhils and give them payment in cash and not in kind for the duties of the village police that they continued to perform. Alongside, military reprisal was used in good measure and was jettisoned only when the terrain proved to be hostile to the British troops. The settlement of Bhil haqs resulted in commutation of claims into fixed cash payment from the treasury of the British government.


The payments were primarily made to the Bhil chiefs for the maintenance of a certain number of armed retainers. The chief and the men in his employ were entrusted with the responsibility of guarding the village and the mountain passes. Small inam and jagir land grants traditionally enjoyed by some of them were left in their possession. All extravagant claims to jagir or giras (a due collected from villages) and claims to khunti (tolls) on the highways were dismissed. These were ‘usurpations’ on the part of the Bhil chiefs and their followers.

Taking advantage of the crisis that followed the second Anglo-Maratha war, the naiks and their bhauband (clan fraternity) indulged in plunder and blackmail. The claims regarding a share of revenue, revenue-free land grants and custom duties or tolls had their origin in this recent past was the British view. Since they were not of ‘ancient’ origin they were not to be entertained by the East India Company.23

How just was this settlement? In the perception of the Bhils, it was not a fair deal. If it was, why would over a thousand Bhils, many of them receiving payment from the British government join Sewram Singh who promised them restoration of inam and jagir villages?24 Moreover, many of them returned their payments and decided to join the Bhils in the hills. It came to the notice of the Court of Directors that there were glaring instances of corruption/malversation in the revenue office. Briggs was reprimanded for his slack administration which resulted in misappropriation of funds and, probably, non-payment of the dues of the Bhils.25

It is not clear how far this was responsible for the Bhil insurgency. The amount due to them was small. Moreover, we do find Bhils complaining about the payment being inadequate and we also know that the Bhils returned their payments and took to the hills, a fact which clearly points towards a larger problem.26


In recent historical writings, Bhil raids have received much attention. Scholars have emphasised the relationship of interdependence between forest polities and the Maratha kingdom in 18th century western India. It has been pointed out that the Marathas were also involved in raid and plunder as a form of tax collection.27 Taking the point of interdependence further, Ajay Skaria has argued that the relationship between Bhil forest polities and agrarian kingdoms was structured as a form of ‘shared sovereignty’.28 The Bhil claims to dues – known as haqs or giras haqs – from peasant villages in the plains were recognized as legitimate by the Maratha rulers and Bhil raids on the plains were interpreted by these rulers as a sign that it would be necessary to renegotiate Bhil claims on the villages within their realm. In fact, Bhil raids resulted in the creation of new haqs.


I agree that the term ‘shared sovereignty’ comes closest to describing the political realities of the time. However, Skaria’s remarks rest on his study of the Dangs, a powerful Bhil kingdom which negotiated and contested Gaikwar’s authority almost on an equal footing. The situation was not quite the same with smaller, less powerful Bhil polities in Khandesh. Their bargaining power was much less. Moreover, the dominance of caste-Hindu peasants in the plains of Khandesh made the Bhils weaker partners in the bargain. The Bhil chiefs negotiated from a position of power in the hills and the forests.29 In the plains, they were the lesser partners and were mostly dependent on the goodwill of the peasants. The aspect of interdependence emphasized in much recent scholarship fails to take into account the inequality that resulted from this fact.

The dependence on the plains villages is attested by the fact that the dues of the Bhils were paid by the villages; and in the case of famine or any other crisis, agrarian or political, when the villagers could not pay the dues, the Bhils resorted to raids. This precisely was the condition in Khandesh when the British acquired this territory from the Peshwa. It also needs emphasizing that historical scholarship has directed its attention to the relationship between the Bhils and the state while little attention has been paid to the terms of interaction between the Bhils and caste Hindu peasants. We do get glimpses of this relationship within the folds of the narrative constructed for the purposes of the state. Let us look at the evidence that we do have.


The list of Bhil haqs cited above makes it amply clear that the items therein were clothes, food and a small amount of money presented as gift to the hill folks. Revenue-free land grants, giras haqs etc., were granted by the state in consultation with the patel (village headman). Share of village revenue and/or right to collect tolls or custom duties were privileges of the chief naiks and were matters of contestation and negotiation with the state. The success of the Bhil chiefs in wresting these depended on their relative strength which, in turn, was dependent on two factors. One, their military might, and two, the difficulty of the terrain. The latter made it almost impossible for state functionaries to work in these areas. The north-western part of Khandesh is a case in point. It proved to be the graveyard of many a British soldiers and petty army officers.

Moreover, in times of war, the Bhils were totally dependent on plains villages for their food supply, a point made earlier in this paper. There was an element of fear that the Bhil instilled in the mind of the peasant due to his warrior nature which may account for the compliance of the peasant in meeting the demands of the Bhils. However, it is equally true that peasant and ruler alike used the services of the Bhils under circumstances normal and exceptional. Several instances can be cited. Yashwant Rao Holkar took refuge with a Bhil chief in the forest.30 Pilaji Gaikwad, the founder of the Gaikwad dynasty, carved out his kingdom with the help of the Bhils.31 Plains villages depended on the Bhil jaglas (village watchmen) for their security.


The aspect of interdependence cannot be denied. But it should be seen in the light of the surplus-generating character of the peasant producer as opposed to the hunter-gatherer-warrior nature of the Bhil folks. We get a sense of the way the Bhils were perceived by the plains people in terms that the latter used to describe the haqs of the Bhils. In the Maratha Deccan, the word girasia or the holder of giras rights meant a hill-robber or ‘marauder’ whereas it had a different connotation in Gujarat where it meant a land-holder.32 Clearly, plains societies and pre-colonial states/kingdoms did not view Bhil haqs in a positive light. The biases were quite pronounced and were reflected in the vocabulary used to describe these ‘rights’.

To sum up, the relationship between the settled peasants and the hill-forest peoples was ‘agonistic’, to use Skaria’s term. However, as Skaria points out, the discourse of wildness was crucial to the construction of power, authority and identity in the Dangs as well as the surrounding plains.33 In other words, agonistic, conflictual relationship did not amount to a valorization of civilization over wildness. They co-existed in a shared cultural space.

While this certainly helped the Bhils in securing a share of the goods that civilization could yield, I wish to make the point that the peasant producer could not possibly view plundering raids on his village in a positive light. The Maratha tax collector and the plundering Bhil shared one attribute as far as the peasant was concerned, namely both were extractors of tribute. For the Bhil, this tribute went towards meeting some basic needs.


I have been stressing the subsistence aspect of Bhil life so far and the importance of the hill-plain connection in this regard. But how was this complex relationship articulated and sustained? What was the institutional framework within which these interactions took place? The Bhil chiefs who presided over their semi-autonomous principalities held the key to the cohesion of the Bhil community. In fact, the rights that allowed them to claim resources from the plains were a result of the entanglements of the chiefs in the politics of the agrarian heartland. So, the pre-colonial order of things allowed Bhils their political autonomy, left their clan fraternity intact under the leadership of their chiefs and the chiefs had leverage in their negotiations with the society and the state in the plains, more so as the sovereigns and subjects were cut out of the same historical cloth in pre-colonial South Asia.34

What I aim to demonstrate in the next section is the dismantling of this pre-colonial structure through policy measures that marked the beginning of a new form of rule in the hill-forest areas. The local British administration sowed seeds of dissension among the Bhils with a view to break the cohesion of the Bhil community and then placed them under a system of surveillance that imposed severe restrictions on their mobility.

The harshness of this system was attenuated only because of the paternalistic form of rule that the British took recourse to. The narrative of trust and loyalty between the British officer and his Bhil subjects was the sine qua non of this new system while the civilizing mission rhetoric provided the rationale for the construction of a regime that was coercive and benign at once, in the hill-forest areas. I now turn to a discussion of the new instrumentalities of rule in this area.


The first proposal for the creation of a Corps and an Agency35 came from Mountstuart Elphinstone, the first Governor of the Bombay Presidency. Drawing upon the experience of John Malcolm in Malwa and Augustus Cleveland in Bhagalpur, he recommended the creation of the Bhil Agencies and the forming of an irregular light infantry corps of the Bhils. The Agencies would encourage the Bhils to take to settled agriculture with the help of land grants and loans of bullocks. The corps, an armed police force, would replace the regular soldiers on local duty.36 These proposals were kept in abeyance till 1825. The government in Bombay adopted them only in the aftermath of the Baglan rebellion discussed in the first section of this article.


The cornerstone of the new system was the European officer in charge of the Agencies and the Corps. Three Bhil Agencies were formed: the North-Western, the Southern and the North-Eastern. These administrative units were analogous to the topographical divisions within the region. The Satpura mountains that formed the northern boundary of Khandesh had fertile valleys and were home to Bhil landowners. The North-Western Agency would cover this area. The chiefs here enjoyed rights such as giras and khunti. The Satmalas formed the southern boundary. This range had several mountain passes which allowed easy access to the plains. The Satmala Bhils depended on the villages in the plains for their livelihood. When Khandesh villages prospered, they worked as village watchmen; when these were deserted, they assembled in the hills and plundered in the neighbourhood.37 This entire tract was placed under the Southern Agency.

The Bhil Corps and the Bhil Agencies were separate yet overlapping arrangements. Conflating civil and military powers, the Commandant of the Corps was the Bhil Agent designate in the area under his command where he would be responsible for the raising, training and supervision of the Corps. In other parts of the district, the Bhil Agents were entrusted with civil duties alone.

The Bhil Agent was required to settle the Bhils as cultivators with the help of loans. However, the approach to the issue was far from bureaucratic. In practice, the Agent was the ‘ma-baap’ of the Bhils. He protected the rights of the Bhils, he was the educator and the moral guardian too. He taught them to engage in ‘worthy pursuits’ that could help them earn their livelihood in ways permissible within the bounds of law. The Agents ‘must see that their children did not waste their money in quarrelling and vice, repress crime and generally practice the doctrine of not sparing the rod where its use was necessary’.38


The Agent, while acting as a paternalistic figure for the Bhils, had ‘to keep watchful superintendence’ over them and ‘to inspire them with confidence in the Government’.39 ‘Superintendence’ was a euphemism for surveillance as is evident from the arrangements that followed. The Bhils had to get registered and furnish an account of how they earned their livelihood. The village patels were co-opted to maintain surveillance over them. They were ‘encouraged’ to forward correct returns of all the Bhils in their area. They were asked whether the compensatory allowances made by the Company were adequate to meet the needs of the Bhils. One of the important functions of the Agent was to restrict the Bhils from assembling in large groups. The Bhils were not allowed to leave their regular places of residence without informing the Agent nor were they allowed to assemble in the ‘huttees’. Moreover, security was taken from all those against whom there were strong suspicions.40 In effect, the mobility of the Bhils was brought under complete surveillance.


The Bhil Corps, an armed police force, was designed to complement the work of the Agency. James Outram was appointed the first commandant of the Corps. Outram started his career in the Bombay Army. He was instrumental in crushing the Baglan rebellion His role in counter-insurgency operations got him the new charge of raising a Bhil Light Infantry Corps in Khandesh.41 The defence of Lucknow in 1857 was the crowning glory of his career.42 Outram represents a paternalistic tradition in the East India Company Army which was under attack by the 1820s.

Professionalism, modernization and an emphasis on developing a certain type of corporate identity were processes that had set in by then. However, the Khandesh Bhil Corps experiment was premised on an older tradition which evidently played an important role in winning over the tribal chiefs.

Outram’s recruitment drive started on a faltering note. In a rather candid account of his early efforts, Outram revealed how he got his first recruits.43 Outram’s first recruits were drawn from a group of captives rounded up in a military operation in the Satmala hills. To quote Outram, some of the captives were released, ‘to bring in the relatives of the rest, on the pledge that they should be set at liberty’. Using captives as informants and emissaries, playing one group of Bhils against another, and holding out the promise of freedom to those who turned informer became standard practice among British officers dealing with forest tribes.


Commenting on Outram’s modus operandi, Sumit Guha has pointed out that ‘The Bayard of India’ sowed dissensions among the hill chiefs through disguised emissaries and thus managed to prevent their flight to the hills.44 To quote Outram:

‘I thus affected an intercourse with some of the leading Naicks, went alone with them into their jungles, gained their hearts by copious libations of brandy, and their confidence by living unguarded among them, until at last I persuaded five of the most adventurous to risk their fortunes with me, which small beginning I considered ensured ultimate success.’45

Outram was successful in turning this recruitment into a popular mode of employment for the Bhils. The disbanding of the native armies and the collapse of the pre-colonial system of policing found the Bhils struggling for survival. The Corps/Agency system provided an alternative and that explains Outram’s success.46

The young Bhil recruits were paraded in Malegaon where Outram’s own regiment was stationed. The Regulars greeted the Bhils with respect and offered them paan (beetle leaves). Commenting on the Bhil recruits, Ovans, the Agent of the Kunhur Agency wrote, ‘The Corps absorbed those young and fiery spirits, who could scarcely have remained long at rest in their villages. It drew Bhils of this stamp from all quarters of the province… it soon became an honourable and popular employment’.47


The organization of the Bhil Corps was based on principles that indicate an important shift in policy. The Company Sarkar made use of the authority of the Bhil naiks within the Corps in a way which was novel and quite different from the way it was negotiated in the Malwa Bhil Corps. Malcolm’s Malwa Corps was organized under the supervision of the Bhil naiks. A European officer was the superintendent of the Corps while the naiks were the commandants of the Corps.

The Corps continued undisciplined. The recruits had only bows and arrows. However, the main advantage, as Malcolm argued, was that the Bhils could be familiarized with civilized habits without being transformed into a modern armed police force. They still performed the traditional role of the village police, but now under the supervision of a European officer. Malcom’s argument was that the undisciplined nature of the Corps made it retain its semblance with the larger Bhil community.

The Khandesh Bhil Corps however, was not organized under the command of the Bhil naiks. The British placed non-commissioned native officers of the army at the top and these were placed under the direct command of a European officer.48 Thus, the domination of the naiks was substituted by the control and command of the outsiders. The recruits, close relations in many cases, were together, but the authority of the Bhil chief was done away with. In view of the long history of rebellion under the leadership of powerful tribal chiefs, this change is significant as it marked the end of the older tradition of making a bund against the Sarkar.49

While severing the ties of community, the British provided a channel to the Bhil recruits to retain these ties within the Corps. This was done through the incorporation of ‘undisciplined Bhils’ in the Corps:

‘…there were about 50 undisciplined Bheels on the strength, but who have been employed rather as auxiliaries and spies, their duty rendering it expedient that they should not be accoutred or distinguished by anyone to attract observation.’50


The undisciplined Bhils were Malcolm’s legacy. It was Malcolm, then the Governor of the Bombay Presidency, who recommended an increase in the number of undisciplined Bhils in the Khandesh Bhil Corps while maintaining the strength of the regulars in their present state. He saw these undisciplined Bhils as an important link between the select few who were being ‘civilized’ under the European Commandant and his native high-caste subordinates on the one hand, and the mass of ‘rude’ and ‘predatory’ bhaubands on the other. The ties and gradations of the original community were to be retained among the officers of the undisciplined Bhils.51

The sources cited here seem to have a conflicting perspective on the role of this group. The reason given by the higher officials was a purely pragmatic need to have ‘spies’ within the Corps who could capture the Bhil bandit. However, since Malcolm represented a romantic/paternalistic tradition, he attributed it to the importance of community ties among the Bhils. While a narrow view will validate the first position, Malcolm’s proposal stemmed from a long and intense engagement with the hill-forest tribes.


The Company state recognized the need to retain local hierarchies within its new administrative structure in the short term while subduing the powerful groups in the long run. In this respect, the changing role of the Bhil chiefs in western India has some striking parallels with the fate of the local notables in the Paharia Corps.52 More importantly, the paternalistic idiom of rule helped extend direct British rule in these zones of turbulence. The new rulers, it may be argued, were constantly harnessing the past in the service of the present. The discussion that follows brings these issues into sharper relief.

Outram’s ‘civilizing mission’ was directed towards the re-shaping of Bhil personality as is evident from the discussion on the uniform. Initially, these were designed to make the Bhil soldiers look different from the sipahi (soldiers) of the Company Army. In uniform, the Bhil soldier carried the unique stamp of the Raj, different from his Bhil bhauband on the one hand and from a Company sipahi, his professional counterpart, on the other.

The first uniform Outram designed was, ‘a puggrie, dyed green, a white angracka reaching to the knees, and goorgie reaching below the knee, made double and of strong cloth, which I find best adapted to their inclinations, and gives them a very respectable appearance…’53 This was cheap and would cost around 3½ rupees. This uniform was different from the uniform of the local corps. The local levy in the Bombay infantry had blue garments with green facings and green belts.54 The European Regiment in Bombay wore scarlet with green facings.55 Outram asked permission to discard his regimental uniform and adopt the one that he had designed for the Bhil recruits.56

He later requested that a regular uniform should be sanctioned for the Corps. He suggested that it should consist of a dark blue cloth shell jacket and dungaree pantaloons of the same colour and preferably with green facings. This was sanctioned, the green facings consisting of cuffs and collars were allowed and a blue ‘foraging cap’ was added along with the letters K.B.C. (Khandesh Bhil Corps) stamped on them.57 The Khandesh Collector later remarked on the ‘native pattern’ of the headgear.58


The payments to the Bhil recruits were monitored strictly. Two annas were paid every morning because it was argued that the Bhils were unacquainted with the use of money. The remaining amount was paid on the last day of the month. It amounted to 10 annas in a short month and 12 annas in a long month.59 Outram offered greater clarity on the reasons for this arrangement. The fear that a lump sum payment would most likely be spent on liquor resulted in this daily payment which was just enough to meet their daily necessities.60

Military drill was introduced in the Corps. Once again, this was part of a larger project of disciplining the Bhils. The Collector of Khandesh pointed out that the government would be more than pleased with the change in habits that the submission to military discipline brought about. Above all, they should be taught ‘to inculcate the principle of strict obedience to orders’.61 Punctuality and attention to personal appearance were equally important as these would result in a more favourable impression of themselves.

Outram did not press the Bhils too hard to drill regularly as this could be a deterrent for the new recruits. Regular drill on an extended scale was started only when he discontinued recruitment temporarily. Moreover, regular drill was taught to the youngest and the most promising recruits. Older men were kept as irregular police or sebundies.

The paraphernalia of a regimental life was bound to evoke strong reactions among the Bhils and it came early in the career of the Corps. The first inspection by the Division General occasioned a flight of all the Bhils to the jungle. They were frightened by his grand army! Outram’s intervention brought them back to the parade ground and we are told that the performance of the recruits was exemplary.62


The arming of the Corps probably presented the British with the greatest difficulty. The new recruits were unarmed and full of apprehension. They had to wait for the arms to arrive. First, they were given native swords, then matchlocks and then army muskets.63 The non-commissioned regular soldiers of the line were placed at the top of the Corps, as we saw earlier. When a party of 44 regulars arrived, Outram instructed them to give up their arms and to mix with the Bhils as ‘brothers’. The Bhils agreed to start their drills only when Outram assured them that the regulars would continue unarmed till the Bhil sepoys received their arms from the British Govt.


An attempt to build trust was designed to win the Bhils over in the early years and it continued to play an important role in British relationship with the tribe. To quote an example, it was customary for the British to call the rebelling Bhil naiks for negotiations. In some instances, these meetings were used by subordinate officers of the police to arrest the naiks. This was denounced thoroughly by the higher officials as worst instances of treachery and betrayal which would erode the basis of trust between the British and the Bhils.64

The Bhils were being taught to get accustomed to military drill and uniform. However, their training touched upon other aspects of life. Habits of cleanliness and thrift were also being encouraged among them and formal education was on the cards. The government opened a school for the Bhil sipahis and their children.65 The careful grooming of a small number of Bhils was designed to achieve twin objectives – first, to solve the problem of local policing, and second, as a message to the larger Bhil community that service to the Sarkar brought rewards while rebellion led to death and destruction.

What was the role assigned to this carefully groomed troop of Bhil soldiers? The Bhil Corps was given the task of local policing. We learn that the Bhil soldiers relieved the Regulars on duty and took over many of the ‘unhealthy’ posts, that too willingly. In the malaria-affected tracts the Bhils could not have provided a more useful service to the Sarkar!66 The Collector recommended that new recruits should be drawn from the border of the Dangs, from Nawapur and from Nandurbar where the Bhils had resisted all attempts at recruitment. If they could be drawn into the Corps, they could be effectively used against the tribes in the bordering districts.67


The most important function of the Corps, however, was to pursue and apprehend Bhil bandits. The Bhil Corps experiment was a re-invention of the old practice ‘setting a thief to catch a thief’.68 At the same time, it enshrined the discursive presence of the Bhil recruit within the larger narrative of colonialism. The lore of gallantry, constructed with great care by the British, elided successfully instances, if there were any, of Bhil soldiers’ antipathy to the task of subduing their own people. We do not have documented evidence of the recruits refusing to take up arms against their tribe.

The first encounter between the Bhil recruits and the Bhil rebels took place within two years of the formation of the Corps. To quote Outram:

‘…This is the first opportunity my Bheels have had of shedding their blood for their new masters. They freely risked it and fought boldly in our cause though opposed to their own caste and probably relations...’69


In this case, the Bhil soldiers apprehended the notorious ‘criminal’ Chandu Naik. This naik, with his gang of seven, was joined by Mahdu Singh and Govinda Naik and their followers. It is important to note that Lahnu Singh, who had been a havaldar (officer) in the Bhil Corps and was dismissed for bad conduct, also joined them. They dispatched emissaries to different parts of the province and the response was overwhelming. The rebels plundered the village of Badwani. After the armed encounter, the Bhil recruits were placed in the village to provide protection to the people in the village.

The British followed their age-old policy of divide and rule. They co-opted the top of the hierarchy of Bhil society into the imperial structure and used them to destroy the network within the community which made gang-robbery possible.70 Outram’s personal influence over the Bhil chiefs was crucial in this regard.71

In 1830, a significant military operation was carried out against Silpat Raja of the Dangs by Outram’s Bhil Corps which destroyed Raja’s authority. Outram took this opportunity to propose extension of direct British rule to the Dangs and other areas ruled by the Mewas chiefs.72

With the southern frontier subdued, the Bhil Corps conducted military operations against the Bhils in the northwest of Khandesh and also in the princely states in the neighbourhood. The Commandant of the Corps reported in 1831 that in the Satpura mountains and in the Nimar region, the Bhil sepoys seized 500 Bhils and ‘other desperate characters’, procured evidence necessary to convict the guilty and kept guard over them for a month while they were confined in a garhi (fort). The evidence furnished by the Bhil sepoys was so complete that out of the 158 prisoners who were convicted, only 14 were acquitted. The rest were sentenced to various terms of 7 to 14 years.73

While the major colonial project of disciplining, policing and drilling the Bhils into modernity occupies centre stage in the British-colonial narrative as the preceding paragraphs have tried to show, alongside, the East India Company regime retained a few semi-autonomous Bhil chiefs in its employ. Although co-opted in the administrative apparatus, they rebelled against the Sarkar. Here, I look at the career of Kuar Wasawa, the son of Jiva Vasava, who had estates lying between the Khandesh districts of Nawapur, Nandurbar and Sultanpur on the one hand and the Bhil principality of Rajpipla and Nandode on the other. John Briggs found him in control of trade in the entire tract.


We have met this chief before in the section on Bhil haqs in this article. Briggs offered him a pension of Rs 3000 per annum and put him in charge of the police of the tract over which he exercised considerable influence.74 Jiva’s son, Kuar Vasava, continued to enjoy the pension and also held charge of the police. The question of whether the pension money was a purely personal allowance, or whether Vasava was supposed to maintain a police establishment out of part of that money, proved to be a contentious issue.

Kuar had a litany of grievances against the British. He demanded the restoration of the khunti (custom dues) that his family was entitled to in the pre-British period. His right to collect duties from liquor manufactories and from pastures in his jagir villages had been denied. He claimed he had the right to land revenue in certain villages which had been attached by the British government. The government had also interfered with his control over the sebundies in his employ. His allowance had not been paid for five months and the stipend he received from the government had been reduced.


The British contention was that the taluka (administrative/territorial unit) of Nandurbar had become the site of frequent robberies since 1838-1839 and Kuar’s police establishment was held responsible for these outbreaks. In fact, it was alleged that Kuar was aiding and abetting these robberies with the help of his armed followers. He had established a naka (check-post) at his village of Kopur to collect transit duties, and gave it out in contract to the family of a sahukar long after the British had commuted the khunti into a money payment! The annual revenue from this illegal source amounted to Rs 1200-1800.75

It is important to note that Kuar’s legal status was largely responsible for his insurgency. A part of his estate fell in the territory of the East India Company and the rest in the Rajput principality of Rajpipla. Thus, Kuar was a feudatory of the Raja of Rajpipla and he was also a subject of the British Paramount power. While being subjected to double suzerainty, he was autonomous for all practical purposes.

He rebelled in May (?) 1845, was captured by the Bhil Agent in March 1846 after an armed confrontation, and was tried for rebellion in 1847. Act XI of 1846 exempted Kuar’s estate as well as a few other principalities from the Bombay Regulations. Kuar’s estate was placed under the North-Western Bhil Agency. The Agent became the superintendent of police in this area while actual policing was still done by Kuar’s cousin who had been loyal to the British. Agency was the solution to the twin problems of profligacy and outlawry.76


This article has shown that the ‘pacification’ of the ‘tribes’ in the early colonial period led to the disarticulation of tribal polities, which, in turn, resulted in the subordination and marginalization of these peoples. This process invariably preceded the conservationist agenda of colonial forestry in many regions of the subcontinent while possibly overlapping in others.

In a large body of work on environmental history, it has been argued that the ‘fencing of the forest’ was a watershed in tribal history.77 In the light of the discussion in these pages, there may be a need to revise this dominant view. Military reprisal and political subordination accompanied with novel strategies of governance, set the stage for the establishment of modern forest regimes in tribal areas. Is the pre-history of colonial forestry missing in most environmental history accounts?



1. Ann Laura Stoler, ‘Colonial Archives and the Arts of Governance’, Archival Science 2, 2002, pp. 87-109.

2. Carlo Ginzburg, ‘Clues: Roots of an Evidential Pradigm’, in Clues, Myths and the Historical Method. John Hopkins Universisty Press, Baltimore, 1989, pp. 96-125.

3. This article is a revised version of a part of my PhD thesis, ‘Bhils of Khandesh: A Historical Study c. 1800-1900’. Thesis Submitted to the University of Delhi, April 2004.

4. Khandesh Bhil rebellions have been the subject of a recent article. See Alf Gunvald Nilsen, ‘Subalterns and the State in the Longue Duree: Notes from "The Rebellious Century" in the Bhil Heartland’, Journal of Contemporary Asia 45(4), April 2015, pp. 574-595. https:/

5. Translation of Statement of Raghoo Ramchunder, Shaikdar of Thana Antapoor, Appendix No. 3, Political Dept. Mixed (PDM) Vol. no. 8/191, 1825, Maharashtra State Archives Mumbai (MSAM).

6. Translation of a paper purporting to be a commission from the Sirkar Sahoo Chatrapaty Maharaj to Sewram Singh Subedar of Dang Soudana Pargana Karallee, in Letter from Arch Robertson, Collector Khandesh to W. Chaplin, Commissioner in the Deccan, dt. 09/04/ 1825, PDM Vol. no. 8/191 of 1825, MSAM.

7. Translation of a letter from Govind Naiq and Co. to W.J. Graham, Asst. Collector, Khandesh, in Judicial Dept. (JD) Vol no. 9/110 of 1826, MSAM, p.102.

8. Letter from Briggs to Elphinstone, dt. 24/09/1818, Vol. No. 172, Gen. No. 212, Deccan Commissioner Files (DCF), Maharashtra State Archives Pune (MSAP), p. 314.

9. Ibid., p. 317.

10. Ibid., p. 318.

11. Ibid., p. 321.

12. For the village police in Madras Presidency, see David Arnold, Police Power and Colonial Rule, Madras 1859-1947. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1986.

13. Briggs to Elphinstone, pp. 323-324.

14. Ibid., p. 327.

15. Entry No. 142 dt. 26 January 1740, Sardesai (ed.), Selections from Peshwa Daftar (SPD), Vol. 22. Mumbai, 1932, p. 85.

16. Letter from Archibald Robertson, Collector, Khandesh, to W. Chaplin, Commissioner in the Deccan, dt.10/03/1825, PDM, Vol. No. 9/192 of 1825, MSAM, pp. 347-377.

17. Briggs to Elphinstone, p. 335.

18. PDM, Vol. No. 8/191 of 1825, MSAM (Table of the Hucks of the Bhil Naiks).

19. From Briggs to Malcolm, dt. 17/10/1819, cited in Memoirs of Gen. John Briggs by Major Evans Bell, London, 1885, p. 85.

20. Letter from the Commissioner in the Deccan to Chief Secretary Warden, dt. 09/08/1820, Diary No. 489 of 1820, Political and Secret Diaries, MSAM, pp. 5314-5316.

21. List of Prisoners taken during the Military Operations against the Bheels in Candeish by John Briggs, Political Agent in Khandesh, dt. 12/09/1820, Diary No. 496 of 1820, Political and Secret Diaries, MSAM, pp. 8076-8096.

22. Commissioner to Chief Secretary, dt. 09/08/1820, Diary No. 489 of 1820, Political and Secret Diaries, MSAM, pp. 5314-5316.

23. PDM, Vol. No. 8/191 of 1825, MSAM (See Table of Bhil Hucks); For an account of Briggs’ policy towards the Bhils, see D.C. Graham, ‘Historical Sketch of the Bheel Tribes’, Selection from the Records of the Bombay Govt. (SRBG), no. 26, new series, Bombay, pp. 210-212.

24. See the discussion on Baglan rebellion in this article.

25. Letter dt. 16/04/1825 from John Briggs, former Political Agent in Khandesh, to William Chaplin, Commissioner in the Deccan, PDM, Vol. No. 9/192, 1825, MSAM, p. 463.

26. Graham, pp. 210-212.

27. Stewart Gordon, Marathas, Marauders and State Formation in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press, Delhi,1994; Sumit Guha, ‘Forest Polities and Agrarian Empires: The Khandesh Bhils, c. 1700-1850’, Indian Economic and Social History Review 33(2), 1996, pp. 133-153; Andre Wink, Land and Sovereignty in India: Agrarian Society and Politics under the Eighteenth Century Maratha Svarajya. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986.

28. Ajay Skaria, Hybrid Histories: Forests, Frontiers and Wildness in Western India. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1999, pp. 131-32, p. 138.

29. David Hardiman, ‘Power in the Forest: The Dangs 1820-1940’, in David Arnold and David Hardiman (eds.), Subaltern Studies VIII. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1994.

30. Robertson to Chaplin, p. 369.

31. Andre Wink, Land and Sovereignty in India, p. 117.

32. Molesworth’s Marathi-English Dictionary. Shubhada-Saraswat Prakashan, Pune, 2010 (1831), p. 236.

33. Skaria, Hybrid Histories, Preface, p. ix.

34. I draw here on a large body of work. Sumit Guha, Environment and Ethnicity in India, 1200-1991. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999; David Ludden, An Agrarian History of South Asia. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999; K. Sivaramakrishnan, Modern Forests: Statemaking and Environmental Change in Colonial Eastern India. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1999; K. Sivaramakrishnan and Arun Agrawal, Regional Modernities: The Cultural Politics of Development in India. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2003; Nandini Sundar, Subalterns and Sovereigns. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1997; G. Cederlof, Founding an Empire on India’s North-Eastern Frontiers 1790-1840. Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2014; Wink, Land and Sovereignty, 1986.

35. The Corps and the Bhil Agencies have been the subject of an article by N. Benjamin and B.B. Mohanty. See Benjamin and Mohanty, ‘Imperial Solution of a Colonial Problem: Bhils of Khandesh upto c. 1850’, Modern Asian Studies 41(2), March 2007, pp. 343-367. https:// We find here a thorough documentation of facts but little attempt to analyse the evidence or critique the archival sources.

36. Letter dt. April 1833, W.J. Boyd, Collector, Khandesh, to Charles Norris, Chief Secy. to Govt. Bombay, Foreign Political Proceedings (FPP) of 06/04/1834, NAI, p. 39.

37. Briggs to Chaplin, p. 486, pp. 493-94; Robertson to Chaplin, p. 365.

38. A.H.A. Simcox, A Memoir of the Khandesh Bhil Corps. Bombay, 1912, p. 49.

39. Boyd to Norris, p. 46.

40. Graham, ‘Historical Sketch’, pp. 213-214.

41. F. J. Goldsmid, James Outram: A Biography, Vol. 1. London, 1880, p. 58; see also Boyd to Norris, p. 43.

42. Goldsmid, James Outram, Vol. 2, pp. 191-236; Saul David, The Indian Mutiny, pp. 309-310.

43. Goldsmid, James Outram, Vol.1, pp. 59-62.

44. Guha, Environment and Ethnicity, pp. 132-133.

45. Quoted in Goldsmid, James Outram, Vol. 1, p. 61.

46. Seema Alavi, The Sepoys and the Company. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1995, pp. 155-193. Alavi has shown that Cleveland’s Hill Corps became popular among the Paharias for the same reason.

47. Letter from Ovans to John Malcolm, dt.12/08/1830, Judl. Consultation No. 30, Judicial Dept.(JD) Vol. No. 3/196 of 1830, MSAM, p. 21.

48. Boyd to Norris, pp. 40-41.

49. This was a common occurrence in the Maratha period. See Guha, ‘Forest Polities’.

50. Letter from Campbell to Asst. Adjut. General, Poona Division, dt. 01/12/ 1827, FPP, 06/03/1834, Proceeding No.1, NAI, p. 3.

51. Minutes by the Governor, Judicial Consultation No. 8, JD Vol. No. 1/149 of 1828, MSAM, p. 655.

52. Alavi, The Sepoys and the Company, pp.155-193.

53. Simcox, A Memoir, p. 58.

54. W.Y. Carman, Indian Army Uniforms under the British from the18th century to 1947: Artillery, Engineering and Infantry. Morgan-Grampian Books Limited, 1969, p. 161.

55. Ibid.

56. Simcox, A Memoir, p. 65.

57. Ibid.

58. Campbell to Assistant Adjutant General, Poona Division, dt. 01/12/ 1827, FPP, 06/04/1834, Proceeding No. 1, NAI, p. 4.

59. Simcox, A Memoir, p. 58.

60. Goldsmid, James Outram, Vol. 1, p. 66.

61. Boyd to Norris, NAI, pp. 49-50; Also, Simcox, pp. 77-83, p. 86.

62. Goldsmid, James Outram, Vol. 1, pp. 72-73.

63. Simcox, A Memoir, p. 64.

64. Letter from Col. Shakespeare, Agent Governor General for Central India, to Deputy Bhil Agent, Manpur and Commandant of the Malwa Bhil Corps, dt. 22/07/1860, FPP, Part A, Proceedings no. 184-230, Dec. 1860, NAI, p. 111.

65. FPP, 06/03/1834, Proceeding No. 1, NAI, p. 76.

66. See David Arnold for a longer discussion on this point. Arnold, ‘Disease, Resistance and India’s Ecological Frontier’ in Agrarian Studies: Synthetic Work at the Cutting Edge. Yale Agrarian Studies Series, Yale, 2001, pp. 186-205.

67. Letter from Collector, Khandesh, to Charles Norris, JD Vol. No. 1/149 of 1828, MSAM, p. 633.

68. David Arnold, Police Power and Colonial Rule, pp. 1986.

69. Letter from James Outram to Captain Hodges, Acting Collector in Khandesh, dt. 22/04/1827, JD Vol. No. 13/139 of 1827, MSAM, p. 577.

70. Boyd to Norris, p. 98.

71. Ibid., p. 102.

72. Simcox, p. 115.

73. Ibid., p. 151.

74. Graham, ‘Historical Sketch’ 229; Briggs to Chaplin, PDM, pp. 477-478.

75. Letter from W.J. Morris, Bhil Agent, to H. Young, Acting Collector, Khandesh, dt. 18/06/ 1846, Political Dept. vol. no. 22/1903 of 1847, MSAM, pp. 165-166.

76. Minute of the Bombay Govt. dt. 08/09/1847, ibid., pp. 173-176.

77. Mahesh Rangarajan, Fencing the Forest: Conservation and Ecological Change in India’s Central Provinces 1860-1914. Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1996.