| PAGES FROM HISTORY: MIR SADIK, THE BETRAYER
By Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy, former Head, Department of Ancient History & Archaeology, University of Mysore.
Print and electronic media in Karnataka are generously using the epithets traitor, betrayer, breach of trust, treachery, untrustworthy, stabbing in the back etc., to describe certain events and persons in recent political happenings. This is nothing new in world history. Perhaps treachery is as old as man himself. Our tradition believes that this was less in earlier yugas but is rampant in the Kaliyuga in which we live. Thus the traitors are condemned from all sides.
When we speak of traitors or betrayers, the name of Mir Sadik comes to our mind instantaneously. He was an ordinary soldier in the army of Hyder Ali. By hard work and courage he attained superior position in the administration. Mir Sadik showed the same courage during Tipu’s regime. Unsuspecting Tipu promoted him and made him the chief of revenue and finance. He remained faithful to Tipu till 1792.
When British gained an upper hand, Mir Sadik understood that Tipu was not a winning horse and that there is no use in supporting him any longer. Overnight he changed his loyalty to the British but kept it as a secret and pretended loyalty to Tipu. He selected his own men and sent secret information to British Governor Cornwallis. He used code words and if by chance the messenger was caught, he would be killed immediately.
Tipu was a sharp and shrewd Sultan and he came to know of the evil designs of Mir Sadik. He was arrested and kept in prison. But Mir Sadik explained that this was the work of some other soldiers and he was following them to find out the truth. Thus he pleaded his innocence and took an oath to be faithful and obedient to Tipu. Unfortunately Tipu believed him and released him from prison.
Breach of trust
As soon as he came out of the prison, he continued his breach of trust against the Sultan with greater caution. He told the Sultan that he would be freely moving with the British officers and soldiers only to find out their secrets. Actually he was acting on the contrary. The British promised him wealth and the headship of the Mysore kingdom if Tipu was defeated. Again Tipu came to know of this treachery and prepared a list of persons to be hanged. The first name in this list was that of Mir Sadik. One of his friends informed this to Mir Sadik. He immediately became alert and before Tipu could act, the British were made to attack and Tipu could never come out of the fort of Srirangapatana.
On 22, May 1799 when the battle was going on, Mir Sadik invited all the soldiers of Tipu Sultan who were guarding the fort of Srirangapatana, to come out for a negotiation regarding the increase in their salary as per the order of Tipu. The soldiers believed it and left the fort and went out for negotiations. Now the British had no opposition except for Tipu and some commanders. Tipu was taken aback by this development. Immediately Mir Sadik as planned earlier gave the signal through a white handkerchief to the British soldiers to enter the fort. Immediately the British entered the fort.
As a strategy many soldiers were dressed like Tipu to confuse the British. It was difficult for them to identity the real Tipu and were struggling to find out the truth. At this juncture Mir Sadik told the British officers that he would go near the real Tipu in the battlefield and bend before him as if showing respect to the Sultan and the British should take the clue from this. He did like this and the British had no difficulty in recognising Tipu Sultan on the battlefield and killing him. Thus Mir Sadik fulfilled his desire of helping the British to eliminate Tipu, his own master who trusted him and promot-ed him, and even released him from prison, and saved his life. But Mir Sadik show-ed his gratitude in this way !
But the soldiers of Tipu and people came to know of the treachery of Mir Sadik, attacked him and killed him when he was on his way to join the British. British intervened and buried his body in Srirangapatana itself. But the people were so furious against Mir Sadik and decided that this treacherous person should not be allowed to rest in peace even after death. They exhumed his body from the grave and showed their indignation by throwing human excreta on the body. At this juncture the British intervened and reburied the body at the same place. This is how contemporary people showed their anger and contempt against Mir Sadik who symbolised treachery and betrayal against his own kingdom, master and mentor.
Even today when tourists go to Srirangapatana to see the Palace of Tipu and his tomb, the guide who explains the history of Tipu Sultan shows the tomb of Mir Sadik and vividly describes the betrayal of Mir Sadik in a highly emotional way. Some tourists even throw stones on his grave and feel justified in doing so. Thus Mir Sadik has become a symbol of treachery or betrayal in our history.
Mir Sadik is dead but his character ‘Mir Sadikism’ still continues in various forms. If a friend or a relative behaves in a treacherous way and betrays the trust deposed in him or her, such a person is referred to as Mir Sadik. Thus Mir Sadik has unfortunately become immortal in history for his notorious character. That is the defect of history. The betrayer is dead but betrayal continues just like the demon Raktabijasura of our puranas!