A royal riot

6 November, 2015
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Facades: Prince of Wales Seamen’s Club (1921)

The Royal Bombay Seamen’s Society, Ballard Estate.

While the Prince of Wales was busy inaugurating institutions named after himself in Bombay in November 1921, all was not well in the city during his visit.

Gandhi’s satyagraha volunteers had taken to the streets urging Bombay’s citizens to boycott the public reception of the Prince. Bonfires of foreign cloth were made in protest.

Things went awry when Gandhi’s volunteers clashed with the citizens who chose to attend the Prince’s reception, particularly the city’s Parsis and Europeans. A major riot ensued. Parsis and Europeans were identified by their distinct hats and western clothes and attacked by the volunteers.

Later in the day, the Parsis and Europeans regrouped and exacted retribution, identifying the volunteers by their Gandhi caps and khadi dress and shouting, ‘Gandhi topiwalllah ko pakro’, ‘maro salah ko’ (catch the Gandhi cap wearers, beat the rascals).

Hersh Acharya captures some of the responses the Prince of Wales currently elicits in Bombay.

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