Leela Gujadhur Sarup



Leela Gujadhur Sarup is a historical researcher and author on colonial emigration of indentured workers. Her works are based on hard to find documents as they originally appeared in the records of the British Empire. We reproduce with permission an official extract of a letter that talks about how workers bound for ReUnion Islands were mishandled leading to high mortality
From: John. D. Hay Hill, Esq,
Her Britanic Majesty’s Consul at Reunion.

To: His Excellency the Governor of Reunion 

Dated the11th March 1865.

Monsieur Le Gouverneur,

Your Excellency have doubtless been informed of the excessive mortality which has occurred amongst the Indians who arrived by the “Eastern Empire” from Calcutta. I have the honor to request your Excellency may be pleased to furnish me, for the information of my Government, with any reports which have been made by the Medical Officers as to the probable cause and to the nature of the disease to which these emigrants have fallen victims. 

Colonial Emigration 19th-20th Century
Proceedings 1863 - 1869
Vol. 4

It is with great regret that I have to draw your Excellency’s attention to the fact that the manner in which many of the Indians per “Eastern Empire” have been ceeded has been a mere matter of sale and speculation. 

It will appear that Mr. Vallom Brouse Déhauluve not being able to find masters for some 40 of the immigrants, sent them to a M. Adam Armoët in the Reu D’assas to await purchases. 

Seven Indians from this lot have already died in Hospital, thirteen are under treatment there, and the remainders are there in the yard of M. Armoët for distribution. I have visited the establishment of Mr. Armoët, and I have the honor to state I consider it a place perfectly unfit for the reception of immigrants, particularly under the circumstances of their tendency to malady which has recently so fatally developed itself. In the returns of the mortality of February the Indians per “Eastern Empire”, who died in St. Denis, were classified as belonging to Mr. Armoët. 

I have now therefore to request your Excellency will be pleased to direct that all the Calcutta Indians, who remained undistributed, may be taken over by the Government, as were always intended by the Convention, and that steps may be taken to prevent the recurrence of any difficulties and apparent speculation in the introduction of British Indian immigrants. I have the honor to add that one of the Indians with M. Armoët is an idiot, and must therefore be sent back to India, and that three or four of the Emigrants appear in a very deplorable state of health and require the best medical attention and care.

April 2011

click here to enlarge

 >> Cover Story
 >> From the Editor