Last month, I requested twice to digitize an issue of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette extraordinary.
I was rejected twice.
My first letter requesting permission to digitize their copies of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette was rejected. The employees of the High Court, including the lawyer who had helped me much and the assistant in the research room had declined informing me that my petition was rejected because they did not want to be the bearers of bad news—a fairly typical custom in India.
I received my rejection letter in good grace. It took the correspondence section all of 15 minutes to get it to me, which is about the quickest thing I’ve ever seen them do.
Given my rejection, I asked the research room if there was anything else I could do. One very helpful man, Hussain, in the research room provided me incredible assistance. When I explained my issue, he asked how I had gotten the British Library copy. I said they just gave it to me.
“Just it gave it to you? No formal petitions?”
“They gave it to me as a big PDF file.”
“They just let you do that?” he was shocked.
I rewrote my application, arguing that if I could digitize this copy of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette then I will be able to preserve an historical part of India’s history before it is too late. I hope this tact will grant me success. Another change in tactic is addressing the judge in a very obsequious manner. This process took the entire day, bringing me to three different offices.
My new application was 24 pages long (that includes a duplicate copy). The triplicate copy which I had printed out turned out to be unnecessary.
This was also rejected. The most frustrating part was the Research Room managerà the man who supposedly assists me in the room.
There was another court record I needed to look at. A trial in 1797 involved James Augustus Hicky versus some Bengali inhabitants who were convicted of assault and battery against him. The trial mentions Hicky’s wife. If I could find out more about her, I could understand another side of Hicky—and understand him, his wife and their family better. Perhaps she was a British woman and not a Muslim as is historically thought?
“How do you know this record exists?” he asked
“I have a source describing it”
“Ok we will need to check the catalog.”
We went to the catalog room. I told him the catalog for 1775-1800 was missing. Apparently he didn’t know that.
Then we went into the record room. This was the first time he, the research manager, entered the room. (!!!?!?!?). He turned to me, saying that he had advised the registrar that I not be allowed to digitize Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, the unsaid words being: If only he had known what was in this room, he would have submitted his opinion that I get to digitize.