Ghashiram Kotwal & Jar-karma

Corroboration falls short to prove historical reference piece that Gharisham Sawaldas bartered his 16-year-old daughter with Nana Phadanavis to become Kotwal (police commissioner) of Pune city.

There are however references available on how Ghashiram was killed by Brahmins of Pune on 21 August 1791. Those Brahmins, irked by the previous night incident when 21 citizens were lost their lives due to suffocation while guarding bombshells, lynched Ghashiram. The act was committed in Hadapsar where Arm Forces Medical College is now situated.

Stories surrounding Ghashiram have often been inquisitive. Those stories tell us prostitution involving men and women was on high even during Peshwa rule.

Letter written by Peshwas to Ghashiram once he became permanent during 1782 suggest the rulers were concerned about growing “male-prostitution” in Pune. Out of that concern, Peshwa reminded Ghashiram of his task: “Striyanna Jar-karma karanyapasun paravrutt karane” (Discouraging women to involve into male-prostitution). There is another reference that suggests Peshwas had also asked Ghashiram to “not to allow married women from involving into prostitution.”

I am bit disappointed though not completely dejected to read Mandar Lawate’s latest article: Punyachi Kotawali on city’s history. It falls short on some crucial details. The article is otherwise good.

For the benefit of English readers, Here is selective reference from Lawate’s piece published in Sakal:

(After death of Ghashiram), Bajirao Peshwa II understood that Kotwal is a plum post. He therefore started auctioning the post. It was in 1800 the post of Kotwal was first auctioned to Vithoji Gaikwad at Rs. 1. 12 lakh.

Given that post was auctioned at such exorbitant rate, we can imagine how corrupt the system would have been and to what extent hafta-wasuli had gone up. By those old rate, today if we learn that Pune or Mumbai commissioner’s post was sold at 112 crores, one shouldn’t be surprised.

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