Lalla Rookh - The First Ship That Carried Indian Indentured Servants to Suriname

This article is about the Lalla Rookh-- the first ship that brought Indian indentured laborers to Suriname.

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Article by Mr. Yash Mishra

On this day (26 February) in 1873, the ship Lalla Rookh set course from the Suriname Ghat in Kolkata carrying 410 Indian indentured labourers from present-day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand,  Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Chattisgarh. 

Out of them, 399 made it to Paramaribo (Suriname) and the rest perished during the course of the journey. 

These labourers were taken by the Dutch after a treaty signed with the British (who were already active in indentured migrations) in 1870, which enabled the former to take indentured labourers or coolies to work in the sugarcane plantations at Suriname. This system continued till 1916 when indentured slavery ended. 

Today, the only mark of these migrations could be seen at the Suriname Ghat in Kolkata, which is now today at the South Generating Station of Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation and is strictly available for a visit between 5: 30 AM - 7 AM in the morning.

The statue of Mai-Baap inside the memorial at the Hooghly-river hugging Ghat is actually a replica of the one which was established in 1994 at Klein Water Street in Paramaribo. 

There is another memorial too in Kolkata dedicated to indentured slavery; Kolkata Indentured Memorial and Clock Tower (under the Kolkata Port Trust) at Khidderpore, where you need prior permission from the Kolkata Port Trust by mail.

Photos of the Suriname Ghat by Mr. Yash Mishra

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