Untold lives blog

13 November 2015

The moustache which fell off

In November we look for a story to post in honour of the gallant chaps growing facial hair for Movember.  Two years ago we shared The Lay of the Red Moustache, 'a doleful ditty founded on facts'. Last year it was the tragedy of The Moustache Murder. This year we bring you the true story of the moustache which fell off.

Four different styles of moustache

Dundee Courier 13 December 1932 British Newspaper Archive

In December 1935 Professor Ashwini Kumar Gupta of Ripon College Calcutta was sentenced to six months' 'rigorous' imprisonment.  He had been convicted of cheating by impersonation and of forging answer papers to an examination. 

Gupta took the place of one of his pupils, Samaresh Chandra Mookerjee. at a BA economics examination.  The Professor entered the examination hall disguised by wearing dark glasses and a false moustache.  Invigilators noticed his strange appearance and became even more suspicious when Gupta didn't sit in the seat assigned to Mookerjee.

It was an electric fan whirring above Gupta's head which proved his final undoing. The officials watched in astonished fascination as the breeze from the fan caused the moustache to detach itself slowly from the Professor's upper lip.  Gupta fled from the hall, leaving his answer papers behind.  A hue and cry was raised and Gupta was captured, devoid of any moustache.

Mookerjee was charged with aiding and abetting Gupta but was acquitted. Gupta's appeal against his sentence as being overly severe was rejected by the Calcutta High Court in April 1936. The judges described Gupta as a 'brilliant' scholar holding a position of responsibility. and said his defence was 'entirely false and unworthy of his status in society'.

So struggle on Movember moustache growers - you need never know the shame of false whiskers falling off in a breeze.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive - Hartlepool Mail 4 December 1935
The Times of India 5 December 1935 and 25 April 1936



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