You have to hand it to the army to instill discipline on anybody and everybody. But, disciplining a banyan tree is the height of absurdity! If you visit Landi Kotal army cantonment in Pakistan, you will find a banyan tree in chains. The chains have been restraining the tree for the last 100 years.
The story goes way back to 1898, when a British army officer, named James Squid, was sitting in his mess lawn in a drunken stupor. The lawn had a big banyan tree. Alcohol had fully taken control of this officer and when he looked at the tree, he thought it to be lurching towards him and threaten him. He probably warned the tree to remain in its place, but to no avail.
This non-compliance of order by the tree offended him and his hallucination got the better of him. He, there and then, decided to rein in the offender, just because he saw the poor tree move from its place!
He promptly ordered his mess sergeant to arrest the tree, as it had not abode by his order to remain in its place. The mess sergeant promptly complied with the order. Once the order was given, the tree was promptly fettered. The chains were tied to all the low-lying branches and affixed to the ground to prevent it from moving & the banyan tree arrested completely.
Today, when you visit the Landi Kotal cantonment you will still find the tree in this state of ‘arrest’, even a century later. Not only this, there is a wooden board affixed to the tree that flatly states the reason:
“I am under arrest. One evening a British officer heavily drunk thought that I was moving from my original location and ordered [the] mess sergeant to arrest me. Since then I am under arrest.”
If this is not the arrogance of the army officers of the British Raj, then what is. For all you know, this action may have meant to drive home the point to the locals that if they went against the British, they would meet with the same fate.
Today, the chains continue to tie the poor banyan tree. It has become a curiosity of sorts and a local attraction for locals and outsiders.