Sunday, 28 December 2014

Indian Sepoy Revolt (1857) - first war of independence British India

                           Indian Soldiers Execution by Canons, Sepoy Revolt.www.tenquestion.com














Indians  were barred from high office in the company in their own land. The British considered them inherently corrupt and untrustworthy. The Indian police and the Indian soldiers were already fed up with the arrogant and corrupt British rulers.

The British also practiced "divide and rule" policies, pitting Hindu and Muslim Indians against one another. They rendered Land owners and farmers landless and penniless. They took over the vast lands and kingdoms of the Maharajahs and Nawobs using some excuse under the subsidiary alliance and the doctrine of lapse. For example Lakshmibai, the Rani of Maratha-ruled Jhansi, one of the major leaders of the rebellion who earlier had lost her kingdom as a result of the Doctrine of Lapse. Dalhousie refused to accept her adopted son as the legal heir.

Sepoy Revolt of 1857, the Enfield 1853 rifle-musket en.wikipedia.org
 Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India, made the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and his successors leave the Red Fort palace in Delhi. Later, Lord Canning, the next Governor-General of India, stripped in 1856 of Bahadur Shah's successors royal title. In the case of some Indian rulers, their royal jewels were openly put up for public auction. It was an open disrespect of Indian aristocracy. The kingdom of Awadh was taken over by the British under false pretext and the Nawob was openly humiliated by the British, though he was loyal to them. In 1856 the East India Company first moved its troops to the border, then annexed the state under the Doctrine of Lapse, which was placed under a Chief Commissioner. Wajid Ali Shah, the then Nawab of Awadh, was imprisoned, and then exiled by the Company to Calcutta. It was a nauseating act and  discourtesy to the Nawob.
Local troops,Sepoy Revolt 0f 1857, en.wikipedia.org
Feudal land lords, royal armies and nobility and peasants found themselves unemployed and humiliated after the taker of the kingdoms. The tribal people were already up against them for the intrusion in their traditional lands.The Sepoy mutiny was the result of not a single event but it was due to snow-balling effects of many factors and events mentioned earlier. It was a national revolt of war of independence and worst in the entire history of the British Empire. It was a united major effort of the disgusted and  disgruntled Indians to throw off the British yoke.

 On 29 March 1857, a young soldier, Mangal Pandey, who killed a British officer and wounded a man in Barrackpore and the soldier who refused to arrest Pandey were hanged to death and the Indian soldiers in the regiment were fired from service. Some days later, some Sepoys of the regiment at Meerut refused to do the army drill using the new cartridges for the En field rifles (the Enfield 1853 rifle-musket widely used in the American civil war), which were suspected of being coated with the fat of cows and pigs. For the Hindus and Muslims cow's fat and pig's fat are taboos respectively. The soldiers had to bite it to open the cartridge before use. The news of new greased cartridges to be used in the army spread faster than the dandelion and summer bush fire.

 In June 1857, the rebel forces began the siege of the Residency. A large number of British women,men and children had taken shelter in the buildings there. The rebels surrounded the compound and bombarded the building with shells. Hit by a shell, Henry Lawrence, the Chief Commissioner of Awadh, died in one of the rooms in the building which carried the marks of past events.

On the evening of 3 July1857, over 3,000 rebels came from Bareilly now UP, crossed the river Jamuna, entered Delhi, and attacked the British cavalry posts. The revolt began to spread to many parts such as Delhi led by Bahadur Shah Jafar, in Lucknow led by Hazrat Mahal, in Allahabad led by Lyaqat Ali, in Kanpur led by Nana Sahib and in Jhansi led by Jhansi Rani.
Finally with great difficulty and loss of lives the revolt that began in May, 1857  was put down by the British by bringing additional enforcement of troops after one and half plus years. Numerous British men, women and children were killed gruesomely, and in return to take revenge, the British killed more than 500,000 people during that period.
Ref:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Rebellion_of_1857