Friday, 1 November 2019

India's first major war of independence (Sepoy Mutiny) 1857-58 - killing of Europeans and reprisals by the British

India:1957 first war of independence  you tube,
The Sepoy Mutiny or the great war of Independence of 1857 that  strongly shook the basic edifice of the British empire started off  on May 10 1857 at Meerut cantonment  where  Indian soldiers, both Muslim and Hindu, revolted and killed their British officers before marching south to Delhi. reason; They were asked to use  the newly designed  En field rifles.  The  bitter aspect ithey had to bite the cartridge coated with grease that was  mixed with pig and cow's fat.  The soldiers never  obeyed the military officers' orders and subsequent trouble led to the killing of two Indian soldiers. One being Mangal Pandey. At  Delhi  rampaging rebels met  with Bahadur Shah Zafar,  the last Mogul ruler then 82, and hoisted a saffron flag above the Red Fort.  The British were close to losing their grip on India which was  their cash cow- a source of vast revenue  from a huge land.  As soon as the rebellion was put down, the British engaged in mad reprisal for killing countless British soldiers and officers. The rebellion had a severe  impact on them. 
It increased the  hatred  for the British and their  indifference  attitude toward Indians. However, ''their mission  was to rule, and rule they must, treating the natives with justice but as a subservient race upon whom civilized values must be imposed''
 The following are  some of the glimpses of the great rebellion that saw the end of British company's rule and take over of the Indian land by the government based in London.
1857 rebellion, India. news.bbc.co.uk
Above image:The Sikander Bagh in Lucknow was the venue for a fierce battle during the 1857 uprising. This picture was taken by Felice Beato, an Italian who visited India soon after the mutiny and, some say, had the bones dug out for the photo. Pictures courtesy: Alkazi Foundation.
1857 rebellion, India. news.bbc.co.uk
Above age: Up to 1,000 British troops, their families and loyal sepoys were holed up in Gen Wheeler's entrenchment in Kanpur for three weeks in June 1857 where they were constantly bombarded by a local prince, Nana Sahib's army. Photo: Felice Beato, 1858.
1857 rebellion, India. news.bbc.co.uk
 Above image: On 27 June 1857, Europeans who had been promised safe passage from Wheeler's entrenchment  arrived at the Sati Chaura Ghat (jetty) to take the boat out when Nana Sahib's army ambushed them and killed many. Photo: Samuel Bourne, early 1865.
Patriot Gungoo Mehternews.bbc.co.uk
Above image:  A hand-written caption identifies the man as Gungoo Mehter who was tried at Kanpur for killing many of the Sati Chaura survivors, including many women and children. He was convicted and hanged at Kanpur on 8 September 1859. Photo: John Nicholas Tressider.
Rebels were hanged to death. news.bbc.co.uk
Above image:  !857-58 Great Rebellion: It was common to hang "rebels" publicly to serve warning to the public and other rebels  to avoid future betrayals. It is not known where FeliceBeato took this picture in 1858.
1857 rebellion, India. news.bbc.co.uk
Above image:This sketch of Lucknow's Alam Bagh was made by Lt CH Mecham on 25 December 1857 while fierce fighting raged on. In a note at the bottom of the sketch, the artist wishes "my future readers many happy returns of this festive season".

The Mutiny Memorial in Delhi news.bbc.co.uk
Above image: The Mutiny Memorial in Delhi is a monument to British officers. In panels around the base, there is a record of 2,163 officers and men who were killed, wounded or went missing between 8 June and 7 September 1857. It was taken in 1870 by an unknown photographer.
Great rebellion of 1857-58.theguardian.com/
  Above image:  The battle of Cawnpore - the entire British garrison died at Cawnpore (now Kanpur), either in the battle or later massacred with women and children. Their deaths became a war cry for the British. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty
 The reprisals - a sort of vigilante justice: and later famine-like  conditions, etc created by the British caused  Holocaust  against the Indian natives.  
British magazine, Delhi. scroll.in/article
Last Mogul ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar scroll.in/article
Above images: The sepoys attacked the British magazine on May 11, 1857 to capture the arsenal stocked there. The British officers and the soldiers  realized  that they could make only a vein attempt to defend the place as sepoys in large numbers were  scaling the walls, Lieut. GD Willoughby blew up the arsenal to prevent it from falling into rebel hands.Willoughby and some of his companions  escaped from the place  but  the rebels caught 56 European women and children and a few men  and took them to the Red Fort. The 82-year-old Mogul emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, ordered the sepoys not to indulgence in violence and took the Europeans prisoners  into his safe custody. He also had the injured medically treated. Mingled with the sepoys were many thugs and ruffians.  They and others took away the European prissiness  without the ruler's consent and at last murdered them all.

This horrible massacre of Europeans during the rebellion in Delhi  got Mogul ruler Zafar a bad name and the British blamed him for the killing.  At the trial started on January 27, 1858 and ended on March 9, 1858  the court found the former king of Delhi guilty of every charge against him and was exiled  to Burma where he died unsung due to old age. Earlier British officer William Hodson, near the Koon Darwaza in outer Delhi shot dead three of Mogul ruler's grand sons in close range and committed this murder without any remorse. Thus  the English company brought down the curtain on the last Mogul dynasty of India........

William Hodson. Find A Grave com
Above image: William Holden Hods0n, a military officer was unpopular among the natives because he treated the last Mogul ruler and others shabbily. As far as the British were concerned, he was a daring officer and a celebrated person. Near the city gate before entering Delhi, suddenly Hodson ordered the three Mogul princes (after arresting them and taking to Delhi) to get off the cart and  remove their top garments in the presence of a huge gathering around them. No sooner had their signet rings, turquoise arm-bands and bejeweled swords  been removed, than in a flash, without any scruples, Hodson took a carbine from one of his troopers and shot them dead. A cold blooded murder had been committed right before the people who stood there frozen. Hodson had the bodies of three Mogul princes  displayed in front of a Kotwali  as a warning to the future rebels. It was a crass  and dirty display of military power and  arrogance and  thus Hodson took the credit (rather discredit) of felling the last Mogul ruler Bahadur Shah's  legal heirs  to the throne.........
https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2016/11/william-hodson-killer-of-last-mogul.html
Punishment, blowing up before cannon. strangehistory.ne
Blowing up in front of cannon: When it comes to giving punishments and taking revenge on fellow  men, human  ingenuity has played  no less role than others  for centuries. In the wake of  invention of cannon to be used in wars for offensive and defensive puposes,  during peace time it was put to use for other purpose.   Now human brain worked over time. Someone  tied a prisoner to the front of a powerful cannon and lit a fuse, blowing his body into smithereens throwing  the head and other parts  at  distances. An incredibly horrible and nauseating  sight to see it.  Blowing from gun or cannon  was prevalent across the world. It is said  the credit goes to the early British East India company in the subcontinent for introducing this bloody punishment for the first time  against the Indian subjects as a punishment. It was used widely for a long time  in Afghanistan, just to the north of the Raj. It was  the most ghastly  and gory punishment the British had at their disposal against the Indian natives. No doubt it was a dastardly act of  revenge against  those rebels  who  either had carried out or  planned atrocities on British civilians  including blowing from the cannon. The British  used cannons for executions, in particular, martial executions of native soldiers who took part in the revolt. .http://www.strangehistory.net/2015/05/05/execution-by-cannon/
Great Indian rebellion (Sepoy Mutiny) britishempire.co.uk

Aftermath and casualty: The 1857 great rebellion of the 19th century,  often dubbed in the English media as the Indian Mutiny,  impacted the imperial rulers  very much as it was a huge challenge to get the rebellion under their control.  According to Amaresh Misra, a writer and historian based in Mumbai, in his book  ''War of Civilizations: India AD 1857''  argues that there was an "untold holocaust" which caused the deaths of almost 10 million people over 10 years beginning in 1857.  Britain, being a super power then was dangerously close to  losing its most prized possession, jewel on its Crown: India. It meant loss of vast revenue that was running the British economy. Having regained the control of the subcontinent, they made basic concessions to the Indian natives  to hang in there to pursue their imperialist ambition. 

As for casualty in the Indian side in the rebellion, the conventional estimate is 100000; they were slaughtered  in savage reprisals.  Misra says, "It was a holocaust, one where millions (Indians) disappeared. It was a necessary holocaust in the British view because they thought the only way to win was to destroy entire populations in towns and villages. It was simple and brutal. Indians who stood in their way were killed. But its scale has been kept a secret," He arrived at this number based on  three principal sources.: two records pertaining to the number of religious resistance fighters killed - either Islamic Mujahideen or Hindu warrior ascetics committed to driving out the British. The third source being  British labor force records, which show 'a drop in manpower of between a fifth and a third across vast swaths of India'.

Many historians both British and India disagree with Misra's  estimate of casualty. Their contention is  it is exaggeration rather than deceit in his  calculations. A British historian, Saul David, author of The Indian Mutiny, said it was valid to count the death toll but reckoned that it ran into "hundreds of thousands".
"It looks like an overestimate. There were definitely famines that cost millions of lives, which were exacerbated by British ruthlessness''
 What is so disgusting was the obnoxious remark made by Charles Dickens, an English literary giant. He said,
 "I wish I were commander-in-chief in India ... I should proclaim to them that I considered my holding that appointment by the leave of God, to mean that I should do my utmost to exterminate the race."    

 L'Estaffette' French newspaper's remark is quite interesting:  "Intervene in favour of the Indians, launch all our squadrons on the seas, join our efforts with those of Russia against British India ...such is the only policy truly worthy of the glorious traditions of France."
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/aug/24/india.randeepramesh
http://www.strangehistory.net/2015/05/05/execution-by-cannon/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahadur_Shah_Zafar