THE GREAT REVOLT OF 1857
Nature of the Revolt:
- Sir John Lawrence was of the opinion that the Revolt was purely a military outbreak, and not a conspiracy to overthrow British rule.
- Vir Savarkar has described it as as the First War of Indian Independence.
Causes of the Revolt:
- Anti-British feelings were particularly strong in those regions like Burma, Assam, Coorg, Sind, and the Punjab which were unjustly annexed to the British Empire.
- The Doctrine of Lapse, particularly its practical application by Lord Dalhousie, produced grave discontent and alarm among the native princes, who were directly affected.
- The East India Company funded the growth of British trade and commerce at the cost of Indians.
- The British damaged the Indian trade and manufacture by imposing a high tariff in Britain against Indian goods.
- It encouraged all means the import of British goods to India.
- A new plantation system introduced in the year 1833 resulted in incalculable misery for the Indian peasants.
- Indiscriminate assaults on Indians by Englishmen became quite common.
- A general alarm was raised among the Hindus and Muslims by the activities of the Christian missionaries.
- The educational institutions established by the missionaries inculcated western education and culture in the place of oriental learning.
- The Indian sepoys in the British Indian army nursed a sense of strong resentment at their low salary and poor prospects of promotion.
- The Vellore mutiny of 1806, a precursor to the 1857 Great Revolt, was the outcome of such tendencies on the part of the military authorities.
The Beginning of the Revolt:
- The events that led to the Revolt began on 29 March 1857 at Barrackpore.
- Mangal Pandey (a sepoy) refused to use the greased cartridges and single-handedly attacked and killed his officer.
- Mangal Pandey was hanged.
- The regiment to which he belonged was disbanded and sepoys guilty of rebellion punished.
- At Meerut in May 1857, 85 sepoys of the 3rd Cavalry regiment were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for refusing to use the greased catridges.
- The mutineers proclaimed the aged nominal king, Bahadur Shah II of the Mughal dynasty as the Emperor of India.
Other Leaders of Revolt of 1857 in India:
At Kanpur, the revolt was led by Nana Sahib, the adopted son of exiled Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II.
Rani Lakshmibai (Manikarnika) was married to Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, the Maharaja of Jhansi in 1842, and became the queen of Jhansi. After their marriage, She gave birth to a son Damodar Rao in 1851.
Tatya Tope was Nana Sahib‘s close associate and general. During the Siege of Cawnpore in 1857, Nana Sahib‘s forces attacked the British entrenchment at Kanpur in June 1857.
Veer Kunwar Singh-
Veer Kunwar Singh, the king of Jagdispur, currently a part of Bhojpur district, Bihar, was one of the leaders of the Indian revolt of 1857.
Shah Mal lived in a large village in pargana Barout in Uttar Pradesh. He mobilised the headmen and cultivators of chaurasee des, moving at night from village to village, urging people to rebel against the British.
Begum of Oudh-
The principal person responsible for the revolt in Lucknow was the Begum of Oudh.
Ultimately the 1857 Revolt came to an end with the victory of the British. Viceroy Canning proclaimed peace throughout India.
Causes for the Failure of the Revolt:
- The first and foremost cause was that the Revolt failed to embrace the whole of India.
- Different sections of society such as moneylenders, merchants and modern educated Indians were actually against the Revolt.
- The lack of interest shown by the intellectuals.
- The British possessed better equipment.
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