- During the Governor-General Lord Canning
- May 11, 1857. The Meerut incident. Capture of Delhi. Proclaiming B S Jazar as the emperor.
- Almost half the Company’s sepoy strength of 232224 opted out of their loyalty to their regimental colours.
- Kanpur: Nana Saheb; Lucknow: Begum Hazrat Mahal; Bareilly: Khan Bahadur; Jagdishpur (Ara): Kunwar Singh; Jhansi: Rani Lakshmi Bai
- Only the Madras army remained totally loyal. Sikh regiment as well remained largely loyal.
Causes for the revolt
The revolt was a result of the accumulated grievances of the people against Company’s administration and a loathing for the character and policies of the colonial rule. The causes can be classified as social, economic, religious and military.
WHY DID THE SEPOYS REVOLT?
- The conditions of service in the Company’s army and cantonments increasingly came into conflict with the religious beliefs and prejudices of the sepoys.
- The unhappiness of the sepoys first surfaced in 1824 when the 47th Regiment of Barrackpur was ordered to go to Burma. To the religious Hindu, crossing the sea meant loss of caste. The sepoys refused. The regiment was disbanded and those who led the opposition were hanged.
- The rumors about the Government’s secret designs to promote conversions to Christianity further exasperated the sepoys.
- The greased cartridges
- They were also unhappy with the emoluments
- Discrimination and racism
- Misery brought to the peasants by the British rule. E.g. the land revenue system imposed in Oudh, where about 75000 sepoys came from, was very harsh.
- The civilians also participated
- After the capture of Delhi, a letter was issued to the neighboring states asking for support.
- A court of administrators was established in Delhi
- Ill-equipped, the rebels carried on the struggle for about a year
- The country as a whole was not behind them. The merchants, intelligentsia and Indian rulers not only kept aloof but actively supported the British.
- Almost half the Indian soldiers not only did not revolt but fought against their own countrymen.
- Apart from a commonly shared hatred for alien rule, the rebels had no political perspective or definite vision of the future
- Delhi fell on September 20, 1857.
- Rani of Jhansi died fighting on June 17, 1858
- Nana Saheb escaped to Nepal hoping to revive the struggle.
- Kunwar Singh died on May 9, 1958
- Tantia tope carried on guerrilla warfare until April 1959 after which he was betrayed by a zamindar, captured and put to death.
Important Persons relating to the Revolt
Bahadur Shah Zafar: BSZ was the last Mughal emperor of India.
Rani Lakshmi Bai
Nawab Wajid Ali Shah
Birjis Qadr: The son of Wajid Ali Shah and the leader of the revolt in Lucknow.
Shah Mal: He belonged to a clan of Jat cultivators in parganan Barout in UP. During the revolt, he mobilized the headmen and cultivators of chaurasee des (84 villages: his kinship area), moving at night from village to village, urging people to rebel against the British.
Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah: Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah was one of the many maulvis who played an
important part in the revolt of 1857. 1856, he was seen moving from village to village preaching jehad (religious war) against the British and urging people to rebel. he was elected by the mutinous 22nd Native Infantry as their leader. He fought in the famous Battle of Chinhat in which the British forces under Henry Lawrence were defeated.
Begum Hazrat Mahal:
Chapter 2: Civil Rebellions and Tribal Uprisings
- The backbone of the rebellions, their mass base and striking power came from the rack-rented peasants, ruined artisans and demobilized soldiers
- The major cause of the civil rebellions was the rapid changes the British introduced in the economy, administration and land revenue system.
- The revenues were enhanced by increasing taxes.
- Thousands of zamindars and poligars lost control over their land and its revenue either due to the extinction of their rights by the colonial state or by the forced sale of their rights over land because of their inability to meet the exorbitant land revenue demanded.
- The economic decline of the peasantry was reflected in twelve major and numerous minor famines from 1770 to 1857
- The new courts and legal system gave a further fillip to the dispossessors of land and encouraged the rich to oppress the poor.
- The police looted, oppressed and tortured the common people at will.
- The ruin of Indian handicraft industries pauperized millions of artisans
- The scholarly and priestly classes were also active in inciting hatred and rebellion against foreign rule.
- Very foreign character of the British rule
- From 1763 to 1856, there were more than forty major rebellions apart from hundreds of minor ones.
- Sanyasi Rebellion: (1763-1800)
- Chuar uprising (1766-1772 & 1795-1816); Rangpur and Dinajpur (1783); Bishnupur and Birbhum (1799); Orissa zamindars (1804-17) and Sambalpur (1827-40) and many others
- These rebellions were local in their spread and were isolated from each other.
- They were the result of local causes and grievances, and were also localized in their effects.
- Socially, economically and politically, the semi-feudal leaders of these rebellions were backward looking and traditional in outlook.
- The suppression of the civil rebellions was a major reason why the revolt of 1857 did not spread to South India and most of Eastern and Western India.