The 1857 Sepoy Mutiny

The 1857 sepoy mutiny is also called as “India’s first war of independence”, because, for the first time, the rebellion against the British East India Company has taken place in a very large scale, which almost led to the expulsion of British from India.


Causes Of The Revolt :

  1. The cartridges that are to be loaded in the Enfield rifle are covered with greased paper, which is made with animal fat (beef and pork). So the religious sentiments of both the Hindus and Muslims were hurt, as they have to tear open the greased paper with their teeth, while loading the cartridge into the rifle.
  2. Lot of princely states were annexed to British Raj by using the policy “doctrine of lapse”, which prevents adopted children to occupy the throne.
  3. Exploitative land revenue laws by the British.
  4. Undermining of certain religious traditions and practices like caste system and Sati practice (widow burning) by the British.
  5. The officials of the East India Company were rarely punished or convicted for the ill-treatment and murders they committed against Indians.
  6. Livelihood of craftsmen and artisans were under threat, as cheap British manufactured goods were sent to India on a large scale.
  7. Fear of the spread of Christianity, as the missionaries were converting both the Hindus and Muslims to Christianity.


Beginning Of The Revolt :

On a parade at Barrackpore, on 29th March 1857, a sepoy named Mangal Pandey, killed two British officers. The other soldiers present there, refused to arrest Mangal Pandey. Later on, he was arrested and hanged. The news of this incident has spread to all cantonments in the country. On 10th May 1857, The Soldiers at Meerut went on a rampage killing the British, they broke open jails, freed the prisoners and went marching to Delhi and captured it and declared Bahadur Shah Zafar (the last Mughal Emperor) as the Emperor of India. The news of this spread all across the country, soon the soldiers and civilians, mostly from central India, present day Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had joined the revolt. Some of the main leaders who led the revolt were, Nana Sahib, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Khan Bahadur, Rani Lakshmibai, Tatya Tope.


End Of The Revolt:

By 8th July 1859, all of the leaders who led the revolt were killed and the rebellion was totally suppressed, with a total of around 100,000 Indians killed. The primary reason for the failure of the rebellion was, many Indian states actively provided support to the British to suppress the rebellion and while other states remained neutral. The other reason for the failure of the rebellion was that, the rebels only had a common hatred towards the British rule, without any well thought-out political plan for the future, so they couldn’t bring about a new political order. The then commissioner of Punjab, Sir John Lawrence, has rightly said “had a single leader of ability arisen among the rebels, we would have been lost beyond redemption”.