Brief History of Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857

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Brief History of Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857

Sepoy Mutiny of 1857

What was the Sepoy Mutiny? Sepoy mutiny is often referred to as ‘the Great rebellion”, ‘the Indian rebellion of 1857”, ‘Sepoy rebellion” or ‘Indian Mutiny”. The dissatisfaction and fear that was building up during the imperialistic rule of Dalhousie exploded into a revolt in 1857, just after Dalhousie left India. It is known as the ‘Mutiny’ because Indian sepoys from the British Indian Army took up arms against their alien officers.

It is important to remember that by 1857, the Indian element amongst the soldiers had increased substantially and the British soldiers were out-numbered by seven to one.

When did the sepoy Mutiny started? It started on 1oth May, 1857. It posed big threat to the British East India company. It continued till 29th June, 1858.

Where did the Sepoy Mutiny occur? The revolt of Sepoys started at Meerut cantonment. Very soon, it took the shape of mass rebellion, mutinies, and civil rebellions across Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Though Sepoy Mangal Pandey was first to revolt, the historic munity actually started a little later in Meerut and soon spread to Delhi, Kanpur and other parts of India. Though at one time the overthrow of the British rule looked imminent but ultimately the revolt was suppressed. Most of the leaders were caught and punished.

Why did the sepoy mutiny happen? : The principal causes for the sepoy mutiny were:

  • The injustices the Indian suffered in every aspect of their life – political, economic, social and religious.
  • On the political front, the loss of power and prestige of the ex-nobles and court officials created a feeling of suspicion and anger.
  • On the economic side, the severe punishments for non-payment of increased land revenue in time resulting in confiscation of property made the people insecure and helpless amongst the vast majority including the peasant class.
  • Furthermore, the inevitable economic dislocation and hardship that followed every time the British deposed a native ruler led to unrest amongst the masses.
  • The westernizing policies of the Company and some of the social reforms displeased a large section of the orthodox people.
  • Finally, the activities of the missionaries created suspicion among many people that the British were bent on crushing whatever values they were left with. The feeling of bewilderment and hopelessness was very widespread.

The great revolt of 1857 was triggered off when the religious sentiments of the Indian Sepoy were hurt because of the company policies. Sepoys of both Hindu and Muslim faith felt outraged. They decided to take up arms against their British officers. They were led by the Rani of Jhansi, Nan Sahib of the Marathas, Tantia Topi and others who had fallen victim to Dalhousie’s policies of subjugation and together they elected the old and feeble Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah at Delhi to symbolize Indian unity and lead the revolt.

Why did the Sepoy Mutiny failed? The revolt failed because of bad leadership, disunity among the rebel leaders and superior leadership and equipment of the British. Moreover, the revolt suffered from bad planning and organization. After the systematic destruction of native administrative institutions, there were no ways left to the Indians by which they could co-ordinate a national uprising of this nature.

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