The Indian Mutiny is that event in our history when Indians rose against the British Commanders for the first time after the East India Company had taken control. It comes by many names like the Sepoy Mutiny, Indian Rebellion of 1857, or Revolt of 1857. By this time the British interference in local Indian affairs had grown beyond the comprehension of Indians, and that’s when Indians started to retaliate.
What was the Indian Mutiny?
The Indian Mutiny was the denial of duty of Indian sepoys to the British soldiers. It was started in Meerut on the 10th of May 1857. The struggle continued till the 08th of July 1859. By then it had become a massive wave that kept emerging time after time to challenge the British rule.
Starting at a training facility with a few sepoys the Indian Mutiny grew and grew to become the revolt of 1857 or the first war of independence. It was joined by local rulers, peasants and thousands of local men.
Why did the Indian Mutiny Happen?
The Indian Mutiny or the revolt of 1857 began when Brishers introduced new rifle cartridges to the Indian soldiers. The soldiers believed that they were greased by cow and pig fat making it sacrilegious. That cartridge had to be bitten off before loading it into the gun.
As, both the Hindu and Muslim sentiments were hurt the sepoys refused to use the rifle. On facing retaliation, they were enraged and had to be shackled and imprisoned. Some of the comrades also shot the British officers and marched to Delhi.
Though Indian troops were defeated, this mutiny had broken into a ravening fight. It is often referred to as India’s First War of Independence.
Key Causes of the Indian Mutiny
The revolt started when the Indian soldiers felt exploited beyond tolerance, but there were reasons that kept building the foundations of this mutiny for a long time.
- The attempts to recruit lower caste Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities into the Indian army led to a disagreement from the high caste Hindu sepoys who saw it as a breach of their societal status.
- Racial and social discrimination by the Britishers, made the Indians feel discriminated against and exploited on the basis of skin colour. This enraged Indians.
- They kept interfering with the religious and cultural affairs of the Indians.
- There were also some political reasons involved, involving the formulation of policies that led to the loss of power from Nawabs and Zamindars.
- Also, the misgovernance, unjust policies and war led to retaliation from existing rulers and people of power as the native interests were lost.
- In order to expand territory the Britishers had overburdened the peasants with heavy duties. They had also deployed Indian regiments to serve overseas which was not taken heartily by the soldiers.
Also Read: Who was the First Governor General of India?
Impacts of the Revolt
The Indian Mutiny highlighted the inefficiency of Britishers in handling Indian state affairs. It also led to the formation of the Government of Indian Act 1858. Though this act practically banned the rule of the East India Company but gave Indian governance directly into the hands of the British Raj.
Reasons for the Failure of the Revolt
The movement had no proper leadership or an organised plan. This led to the disintegration of the revolt. Even the powerful people who participated in the revolt had no proper plan to either completely defeat the British or restructure India after freeing it from the company. Three major presidencies, namely, Bengal, Bombay and Madras were unaffected and the revolt could not even reach there.