24 July 2017

Indian National Movement - Revolt of 1857 (Part I) - Who, How and What

On May 10, 1987, a band of sepoys opposed and killed the European officers. They reached Delhi by the morning of 11 May 1857, crossing Jamuna and set the toll house on fire and entered the Red Fort. They went to the Red Fort to request Bahadur Shah II to be their leader. They wanted him to grant permission to their revolt.

Bahadur Shah II was the then Mughal emperor. He was not powerful. He was actually a pensioner of British East India Company. He only had a name as a Mughal Emperor.

Bahadur Shah II was confused by the request of the sepoys. He was also indecisive about their intentions and also his role. As he was surrounded by sepoys, he was afraid that the sepoys may harm him, if he oppose to their decision. Finally, he gave in. He was declared as the Shahenshah-e-Hindustan. Then the sepoys set out to capture Delhi. In this process, Simon Fraser, an English political agent and many other Englishmen were killed by the sepoys. The sepoys also occupied and destroyed many public offices.

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This marked the beginning of the Revolt of 1857. This revolt was a failure at the end. But what made it the most important phase in the History of India was, the impact, the revolt had on the whole nation.

The capture of the city of Delhi and the news that Bahadur Shah was the emperor o Hindustan gave positive meaning to the revolt. The revolt of sepoys at Meerut and Delhi gave strength to the sepoys in the North as well as Central and Western India. Punjab and Bengal were slightly affected. But South India remained silent. The army of the East India Company had Indian soldiers. Half of them kept their loyalty to the army aside and stood up for the cause of the freedom of our nation.

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Within a month, the revolt reached different parts of the country. They include Kanpur, Lucknow, Benares, Allahabad, Bareilly, Jagdishpur and Jhansi. The anti-British feelings in the rebels was very high. The local aristocrats and feudal chiefs who suffered at the hands of the British were made their leaders.

Revolt against the British in different parts of the country


Kanpur


At Kanpur, Nana Saheb was chosen as the leader. He was the adopted son of the last Peshwa, Baji Rao II. Also some reigns were took over by Begum Hazrat Mahal. Her son Birjis Qadir was made the Nawab. The offices were shared equally by Muslims and Hindus.

Barielly


Khan Bahadur was made the leader at Barielly. He also warned the commissioner about the revolt. But, once the revolt started, he gathered 40,000 soldiers and gave a tough fight to the British.

Bihar


Kunwar Singh was the leader of the revolt at Bihar. He was a Jamindar of Jagdishpur. Because of the repeated unfair actions of the British towards him regarding his estates, he developed a grudge against the British. He joined sepoys doubtfully when they reached Arrah from Dinapore.

Jhansi


The most phenomenal leader of the revolt was Rani Lakshmibai. Lord Dalhousie was the Governor General at that time. He refused to allow her adopted son to take the throne. He applied the Doctrine of Lapse and took over the kingdom. Lakshmibai tried many things to stop this. She then realised that it was not going to change anything. She then joined the sepoys. She became one of the most terrifying enemies that British had ever fought.

The revolt spread to every part of the military in Bengal and a few in Bombay. But the Madras army remained totally silent and loyal.

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