The Sepoy Mutiny

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Lesson – 3
THE FIRST WAR OF INDIAN INDEPENDENCE
(GREAT REVOLT OF 1857) —
END OF EAST INDIA COMPANY’S RULE
Learning Objectives
1. Pupil gets an idea about the early revolts against the English rule. 2. Pupil gains knowledge about the political, administrative, economic, social, religious and military causes for the outbreak of the Revolt of 1857.

3. Pupil understands the causes for the failure of the revolt and the results of the revolt.
4. Pupil recognises the significance of Queen Victoria’s Proclamation. The period after the Battle of Plassey witnessed exploitation of the wealth and resources of India by the East India Company. The British treated the Indians as conquered people. They introduced new political, legal and economic institutions in India. They were completely different from those prevailing during the 18

th
Century. Many people
were affected due to their political and economic policies. They became unhappy. The grievances of the Princes, soldiers and the people added to the growing discontent. It resulted in mutinies and revolts in some parts. But the great revolt of 1857 was the most important one.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, in his famous book, “Discovery of India”,has written, “the very fact that a country with such a great illustrious past should be ruled over by a handful of people from a distant Island is something that makes me wild.” It was the inner feeling of the entire country.

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Early revolts against the British Rule – (1765 – 1856) : There was opposition, generally against the British, by the Hindu Sanyasins and Muslim Fakirs in the eastern parts of India. In South India, Palayakkars(Poligar) resisted the extension of the British authority in their area. They rose against the British under the leadership of Maruthu Brothers, Veera Pandya Katta Bomman, Pulithevanand

Veluthambi.They all were noted for the patriotism, courage, self-respect and sacrifice. The Sepoy Mutiny atVellorein 1806 manifested to the British that the Indians were not passive to accept everything. The Barrackpore mutinyin 1824 was another important revolt against the British authority.

The First War of Indian Independence orThe Great Revolt of 1857: The Indian soldiers in the East India Company’s army rebelled against the British in 1857. The English historians have painted this revolt as a mutiny of the sepoys. But the Indian historians describe it as the First war of Indian Independence.It is also known as the Great Revolt of 1857. Lord Canningwas the Governor-General of India at that time. The causes of the Great Revolt were many. They may be classified as political, administrative, economic, social, religious, military and immediate causes.

Political Causes :The annexation policy of British was one of the major causes. The terms of the Subsidiary treaties signed by Wellesley with different rulers were never honoured unless it suited the British interests. The Doctrine of Lapseintroduced by Dalhousie led to the outright annexation of eight states. Nana Saheb lost his pension. Rani of Jhansi was not permitted to adopt a son. They turned against the British. They were the most able leaders of the revolt. The annexation of Oudh and deposition of its ruler Wazid Ali Shah,made Oudh the most prominent centre of the revolt. Bahadur Shah II, the Mughal Emperor and his successors were humiliated by the British. They were prohibited from using their ancestral palace, the Red Fort, in future. Besides, the Muslims were in general dissatisfied with the British. They felt that they had lost their political power.

Administrative Causes :The Indians disliked and distrusted the administration of the British. For example, the replacement of Persian language by English as the court language was not liked by the people. The judicial system of the British was costly, mechanical and involved much time. The poor could draw no advantage from it. The 39

rich disliked it because they could be brought to trial even by appeals of...
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