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The War of 1857 was the first nationwide, organized and well-planned attempt to overthrow the British rule, launched by the people of India under the leadership of various kings, rulers and feudal lords from Kandahar to Kamakhya and Kashmir to Kanyakumari. As R.C. Majumdar has rightly pointed out, the fire of revolution spread from Kolhapur in the South to Peshawar in the North, Gujarat in the West to Bihar in the East. And it was 'continual upsurge of a popular character'. Azimullah Khan, the right hand man of Nana Saheb Peshwa, and Rangoji Bapu, the emissary of Satara Kingdom met in London to chalk out a detailed plan. Rangoji travelled to Turkey, Russia, and Egypt to seek support for the revolution in India. Azimullah and Nanasaheb travelled throughout the country to contact various kings, chieftains and feudal lords for a nationwide uprising. Nana Saheb also wrote hundreds of letters to the kings and feudal lords regarding the preparations for the revolution. Nana had also raised a fund of five lakh pounds and deposited in British Banks for the purpose of revolution. The circulation of 'lotus' among the self-respecting and patriotic soldiers in the army camps of the British rulers and 'chappatis' among rural people all over the country to alert them for the uprising was an amazing feat.
The British Government's '1813 Charter Act, Section 23' set the base for conversion of people in India into Christianity. The speed with which the British proceeded with their plans to convert first all the Hindu and Mussalman soldiers in the British Indian Army and then the people of the country into Christianity by destroying their religious faith and their plan to introduce cartridges containing fat of the cow and the pig to destroy the religious sentiments of the Hindus and Muslims respectively, triggered the explosion of the war even before its scheduled date. The uprising that started in Barrackpur with the first shot fired by Mangal Pandey against the British commandant, on March 29, 1857, spread like a wild fire to Meerut, Jhansi, Kanpur and Delhi. Revolution sprang up in Kalpi, Bihar, in Satara and Puna in Maharashtra, in Hyderabad, Rajamundry, Guntur and Kadappa in Andhra, Mysore, Karvar and Koppal in Karnataka, Madras, Chinglepet, North Arcot, Salem, Tanjore, Coimbatore, Tinneveli in Tamilnadu and Talasseri in Kerala.
The cunning British knew very well the art of setting the Hindus against the Muslims, the Sikhs against the Marathas and the Marathas against the Sikhs, and both against the Rajputs. The Sikhs, the Nepalis and the Scyndia ruler of Gwalior betrayed the valiant freedom fighters. Though Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mogul whom the freedom fighters wanted to make the Indian Emperor, was acceptable to Hindu rulers as he was a Sufi and even proclaimed ban on cow slaughter as his first act immediately after he was proclaimed as emperor, and Amir Ali and Ramachandradas of Ayodhya even declared to rebuild the Rama Mandir in Ayodhya, the Sikhs and a section of the Marathas could not accept the Mogul, perhaps because of their memories of the past Muslim atrocities on Hindus and Sikhs, and they thought that the British rule was preferable to Muslim rule once again. The Sikhs of Punjab, the Hindu rulers of Nepal and Gwalior and even rulers of Hyderabad and Mysore sided with the British and betrayed the valiant revolutionaries. The British crushed the Indian War of Independence with the help of Indian mercenaries and Indian rulers.
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