Emerging victorious in The Battle of Plassey of 1757, the British laid the first step towards getting power in Northern India. Exactly after a century in 1857 a major revolt took place which was a result of the policies and the character of the colonial rule after the Battle of Plassey.
However, the period between 1757 and 1857 saw a series of sporadic outbursts in the form of civilian rebellions, religiopolitical violence, tribal movements, peasants uprisings, and agrarian riots.
People were burdened with heavy taxes, which lead the peasantry to money lenders for loans (at high interests) resulting in the eviction of people from their land due to the non-payment of dues.
The tariff policy was discriminatory against the Indian products whereas the British traders were allowed to practice free trade. Industrialization and trade policies lead to the destruction of traditional handicraft industries.
Doctrine of Lapse, Subsidiary alliance, the policy of effective control were some policies that discontented the ruling princes.
Also there was discontent among sepoys as the conditions of service in the Company’s army increasingly came into conflict with their religious beliefs and prejudices. The greased wrapping paper of cartridges of the new Enfield rifle was made of beef and pig fat. This wasn’t a new cause for discontent but supplied the occasion for simmering discontent to come out in the open.
The revolt began at Meerut on May 10, 1857 and the gathering force rapidly, soon embraced a vast area from Punjab in the north to the Narmada in the south, to Bihar in the east and Rajasthan in the west. In Delhi, the local infantry joined them and seized the city. Bahadur Shah Zaffar was proclaimed the Emperor of India. Delhi was soon to become the center of great revolt and Bahadur Shah, it’s symbol.
The revolt of the sepoys was accompanied by a rebellion of the civil population, particularly in northwestern provinces and Awadh.
The revolt that started in Meerut now could be seen in Delhi under General Bakht Khan, Kanpur under Nana Saheb, Lucknow under Begum Hazrat Mahal, Bareily under Khan Bahadur, Bihar under Kunwar Singh, Faizabad under Maulvi Ahmadullah, Jhansi under Rami Laxmi Bai and Baghpat under Shah Mal.
The revolt was finally suppressed on September 20, 1857 after prolonged and bitter fighting.
Bahadur Shah was taken prisoner and Crown rule was established in India after the revolt.
There are certain reasons due to which the revolt failed, the absence of pan-India participation, poor arms, and equipment, no unified ideology, poor organization of the revolt are some of them.
The revolt failed but had a major influence on the course of the struggle for freedom. It established local traditions of resistance to British rule which were to be of help in the course of the national struggle for freedom.
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