When People Rebel: 1857 and After

The Revolt of 1857 was a reply from Indians to the British oppressive policies. Lord Dalhousie followed an aggressive expansionist policy and unjustly annexed Satara, Nagpur and Jhansi, using the Policy of Doctrine of Lapse. Also the decline of pension and refusing royal status, exploitative revenue system, social reforms and conversion efforts of Christian missionaries, racial discrimination and unrest of sepoys in military propagate the Revolt. Various Acts implemented by the British rule also hurt the religious sentiments of Indian sepoys. The immediate cause was the use of the greased cartridges coated with pig and cow fat. Mangal Pandey, an Indian sepoy at Barrackpore, started the revolt by attacking British officers.

The Revolt of 1857 cannot be described simply as a mutiny of sepoys, as different sections of Indian society participated in it, brought Hindus and Muslims together, making it the First War of Indian Independence. The sepoys in Meerut rose in revolt and also occupied Delhi. Various rulers like Nana Saheb, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Rani Lakshmibai led the revolt in Kanpur, Lacknow and Jhansi respectively. Later the British began a reign of terror by killing thousands of innocent people. Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled to Rangoon. The British savagely suppressed the rebels in Delhi, Awadh and of Kanpur.

Revolt of 1857 resulted in the end of East India Company’s rule in India as power was handed over to the British Crown, Queen Victoria was declared as the Empress of India. In Queen’s Proclamation she promised to look after the welfare of Indian people by honouring all the treaties, abolishing the Doctrine of Lapse and pardoning Indian rebels.

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