The year 1857 is highly representative of the political, cultural and religious history of the sub-continent. It declined the great Mughal Empire which had given birth to an inordinate civilization. With this, the history of the sub-continent entered a new phase. It was an impulsive period between two civilizations, educational systems and philosophies of life. In fact, the old political and social systems were replaced by new ones. The revolt of 1857 was an important landmark in the history of India.

It raised a question about the country’s struggle for independence after a century of foreign domination. The rebellion of (1857) was a major uprising in India in 1857, against the rule of the British East India Company. Before analyzing the causes that led to the War of Independence, it looks necessary to determine whether we are justified in using the term War of Independence for it, or, we should use the word like mutiny, rebellion or military uprising for the violent events that took place during that period.

In the first place, it is important to note that not only soldiers were involved in the events of 1857. In fact, actively the whole of India participated in the uprising. Lord Salisbury stated in the Common House that it was impossible to believe that such a widespread and massive movement was triggered only by the cartridges. On July 27, 1857, Benjamin Disraeli who later became the British Prime Minister declared that he had no hesitation in saying that the revolt was not merely an outcome of the sufferings of the soldiers. According to Justice Carthey, “the truth is that the people in most parts of Northern and North-Western parts of India had risen in revolt against the English domination. The cartridge affair was only a spark which found its way into the ammunition depot and touched off it. To be honest, it was indeed a religious, cultural and national war.”

Ordinary people, as well as soldiers, participated in this large-scale rioting in such large numbers that the company found it too difficult to overcome the situation. Highlighting the difficulty, a London newspaper wrote, “If the unrest is limited to the soldiers alone and the people are on our side, we are at loss to understand as to why the Indian Government is sending telegrams upon telegrams for more and more reinforcement from Britain.” It was said that the coating was greased with the fat of cow and swine. This allegation was not satisfactory handled. Therefore, the soldiers refused to use these cartridges.

At the Meerut cantonment, eighty-five soldiers refused to use the cartridges made of the alleged fat. The army court announced imprisonment of ten years to them and disarmed them. Till, the next day, i.e. 10th May 1857 was a Sunday and the soldiers showed courage and freed their friends by breaking prison doors and marching to Delhi when they reached Delhi the ordinary people as well joined them. Together they announced the restoration of the emperorship of Bahadur Shah Zafar.

At Lucknow, the ten-year-old son of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was declared the heir to the throne by freedom fighters. His mother, Hazrat Mahal was declared his guardian. She fought bravely against the British army. The freedom fighters fought bravely against the British army but the British succeeded and Lucknow was captured again. At Kanpur, Nana Sahib fought against the British army Rani of Jhansi while fighting with the army got killed during the war. At that time there were only fights in the sub-continent and peace flew away. The units at Lahore, Sialkot, Jhelum, Peshawar and Nowshera also fought against the British army but did not succeed. In September 1857, General Nicholson with an army of fifty-five thousand soldiers marched on Delhi and captured it. Bahadur Shah Zafar was arrested and out on trial. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and deported to Rangoon where he died in 1862.

GHULAM AKBAR BUGTI,

Khairpur.