War of Independence
pakistanstudies.pk War of Independence 1857 The War of Independence 1857

The War of Independence 1857

War of Independence

Events of the war

1857 Jan: New guns were announced. It was rumor that the new guns cartridge is greased by fats of cow and ham. Which was resentment to both Muslims and Hindus

1857 March: Mangal Pandey defied his British officers, he was executed

1857 May: Sepoys in Meerut refused to touch the new rifle/guns. They were ‘court- martialed’ and prisoned. But, fellow Sepoys broke into prison and rescued them. Meerut was sacked and British officers put to death. Soldiers marched to Delhi and captured it. Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II became unifying symbol of uprising to gain help of both Hindus and Muslims. War spread quickly and Kanpur, Jhansi, Allahabad and Lucknow were captured.

1857 September: Dehli and Lucknow were regained, Bahadur Shah II was made to surrender. But, his sons Mirza Mughal, Mirza Sultan and Mirza Abu Bakar were brutally killed and presented to him as lesson.

1858 June: Rani of Jhansi, Lakshmibai was killed (Dressed as man in Battle). His supporter of great ability Tatya Topee (Indian General) escaped. However, he was later caught and executed.

1858 Aug: War was officially declared over.


A.  Economic

1)   Low pay of sepoys.

2)   High tax

B.   Social

1)   Laws, clashing/not supporting religion

2)   Arrogance by British… considered Indian an inferior race

3)   Rumors about forced conversation to Christianity, resentment for Muslims

C.  Political

1.   English replaced Persian as National Language

2.   Disrespect of Mughals. Especially Dalhousie decision to move royal family from Fort of Dehli to more obscure Qutub Sahib

3.   Doctrine of Lapse, by Dalhousie in 1852, was also resentment, even some of the Indians stated that British were greedy land grabbers. Adding to this was seizure of Oudh in 1856

D.  Military

A)  New guns were announced. It was rumor that the new guns cartridge is greased by fats of cow and ham. Which was resentment to both Muslims and Hindus

B)   Indian were not ready to leave ‘mother India’ and go to Afghanistan

C)  Indians were not able to reach higher post

D)  This was rumor that Indians will forced to turn into Christianity, another resentment and cause of unrest.

Reasons for the failure

Lack of Unity: Indians were not united. Peoples of different places fought for different objectives. There was no central leadership, although in common was resentment against British rule.

         Some Indian Princes wanted to restore their power, which required British support. This proves why ruler of Kashmir sent 2,000 troops to help British win

         Punjab and Sindh were conquered by troops of Bengal and Central Asia. On the orders of British officers. So not surprisingly when the troops rebelled. Punjab was not interested to support them!

British Strengths: British were too powerful. One of the most powerful nation that time. They had highly skilled diplomats, effective machinery, highly trained, modern methods and disciplined. So the strengths of British was major reason for failure of WAR.


The Failure of war proved that British were one in Power.

1858, Allahabad: ‘Proclamation of 1858’ bringing war to an end

The British claimed they would:

1) Not interfere in religious beliefs of peoples

2) Pay due regard to ancient property rights and customs

3) Abide all treaty obligations

4) Agree to no further territorial acquisition

5) Guarantee the right to appointment in Public Services

However, British were not paying attention to this later.

British Rule: EIC was demolished, a member of British Cabinet, Secretary of State of India was given responsibility. However, direct responsibility was of Governor-General (known as ‘Viceroy’). With the help of 1000 ICS officers from Judges to low level officers. Despite Proclamation till 1870 only one Indian was appointed in ICS. Princes who proved themselves loyal were allowed to keep their throne, however, they had little or no power.

Bahadur Shah was imprisoned for life, and was sent to Burma. Queen Victoria was now Empress of India so Loyal Family was formally replaced.

Muslims: Muslims were no longer trusted. Even, in army more Sikhs, and Hindus were employed. British spared funds from Muslim Schools and Education, leaving them into decline. It might have been their policy to keep them illiterate. Muslims suffered as result.

Hindus: Soon started learning English. They were getting educated in ‘English Type’ schools,

which soon got them their favor.

The Birth of Nationalist Ideas

British wanted to make sure it does not happen again, so the measures were tough now:

o Indians were largely excluded and they had a very little say in running their country

o British ensured their benefits more than needs of their population

o  Ratio of Army British to Indian was decrease to 1:2 from 1:5 and employment from trustless areas like Oudh was stopped

o  Viceroy, ended all import duties on cotton so British Cotton was sold more easily than local one!

1907, Bikhaji Rustom Cama participated in International Socialist Conference in Germany. Where she made a fiery speech on how India has suffered the ‘terrible tynnaries of British Rule’

Thirty-five million pounds have been annually taken away from

India without return. As a consequence people in India have died at a rate of half a million every month

The lack of opportunities made wide-spread criticism in newspapers. Which resulted: To ensure that such situation never happens

o Vernacular act 1858: strict control over newspapers

o Arms Act 1858: No Indian could own a weapon

In this Environment Nationalists ideas began to grow:

o 1866, Rajinarayan Bose founded a society for promotion of nationalist feelings

o 1867, Yearly Hindu Mela started in Bengal

o 1870, Political groups started to rise. Sarvajanik Sabha, in 1870. Most importantly All-India Congress in 1885

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