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May 10 1857: Indian Rebellion of 1857

Published: 11th May, 2023

Context

On May 10th, 1857, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the First War of Indian Independence, erupted with the Sepoy Mutiny in Meerut, forever changing the course of Indian history.

About the Indian Rebellion of 1857

  • The Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the Indian Mutiny, the Sepoy Mutiny, or the First War of Indian Independence, was a widespread uprising against British rule in India that began in May 1857.
    • The rebellion was sparked by the sepoys' mutiny in Meerut on May 10, 1857, and quickly spread to other parts of India.
    • On May 10, 1857, Indian soldiers, known as sepoys, rebelled against their British officers in the town of Meerut, triggering the rebellion.
  • Issue: The sepoys had grievances against the British, including the introduction of new Enfield rifles that required the sepoys to bite off the ends of cartridges greased with animal fat, which was offensive to both Hindus and Muslims.
  • Indian rulers in the war: The sepoys in Meerut were joined by other Indian soldiers and civilians, and together they marched towards Delhi, where they declared the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, as their leader. The rebellion quickly spread to other parts of India, with many Indian princes and soldiers joining the uprising.
  • Outcome: The rebellion was eventually suppressed by the British, but it had far-reaching consequences.
    • The British government, recognising the failure of the East India Company in managing its Indian territories, dissolved the company and took direct control of India. This marked the beginning of the British Raj, which lasted until India gained independence in 1947.

The Demise of the East India Company

  • The East India Company had been active in India for nearly 250 years, but the violence of the 1857 uprising led to the British government dissolving the company and taking direct control of India.
  • Following the fighting of 1857–58, India was legally considered a colony of Britain, ruled by a viceroy. The uprising was officially declared over on July 8, 1859.

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