When People Rebel 1857 and After (Class 8 History Chapter 5 Notes)

1857 Rebellion/Wikimedia
Policies and the People
Nawabs lose their powers
  1. Since 18th century, there was a gradual decline in the power of ruling class.
  2. Residents (British Representatives) had been stationed in several courts.
  3. Their armies were disbanded. Their right to collect revenue were ceased. And their right to administer state were taken. All this was done gradually in a step by step manner.
  4. Several royal families tried to negotiate with the Company, but they failed. For example, Jhansi.
  5. In 1856, the Company annexed Awadh under the subsidiary alliance on the charge of mismanagement of the state. In same year, it was announced that Bahadur Shah Zafar would be the last Mughal Emperor and everyone after his death will be simply called prince.

The peasants and the sepoys
  1. In the countryside, peasants and zamindars were annoyed by the high tax rates and rigid tax collection methods. Several failed to payback the loans and lost their lands in the process.
  2. At the same time, Indian sepoys were not satisfied with their pays, allowances and service conditions. Some rules even violet their religious sensibilities and beliefs.

Responses to reforms
  1. British thought Indians need to be reformed. They banned the practice of Sati and encouraged widow remarriage. They introduced English education and allowed Christian missionaries to function freely. In 1850, they passed the law for an Indian Christian convert to inherit his ancestral property. All of this did not go well with Indians and they resisted the change.

Through the Eyes of the People
A massive rebellion started against the Company in 1857. It was deemed as the biggest armed resistance to colonialism in the 19th century anywhere in the world.

From Meerut to Delhi
  1. On  29th March  1857,  Mangal  Pandey  was hanged  to  death  for  attacking  his  senior officers  in  Barrackpore.
  2. A few days later, sepoys of the Meerut regiment refused to do any drill using the new cartridges, which were suspected of being coated with the fat of cows and pigs.
  3. On 9th May, 85 sepoys were dismissed and sentenced to 10 years jail for disobeying their officers.
  4. On 10th May, several Indian soldiers marched to the Meerut jail and launched an attack on the British officer. Thus, killing several British officers in the fight. They freed their imprisoned comrades, captured the guns and ammunition and set fire to the buildings and properties of the British and declared war on the firangs (foreigners).
  5. On next day, Meerut rebellion sepoys reached Delhi and Delhi regiment also joined them in the rebellion. They forced their way into the Red Fort and proclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar as their leader. The aging Emperor accepted the demand and urged other Indian states to fight the British.

The rebellion spreads
  1. Within a week, the spark of rebellion reached at the other nodal points such as Kanpur and Lucknow.
  2. The small peasants also rose up in rebellion and rallied around local zamindars and chiefs.
  3. The major leaders who led troops at different places are Nana Saheb in Kanpur, Birjis Qadr in Lucknow, Rani Lakshmibai in Jhansi, Kunwar Singh in Bihar, Rani Avantibai Lodhi in Ramgarh and Bakht Khan in Barely.
  4. Initially, rebellions outnumbered the British and were defeated in a number of small battles.

The Company Fights Back
  1. The company fought back with all its might. For that they brought the reinforcements from England and passed several laws to convict the rebels.
  2. In September 1857, they recaptured Delhi from the rebel forces. Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment along with his wife Begum Zinat Mahal in Rangoon. He eventually died in Rangoon in November 1862.
  3. Lucknow was regained in 1858. Rani Lakshmibai was  defeated  and  killed  in  June  1858. Rani Avantibai embraced death when she was encircled by the British. Similarly, Tantia Tope was captured, tried and killed in April 1859.
  4. The last glimmer of rebellion was crushed by the end of 1859. Hundreds of sepoys, rebels, nawabs and rajas were tried and hanged, but those who stayed loyal to the British were awarded with traditional  rights  over  their  lands.

Aftermath
  1. British completely regained their control by the end of 1859, however they introduced several important changes. These are
  2. In 1858, the administrative powers of the East India Company were transferred to the British Crown.
  3. A member of the British Cabinet was appointed as the Secretary of State for India and made responsible for all governance related matters to India.
  4. The Governor-General of India was  given  made  Viceroy of India and he will be the representative  of  the British Crown in India.
  5. The Doctrine of Lapse was abolished and all chief tons and kings were promised that their territory would not be annexed in future.
  6. The number of Indian soldiers in the army was reduced and the number of European soldiers was increased. However, they have to accept the British supremacy.
  7. Muslims were thought to be the major reason behind the rebellion and their lands were confiscated in a big way.
  8. The British decided to respect the local religious customs and try not to change anything.
  9. There were policies made to protect the rights of landlords and zamindars.