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The Great Rising Of 1857 - Part I
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<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->From: "Kalavai Venkat" <history_judge@...>
Date: Thu Jun 16, 2005  11:38 am
Subject: Re: The Mutiny of 1857  history_judge
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Dear Dr. C J S Wallia,

Ref msg # 76179.

<<<As I wrote before, the objective of the Mutiny in the Bengal army was to reinstate the authority of the Mughals in Delhi, an objective wholly repugnant to the Sikhs. Moreover, the Bengal army had only eight years earlier invaded the Punjab.>>>

Dr. Elst made some correct observations about Ranjit Singh. No matter how revisionists like to see him, the fact is that Ranjit Singh remained servile to the British. The British had taken some solid whipping at the hands of the Nepalis in 1816 CE. The Nepalis proposed a treaty with Ranjit Singh [which they again repeated in 1824 CE] and given the bashings that the British took in Burma in 1824 CE, any such pact would've weakened the British and actually strengthened Ranjit. But he declined and remained loyal to the British. Likewise, he declined to join forces with the Maratha [deposed] and the Bharatapur rulers in 1824 and 1825 CE respectively.

Of course, despite their outward shows of friendships � donating horses and going on a poaching mela � the British had no respect for Ranjit Singh. They actually aided and abetted the Wahhabi uprising against the Sikhs, which certainly weakened Ranjit Singh. Despite the death of Sayyid Ahmad at Bareilly in 1831 CE, the Wahhabis had proved to be formidable and treacherous enemies of the Sikhs. So, if at all the Sikhs had any animosity, it was towards the Muslims, who were also fighting the British in the mutiny. It was not against the practically defunct Mughal.

Contrary to what most revisionists like to believe, the origins of the Mutiny were in Vellore, Tamilnadu in 1806 CE. The British had banned the use of Hindu caste and religious marks, including wearing of the tilak or vibhuti on the forehead. Of course, the exiled family of Tipu Sultan was opportunistic enough to join hands with the mutineers. The substantial Muslim population of the Arcot district joined the mutiny once the Tipu Sultan connection was materialized. The British put the mutineers down.

The next phase of the uprising was in 1824 CE during the Burmese war. The Hindu soldiers at Barrackpur had been agitating against the unjust pay terms imposed by the British. The British reversals in Burma gave them the ideal setting to mutiny.

The 1857 Mutiny was merely a continuation of these two earlier revolts. Once again, the 1857 Mutiny started in the barracks of Dum Dum by the Hindu soldiers. The Muslims would join later. The trigger was again violation of religious code even though the discontent had been brewing for nearly 5 decades. Mangal Pandey made the first open call for the sepoys to unite for protecting their religious codes. In the ensuing dual, he knocked down the 2 British officers that combated him as thousands of soldiers watched. The sight of a Hindu soldier single-handedly fighting 2 horse-borne British officers and knocking them down set the adrenalin of the Hindu soldiers flowing. Till this point, the Mutiny was a Hindu affair � to be precise, remembering Ambedkar's repeated pleas of Mahar loyalty to the British, it was largely an upper caste Hindu rebellion motivated by religion and exploitative pay terms.

After Pandey was executed, the British disbanded the 34th NI and the 19th, the predominantly Hindu regiments. No Muslim regiments were disbanded. The disbanded soldiers constituted the ideal recruiting base for the Mutiny. So, the Mutiny started entirely as a Bengal regiment Hindu rebellion against the British on 2 considerations: religion and pay. They simply didn't have any vision for the long-

Even though the Bengal regiment Hindu soldiers had started the Mutiny in January 1857 CE, it would take them another 4 months to reach Delhi. The mutineers suffered some serious setbacks in Kanpur and Meerut en route. It was at that time that the proposals to declare Bahadur Shah as the emperor of India were heard for the first time. The reasons aren't hard to figure: Once the Mutiny spread to UP, a large number of Muslim soldiers joined.

So, the declaration of the powerless Bahadur Shah as the emperor of India was rather a late development. It was not at all part of the original vision. It is worth noting that the Sikh contingents hadn't supported the Mutiny even in its early stage from January to May. It is a travesty of facts to claim that this was due to the Bahadur Shah factor, as that simply didn't exist then. A better answer is that as evident from the policies and practices of Ranjit Singh, the Sikhs found it beneficial to be loyal to the British. Ravi Chaudhary may be right that the Sikh population may not have been disposed against the mutineers. But, we don't have a way of evaluating that unless someone familiar with the primary sources from Punjab can discuss them. It is clear that the powers that be among the Sikhs had been loyal to the British as discussed above.

PS: For an excellent discussion on this topic, please see "British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance," Parts 1, 2 and 3, Ed. R C Majumdar, A K Majumdar and D K Ghosh.


Messages In This Thread
The Great Rising Of 1857 - Part I - by Guest - 09-23-2005, 08:01 PM
The Great Rising Of 1857 - Part I - by Guest - 09-10-2006, 04:21 AM
The Great Rising Of 1857 - Part I - by Bharatvarsh - 09-10-2006, 04:33 AM
The Great Rising Of 1857 - Part I - by ramana - 09-12-2006, 12:53 AM
The Great Rising Of 1857 - Part I - by Guest - 10-14-2006, 04:53 PM
The Great Rising Of 1857 - Part I - by Guest - 11-28-2006, 12:25 AM
The Great Rising Of 1857 - Part I - by Guest - 11-29-2006, 02:53 PM
The Great Rising Of 1857 - Part I - by Guest - 11-29-2006, 05:24 PM
The Great Rising Of 1857 - Part I - by Guest - 03-24-2007, 09:46 AM

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