NCERT Textbook - Rebels and the Raj Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

History(Prelims) by UPSC Toppers

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Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Rebels and the Raj Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 288
Late in the afternoon of 10 May 1857, the sepoys in the cantonment
of Meerut broke out in mutiny. It began in the lines of the native
infantry, spread very swiftly to the cavalry and then to the city.
The ordinary people of the town and surrounding villages joined
the sepoys. The sepoys captured the bell of arms where the arms
and ammunition were kept and proceeded to attack white people,
and to ransack and burn their bungalows and property.
Government buildings – the record office, jail, court, post office,
treasury, etc. – were destroyed and plundered. The telegraph line
to Delhi was cut. As darkness descended, a group of sepoys rode
off towards Delhi.
The sepoys arrived at the gates of the Red
Fort early in the morning on 11 May. It was
the month of Ramzan, the Muslim holy month
of prayer and fasting. The old Mughal emperor,
Bahadur Shah, had just finished his prayers
and meal before the sun rose and the fast
began. He heard the commotion at the gates.
The sepoys who had gathered under his window
told him: “We have come from Meerut after
killing all the Englishmen there, because they
asked us to bite bullets that were coated with
the fat of cows and pigs with our teeth. This
has corrupted the faith of Hindus and Muslims
alike.’’ Another group of sepoys also entered
Delhi, and the ordinary people of the city joined
them. Europeans were killed in large numbers;
the rich of Delhi were attacked and looted. It
was clear that Delhi had gone out of British
control. Some sepoys rode into the Red Fort,
without observing the elaborate court etiquette
expected of them. They demanded that the
emperor give them his blessings. Surrounded
by the sepoys, Bahadur Shah had no other
option but to comply. The revolt thus acquired
a kind of legitimacy because it could now be
carried on in the name of the Mughal emperor.
Fig. 11.1
Portrait of Bahadur Shah
Rebels and the Raj
The R The R The R The R The Re e e e ev v v v volt of olt of olt of olt of olt of     1 1 1 1 185 85 85 85 857 7 7 7 7
and Its R and Its R and Its R and Its R and Its Repr epr epr epr epresent esent esent esent esentations ations ations ations ations
THEME
ELEVEN
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 288
Late in the afternoon of 10 May 1857, the sepoys in the cantonment
of Meerut broke out in mutiny. It began in the lines of the native
infantry, spread very swiftly to the cavalry and then to the city.
The ordinary people of the town and surrounding villages joined
the sepoys. The sepoys captured the bell of arms where the arms
and ammunition were kept and proceeded to attack white people,
and to ransack and burn their bungalows and property.
Government buildings – the record office, jail, court, post office,
treasury, etc. – were destroyed and plundered. The telegraph line
to Delhi was cut. As darkness descended, a group of sepoys rode
off towards Delhi.
The sepoys arrived at the gates of the Red
Fort early in the morning on 11 May. It was
the month of Ramzan, the Muslim holy month
of prayer and fasting. The old Mughal emperor,
Bahadur Shah, had just finished his prayers
and meal before the sun rose and the fast
began. He heard the commotion at the gates.
The sepoys who had gathered under his window
told him: “We have come from Meerut after
killing all the Englishmen there, because they
asked us to bite bullets that were coated with
the fat of cows and pigs with our teeth. This
has corrupted the faith of Hindus and Muslims
alike.’’ Another group of sepoys also entered
Delhi, and the ordinary people of the city joined
them. Europeans were killed in large numbers;
the rich of Delhi were attacked and looted. It
was clear that Delhi had gone out of British
control. Some sepoys rode into the Red Fort,
without observing the elaborate court etiquette
expected of them. They demanded that the
emperor give them his blessings. Surrounded
by the sepoys, Bahadur Shah had no other
option but to comply. The revolt thus acquired
a kind of legitimacy because it could now be
carried on in the name of the Mughal emperor.
Fig. 11.1
Portrait of Bahadur Shah
Rebels and the Raj
The R The R The R The R The Re e e e ev v v v volt of olt of olt of olt of olt of     1 1 1 1 185 85 85 85 857 7 7 7 7
and Its R and Its R and Its R and Its R and Its Repr epr epr epr epresent esent esent esent esentations ations ations ations ations
THEME
ELEVEN
© NCERT
not to be republished
289
Through 12 and 13 May, North India remained quiet. Once
word spread that Delhi had fallen to the rebels and Bahadur
Shah had blessed the rebellion, events moved swiftly.
Cantonment after cantonment in the Gangetic valley and some
to the west of Delhi rose in mutiny.
1.  Pattern of the Rebellion
If one were to place the dates of these mutinies in
chronological order, it would appear that as the news
of the mutiny in one town travelled to the next the
sepoys there took up arms. The sequence of events
in every cantonment followed a similar pattern.
1.1 How the mutinies began
The sepoys began their action with a signal: in many
places it was the firing of the evening gun or the
sounding of the bugle. They first seized the bell
of arms and plundered the treasury. They then
attacked government buildings – the jail, treasury,
telegraph office, record room, bungalows – burning
all  records. Everything and everybody connected
with the white man became a target. Proclamations
in Hindi, Urdu and Persian were put up in the cities
calling upon the population, both Hindus and
Muslims, to unite, rise and exterminate the firangis.
When ordinary people began joining the revolt,
the targets of attack
widened. In major towns
like Lucknow, Kanpur
and Bareilly, money-
lenders and the rich
also became the objects
of rebel wrath. Peasants
not only saw them
as oppressors but also
as allies of the British.
In most places their
houses were looted and
destroyed. The mutiny
in the sepoy  ranks quickly
became a rebellion.
There was a general
defiance of all kinds of
authority and hierarchy.
Firangi, a term of Persian origin,
possibly derived from Frank
(from which France gets its
name), is used in Urdu and
Hindi, often in a derogatory
sense, to designate foreigners.
REBELS AND THE RAJ
Fig. 11.2
Ordinary people join the sepoys in
attacking the British in Lucknow.
Bell of arms is a storeroom in
which weapons are kept.
© NCERT
not to be republished
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