The Revolts and Movements

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The Revolts and Movements

Revolt of 1857


There were various factors that created deep discontent among the sepoys who took arms against the British and played a major role in the Revolt of 1857.

● The sepoys were subjected to discrimination when compared to their European counterparts in terms of pay, promotion and treatment.
● The Christian missionaries played havoc in the lives of sepoys. The sepoys who belonged to Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions were under tremendous pressure to take Christianity. Encouraged by the superior officers, the evangelists were omnipresent in cantonment areas. The sepoys felt a great threat to their religions.
● The British disdained the sentiments of the sepoys. According to the General
Enlistment Act passed by Lord Canning in 1856, the sepoys should serve the British across the world and disobeying the orders of the superiors would lead to automatic dismissal. The Hindu sepoys were forced by the British to travel over the sea which was not permitted by their religion.
● The immediate cause for the revolt was the controversy about the Enfield rifles and their cartridges which were said to be greased with the fat of beef and pork. It severely wounded the religious sentiment of both Hindu and Muslim sepoys and became a triggering factor for the revolt.
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Onset of the mutiny and important events

● The 34th Native Infantry stationed at Barrackpur (near Calcutta) was disbanded when its Sepoys refused to use Enfield rifles.
● Mangal Pandey, a sepoy of this regiment fired at and severely Wounded two
OffiCers namely, Colonel Baugh and General Hersey on 29th March 1857. Mangal
Pandey was court-martialled and hanged on 8th April 1857 by the British.

● On 10th May 1857, the rebels met at Meerut and prepared an action plan, according to which they determined to restore the Mughal rule by overthrowing the British. This is officially regarded as the beginning day of the Sepoys Revolt.
● The sepoys arrived from Meerut to Delhi on 11th May 1857 and Proclaimed Bahadur Shah-II, the Mughal Emperor as the Emperor of India.

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Important centers of the revolt and their leaders


● The revolt in Delhi was led by Bahadur Shah 2, Mir Bakshi, Bakth Khan.
● General Hudson suppressed the revolt and killed all the members of the Mughal family
● Bahadur Shah 2 was sent to Rangoon (Burma) as a prisoner where he died in 1862. Thus the Mughal family came to end.

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● Nana Saheb (also known as Dondu Panth), the adopted son of the last Peshwa, Baji Rao-II led the revolt at Kanpur.
● As per the Doctrine of Lapse, the pension of Nana Saheb which was being given to him right from the death of Baji Rao-II, had been stopped. Ajimulla Khan and Tantia Tope were the two lieutenants of Nana Saheb.
● Major General Campbell suppressed the revolt and Nana Saheb fled to Nepal and
Tantia Tope continued guerilla warfare with the British from Chambal Valley. Tantia Tope was captured by a local Chieftain named Man Singh and was handed over to the British. He was hanged in 1859.

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● Hazrat Mahal, the wife of the last Nawab of Awadh, Wazid Ali Shah led the rebellion at Lucknow. With the support of the sepoys, she declared her minor son, Brijis Qadir as the Nawab.
● Three British officers namely Henry Lawrence, Havelock, and General Neil fell fighting with the rebels and the rebellion was finally suppressed by Major General Campbell. Hazrat Mahal fled to Nepal. (Later British appointed Major General Campbell as the Chief Commander, recognising his services in the suppression of the revolt).
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● Jhansi Laxmi Bai, who lost her kingdom due to the Doctrine of Lapse, led the rebellion at Jhansi. Sir Hugh Rose with the assistance of Scindia of Gwalior seized
Jhansi, and Laxmi Bai fought valiantly and died on the battlefield.

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Jagdishpur / Bihar

● The landed estates of Kunwar Singh, the zamindar of Jagdishpur in Bihar, were taken away by the British which made him one of the leaders of the revolt.
● William Taylor and Vincent Eyre terminated the rebellion and Kunwar Singh, who was popular as Bihar Kesari, was killed

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● The revolt in Hyderabad was led by a Rohilla leader, namely Turrebaz Khan. The rebellion was suppressed by the Nizam, his prime minister Salarjung-I and the British resident Davidson. Turrebaz Khan was shot dead and his dead body was hanged as a warning to other rebels.

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Allahabad and Varanasi

● The revolt at Allahabad and Varanasi under the leadership of Maulvi Liaquat Ali was crushed by General Neil.

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● Khan Bahadur Khan, a Rohilla Chieftain, revolted against the British and was suppressed by Major General Campbell. Khan Bahadur Khan was captured and hanged to death.

● The rebellion at Faizabad in Awadh was led by Maulvi Ahmadullah, who was a trusted officer of the Awadh State. It was also put down by the British.

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Other leaders

● At Satara (Maharashtra) Ranga Bapuji Gupte revolted.
● At Panipat (Haryana) Imam Khaladar was the leader of the revolt.
● At Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) Devi Singh and Kadam Singh led the revolt.
● At Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) Gajadhar Singh revolted.
● At Kulu (Himachal Pradesh) the revolt was led by Raja Pratap Singh.
● Surendar Shahi and Ujjwal Shahi led the revolt in Orissa.
● The revolt in Rajasthan was led by Jaya Dayal Singh.

● Though the Revolt of 1857 was unsuccessful, its consequences were very Severe and clearly visible in all sectors. It resulted in the complete overhaul of the entire administrative structure and policies of the British in India.
● The British Parliament passed the Government of India Act of 1858 to bring in many changes in the administration of India. According to this act
● The rule of the East India Company came to an end and the administrative powers were transferred from Company to the Crown.

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Indigo revolt (1859-1860) – Bengal


● This revolt was organised by the indigo cultivators in Bengal against the forcible cultivation of indigo. The peasantry of Bengal was under tremendous pressure to cultivate indigo for the British textile industry. The European planters with the help of lathiyals (private army) created the reign of terror in rural Bengal. Against the coercion and atrocities of indigo planters, the peasants revolted.


● Indigo revolt began in Govindpur village of Nadia district in Bengal and slowly spread to other regions of Bengal It was led by two brothers, Digambar Biswas and Vishnu Biswas.
● This revolt got the support of the intellectuals of Calcutta. Harischandra
Mukherjee, the editor of the ‘Hindu Patriot‘ extended his support to the peasants. Dina Bandhu Mitra authored a Bengali drama, Nil Darpan’ portraying the grievances of the indigo cultivators.


● All these efforts led to the prohibition of forced cultivation of Indigo in 1860.

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Pabna revolt (1872-1875) – Bengal


● It was a movement against the explanation of zamindars in the pabna district of Bengal.


● Keasab Chandra Roy, sabhunath pal and kudimulla. R.C Dutt wrote peasantry of Bengal’ depicting the grievances of the cultivators working under zamindars.


● The government of Bengal passed the Bengal tenancy act in 1875 to safeguard the interests of the tenants.

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Deccan Riots (1875-187 9) Maharashtra


● This rebellion was chiefly against the oppressive Gujarati and Marwari moneylenders.


● The poona sarvajanik sabha founded by maha Govinda Ranade extended its support to the rebellion

● The British enacted the Deccan agricultural relief act in 1879 that provided some relief to the peasants from the exploitation of moneylenders.

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Champaran satyagraha (191 7)

It was a movement against forcible cultivation of indigo in the Champaran district of Bihar.


● According to the tinkathia 3/20 system, prevailing in Bihar, every cultivator had to allocate 3/20th of his total land for the cultivation of indigo.

● Gandhi led the movement at the request of a local leader named Raj Kumar Shukla.
● It was the first movement led by Gandhiji in India.
● Satyagraha was first used in south Africa against the racial discrimination in 1906.


● Many prominent leaders like j.b. Kripalani, Rajendra Prasad, Anugraha Narayana also participated in the movement. As a result, the British government abolished the tinkathia system.

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Kheda satyagraha (1918)


● Due to severe drought, the crops got damaged in the kheda district of Gujarat in 1918. According to the revenue code, peasants were eligible to get exempted from the payment of land revenue in such conditions. But the government refused to exempt the peasants from payment of land revenue and adopted cruel measures to collect it.


● Under the leadership of Gandhi, the protest began against the British tyranny. Gandhiji founded Gujarat sabha for the movement.
● He was assisted by Vallabhbhai Patel and Indulal Yagnik in the movement.
● It was the second Satyagraha movement of Gandhi in India.

● The result was that the Government reached an agreement for both the parties. Tax for the current year and next year was suspended and all confiscated property was returned.

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Moolah / Mappila rebellion (1921)


● The poor Muslim peasants of Kerala are called as Moplahs / Mappilas who are the descendants of the Arab Muslims settled in Kerala. They used to work in the lands of Hindu zamindars and revolted several times against the oppression and exploitation of the zamindars. In 1921, they resorted to a strong rebellion which was carried in two stages.

● In the first stage, the movement was led by the Congress leaders of Kerala such as Mahadeva Nair, Gopal Menon, Yaqub Khan and was supported by Gandhiji. In this phase, the movement was peaceful and secular under the enlightened leadership.
● In the second phase, the movement had gone into the hands of the local Mappilas. During this phase, the movement turned Violent and communal and the houses of zamindars and their temples began to be destroyed by the rebels.


● Finally, the revolt was suppressed by the British With an iron hand and around 10,000 Mappilas were estimated to have been killed.

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Bardoli Satyagraha (1928)


● In 1925, the taluka of Bardoli in Gujarat did not suffer financial troubles. However, the government of the Bombay Presidency had raised the tax rate by 30% that year, and despite petitions from civic groups, refused to cancel the rise in the face of the calamities. The situation for the farmers was grave enough that they barely had enough property and crops to pay off the tax, let alone for feeding themselves afterwards.

● The movement was eventually led by Vallabhbhai Patel.
● Vallabhbhai Patel got the title of sardar for his successful leadership in this movement.

● British appointed Maxwell Broomfield committee to enquire into the matter and based on its report, the enhanced land revenue was reduced.

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Tebhaga movement (1946)

● It was a peasant movement that broke out in Bengal in 1946.
● The cultivators used to pay half of their crop to the jotedars (zamindars) as rent which was called as adhayar.
● The Floud Commission appointed on famines proposed tebhaga (2/3rd) in the place of adhayar (1 /2nd).
● According to tebhaga, the cultivators would pay only 1/3rd share of the crop instead of 1/2 to the jotedars and would retain 2/31rd for themselves.
● The peasants began the movement demanding the implementation of tebhaga.

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Sanyasi uprising (1770-1800)

● It can be considered as the first fight against the British rule in India that took place in Bengal between 1770 and 1800.
● The indifferent attitude of the British in providing relief to the people during a famine in Bengal which washed out 1 / 3rd of the entire population of Bengal, made the Sanyasis rise in rebellion against the British.
● Sanyasis raided the warehouses of the British and zamindars and looted the food grains which were distributed to the starving masses.
● Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s novel Anandamath, written in 1882, was set in the backdrop of the brave Sanyasi Rebellion. (India’s National Song ‘Vande Mataram’ is picked from Anandamath). Bankim Chandra Chatterjee also authored the patriotic novels like Durgeshnandini, Sitaram, and Devi Chaudhurani and started a Bengali monthly named ‘Benzali Darshan’.

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Also Read

Socio Religious Reform Movements

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