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Mutiny Of 1857: The Search For Truth


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I know Hindu Jihadi will not accept but it doesn't we will stop showing him truth .

Below Article is by Baldev Singh

According to Sir J. N. Sarkar, “The Sepoy Mutiny was not a fight for freedom; it was in fact, King Cobra Superstition’s last bite before his head was smashed.” J. P. Kriplani says, “It was nothing but an attempt by the old order to get back their kingdoms and principalities.” And R. C. Majumdar was right in saying, “It was neither ‘first’, nor ‘national’ nor ‘a war of independence’.”

David Harowitz in his book, “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America” addresses his mounting concerns about perverse culture of academics that are poisoning the minds of today’s college students. It appears that this disease is afflicting institutions of higher learning, particularly the department of humanities. We also have observed that works published on Sikhism from Western universities (USA and Canada), especially the ones with endowed Sikh chairs, distort Sikhsim under the cloak of academic research. A case in point is the work of Doris R. Jakobsh whogot her PhD in 2000 from the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Prof. Hajot Oberoi. My recent critical review of her Relocating Gender In Sikh History: Transformation, Meaning and Identity demonstrates unequivocally that she has used gender study as a ploy to spread false information about Sikh Gurus and Sikhs.1 For example, her portrayal of the role of Sikhs in the mutiny of 1857 is in stark contrast to the events that took place in 1857 and the views of prominent Indian historians.

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The mutiny of 1857 clinched the British association with the Punjabis. … Inflamed by rumours of East India Company’s stipulation of use of pork and beef fat to grease cartridges, the sepoys of the Bengal Army throughout northern India revolted. Mutinous soldiers seizing Delhi and raising anew the standard of the Mughal empire were joined by other discontented groups throughout the country. Sikh royalty, on the other hand, sent troops to contain the uprisings. To the Sikhs the British now owed allegiance, for they stemmed the tide of insurrection and had thus allowed the imperial army to tighten its hold over mutinous natives.2

Needless to say, the events of 1857 severely intensified the perceived chasm of difference between the Indian and the Briton. … The Sikhs, through their propitious display of loyalty moved into a position of privilege and honour. … The Sikhs, characterised as the pinnacle of the martial races, reaped the benefits of their propitious display of loyalty to the British for years to come. Punjab chiefs who had stood by the Bitish during the uprising were given monetary and territorial rewards, and Indian honorary titles were meted out to loyal princes and officials (Latif 1994: 582-3).3

Leading religious families were also patronised, as were mahants, the custodians of Gurdwaras and shrines. The Britsh patronage of Sikh religious elite remained advantageous to the political designs of both for many years to come. For example, Baba Khem Singh Bedi supported the British during the mutiny by raising troops to stem the tide of insurrection. He continued to support the British administration in many and varied forms. … Further, in return for British patronage, the mahants of principal religious shrines issued hukamnamas [edicts] in support of the Raj in times of political crisis.4

Jakobsh has echoed what the Hindu “propaganda machine” has been saying about the role of Sikhs in the 1857 mutiny, since the foundation of Arya Samaj in Punjab in the 1870s. Let me first cite the views of well-known Hindu historians about this so-called “first war of Independence” before discussing Jakobsh’s absurd statements point by point.


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According to Sir J. N. Sarkar, “The Sepoy Mutiny was not a fight for freedom; it was in fact, King Cobra Superstition’s last bite before his head was smashed.” J. P. Kriplani says, “It was nothing but an attempt by the old order to get back their kingdoms and principalities.” And R. C. Majumdar was right in saying, “It was neither ‘first’, nor ‘national’ nor ‘a war of independence’.”5

1. How could any scholar in his or her right mind assert that the Sikhs benefited the most from British colonial rule? This is a false statement because the Sikhs lost their empire to the British? From rulers they became “victims of alien rule.” From free people they became co-slaves with the rest of Indians. The only real beneficiaries of British rule were the Hindus. Had the British not replaced Muslim rulers, the Hindus would still be under Muslim yoke and their majority might have been reduced to an insignificant minority! Muslims started ruling over Hindus from the early eighth century when Mohammed Bin Qasim conquered Sindh and, from there onward they kept conquering more and more of Indian territory. By the time European traders came, most of India was under the Muslim rule. Not even Shiva with his army of evil spirits, or Rama with his army of monkeys or Krishna who masterminded the victory of Pandvas over the Kaurvas, or the mighty Hanuman with his gadda (mace) or Ganesh with his elephant head, or the mighty multi-armed Durga, or the blood-thirsty Kali Devi could deliver the Hindus from the yoke of Muslim rule. However, the “white devil” did!

In the history of the fateful forty-five years (1295-1345) traced by us so far, the one distressfully disappointing feature has been the absence, in Maharashtra, of the will to resist the invaders. The people of Maharashtra were conquered, oppressed and humiliated, but they meekly submitted like dumb driven cattle.

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What is painful is that, sometimes, a handful of foreigners overran vast tracts of the land without countering any sizable resistance. Shihab-ud-din Gauri won the second battle of Tarain (near Delhi) in 1192, and within fourteen years his Genral, Bakhtiyar Khilji had reached the bank of Brahmputra. Nadiya was occupied with an advance party of no more than eighteen horsemen and this opened the way for the establishment of Muslim rule in Bengal.6

Hindus, however, celebrated the defeat of both the Muslim and Sikh rulers. The new set of circumstances pleased them as they shared their co-slaves status with Muslims and Sikhs under the British rule. Hindu intelligentsia extended wholehearted support to the British imperialists without any hesitation:

Raja Ram Mohan Roy extolled “the merits of the British Government in India” and suggested “India required many more years of English rule.” Raja Rammohan Roy and his compatriots hated the Muslims so much that they considered the British as “deliverers”. Their hatred towards the Muslim was so intense that the Bengali Hindus refused in 1831 to support the revolt that took place in Nadia and Barasat, a few kilometers from Calcutta, under the inspiration of a Muslim leader named Titu-Meer. The Hindus feared that the revolt, if successful, would bring back the Mughal rule.5

“Nineteenth century leaders (comprising obviously the Bengali middle class intelligentsia) were proper Victorians, and their political and social advocacies better suited to English than to Indian audience,” observed Charles Heisman.5

The 1831 revolt was caused by the “de-industrialized cotton-weavers” millions of whom were thrown out of work because of the industrial policies adopted by the British. A large majority of these workers were Muslims. The Bengali Hindu intelligentsia, writes Abhijit Dutta, “failed to appreciate the socio-economic distress of the moulvees (Muslims) and show sympathy with them.”
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“It is well-known that the Bengali intelligentsia hailed the suppression of the Revolt of 1857,” writes Tarasankar Bannerjee, ”not so much because they did not have any patriotic feeling, but due to their conviction that the British rule in India was not inconsistent with the interest of Indians in general and Bengalis in particular.”5

About five decades later, away from the Indian shores, Mahatma Gandhi, the twentieth century “Hindu Avatar” was also preaching the gospel that the British Empire is good for the world. In his sermons to Indian community during the Zulu rebellion (1906) Gandhi declared:

What is our duty during these calamitous times in the Colony? It is not for us to say whether the revolt of the Kaffirs is justified or not. We are in Natal by virtue of British power. Our very existence depends upon it. It is therefore our duty to render whatever help we can.7

Then, on May 29, 1906, he let the South African authorities know that he and the British Indian Association have always “admitted the principle of White predominance and has, therefore, no desire to press, on behalf of the community it represents, for any political rights for the sake of them.”8

But I then believed that the British Empire existed for the welfare of the world.9

Further, in Punjab, who benefited the most from the British Raj? Certainly not the Sikhs! It was the descendants of those who remained voiceless and lifeless from time of the defeat of last Hindu Shahi ruler in the tenth century to the conquest of Punjab by the British in 1849. In the 1881 census of Punjab, Brahmans and Hindu traders, Khatris, Aroras and Banias, who constituted only 10% of Punjab’s total population dominated government posts and urban professions.10 And Khatris who did not display any martial traits for centuries were elevated from Vaisyas to Kshatriyas.
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2. Who were those Sikhs who supported the British in the Mutiny of 1857? These Sikhs were the Chiefs of Phulkian States. These were the same Chiefs who also supported the British in their war against Sarkar-i-Khalsa (Khalsa Raj), the Punjab kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. They supplied 8,000 men in total. But they were not alone; Raja Ranbir Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, whose father, Gulab Singh betrayed the Sikhs during Anglo-Sikh war and for which he received Kashmir as a reward, supported the British in suppressing the mutiny with 3,000 troops.

A contingent of 10,000 Nepalese Gorkhas under the command of Jang Bahadur came to the assistance of the British and, in the words of Lord Canning acted as “breakwater of the storm, which would otherwise have swept over us in one great wave.” (It is worth noting that Hindu kings have continuously ruled over Nepal for more than two thousand years. The population is predominantly Hindu and the king is regarded as the reincarnation of Vishnu.) Similarly, the heads of other Hindu princely states Scindia, Holkar and Gaikwad (Marathas) and Rajput chiefs also aided the British, as did the Nizam of Hyderabad, who was himself a Muslim. The appeal of Bahadur Shah (head of the Mutiny) went unheeded by Dost Muhhamed of Kabul. “Leaders and chiefs of the Muhammadan Multan and Frontier tribes under the influence of Edwards and the frontier officers raised regiment after regiment of their Multani, Pathan, and other followers, who marched down to the seat of war, and aided the British in the conflict at Delhi,” writes General Innes. Nor was there any response from the Amirs of Sindh.5

Besides, mercenaries like Baba Sir Khem Singh Bedi and mahants who were made the custodians of Gurdwaras and the so-called leading religious families were not Sikhs. They were Hindus disguised as Sikhs who opposed every Sikh movement against the British and religious reforms intended to purge Sikhism of Brahmanical practices and beliefs. These custodians declared again and again that Sikhs are Hindus.

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To say that no Sikh fought against the British during the mutiny is also incorrect. According to Salah-ud-din, the first man to be hanged in Punjab for sedition was a Sikh civilian named Mohar Singh from Ropar.5

3. Was it a countrywide revolt as Jakobsh claims? Not according to the evidence recorded by observers and participants in the mutiny. At the time of the1857 Mutiny, East India Company had about 260,000 sepoys in three different armies under its command: The Bengal Army, the largest and the most powerful of the three armies, was mainly composed of Brahmans and Rajputs with 140,000 men comprising the regular cavalry and infantry regiments. The other two, the Madras Army and the Bombay Army were smaller. The Madras Army was mainly composed of South Indians and the Bombay Army was made up of several groups, notably Brahmans, Rajputs, Marathas and others. Of these three armies, none of the Madras units took part in the Mutiny. On the other hand they were employed in suppressing the mutineers. The Madras Artillery, in particular, was of great help in dealing with the mutineers at Kanpur and in Oudh. Six native battalions of the Madras Army were deployed in Madhya Pradesh, and another fifty-two battalions stood fast throughout the mutiny period.5

Of the Bombay Army, only a portion of the two battalions (26th and 27th) took part in the revolt. About 8,000 Marathas of the Bombay army stood firm with the British, in spite of Nana Sahib, the revolt leader, who was considered to be their Peshwa. “The Bombay Army supplied most men to subdue the mutiny, especially in the campaigns under Sir Huge Rose,” wrote Masson. “The Madras and Bombay Armies” writes Lt-Gen MacMunn, “as well as the Hyderabad Contingent, took active part in suppressing the rebellion in various parts of India, notably in central India.”5

As for the Bengal Army, it was only a portion of the caste-ridden soldiery, Brahmans and Rajputs who revolted. Mutiny was thus an insubordination and, the revolt was limited to a part of the soldiery of one of the three Presidency Armies, which the Hindu propagandists call “first war of independence.” The whole mutiny effort was an uncoordinated and aimless affair. If the Muslims had decided to attack on a particular day, it was considered inauspicious by the Hindu pundits. “Luckily,” wrote General Wilson to Mr. Colvin in July 1857, “the enemy has no head and method, and we hear dissensions are breaking out among them.”5

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The British annexed Punjab in 1849 only eight years before the 1857 Mutiny. The conquest of Punjab cost the East India Company more men and material than the conquest of the rest of India. In the battle of Chillianwala on January 13, 1949, the British suffered the worst defeat on the Indian subcontinent loosing Brigadier Pennyuick and 3,000 British officers and men.14 In the three-year Anglo-Sikh war, British forces were mainly composed of native Indians, except Punjabis. There is no evidence that non-Punjabi Indians showed any sympathy for the Sikhs or even a single British Indian sepoy revolted or deserted in sympathy with the Sikhs.

Instead, Hindu Rajputs (Dogras) and Poorbia Brahmans who joined Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s administration in Khalsa form and became ministers and generals turned out to be saboteurs and traitors. While the Dogras (Dhian Singh, Hira Singh, Gulab Singh) engineered the destruction of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s family, Lal Singh and Tej Singh betrayed the Sikh armies at the battles of Ferozepur and Mudki. “With a little enterprise,” writes Thorburn, “Tej Singh might have taken Ferozepur and Lal Singh Moodki, and thus captured the whole baggage and stores of the Anglo-Sepoy forces.”5 The Poorbias (Bengal army) who fought against the Sikhs also helped the British in the subjugation of Jats, Marathas, Rajputs, Gorkhas and the Pathans.5 “Not only the Indian men,” writes Bipan Chandra, “but even Indian revenues were used to conquer the rest of India and to consolidate British rule.”5 “The Poorbia Sepoys”, writes R.C. Majumdar, “had not the least scruple to fight the Sikhs.”5

5. After the annexation of Punjab, the British completely disarmed the Khalsa forces and disbanded them. Their non-government fortifications were razed to the ground, manufacture and sale of arms and ammunition was forbidden to them. Their leaders, who might have become the center of revolt in 1857, were either killed during the Anglo-Sikh war or were deported away from Punjab. During the first year of the British administration, 8,000 people, mostly Sikhs, were arrested. Thus, the Sikhs were left leaderless and rudderless. Virtually no capable person of any importance was left among them who could lead the Sikh masses. Richard Temple, the Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of Punjab, observed, “Upon these sturdy and courageous people the British victories seemed to have acted like a spell.”5

To harass, humiliate, and terrorize Punjabis, especially the Sikhs, East India Company posted 10,000 British troops and 36,000 regular Hindustani troops, mostly from the Bengal army consisting of Poorbias. During the 1857 Mutiny there was no uprising in this army and instead Subedar Sita Ram declared that if the people of Punjab should rebel and fight the “sirkar” (British government), there would be 100,000 Hindustanis ready and willing to fight against them.5

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The mutineers rallied around Mughal Emperor Bahdur Shah. By that token it is unfair to expect of the Sikhs, who pay homage in their daily prayer (Ardas) to men, women and children who suffered unspeakable atrocities at the hand of Mughal rulers, to spill their blood to crown Bahadur Shah on the throne of Delhi. Does Jakobsh not know that when Mughal rulers put price on the heads of Sikhs, Hindu booty-hunters made the most of it?

Given these circumstances, it is not difficult to understand why some Sikhs responded to British overtures; of the 60,000 men recruited from Punjab during 1857-1858, nearly one-third were Sikhs, the rest two-third were Punjabi Hindus and Muslims.15

It is preposterous for Jakobsh to assert that “Mutinous soldiers seizing Delhi and raising anew standard of the Mughal empire were joined by other discontented groups throughout the country. Sikh royalty, on the other hand, sent troops to contain the uprisings.”

In 1857, Indians had no concept of “nationhood” or “nationalism” or “country” as we understand it today. Even today Indians do not understand what it means to be a nation or nationalist. For example, since 1947 India’s massive army has been fighting insurgencies in the Northeast and Northwest relentlessly and, there are frequent violent religious conflicts between Hindus and minorities — Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, aborigines and Dalits (untouchables). Then there is the Naxalite (communist) insurgency in Andhra, Orissa, Bihar and Maharastara. Since 1947 the Indian government had killed more of its own citizens (95% were minorities) than the British colonists did in three centuries of rule. Yoginder Sikand’s thoughtful and provocative article “Kashmir Quake, Delhi Bombings and Our Response” sums up very well the fate of modern Indian nationhood:

Hussain, a teacher I met in Tangdhar on my visit there last week, remarked how Indian NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and corporate houses had responded generously in the wake of the quake in Kutch and the Tsunami in South India, and contrasted this with their reaction to the quake in Kashmir. He had a point when he noted that this indifference probably owed to the fact that victims of the quake in Kashmir were almost all Muslims, and Kashmiri Muslims at that.

A neighbor in Bangalore had virtually slammed the door on my face when I approached him for clothes that we were collecting for the victims of the Kashmir quake. ‘They are all Muslims, so it is not our problem’, he told me, shamelessly. I heard similar explanations from several other people I had approached, who all uniformly declined my appeal. The fact that most of the few people in my locality who sent me material for the victims happened to be Muslims saddened me, because it provided more evidence that the quake was seen by many in essentially communal terms. Yet, this was hardly surprising. For many people in my largely middle-class and ‘upper’ caste Hindu locality in Bangalore, the Kashmir quake was not a human tragedy but, rather, simply a Muslim affair. One of my neighbors was so brutally frank as to tell me that the quake victims deserved their fate for allegedly supporting terrorism and advocating secession from India.

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Such deep-rooted prejudices also probably account, in no small measure, for the fact that few Indian NGOs have responded to the quake at all. While several Muslim organizations, from Kashmir as well as from other parts of India, in addition to some Christian groups and larger international NGOs, are active in providing relief in the quake-affected parts of Kashmir, one gets the distinct impression that the victims of the quake are not a pressing priority for most Indian NGOs. This explains their virtual absence in the ongoing relief efforts in the region.16

I may point out that the city of Bangalore is touted by Western and the Indian media as “Silicon Valley” of India.

7. Finally, in her statements about the 1857 Mutiny, Jakobsh displays gross ignorance of Indian geography and history. Probably, she is not aware of the Sikh Empire “Sarkar-i-Khalsa” (1799-1839) that was annexed by the British in 1849. An Austrian traveller Baron Charles Hughel remarked that the state established by Ranjit Singh was the “most wonderful object in the whole world.” “Like a skilful architect the Maharaja raised a “majestic fabric” with the help of rather insignificant or unpromising fragments.”17

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The 1857 WAS the first war of Independence. It DOES not matter who they wanted in power. It could be the local sardar, corrupt, inefficient king, the guy driving the rickshaw or the pind dog. What matters is whomever they wanted was NATIVE

a) The rebels regardless of religion and affiliation wanted the foreigner out

B) They wanted NATIVE leaders installed

So, nice try in justifying your own duplicity in the matter.

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As expected Hindu Jihadi is still in denial .

More on so called mutiny 1857..............

The Sepoy revolt of 1857 is an engrossing subject.

The Government of India commemorated this event with great enthusiasm on August 15, 1957, Independence Day. The mutiny at Meerut on May 10, 1857, which later became widespread and developed into a revolt in some parts of the U.P. and neighboring territories, has been called by some writers 'the Indian War of Independence'.

This view, however, has not been accepted by most recent researches of any Indian historian of international fame.

The full-throated praise showered by some of our modern political leaders on the sepoy mutineers and their so-called leaders have all been undeserved. And equally, if not more, undeserved have been the censures and charges of betrayal and treachery leveled against those who did not espouse the mutineers' act, or were opposed to their activities.

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The worst sufferers in the latter case have been the people of Punjab, particularly the Sikhs. This is because of the intensive propaganda of some politicians who do not appear to care for historical truths.

Some people say that the "Indian struggle for freedom (1857) failed because the Sikhs betrayed their comrades and sided with the British."

The charge of `betrayal' against the Sikhs could be justified only if they 'had given up,' or 'had been disloyal to, or had violated allegiance to a cause, person or trust they had at any time befriended or owned.'

As history knows, the Sikhs were never at any time privy to, or took up the cause of the mutiny of 1857. They had never been taken into confidence. They had neither been consulted nor invited. The Poorbia sepoys, the soldiers of U.P., which formed the Bengal army were then, and are still called in Punjab, had not the moral courage to approach the Sikhs for co-operation and assistance against the British as they had themselves helped the British to destroy the independent kingdom of the Punjab in 1845-46 and reduced it to British subjection in 1848-49.

As such, there was not much love lost between the Poorbia sepoys and the people of the Punjab.

The offensive airs of the Poorbia garrison in the Punjab had been particularly galling to the martial Sikhs. Their behavior towards the civil population during their first march in 1846 from the theatre of war to the capital of Lahore, and during the British occupation of the country before and after the annexation, had caused such, deep wounds in the hearts of the people as could not be healed in so short a period.

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The Sikhs could not volunteer to help these erstwhile enemies of the Punjab, nor could they, for evident reasons, espouse the cause of the Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah II, whom the mutineers had raised to the throne.

For over two centuries, the Sikhs had fought against the Mughal tyranny and they could not now be persuaded to support an alliance which might have resulted in re-establishment of tyrant Mughal rule. Moreover, as the mutiny later turned out to be, there appeared to be nothing national or patriotic in it to appeal to the noble sentiments of the Sikhs to attract them, to the side of the mutineers.

The wrath of the mutineers was mostly directed against the Christians, who had interfered with their religion.

A large number of unsuspecting Englishmen and their women and children were indiscriminately murdered in Meerut, Delhi, and other places. The first man to be killed in Delhi was an Indian Christian Dr. Chamanlal, who was standing in front of his dispensary. Their next victims were banias and mahajans whose shops they plundered, and account books and debt-bonds burnt or destroyed. Beyond this, there was no planned or organized scheme or effort on their part either to subvert the rule of the East India Company, or to weaken the administrative hold of the British over the country.

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Moreover, the mutiny was exclusively confined to the Poorbia sepoys of the Bengal army. Territorially, too, it was limited to the U.P. and its neighborhood, while the remaining 80 per cent of India was practically unaffected by it. Even in the U.P., there were a number of pockets which remained undisturbed.

The reason for this lack of interest in, and sympathy with, and, in many cases, active opposition to the continuance and progress of the sepoy mutiny, was the absence of any common cause, any planned scheme, any unity of interests.

The early activities of the sepoys in Delhi and its neighborhood were repugnant not only to the civil population of the country but also to the non-Poorbia soldiers, the Rajputs, the Mahrattas, the Madrasis, the Garhwalis, the Gorkhas, the Dogras, the Punjabi Musalmans, the Sikhs and the Pathans who could not associate themselves with the murderers of innocent women and children and the despoilers of their own countrymen.

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The mutiny at best was a religious riot of the Hindu and Muslim soldiers of the U.P. against the indiscreet but, perhaps, unintentioned callousness of some British military officers, who happened to be careless about the religious sentiments of Hindus and Muslims offended by greased cartridges. With passions inflamed, and a number of murders committed in Meerut and Delhi, the sepoys could not retrace their steps.

They were then joined by a large number of hooligans set free from jails, and of professional dacoits and plunderers from the criminal tribes of the neighboring areas.


It is true that the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah had been proclaimed king, in whose name they professed to have risen in defence of Hinduism and Islam. But in practice, this was nothing more than a mere pretence to seek a cover for their crimes and misdeeds.

His authority they openly flouted, and his orders they publicly disobeyed. They insulted him on his very face and treated him insolently in his own palace. Such behavior, as this was certainly not becoming of the faithful and devoted soldiers towards the king whom they themselves raised to the throne.

But, in truth, they had done so only to use him as a handy tool. If he were not to be useful to them, they would have no hesitation in renouncing him.

"The sepoys at Delhi refused to fight unless they were paid their salaries, and that on an adequate scale - a demand which is hardly in consonance with the spirit which should guide a fighter in a war of independence1.. . .

The king himself was only a victim of circumstances. He had no hand either in organizing or encouraging the mutiny. He might have been glad within his heart to see the English humbled, but he was too old to plan or lead an insurrection. In fact, he had no knowledge of the rising of the sepoys till they had actually arrived at the palace gates and called upon him to assume command.

He pleaded infirmity and poverty, but the sepoys would hear nothing of the sort. He sent a fast camel rider to Agra to inform the Lieutenant Governor, of the mutiny in Meerut and of the arrival of the mutineers in Delhi.

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Finding himself helpless before the increasing violence of the armed sepoys violating the sanctity of the palace itself, the old king quailed before them. In fear, he issued the proclamation desired by the sepoys and outwardly espoused their cause.

Within a week, the undisciplined sepoys disregarded the king's authority and refused to be commanded by his nominee, Bakht Khan, and transferred their allegiance to Prince Abu Bakr whom, on May 17, they elected as their king in place of the old emperor.

The king's confidant, Ahsanullah, then complained that 'the mutineers were a treacherous, bloodthirsty class on whom no dependence could be placed.'


The king himself had no faith in the sepoys or in the success of the mutiny. He therefore, entered into secret negotiation with the British and offered to have the gate of the fort and to the city of Delhi opened to them if they guaranteed his life, pension, and privileges.

These negotiations came to nothing, it is true, but they "show Bahadur Shah in his true color so far as his attitude to the mutiny, is concerned.”

The principal queen, Zinat Mahal, on her own part, offered to assist the British if her son, Jawan Bakht, was recognized as successor to the old emperor to the exclusion of other princes. The Mughal princes, too, were not sincere and faithful to the mutineers. They, as well, offered their services to the British in the occupation of Delhi on condition of favor being shown to them.

‘During the brief term of their authority,' the princes ‘occupied themselves in feathering their nests,' with the loot of the city, and then ‘their only anxiety was to save their skin as best they could.'

All this leaves no doubt that Bahadur Shah and his family betrayed the cause not only of the mutineers, of whom he was the nominal head, but also of the whole country.


Raja Nahar Singh of Ballabhgarh, Nawab Abdur Rahman Khan of Jhajjar and Rao Tula Ram of Rewari, who were supposed to have identified themselves with the king and the mutineers, were playing a double game and negotiating with the British for a settlement.

Their double dealings, however, did not succeed with the British who treated them as other mutineers and hanged them.

About the other prominent leaders of the sepoys, the less said the better.

In the words of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, supported by the evidence adduced in recent researches in mutiny records : ‘With a few honorable exceptions - of whom the most distinguished were Ahmadullah and Tatya Tope - most of the leaders who took part in the struggle did so for personal reasons. They did not rise against the British till their personal interests had been damaged. Even after the revolt had begun, Nana Sahib declared that if Dalhousie's decisions were reversed and his own demands met, he would be willing to come to terms.'

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The Rani of Jhansi had her own grievances.

There is nothing on record to say that she had any hand in planning, instigating or organizing the mutiny of sepoys at Jhansi. In fact, she informed the British that she had been ill-treated by the mutineers and forced to pay money, and she asked for their help to maintain order.

Believing in her innocence, the Commissioner of Saugor division nominated her to rule in Jhansi till the British could re-establish their administration. When the British changed their attitude and suspected her of complicity in the mutiny, she sent pathetic appeals to the authorities pleading her innocence and professing her loyalty to the British.

If she had succeeded in dispelling the suspicions of the British, she would have gone to their side. But when at last she found that the British held her responsible for the mutiny and massacre at Jhansi, she preferred to fight. And it may be said to her credit and glory that she died heroically in the battlefield.


Tantia Tope was neither an organizer nor a leader of the mutineers, but only a follower of Nana Sahib, to whom he was devotedly attached. But luck did not favor him. He was driven from place to place and could not find even a single Maratha village across the Narbadda to give him shelter. He had, therefore, to fly to the forests where he was betrayed to the British by a professional rebel friend, Raja Mansingh of Narwar, a feudatory of Sindhia.

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The mutiny having broken out all of a sudden, and nobody having an idea of the turn it would take, there was no understanding between the Hindus and Muslims. Whereas, in the chaos and confusion that followed the arrival of the Meerut sepoys at Delhi, a number of Muslims were oppressed and their homes plundered, a regular jehad was proclaimed against the Hindus by Muslims in a number of places.

Some clever adventurers found in the mutiny an opportunity for the revival of an Islamic kingdom and used the cover of religion for their anti-Hindu activities. The green flag of holy war was not unoften displayed in Delhi. It was hoisted in Bareilly, Bijnor, Moradabad and many other places where the Hindus were plundered and massacred. This estranged the feelings between the Hindus and Muslims.

As fellow-sufferers, the Hindus in many places took the side of the English, protected their lives and property and prayed for their victory.

'It was generally held', says Dr. Sen, ‘that as the Hindus were as a community well disposed towards the British and the Muslims as a community were hostile, the Hindus should be exempted from any penalty. Some Hindus of the trading classes were allowed to return (to the city of Delhi) ... It was ultimately realized that disaffection towards the British government was not the monopoly of any particular community, and there were exceptions in both ... It was, therefore, decided that every citizen who desired to return should pay a fine, but there should be a discrimination in the rate on a communal basis. Whereas the Muslim had to pay a fine equivalent to 25 per cent of the value of his real property, the Hindu was required to pay 15 per cent less.’


A close and critical study of the mutiny records reveals a very sad story of "everyone for himself and no one for the country." The Mughal Emperor, the proclaimed head of the mutiny, the Queen and the princes, and other leaders of the revolt all pulled in their own directions and played a double game to secure their ends and interests.

. The sepoys of Oudh fought for the restoration of their own king. Nana Sahib and the Rani of Jhansi pressed their own claims.

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A number of smaller adventurers, not inspired by any patriotic impulse, sprang up to exploit the opportunity offered by the mutiny.

. Khan Bahadur Khan, a grandson of Hafiz Rahamat Khan, set himself up as Viceroy or Naib Nazim of Rohilkhand.

. The Banjaras of Saharanpur set up a king of their own.

. The Gujjars had different rajas in different areas. Fatva was proclaimed as the king of the Gujjars.

. A Devi Singh proclaimed himself king of fourteen villages in the Mathura district.

. Similarly a Mahimaji Wadi, a dacoit, and Belsare, a Maratha Brahmin, were attracted to the rebel camp to improve their fortunes.

For the independence of India was a thing unknown both to the so-called leaders of the mutiny and to the Poorbia sepoys who bad been instmmental during the past hundred years in the destruction of the independence of the various Indian kingdoms.

The Marathas, the Mysorians, the Malabaris, the Rajputs, the Gurkhas, the Pathans, the Sikhs and the Assamese had all been reduced to dust with their help and never had the Poorbias raised their little finger in protest, much less in their defence. This was not a creditable record for attracting the non-Poorbias to their side.

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The people of the Punjab were the worst and most recent sufferers at their hands.

In addition to the Poorbia sepoys who fought against them under the British in 1845-46 and 1848-49, it was the Poorbia soldiers of fortune, Tej Singh and Lal Singh - the Commander-in-Chief and Prime Minister of the Punjab - who had entered into secret agreements with the British and betrayed the Sikhs in the first Anglo-Sikh War.

Again, it was mostly with the help of the Poorbia regiments and Poorbia civilian subordinate officials that the Punjab was being held under British subjection, in 1857 when the mutiny took place. As such, the people of the Punjab, particularly the Sikhs, could not have looked upon them as worthy of their support in a cause which threatened them with the re-establishment of Mughal tyranny of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.


"The Sikhs," says Dr. Majumdar, "were the last defenders of the liberty of India". But "the sepoys (Poorbias') ... had not the least scruple to fight the Sikhs ... We have not the least evidence to show that the Indian leaders like Nana Sahib and others raised their little finger to help the cause of the Sikhs ... It is difficult to resist the conclusion,"' he continues, "'that the attitude and activities of the sepoys in 1849 certainly did not correspond to the patriotic fervour with which they are supposed to be endowed in 1857."

Moreover, the conduct of the mutineers and their leaders in Meerut, Delhi, and other places was not such as to give others the impression of the insurrection being anything like national or of common interest and of benefit to the people of the country at large.

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The indiscriminate massacre of Indian Christians on the basis of their religion and of unsuspecting Englishmen, and their innocent women and children, were the worst type of blood-thirstiness that sent throughout the country a thrill of horror and hatred against the mutineers and alienated the sympathies of their prospective friends.

And when Bahadur Shah wrote to Indian princes on behalf of the mutineers, nobody took any serious notice of his letters, and some of them resolutely refused to identify themselves with the unscrupulous rebels.


Although the movement had begun as a military mutiny of the Bengal Army, that army itself did not as a whole join it, but a large section of it actively fought on the side of the government to suppress it. The Madras and Bombay armies took no part in it. The mutiny could not, as such, be called a general mutiny of the Indian Army.


With the sepoys not having the overthrow of the East India Company's rule as their objective, nor any concerted plan of campaign, and their leaders being positively selfish and treacherous, playing a double game, it is a cruel misinterpretation of history to call it a war of Indian Independence. And it would be the height of injustice to accuse for its failure those who happened not to join this aimless, planless, and leaderless uprising.

The Punjabis were not alone in not joining the revolt. They could not have joined it for reasons that have been stated at some length.

The Bengalis, the Marathas, the Madrasis and the Malabaris, whose love for the independence of India has been in no way less than that of anyone else in the country, took no part in it. The Rajputs, the Jats, the Dogras and the Garhwalis kept studiedly aloof. The educated communities of Bengal and Madras openly condemned the rising and denounced the mutiny and the mutineers.

The co-operation of the Sikhs with the mutineers could not have made much difference, nor could it have contributed much to their success. There were the Punjabi Musalmans, the Bahwalpuri Daudpotras, the Baluchis, and the Frontier Pathans who were dead opposed to the mutineers.

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The strength of the East India Company's rule in India depended mostly on the naval power of England. The rising in the Punjab could not have placed any obstacles in the way of their reinforcements from West. A few more murders of Englishmen in the Punjab or even a military defeat of the British in that province could not have ended the rule of the Company in India and freed her from the British yoke.


"The Sepoy Mutiny was not a fight freedom," says, Sir Jadunath Sarkar. "It was not a rising of the people for political determination, but a conspiracy of mercenary soldiers (only of the North Indian army) to prevent the cunning destruction of their religion by defiling their bodies with pig's lard and cow’s fat which were used in lubricating the paper parcels of cartridges ..."

"A number of dispossessed dynasts, both Hindu and Muslim, exploited the well-founded caste-suspicions of the sepoys and made these simple folk their cat's paw in gamble for recovering their thrones. The last scions of the Delhi Mughals or the Oudh Nawabs and the Peshwa, can by no ingenuity be called fighters for Indian freedom" (Hindusthan Standard, Puja Annual, 195 p. 22).

The mutiny of 1857 failed not because the Sikhs, or the people of the Punjab, or of any other State or province, did not join it, but because it had no noble sentiment behind it, no plan to guide it and no sincere leader to see it through.

"The failure of the outbreak," according to Dr. Majumdar, "may also be attributed to the fact that neither the leaders, nor the sepoys and masses were inspired by any high ideal. The lofty sentiments of patriotism and nationalism, with which they are credited, do not appear to have any basis in fact. As a matter of fact, such ideas were no yet familiar to Indian minds."

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In the light of the available evidence, we are forced to the conclusion," says Maulana Abul Kalam Azad [india's first Minister of Education and a scloar in his own right], "that the uprising of 1857 was not the result of careful planning, nor were there any master-minds behind it ... As I read about the events of 1857, I am forced to the conclusion," he continues, "that the Indian national character had sunk very low. The leaders of the revolt could never agree. They were mutually jealous and continually intrigued against one another ... In fact these personal jealousies and intrigues were largely responsible for the Indian defeat."


History takes no cognizance of the sentiments of people coming a century after the event, twisting and molding it, mixing politics with history, to give it the color and appearance which never belonged to it.

My conclusions are based on fact which have not so far been controverted by anyone. They are not only my conclusions. They are also the conclusions of the greatest authorities on the history of India - Dr. Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Dr. Romesh C. Mazumdar and Dr. Surendranath Sen. They are scholars of international fame and are acknowledged as the leading educationists of India. They have been the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities of Calcutta, Dacca and Delhi. Their conclusions have not only been accepted, but also supported by the late Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the Education Minister of the Government of India, and other men of sound learning and judgment.

One of my critics thinks that I have 'derisively' referred to the soldiers of the Bengal Army as 'Poorbia'. Not at all. If he were to refer to contemporary records of the Central and provincial governments and to the regimental histories of the then Bengal Army, he would find the words 'Poorbia' and 'Hindoostanee' then commonly used for men from beyond the Jamuna. (See MacMunn's The Armies of India, The Punjab Mutiny Reports, and Regimental History of the 54th Sikhs).

And in the Punjab, the word Poorbia was more commonly used than Hindoostanee as it continues to the present day, and there is no derision attached to it.


According to regimental records, there was only one Sikh Regiment at Dera Ismail Khan when the Mutiny broke out at Meerut on May 10, 1857, and that was the 3rd Sikh Infantry. Although it carried a Sikh name, it was not completely Sikh in its composition. Like the other three Sikh regiments, it had 50 per cent Panjabi Muslims from Jhelum and Rawalpindi, Pathans from across the Indus, Dogras from the Shivalaks and Hindoostanees (Poorbias) from the other side of the Jamuna. It was among the last named Hindoostanee sepoys of the 3rd Sikh Infantry (and not among the Sikhs, the Panjabi Mussalmans, or the Dogras) that the plot to murder British officers was discovered. To quote from the regimental history:

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