Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit
Subject: History (Optional)
Topic: Early Uprisings, Revolt of 1857 & British Policies
It emphasised on the belief that Allah would soon send a
Messiah, who would eradicate the social, religious and political evils and would
purify and glorify Islam. The main aim of the Wahabis in India was to convert
‘Dar-ul-Harb’ (non-Islamic territory) into `Dar-ul-Islam’ (Islamic territory).
The British government termed the Wahabis as traitors and rebels. But the main
aim of the movement was to reform the Muslim society and rejuvenate it. For the
same purpose the movement also laid stress on the revival of Islam. Originally,
the Wahabi movement was started in Arabia by Muhammad Ibn-Aba-e-Wahid. Being
religious in content its main aim was to end tribalism and spread Islam. But the
orthodox Muslims did not give it due importance and even opposed it. Shah Wali
Ullah was the first Muslim leader in India, who expressed concern over the
miseries of Muslims. After wardhis movement was shaped as Wahabi movement by
Shah Abdul Aziz and Saiyid Ahamd Raebarelvi.
Sayyed Ahmed called it a holy war and toured all important
cities and places of India. He chose Sittana in the North-western Province as
the centre of his activities and organised a strong network of branches found it
from Dhaka to Peshawar. In India, its main centre was in Patna. In 1831, after
the death of Sayyid Ahmed ‘Raebarelvi’, Ali brothers of Patna, Vilayat Ali and
Inayat Ali became the main leaders of the movement.After 1860, the British
carried out extensive military operations against the Wahabis and destroyed
their military outposts. Armed resistance by the Wahabis had come into being
only after the revolt of 1857. The movement was fully suppressed after 1870.
The chief inspiration for this movement came from Bhai Ram
Singh (1824-1885) a disciple of Bhai Balak Singh who was a simple and devoted
person. His father Jassa Singh was from a poor family belonging to the Ramgarhia
misl. Bhai Ram Singh had served in the Sikh army before the first AngloSikh
war. The ill-treatment meted out to Maharani Jindan, Diwam Mulraj and Maharaja
Dalip Singh turned him against the British. He stressed on the need for
recitation of Chandi Path, Guruvani, Nam Jap and Asha-di-var running langars and
worshipping of cow. Bhai Ram Singh encouraged his followers to be
self-dependent‘ He asked them not to admit their children in government schools,
not to appear in courts of law, not to use foreign goods, railways or postal
services. This way he was perhaps the first person to adopt the policy of
non-cooperation against the British government.
He divided the area under his influence into 22 parts and
appointed ‘Subedars’ and Naib-Subedar in them. He also constituted an
independent spy system. He never used the roads built by the government. Instead
Bhai Ram Singh was deported to Burma by the Third Bengal Regulation of 1868,
where he died in 1885 at the age of 61.
Santhals were freedom-loving people. They lived in the
southern part of the Chotanagpur plateau and tilled land for livelihood. Under
the Permanent Settlement of 1793, the lands which the Santhals had been
cultivating traditionally passed on to the zamindars. The Santhals then shifted
to villages in the hills of Raj Mahal (now in Jharkhand State) but these lands
were also claimed by the zamindars. The Santhals, however, soon found that the
land they had brought under cultivation was slipping away from their hands. The
state was levying heavy taxes on the land that the Santhals had cleared,
moneylenders (dikus) were charging them high rates of interest and taking over
the land when debts remained unpaid, and zamindars were asserting control over
the Damin areas.
By the 1850s, the Santhals felt that the time had come to
rebel against zamindars, moneylenders and the colonial state in order to create
an ideal world for themselves where they would rule. It was after the Santhal
Revolt (1855-56) that the Santhal Pargana was created, carving out 5,500 square
miles from the districts of Bhagalpur and Birbhum. The colonial state hoped that
by creating a new territory for the Santhals and imposing some special laws
within it, the Santhals could be conciliated.
The atrocities perpetrated on the tribals took the shape of
an unrest, which erupted, in the form of an armed revolt in 1855-56. The tribals
of Bhagalpur, Manbhoom and Raj Mahal participated in this revolt.
Siddhu, Khanhu, Chand and Bhareo, four sons of Chulu Santhal
of Bhagna Dihi Village of Raj Mahal district provided them the leadership. To
suppress the Santhal rebellion the British army was put under the command of
Brigadier General Lyold Colonel-Bird took over the ‘Special command.’
Revolt of 1857
Dalhousie’s annexation of Avadh on the ground of misrule in
1856. Dalhousie also announced in 1849 that the successors of Bahadur Shah II
would have to leave the Red Fort. Canning announced in 1856 that the successors
of Bahadur Shah would be known only as princes and not as kings. Refusal of the
British to pay foreign service allowance (batta) while fighting in remote
regions such as Punjab or Sind. Religious objections of the high caste
Resentment of the conservative and orthodox elements against
the social reforms and humanitarian measures introduced by the government.
Peasants Loss of their lands to the money-lenders due to the land and
landrevenue policies of the British, particularly the Ryotwari system, and
their system of law and administration (which favoured the moneylenders at the
cost of the peasants).
Causes of the Revolt
It was essentially because of the exploitative policies of
the British that the feelings of unrest grew among the Indians which finally
manifested in the form of a revolt in 1857. The greased cartridges only provided
the much needed spark, which set the stage ablaze.
In 1852, an Inam Commission was established. Its objective
was to take over the lands on which revenue was not being paid. More than 20,000
Jagirs were confiscated during the period of Lord Dalhousie itself intensifying
the mushrooming discontent. The Indian princely states vehemently opposed the
denial of the system of adoption by the British. Lord Dalhousie annexed several
Indian states. States like Satara (1848), Jaitpur and Sambhalpur (1849), Baghat
(1850), Udaipur (1852), Jhansi (1853) and Nagpur (1854) were merged with the
British Empire by applying the dubious Doctrine of Lapse.
Nana Sahib was refused pension, as he was the adopted son of
Peshwa Baji Rao II. Lucknow was annexed in 1856. on charges of maladministration
and Jhansi was annexed owing to Doctrine of Lapse. The government of the Company
did not even leave the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah II. The
Governor-General of India, Lord Ellenborough discontinued the practice of giving
gifts to Bahadur Shah and struck his name off the coins. In 1856, the annexation
of Awadh created panic and disaffection. The state of Awadh had been loyal to
the Company throughout. But despite that Awadh was annexed to the English state
on the grounds of misrule and administrative irregularities.
Indian soldiers were paid low salaries: they could not use
above the rank of subedar and were racially insulted. The soldiers were also
distressed by the fact that their cherished Awadh stale had been annexed by the
British. In the General Services Recruitment Act of Lord Canning in 1856, there
was a precondition for the soldiers recruited in the Bengal army by which they
could be asked to go anywhere as per the requirement of the government.
According to this Act, if required they might also have to go overseas, which
was at that time considered irreligious.
British social reforms (widow remarriage, abolition of Sati,
school for girls. Christian missionaries). Rumours that Enfield rifles used
greased (by pork or beef) cartridges. The increasing activities of Christian
missionaries were viewed with suspicion and distrust. These missionaries made
great effort to convert the people of India and also indulged in false
propaganda against the practices of the Hindus and the Muslims. Christian
priests were being appointed in the army on Government expenses to propagate
Christianity and to undertake conversions. This was not the only rumour that was
circulating in North India at the beginning of 1857. There was the rumour that
the British government had hatched a gigantic conspiracy to destroy the caste
and religion of Hindus and Muslims.
In 1850, Lord Dalhousie made changes in the Hindus
inheritance laws by passing the Religious Disabilities Act. Till 1850, a convert
to other religion, used to be disinherited from his ancestral property, but now
even after adopting Christianity, his claim on property remained intact. The
education policy, adopted by the British, also confused the common Indian. The
government opened some schools for Western education. These schools were
perceived to be instrument for increasing the number of the Christians. Indian
soldiers were given the new Enfield rifles in place of the old ironmade Brown
Bess gun. They were also given the cartridges to be bitten by teeth, which were
thought to be greased with beef and pork. Actually, fat of cow and ox was used
in the Woolich armoury.