The East India Company rule had been going from bad to worse in India and the outcome of the abusive behavior of the officials was the uprising of northern and central India against the British rule in the country. There were multiple issues that did cause the uprising, one of the major causes were the conflict on religious beliefs of sepoys and the prejudice of sepoys. The other reasons included the loss of caste due to travel overseas, as in Hindu mythology the traveling across sea was forbidden. There were also rumors on the change of religion of sepoys in the regiment. These were the major issues.
Further the low salaries of sepoys and lesser opportunities to gain promotions was also a cause for unrest among the military units. There were also faithful servants to the mughal and peshawas who was unable to tolerate the indifference the company maintained against the rulers. Further to insult, the annexation of oudhs region and added policies by Dalhouise for annexation and the controversial doctrine of lapse, which denied the emperor from adopting child as the prince if they failed to have a male child.
The East India Company had also forced the then kings of Mughal empire to move from their ancestral palace Redfort to the Qutb. Which was also added insult to the Indian emperor and its believers. The final act which sparked the mutiny was the use of cow and pig fat in the latest pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle cartridges. During operation the soldiers had to bite and open the cartridge for ammunition.
On May 10th, 1857 sepoys at Merut broke rank and turned on their commanding officers and killed the foreign officers. Later on 11th May, they set the toll house of British East India company on fire and marched to red fort for the then Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah, to be their leader in the fight and asked him to reclaim the throne. The Sepoy’s called the Emperor Shehenshah – E – Hindustan. Further, the sepoys took their anger on to the British residents around Delhi and also cleared the population off the capital.
In a continued action, more revolts broke around in other parts of the country. The important revolts were around the North-Western provinces Kanpur, Lucknow, Benaras, Allahabad, Bareilly, Jagdishpur and Jhansi. More parts of Oudh were also part of the mutiny. The British were first caught off guard but was able to retaliate the movement. The major factors for the failure of this movement was the missing support of many states plus the lack of proper leadership. Each of the mutinies had their own province in mind instead of the whole country.
Coupled with the fact that British still had superior warhead, the mutiny was brought to a rapid end. The main army of the rebels were at Delhi and the British had fought hard to gain control over the area. After continued force and seige the mutiny was finally brought to an end on 20 September, 1857. Although there were more rebellions in the neighboring areas, none of them were significant. The last significant war that was fought was in Gwalior where the legend, Rani Lakshmibhai or Jhansi ki Rani had fought her heart. This was ended in June 1858 where she was finally killed. There were more tremors of this attack under the leadership of Tantia Tope, who with his sporadic fighting and guerrilla warfare had brought great trouble to the British army. Finally this was brought to an end by 1859. The first war of independence lasted only 2 years before it came to its end.
The first war of Independence did bring about a milestone in the development of Modern India. The rebellion brought the rule of British East India Company to an end and the leaders were replaced by the rule of crown. The changes affirmed the British political status and also lead to the the creation of Great Indian Empire. The rule of the empire came directly under the Queen, and a viceroy was appointed as a representative to the crown. Another group of councils from parliment were sent lead by the Secretary of State for India to declare the policies for better rule in India. In Proclamation of 1858, Queen Victoria promised equal opportunities for public service under British Law, and pledged to save the rights of native princes. This also stopped the land grabs, decreed religious tolerance and admitted Indians to civil services, although as subordinates. This also increased the count of British soldiers over the Indian soldiers and artillery was handled only by the British Soldiers.
Emperor Bahadur Shah was exiled to Rangoon, Burma where he died in 1862. In 1877, Queen Victoria took the title of Empress of India.