May 10, 1857 marked the beginning of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The movement is known by other names like Great Rebellion, Indian Mutiny and Sepoy Mutiny. Mangal Pandey played a key role in the activities that followed. He was a leading force behind the rebellion. Though the rebellion was eventually unsuccessful, it was a crucial point in the Indian freedom movement and the fight against British Empire.
The revolt sparked first on March 29, 1857, when Mangal Pandey, who was in the Bengal Army, revolted against the British East India Company. He attacked his British sergeant. The rebellion was guided by several factors. But the major outbreak happened when the information about the new Enfield P-53 rifle spread. The rifle had cartridges that were made of cow and pig fat, which had to be bitten off by mouth. The cows have a sacred place in Hinduism while pig meat is haram in Islam.
The rebellion later spread to other parts of North India and it spread majorly in Awadh region as a resistance against the power and exploitation of the British’s presence and power. During the time the rebellion broke out, there were 3,00,000 Indian sepoys in the British East India Company’s army. The revolt started on May 10 1857, when soldiers of the Bengal army mutinied in Meerut. They shot the British officers, and marched to Delhi. The rebels on reaching Delhi declared the 81-year-old Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar as their Emperor. Zafar was equally popular among both Hindus and Muslims.
The movement however seized on June 20, 1858. There were various reasons why the movement stopped. Majorly, it didn’t have a proper leadership and couldn’t be spread across the country evenly. Also, the Indian sepoys didn’t have the kind of finance, resources and power that the British did.
But the rebellion has a special place in the Indian history as it is regarded as the First War of Independence. The British were forced to end the rule of the British East India Company and established the Crown rule instead. Other than Mangal Pandey, Rani Lakshmibai, Kunwar Singh, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Nana Saheb, Tatia Tope and Begum Hazrat Mahal also played a prominent role in the rebellion.