Indian independence movement

The Indian independence movement was a movement from 1857 until 15 August 1947, when India got its independence from the British Raj.[1]

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. . . Indian independence movement . . .

Vasco da Gama of Portugal had discovered a sea route to India. He had reached Kozhikode (Calicut, Kerala) in 1498. After this, many Europeans started coming to India for trading. They made their offices and forts in various parts of India. The British East India Company became the major force in India. The Company’s troops led by Robert Clive defeated the rulers of Bengal in 1757. This battle became famous as the Battle of Plassey. That was the beginning of British rule, known as the British Raj, in India. In 1764, the Battle of Buxar was won by the English forces.[2] After this, the British got control over Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom passed many laws to help the British East India Company. The Regulating Act of 1773, the India Act of 1784, and the Charter Act of 1813 were designed to help trade with India.

Before the First War of Independence (1857), Indians in different parts of India had revolted against the British. Many such of the revolts and armed struggles had taken place in this Some examples include:

  • Revolts by many local rulers of Tamil people in southern India like Dheeran Chinnamalai, Veerapandiya Kattabomman …etc.
  • In 1825 in Karnataka kittur Chennamma rejected Doctrine of Lapsi and refused British rulers any royalty. She defeated British in the war. Kittur was defeated by British army in the second war. Her lieutenant Sangolli Rayanna continued the revolt until he was killed.
  • A revolt in 1787 took place in Goa against the rule of Portugal. The histo call this revolt as the Conspiracy of the Pintos.
  • A rebellion by tribes of Jharkhand in India. Historians call this Santal Rebellion
  • Rebellion under the leadership of Titumir in Bengal.
Bahadur Shah II (portrait painted about 1854)

India’s First War of Independence (by this name later a book was published by V.D Savarkar) was a revolt of Indian soldiers and people (rulers and peasants) against British rule. Historians had used the terms like the Indian Mutiny or the Sepoy Mutiny to describe this event. The rebellion by Indian troops of the British Raj started in May 1857 and continued until December 1858. Many reasons had combined to result in this rebellion.

The British rulers continued to forcibly take regions ruled by Indians and made these regions part of the British Raj. They did not give any respect to old royal houses of India like the Mughals and the Peshwa. They also made the Indian soldiers of their army use a special type of cartridge (immediate cause of the rebel). The soldiers had to open the cartridges with their teeth before loading them into their guns. The cartridges supposedly used cow and pig fat. For Hindus the cow is a sacred animal and they do not eat beef. Similarly, Muslims do not eat pork. Thus, the use of these cartridges made soldiers of both the religions turn against the British.[3] Although the British tried to replace the cartridges, the feelings against them stayed.

Rebellion broke out when a soldier called Mangal Pandey attacked a British sergeant and wounded an adjutant. General Hearsey ordered another Indian soldier to arrest Mangal Pandey but he refused. Later the British arrested Mangal Pandey and the other Indian soldier. The British killed both by hanging them.

At the beginning the British were slow to respond. Then they took very quick action with heavy forces. They brought their regiments from the Crimean War to India. They also redirected many regiments that were going to China from India. The British forces reached Delhi, and they surrounded the city from 1st July 1857 until 31st August 1857. Street-to-street fights broke out between the British troops and the Indians. Ultimately, they took control of Delhi. The massacre at Kanpur (July 1857) and the siege of Lucknow (June to November 1857) were also important. The last important battle was at Gwalior in June 1858 in which the Rani of Jhansi was killed. With this, the British had practically suppressed the rebellion. However, some guerrilla fighting in many places continued until early in 1859 and Tantia Tope was captured and executed until April 1859.

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. . . Indian independence movement . . .

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