Revolt of 1857 – UPSC GS1

The Revolt of the sepoys was accompanied by a rebellion of the civil population, particularly in the North Western Provinces and Oudh, the two areas from which the sepoys of the Bengal army were recruited. Comment on the reasons which prompted civil population to rebel during the 1857 Revolt. (200 Words)
The revolt of 1857 which was initiated by sepoys, later also was accompanied by civil population. Though the sepoys has their own reasons like differentiation among Indian and British soldiers, chewing of gun parts before firing etc. the civil population has their own reasons-
  1. Peasants and farmers- Most of the sepoys were from rural area. Thus the oppression on them had a direct impact on their relatives in villages. In fact, it is said that sepoys in British India were “peasants in uniform”
  2. Land taxation- the land revenues was increased manifold by zamindars which was tough to pay by peasants. This high taxation, many a times even resulted in loss of land to farmers. Thus the farmers revolted to reduce the high taxation.
  3. Loyalty towards Oudh king- The Oudh king was removed by Britishers, which angered the local population. They revolted to restore the kingship of Oudh.
  4. Indigo planters- Britishers forced the local peasants to plant indigo. They revolted against this practise.
The revolt of 1857, was not fought on a united reasons. Different parts of the country have their own reasons to revolt. But the involvement of civil population along with sepoys added fire to the revolt.
Related Questions:
  1. Explain how the upraising of 1857 constitutes an important watershed in the evolution of British policies towards colonial India. (UPSC Mains 2016)