Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mutinees in Indian army- British Rule (contd-1) before 1857

The sepoys, at that time, was mostly recruited from the Hindus, the Muslims were antagonistic to the Company's rule and were generally reluctant to carry out orders to embark on ship. Phsical discomforts on sea-faring vessels, long period of separation from home and religious injunctions to produce this aversion in the mind of the sepoy.The prejudice in the mind of the sepoys about sea voyage was so deep rooted that it provided the reason for the disbandment of as many as five regiments 1782, 1784 and a whole company in 1795.
In 1806 there was a serious mutiny of the sepoys at Vellore in Madraswhen they suddenly rebelled and massacred most of the European officers and men in the fort.Little regard was paid to the religious faith and customs of the soldiers and under the prevailing conditions in respect of change in dress and wearing of the hair. Chistianity was spreading fast in the country and the missionaries received all the protection in their activities. They were given a free hand even in indian regiments . A soldier who became a christian received quick promotion. Many more benefits were showered on them as an incentive. As time went on the authorities became less careful of offending the religious customs of the  men.Even though the sepoys did not rise in revolt each timesuch a measure was enforced, the constant interference in their personal affairs created a hostile feeling. In january 1806, the code of regulations for the Madras army required the wearing of a turban ( with a cotton tuft made to resemble a feather and a leather cockade).Hide from cows was a taboo to the Hindus and from pig to the Muslims. Both communities feared that the new turban contained of defilement. Moreover, the new code required the trimming of moustaches in a specified mannerand placed prohibitions on caste marks and religious signs, generally adopted by Hindus, and the keeping of whiskers, in vogue among the mulims. On May 6, 1806, the sepoys of Vellore refused compliance when first confronted with the implementation of the code. Peace returned in June with with the punishment of the erring sepoys. But, the sons of Tipu Sultan, particulaly of the third and the fourth, who had been settled in Vellore after his fall fanned the flames of discontent, promising leadership, assistance from different quarters and increased wages of the sepoys if they succeeded in an insurrection. Capitalising of the lax vigilance of the English, the sepoys at Vellore opened fire on the European quarters at 2 am on 10 July, 1806. They took care to spare the woman and the children and hoisted the flag of Tipu Sultan. The descendants of the Mysore ruler did not, however, bestir themselves and the sepoys soon became so busy in plundering the valuables of their former masters that they failed to offer any resistance when English reinforcements arrivedfrom Arcot. The mutiny did not last more than eight hours. The obnoxious regulations were rescinded and the family of Tipu Sultan deported to Calcutta.
The Barrackpur mutiny took place during the first Anglo-Burmese War when the 47th Native Infantry refused to march without receiving double batta (additional allowance for distant expeditions).  the immediate cause for provocation was the exorbitant rate at which the sepoys were required to procure bullocks for transport. At the parad held on 30 Oct. 1824, they appeared without their knapsacks and refused to bring them even after being ordered. The example of the 47th spread and there was open insubordination The Commander-in-Chief , Sir Edward Paget rushed to the spot from Calcutta The reinforcements were kept in hiding with orders to fire if the mutiny continued.The sepoys of the 47th regiment were paraded and given the option of marching or grouding their arms. They continued in defiance and were massacredfrom behind.
The report of the Enquiry Committee dated 24 Nov 1824, listed the causes that aggrieved the sepoys.Many of these grievances were not satisfied for long.The Bengal army , being recruited mainly from Bihar, Benaras, Avadh often complained of the uncongeniality of the climate of Bengal and areas further east.Their pay of rs.7/- was never upgraded during the entire period from 1796 to 1857.
Memories of the Barrackpur mutiny continued for more than a quarter of a century.