Sunday, August 7, 2011

Outbreak of Rebellion 0f 1857-59 (contd-5)

Jhansi; The mutiny rapidly spread to the south of Jamuna river. The first to be affected were the sepoys at Jhansi. There were two forts at Jhansi, a small one in the cantonment and another outside it. On June 5, 1857, some sepoys peacefully took possession of the small fort under some pretext.On June 6, there was a mutiny of the whole force according to a pre-concerted plan , in which some persons, outside the army, also seem to have taken part. Some officers were killed  or injured, and the rest of the Europeans took shelter in the other fort, also outside the town. on June 8, the mutineers promised personal security to all the Eurpeans provided they left the fort without taking any arms.But as soon as they came out of the fort, all of them -  men,women, children- were taken to a garden and massacred in cold blood.According to one account , 57 men, 12 women and 23 children perished in this way, but another account sets the total number as 72.The mutineers proceeded to Delhi three days after this nefarious deed.
There is nothing to indicate that any leading part in this mutiny was taken by  Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, the widowed queen of Gangadhar Rao, the last ruler of Jhansi and a victim of Dalhousie's Doctrine of Lapse. Even then, the Rani was not friendly with the mutineers, rather the mutineers forced the Rani for money, guns and elephants. Rani said that she hadto oblige the demands of the sepoys.
After the mutineers went for Delhi Rani reported the incident to the British authority  condemning the activity of the sepoys.The commissioner of the Sagar Division asked Rani to conduct the administration till further orders.
Other centres of mutiny;
On 14th June, the sepoys of the Gwalior Contingent, recruited from Avadh , mutinied, and killed as many European as they could, but allowed the women to go unharmed. For along time this formidable body of well-equiped sepoys, though mutinious, had remained idle at Gwalior in the vain hope of being led by Sindhia against the British, though they might have played a dominant role, if not decisive, part in the mutiny of central India, Delhi, Agra, or Kanpur.When they at last actually mutined, it was too late for them to play any effective part.            
At Indore the troops belonging to Holkar mutined on July 1, and three hundred Bils (tribes) and two companies of the Bhopal casvalry, which formed part of the British garrisons, were brought to oppose them In the words of Ball, " by one impulse the whole of the troops that had assistedin the defence......deserted to the mutineers, threatening at the same timeto shoot the officers if they ventured to interfere with them." Some Europeans were murdered , treasury was looted, and public property destroyed. The mutiny at Indore was followed by that at Mhow.
Mutiny also broke out in several places in the Sagar and Narmada territories towards the end of June.
At Dhar, the Arab and Afghan mercenaries in the service of the Raja rose against the British. A number of Sindhia's troops had seized Mandasor and were shortly joined by a part of the mutinous cavalry of theGwalior Contingent and other insurgent hordes, inluding Afghan and Mekrani Muslims. The leader of this motley body was Shahzada Fruz Shah, a direct descendant of the Mughal Emperors of Delhi, who had already declared a jihad  against the British. He seized the town Mandasor and formally installed himself as  king. He "addressed circular letters to the neighbouring princes of Pratapgarh, Jawra, Sitamau, Ratlam,  and the chief of Salumbar, calling upon them to acknowledge the new powet, but none respondedexcept Abdul Sattar Khan, a scion of the ruling house of Jawra". By September the number of his followers increased to about eighteen thousand, and he sent troops against Nimach in Nobember. They defeated a contingent force at Jiran and laid siege to the fort, but had soon to face the British troops under Henry Durand, the agent of the Governor-General in Central India, who had already suppressed the mutiny at Dhar .Fruz Shah's troops were defeated at garoria and he himself fled from Mandasor which was retaken by the British.
Rajasthan, though generally unaffected, had its share, and the troops at two impotant stations, namely, Nasirabad, and Nimach, mutined respectively on May 28 and June 3.They followed the path of Delhi Mutineers.
Bengal was practically unaffected by the mutiny with the exception of two sporadic outbursts at Dacca and Chittagong. On Nov 18, the 34th N.I. at Chittagong mutined and followed the usual procedure. They found no sympathy among the people and, being defeated by the loyal native regiment , marched northwards through Sylet and Char. Being defeated again , they turned owards the east and were joine by some discontented chiefs of Manipur, whose ruler, at the of the Britishsent his troops and captured a number of them. These were handed over to the British and the rest betook themselves to the neighbouring hills and jungles . On November 22, the troops at Dacca refused to be disarmed and mutined, but being defeated , fled towards Jalpaiguri. There were some desultory outbreaks in the Bhagalpur Division, and two cavalrydetachments at Madariganj and Jalpaigurimutined . But these as well as the mutineers from Dacca were easily dispersed and forced to seek refuge in Nepal.
In Bihar , the most important military station was Dinapur near Patna, which was an important strategic position commanding the land and river-routes from Calcutta to Upper India. The sepoys were loyal during the month of June and the better part of July . Neverthless, suspicion grew and steps were taken to disarm the sepoys.They broke into mutiny and proceeded to Arrah where they were Joined by Kunwar Singh, the Rajput Zamindar of Jagadishpur near Arrah. there are good grounds to believe that like Nana, he is not inimical to the English but his hands were forced by the Mutinous sepoys.
Mutiny also broke out in several places of Bihar. In August some sepoys mutined, came to Noada, destroyed the public buildings (Sep 8), and then marched towards Gaya, Rattray,with a small force of Sikhs and Europeans, advanced from Gaya to meet thembut the sepoys inflicted heavy loss upon this force and entered Gaya.The sepoys also mutined at Deogarh, but were dispersed after a severe contest. The Ramgarh battalions mutined at Hazaribagh, and their comrades at Sambalpur followed their example.
The mutinous spirit was not altogether absent in the Deccan, but there was no actual outbreak of mutinyexcept at Kolhapur.  
Attempts of mutiny at Ahmedabad in Gujrat and hyderaad in Sind failed.A mutiny also broke out in Karachi, but was easily put down.