Monday, August 8, 2011

Peoples' Participation in Revolt of 1857

The success of the mutineers at various places and the massacre or flight of the local British officials, in particular their abondonment of the city of Delhi into the hands of the mutineers, led the people all over Rohilkhand and Avadh (Ayodhya) to believe that the British Raj had ceased to exist.No visible symbol was left of its authority in many localities, and there was almost a compete political vacuum and lack of any kind of authority. In all ages and countries such a situation affords the best opportunity for popular outbreaks, varying in Nature according to the circumstances and temperament of the different types of people.
Under such condition, the people at large, being discontent and disaffection by the rule of British rose against the foriegners. Some goonda elements and professional persons who live by plunder, such as the Gujars, Ranghars, Jats etc. Another class of persons who lost their landed property due to the British enactment of laws.  
The outbreak at Muzaffarnagar, on May 14, the earliest instance of civil report, was precipitated by the action of Mr. Berford, the magistrate and collector.He was unnerved by the news of the mutiny at Mirat, followed by the exaggerated and falls account of the imminent approach of mutinous troops towards Muzaffarnagar. He at once ordered the public offices to be closed for three days. On the 12th evenin he heard that the convicts in jailwould rise that night, and he immediately fled through the jungle to village where he spent the night, durimg which nothing occured in Muzaffarnagar. On the 13th some officers' Bunglows were burnt by the villagers and it was decided by Berford to remove the treasure to the Tehseel on the 14th.The treasury guard refused to do it and broke open the treasure chests. They took away as much as they could carry and left.A number of people who were near by plundered the rest.As there were no regular sepoys, the magistrate drew off the jail guard for his own defence and released the prisners.As Mr. Grant, at that time the joint magistrate and Deputy Collector, says in his report , the people convinced by this act that the government rule had ceased to exist. The violent crimes of all kinds were daily, almost hourly, committed through the district, not secretly or by night, but openly at noonday, and the baniyas and mahajans were victims in the majority of the cases.
The army was witnessed at Saharanpur.