chapter  9
8 Pages

1857

Rebellion, collaboration and the transition to crown raj
WithSugata Bose, Ayesha Jalal

The rebellion served to harden the lines of racial animosity. It is simpler, certainly far less controversial, to catalogue the course and the extent of the rebellion than to analyse its character. In the immediate aftermath of the revolt, British officials exaggerated the religious factor when they singled out the Muslims as the main rebels and explained the rebellion as an insidious plot by Muslim fanatics. Leadership at the local levels was drawn not only from the 'traditional elites' but also from rather ordinary people from lower social classes and castes that came to the forefront during the throes of rebellion. The collaboration of the Bhumihar magnates of Benares, rivals of the Rajput brotherhoods up in revolt, was a critical element in the success of the British counter-attack. The 1857 revolt was by and large confined to the northern Indian Gangetic plain and central India. Religious millenarianism was doubtless a theme that informed the revolt of 1857.