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HOW SHOULD THE INDIAN MUTINY BE CHARACTERISED SHOULD IT BE SEEN AS A POST PACIFICATION REVOLT A NATIONALIST UPRISING OR AS A WAR OF INDEPENDENCE Any discussion on the reasons behind the Indian mutiny needs to be preceded by what the mutiny actually was While mutinies and revolts were not uncommon in India at this time they were usually largely uncoordinated The mutiny of 1857 however was different Here was a major convergence of various strands of resistance and an expansion of scale and new level of intensity It is my purpose to discover why this was The Mutiny was initiated on the 10th May 1857 at Meerut by the XI native cavalry The immediate issue was the greased cartridges of the new rifle which was being brought into use in India Soldiers were expected to bite off the end of the cartridge to release the powder with which to prime the rifle It had been suggested as early as 1853 by Colonel Tucker that the new grease might offend the religious sentiments of the Sepoys but this warning had gone unheeded This type of attitude was typical of the British who constantly underestimated the importance of Indian religion and the failure to do so here was to have disastrous consequences In January 1857 a labourer at the Dum Dum arsenal near Calcutta a low caste Hindu taunted a high caste Sepoy who had offended him that You will soon lose your caste as long as you will have to bite cartridges covered with the fat of pigs and cows The news of this incident spread As it was against Muslim and Hindu religion to come into contact with these meats it would have been a disgrace for them to have had to use these rifles However it was not personal pollution that the Sepoys feared but social ostracism they feared they would be ex communicated by their
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