Numerous causes gave rise to the First War of Independence and its consequences led to several changes in the British Government in India. In this context, answer the following:
Briefly explain the immediate cause of the Great Revolt.
The British had introduced a new ‘Enfield Rifle’ in the army. This rifle needed a cartridge which had a greased paper cover. This paper cover had to be bitten off before loading the cartridge into the rifle. Rumours spread that the greased paper was made of beef and pork. The soldiers felt that it was a move by the British to defame their religion. Mangal Pandey urged his fellow soldiers to not use the rifle. On 29 March 1857, he attacked his officers in Barrackpore. He was later hanged.
On 9 May 1857, eighty-five Indian soldiers who had refused to use the greased cartridge were dismissed from their services and were jailed for disobeying their officers. This marked the beginning of the Sepoy revolt in Meerut which later spread to other parts of northern India.