The Ghadar of 1857 thoroughly shook up the British colonial empire. The meticulous planning that went into the Ghadar, the tremendous unity of the people against the colonial administration, and its wide geographical reach shocked the colonialists. They did not anticipate that their subjects would dare to revolt against their rule in such a forceful manner. The Ghadar of 1857 had the potential to not only snatch away their prized colony, but also to inspire such revolts in other colonies of their empire.
Therefore, the colonialists tried to malign the rebellion in various ways. They alleged that it was just a revolt of a few soldiers reacting to rumours that their cartridges were greased with cow and pig fat. They made it out that the revolt was limited to just the upper castes and the landed gentry and did not extend to the working sections of the population. They characterized it as a “revenge of the Mussalmans” for their earlier defeats. They made it out that the revolt was a feudal reaction of kings, queens and landlords with no modern vision. They alleged that the revolt was a spontaneous action, ill-coordinated and ill-planned and conducted by poorly trained sepoys and “riff raff” from among peasants and artisans.
All these lies and slanders were propagated by British journalists, authors, administrators, law makers and academics. True accounts of the Ghadar of 1857 in Hindustani, Persian and Urdu were more or less destroyed by these rulers who claimed to be the world’s most “advanced” civilization, “delivering their colonies from ignorance”.
This issue of MEL carries three articles which expose the falsity of these Eurocentric views. These articles illustrate the geographical spread, meticulous planning and brilliant strategy of the leaders of the uprising, which drew various sections of our people into the struggle to overthrow the alien rulers. Today our patriotic working class, peasantry and youth can draw important lessons and inspiration from the acts of the martyrs of 1857.