The rule of the British East India Company in India
was brought to an end by the armed struggle of 1857, known in India as the First Struggle for Independence. The British historians and the Company called it 'Sepoy Mutiny'. Farmers over-burdened by excessive taxation, people from the middle class, denied better and higher jobs, the hapless landlords of small fortunes, kings of smaller princely states, had all become enemies of the British rulers. It was this atmosphere of tension, dissatisfaction and anger at the colonial exploitation perpetrated by the British on India that triggered the Revolt of 1857. The life of the Indian soldiers of the British East India Company was pitiable. They lived in a shameful predicament of extreme suffering and misery, and heinous discrimination of various kinds including religious. They had to work like animals, but the wages given were poor. It was a Bengal unit of the Company's army that fired the first salvo of protest. The revolt spread to other cantonments of Meerut, Delhi
, Rajaputana and other places. The solders of Meerut killed a number of British officers and marched to Delhi. The solders in the Delhi cantonment turned disloyal to the Company and revolted. They captured the control of the city. They declared Bahadur Shah Zafar, the Mughal
Emperor, the Emperor of India. Queen Lakshmi Bai
of Jhansi and Tanthiya Thope and others took up arms against the British. Both the Hindu
s and the Muslims stood united in this spirited movement against the British. But it did not last for long. The British faced them with their replenished forces and captured Delhi back on 20th of September, 1857.Bahadur Shah was made prisoner. The British made a pact with the leaders of the 'mutiny' and the revolt ended. But the British officers killed thousands of those captured. And India's First Struggle for Independence was put out in cruel mass killings and bloodbath.