10 July 2016

150 years of the First War of Independence 9.8.2007

First War of Indian Independence is a term predominantly used in India to describe the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The event challenged and ended the power and control of British East Indian Company in India to be replaced by nine decades of British colonial rule, known as the British Raj.
Some Punjabis have opposed the use of the term First War of Independence by the Government to describe the 1857 revolt. They insist that the First Anglo-Sikh War(1845–46) should be called the First War of Independence instead. In May 2007, the Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and three other MPs from Punjab protested against the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the 1857 revolt over this issue.

Some South Indian historians have also opposed the use of the term, and have unsuccessfully taken the issue to the court. These historians insist that several other anti-British uprisings in South India (such as the Vellore Mutiny) had preceded the 1857 revolt, and should be called the First War of Indian independence. In 2006, when the Indian postal department issued a postal stamp to commemorate the Vellore Mutiny of 1806 (see my post dated 25th June 2016), M. Karunanidhi, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, said that the move had given "due recognition" to India's "first war of independence".

Some Indian writers also insist that none of the armed uprisings against the British in India, including the 1857 uprising, should be termed as a "war of independence", since they were not national in nature, not motivated by nationalist sentiment and only involving a minority of people or soldiers.

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