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India Commemorates 1857 Revolt

May 11, 2007 06:08 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Thousands march to Delhi, following the path of Indian soldiers who rebelled against their British rulers 150 years ago.

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For the first time in the country’s history, India celebrated the 1857 uprising, which claimed the lives of thousands of Indians and Britons.

This event was once universally referred to as the Indian Mutiny, but a change in national self-perception has led to its being renamed the First War of Independence.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the crowds. He said that 1857 provided “a shining example of our national unity.”

The uprising occurred when Indian soldiers, called sepoys, were enraged by rumors that the British had added pig fat to the regulation gun cartridge grease. Pigs are considered unclean by both Hindus and Muslims, and are strictly prohibited. Sepoys of both religions rose up in violent protest against the British.

Some Indian commentators have questioned the appropriateness of this commemoration. There has been a call for the recognition of the earlier Anglo–Sikh War of 1845.

Critics have also questioned whether a country that gained its independence through peaceful protest in 1947 should celebrate such a violent revolt.

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