they heard the shots fired by the sepoys on their officers. The Gujars from the surrounding villages poured into the city and joined the revolt. Telegraph wires were cut and horsemen with warning messages to Delhi were intercepted. As soon as the sepoys from Meerut reached Delhi. The Indian garrison also revolted and joined the rebels. They now proclaimed the old Bahadur Shah, as the Emperor of India. Thus in twenty-four hours, what began as a simple mutiny had swelled into full-scale political rebellion. In the next one month the entire Bengal Army rose in revolt. Whole of North and North West India was up in arms against the British. In Aligarh, Mainpuri, Bulandshahr, Etwah, Mathura, Agra, Lucknow, Allahabad, Banaras, Shahabad, Danapur and East Punjab, wherever there were Indian troops, they revolted. With the revolt in army the police and local administration also collapsed. These revolts were also immediately followed by a rebellion in the city and countryside. But in several places the people rose in revolt even before the sepoys. Wherever revolt broke out, the government treasury was plundered, the magazine sacked, barracks and court houses were burnt and prison gates flung open. IN the countryside, the peasants and dispossessed zamindars attacked the money lenders and new Zamindars who had displaced them from the land. They destroyed the government records and money lenders account books. The attacked the British established law courts, revenue offices, revenue records and thanas (police stations). Thus the rebels tried to destroy all the symbols of colonial power.
9 Even when the people of particular areas did not rise in revolt, they offered their help and sympathies to the rebels. It was said that the rebellious sepoys did not have to carry food with them as they were fed by the villagers. On the other hand, their hostility to the British forces was pronounced. They refused to give them any help or information and on many occasions they misled the British troops by giving wrong information. In central India also, where the rulers remained loyal to the British, the armyt revolted and joined the rebels. Thousands of Indore’s troops joined in Indore the rebellious sepoys. Similarly, over 20000 of Gwalior’s troops went over to Tantya Tope and Rani of Jhansi. In the whole of north and central India the British power was limited only to the towns of Agra, and Lucknow. Elsewhere the entire British army and administration fell like a house of cards. One of the most remarkable things about the rebellion was its solid Hindu-Muslim unity. The Hindu sepoys of Meerut and Delhi, unanimously proclaimed Bahadur Shah as their Emperor. All the sepoys, whether Hindu or Muslim, accepted the suzerainty of the emperor and gave the call “chalo Delhi”(onward to Delhi) after their revolt: Hindus and Muslims fought together and died together. Wherever the sepoys reached, cow-slaughter was banned as a mark of respect to the sentiments of the Hindus.
10 LEADERSHIP The storm-centres of the revolt were Delhi, Kanpur, lucknow, Bareilly, Jhansi and Arrah. All these places threw up their own leaders who for